Comprehensive Guide to Shoe Soles

June 3, 2024

When it comes to footwear, we often focus on the upper part – the design, the material, and the overall aesthetic appeal. However, the foundation of any good pair of shoes lies in the sole. Shoe soles play a crucial role in providing comfort, support, and durability.

Materials Used to Make Soles:

Polyurethane (PU)

Polyurethane shoe sole

Known for its lightweight and shock-absorbing qualities, PU soles provide comfort without compromising on durability.

Advantages of polyurethane (PU) soles:

  • lightweight;
  • shock-absorbing;
  • durable.

Disadvantages of polyurethane (PU) soles:

  • lacks breathability;
  • less flexible than other materials;
  • poor grip on snow and ice.

Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU)

Thermoplastic Polyurethane sole

TPU soles are resilient and resistant to abrasion, making them suitable for outdoor and performance footwear.

Advantages of TPU soles:

  • resilient and abrasion-resistant;
  • suitable for outdoor use;
  • retains flexibility in cold temperatures.

Disadvantages of TPU soles:

  • poor thermal insulation and elasticity;
  • not lightweight.

Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE)

TPE shoe sole

TPE soles combine the flexibility of rubber with the durability of plastic, offering a versatile option for various shoe types.

Advantages of TPE soles:

  • flexible;
  • combines rubber-like properties with plastic durability;
  • good shock absorption and traction;
  • environmentally friendly.

Disadvantages of TPE soles:

  • loses its properties at high (over 122°F) and low (below -49°F) temperatures;
  • not suitable for safety shoes.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

PVC shoe sole

PVC soles are cost-effective and easy to mold, but they may lack the durability and flexibility of other materials.

Advantages of PVC soles:

  • cost-effective;
  • easy to mold into various shapes.

Disadvantages of PVC soles:

  • lacks flexibility.
  • less durable;
  • low frost resistance (not suitable below -4°F).

Ethylene-vinyl Acetate (EVA)

EVA shoe sole

EVA soles are lightweight, cushioned, and comfortable, making them popular for casual and athletic shoes.

Advantages of EVA soles:

  • lightweight and cushioned;
  • comfortable for all-day wear;
  • shock-absorbing.

Disadvantages of EVA soles:

  • wears out faster;
  • slippery and not frost resistant;
  • not suitable for winter.


Leather shoe sole

Known for its premium feel, leather soles offer a sophisticated touch and excellent breathability, though they may wear out faster than some synthetic options.

Advantages of leather soles:

  • premium look and feel;
  • breathable.

Disadvantages of leather soles:

  • easily subject to deformation;
  • requires much more careful care (sprays, cremes, impregnations, etc.);
  • not suitable for wet and rainy weather.


Tunit shoe sole

Being a synthetic material, tunit offers a balance between durability and flexibility, making it suitable for a variety of shoe styles.

Advantages of tunit soles:

  • balances durability and flexibility;
  • versatile for various shoe styles;
  • almost never wash off or get wet.

Disadvantages of tunit soles:

  • very slippery due to its high rigidity;
  • suitable only for spring/summer footwear.


Wood shoe sole

Wooden soles provide a unique aesthetic and are often used in fashion-forward footwear, though they may lack the comfort of more modern materials.

Advantages of wooden soles:

  • original appearance and unique aesthetic;
  • low price.

Disadvantages of wooden soles:

  • wears out quickly;
  • poor water resistance;
  • subject to quick deformation;
  • limited flexibility;
  • much less comfortable to wear.