Footwear around the world has evolved manifold over the centuries as the footwear industry has always been coming out with new kinds of footwear but one thing that has always been the soul of any footwear despite many variations brought in it, is its sole.
With the advancement in technology, the sole manufacturers have developed numerous types of soles, each catering to a specific purpose using different materials and designs.
However, the wide spectrum of sole types also makes it complicated to choose the footwear with the right sole material that could truly serve your feet. This article would help you self-educate about different types of soles and their benefits and find out the best sole material for your feet.
Leather soles are made by using different layers of an animal’s skin. What makes leather one of the best sole materials is its permeability, and the ability to respirate to absorb and remove sweat, keeping your feet dry and fresh. Leather soles are also much sought-after due to their natural elasticity and classic look in both formal and informal settings.
Although the attractive look and comforting texture of the leather makes it a premium sole material, sole manufacturers often look for alternatives as the high cost and less durability of leather soles can drive consumers away. Thus, rubber emerges as a popular material to replace leather in a few applications to create soles for affordable footwear.
While the hard-wearing property of a rubber sole makes it durable, its elasticity makes it flexible enough for shock absorption and impact resistance, allowing you to wear them when you are required to stand for long. The waterproofing and chemical inertness rubber soles offer make them suitable to be used in safety boots.
Despite such attractive features, rubber soles cannot be used for all purposes due to their heavy weight and less cushioning base and thus, the sole manufacturers look up to other materials such as Ethyl Vinyl Acetate (EVA) for producing more functional footwear.
EVA sole has got more cushion to it than other sole materials, making it an attractive material for producing shoes for impactful usage such as running, jogging, etc. The wrinkle-resistant characteristic also makes EVA soles suitable to be used in casual shoes.
While EVA soles are known for their shock absorption properties, they are used more as midsoles than outsoles, due to their inability to withstand abrasion and ease of catching up dirt, thus, making the sole manufacturers continue their quest for the best sole material, leading them to explore the power of plastic through the use of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) soles.
PVC soles are made up of the same material used to create hard pipes; however, the PVC soles are softened by adding plasticizers, thus not offering them more flexibility.
PVC soles are known for their good abrasion resistance and insulation that makes them more durable than the materials formerly mentioned, seemingly putting an end to the worries of the sole manufacturers.
While the PVC sole may appear to be the perfect alternative for the previously mentioned sole materials, many PU sole manufacturers would point out that it is not; the PVC soles exhibit a poor texture, ventilation and grip on a relatively slippery surface.
However, the PU sole manufacturers have given a solution to this in the form of Polyurethane (PU) soles. PU sole is made up of a dense foam-like polymer that provides a great amount of cushioning, shock absorption and slip resistance. Thus, PU sole manufacturers produce such soles for shoes that can offer good comfort and stability, especially for activities like walking and running.