Running is a sport and when it’s about a sport you should gear up with the right equipment. For a running shoe, the sole is the most important part. It can give or take your comfort, durability, safety, and support.
The right sole with the right material will provide a solid grip and a soft cushioning comfort. It will mold to the shape of your feet while you run and it will be strong enough to take all the ups and downs of the journey.
You might want additional qualities like better insulation, better road traction, water-resistance, slip resistance, etc. For that, you need to know them in detail. And this article is a perfect guide.
We will know them, judge them, and compare them side by side so that you can come out with a suitable choice. But, first of all,
Why give importance to the sole material?
Sole is the most important part of a running shoe. This is the part which is going to protect your feet from all the shocks and impact that you encounter while running. It keeps you running through rocks and bumps with ease and comfort.
Sole is made to increase the surface traction and for a running shoe, it’s more crucial than any other type. It takes all your body weight and faces all the ups and downs of your journey.
Because the sole of a running shoe runs through various surfaces, it’s important to choose a running shoe that has a solid sole that can protect as well as provide a cursing comfort. Only then it will last long.
Soles can be made of different materials and provide different kinds of feel, comfort, and durability. We will discuss all the types in detail. Let’s make you familiar with the different parts of a sole.
What are the parts of a running shoe sole?
The outsole is the bottom-most part of the sole which comes in direct contact with different surfaces. It’s usually made of two types of rubber- blown rubber and carbon rubber and have groves to provide better grip on the surface. It provides extra durability and flexibility.
It is the part between the outer sole and inner sole. The role of the midsole is there to provide added comfort and protect while walking on hard and sharp surfaces. This part consists of air pockets and is made of materials like PU ( polyurethane), EVA ( ethyl vinyl acetate), dual EVA, etc.
Inner sole i.e footbed is the innermost part of the sole that is often removable. It provides cushioning comfort and supports your heels. It’s usually made of synthetic leather which is durable and flexible. A good quality inner sole has mesh networks for air circulation which keep your keep cool and fresh.
Types of Sole Material
Most of us know the names of materials but are unaware of which is made of what, which provides better comfort, and which is more durable.
Running shoes are not very cheap. So it’s best when you buy them you know about them.
1. Rubber Sole:
If your shoe has an RB tag in it, you know it’s made of either synthetic or natural rubber.
Natural Rubber: Natural rubber is very soft and elastic. So they are very comfortable to wear and are used in making high-quality running shoes. But the problem is, they are not water resistance so they don’t last long. They are still great options for running exercises indoors.
Synthetic rubber: Synthetic rubbers are artificial rubbers that are much cheaper. They have different properties to meet different needs.
- Blown Rubber: Very comfortable, lightweight, and flexible. But lacks durability.
- Carbon Rubber: One of the most durable materials for running shoes. These are highly resistant to wear and tear.
- Air Rubber: Absorbs shocks and impacts very well, but a lifetime is very limited.
- Hard Rubber: One of the strongest synthetic rubber. It is resistant to water, slipping, and offers maximum durability. They are used in sports and running on rough terrains.
- Sticky rubbers: Flexible, offers the best grip. Ideal for indoor sports or running on wet, slippery surfaces.
- Natural or Environmental rubber: Made of recyclable rubber. Eco-friendly soft materials but breaks down easily by daily use.
2. EVA Sole:
EVA or Ethyl Vinyl Acetate is a polymer that is very similar to rubber. EVA is much more flexible than rubber. It is an elastic and quite soft material that is often used to make the midsole of the shoes.
Why buy EVA soles?
- Lightweight: Combined with wool EVA is very lightweight.
- Flexible: EVA is softer compared to rubber thus it can offer better flexibility.
- Shock-resistance: EVA can absorb shocks and impact and is more comfortable for running and jogging.
- Durable: EVA is a pretty strong material. It lasts a good time with minimum damage.
- Warm: EVA is a bad conductor of heat. So, it’s a really good choice for cold climates. It will keep your feet warm and cozy.
3. PU Sole:
When you think of running shoes you think of two things, durability and comfort. Pu soles are the right mixture of both. And for obvious reasons they make solid running shoes.
PU is widely used in the making of running shoes, sports shoes, shoes for trekking, exercise, workout, also, hard terrain training shoes as these boast high-quality, comfort, and durability.
Why buy PU sole shoes:
- Highly durable: PU is a very hard material. It doesn’t get damaged easily even after days of rough training.
- Flexible: Though it’s hard it flexes very easily which you can wear all day long without any discomfort or pain.
- Shock resistant: PU is known for its shock resisting ability. It provides adequate support to your heels and arches.
- Anti-skid: Pu soles also provide a better grip and prevent slipping on plain surfaces.
- Water-resistant: Pu has excellent water-repellent qualities. It can make the sole completely water-proof.
4. Leather Sole:
Leather soles are much harder than it seems. They don’t bend easily thus provide very little in terms of comfort. But they can outlast rubber soles in terms of durability.
One must be able to mold their legs while running as per need, buy leather soles prevents molding as they are very hard.
Sometimes leather is combined with cork to give it some flexibility but it’s not the best material for running shoes.
5. PVC sole:
PVC or polyvinyl chloride is widely used for making shower curtains, raincoats, wires, pipes, and SHOE SOLES, of course. PVC can absorb shock, and it has great insulation capabilities. PU is considered a good alternative to leather. It’s good for daily use but not the best for running because it lacks comfort.
6. TPR Soles:
Thermoplastic rubber TPR is used in automobile brushing and for making shoe soles. TRP is made combining rubber and other solid material. They are mostly used for making the outsole.
TRP has great shock-absorbing capabilities. It grips to the ground very well and resists slipping on slippery or watery surfaces. But they have very little to otter in terms of comfortability. They are good for light jogging and low-intensity activities but not ideal for running on hard surfaces.
Which Sole Material is Best For Running Shoes?
|Sole Material||Pros||Cons||Bottom Line|
|None||PU soles make the|
best running shoes.
everything that you
will need while
comfort, and safety.
Not water resistant
|Not so suitable for running. |
Can be used for light jogging.
|Cannot resist abrasion and compression|
Catches dirt very easily
|Makes very good|
shoes. Second best
material after PU.
Durable than rubber shoes
|Leather sole looks|
very stylish. They are
more durable than
rubber but not the
best choice for
|PVC soles||Highly durable|
|Might be a good|
choice for indoor
activities. But not
ideal for high
and hard terrain.
|TPR soles||Absorbs shock|
|Better than leather,|
rubber, and PVC.
Good for low
Now that you are familiar with each of the materials, it should be easier for you to decide on the perfect running shoes. As a matter of fact, PU sole offers the highest quality running shoes.
They are strong, durable, flexible, breathable, anti-skid, shock resistant, probably this is everything that one looks for in a running shoe. If you are from colder climates you can choose EVA as these are well-insulated, comfortable, and flexible.
Hope this article was helpful. If you have any queries regarding running shoes, leave them in the comment section below.