By Rehan Iqbal
For those of you who haven’t yet heard how all the salesmen are doing it today, allow me to enlighten you with a catchy pitch. When it comes to what separates you from the dirt, you should never compromise on quality. This means that you should always be willing to spend the big bucks for things like tires, mattresses and most importantly, shoes. While catchy and fun, there’s a lot of truth to the statement. Anything that separates you from the ground works extra hard to ensure total protection from the bottom while still maintaining comfort and luxury on your end.
For people who spend most of their days standing, you can’t afford to overlook the importance of quality footwear. Especially the type of sole you are wearing and how it will affect comfort, performance, and durability. But with so many diverse options and types available, making that choice may not be as easy as it seems. If you’re looking for the best barrier between you and the pavement, then here are the different types of soles and how they can help make life on your feet easier.
The Different Types of Shoe Soles
Lugged/ Commando Sole
Popularly known as the Commando sole, the Lugged sole is your classic rubber outsole that is characterized by a thick, knobby tread. In addition to providing some of the most incredible levels of traction, the commando sole allows for maximum weather resistance. These aspects make it ideal for anyone who works on their feet in the great outdoors. However, the chunky profile does add to the overall weight. When it comes to the background, no other sole has a more sad and inspiring story than the Commando. The style was born out of tragedy when inventor Vitale Bramante created it after six of his close friends died in a climbing accident. Perhaps the design might have saved their lives, but it remains a staple for overly slippery, harsh working conditions.
When it comes to planting your feet in one spot for hours, there’s an outsole that really keeps your best interest at heart. The Rubber Camp sole is a leading style in most casual and official options for a good reason. The sole is characterized by little dots that resemble asterisks for added traction while still remaining as light as possible. Hand sewn moccasins are very popular for their use of camp soles. Light, flexible and comfortable, it’s very easy to see why standing all day long in Camp soles is a breeze.
Even though Cork Nitrile is a rubber composite, it’s famous for the fact that it still has a surprisingly low profile. This is always a great feature if you will be spending more than 4 hours on your feet. By mixing rubber with some pieces of cork, you get less weight without losing too much durability. Another benefit of cork nitrile soles is that they have no tread. The traction will be slightly lower than normal, but it has the advantage of ensuring nothing sticks to your soles. This is a dream feature if you operate in a messy workplace or wish to avoid the added weight of snow, ice, mud and other elements.
This particular design just shouts iconic mid-century work wear built for the job. The Christy sole is characterized by a wedge sole that combines stability, traction and an extra degree of comfort. The additional length of the sole not only gives shorter people a few inches, but it also works wonders as a secondary cushion and shock absorber. I know what I’d want on my feet if I’ll be standing for a while.
Ahh yes, Leather; the original sole that has been in use since man started wearing shoes about 5 eons ago. Leather offers the lowest profile and is a favorite for many footwear manufacturers. While it might have seemed like a heaven sent a fee centuries ago, leather soles are the least weather resistant soles of all time. Unfortunately, just a few months of motionless standing or a couple miles in slush and mud and your leather soled shoes are done for. If you want something that will last longer than your flip flops, you might want to give leather soles a second thought.
If necessity is indeed the mother of invention, then this type of sole must be the big bad brother. Funny story actually: The raw cord sole was created out of necessity during World War II. Rubber was so damn hard to find, but the soldiers still needed hundreds of thousands of combat boots. So to make due, shoemakers were reduced to melting down old and discarded car tires. Of course, the tires still had their reinforcing fibrous nylon cords, but in between WWII, no one had neither the time nor patience to take the cords out. This is how the raw cord outsole was born; a tough, resilient and fully weatherproof outsole for soldiers. While the outsole was great for covering miles and miles of abusive terrain, they may not be as flexible and comfortable as other soles.
These are just a few of the most popular soles found in many shoes. Today, however, there’s an entire array of creative and innovative soles that are built for all sorts of functions. We’ll check out the modern standards for today’s soles in our next piece as well as the characteristics that allow you to stand for hours without succumbing to pain and fatigue.