From Vibram to Dainite we put together this easy to follow visual guide with the most common and popular boot sole styles in men's fashion today.
WHAT IS A LEATHER SOLE?
Leather has been the preferred soling material for centuries. Although today you will only find a select boots with leather soles, namely dress boots and higher-end boots.
Leather is a "breathable" material and leather soles that makes for a great warmer winter boot. Leather also conforms to your foot over time so what you get is a very comfortable boot that feels even better with repeated wear.
In the example photo we see the Wolverine 1000 Mile boot with a leather sole. Vibram rubber is attached on the heel to provide better traction. These kind of additions are common in modern boots with leather soles.
WHAT IS A COMMANDO SOLE?
Commando soles are very popular sole options in a variety of boot styles and it's no wonder why. These soles provide a superior grip with their large "lugs" that protrude out to provide great traction.
Commando soles are made of thick rubber and as a result can add a substantial amount of weight to the boot. These soles also add "visual weight" as they make the boots look visually clunkier because of their protruding lugs. This style of sole is very common with boots and outdoor boot because of it's great weather resistance.
WHAT IS A CORK SOLE?
Cork Nitrile soles are usually made of a mix of cork and rubber. What this allows is a lightweight and slim sole that is also very durable. The popularity of Cork soles arised from the need for a leather sole alternative that had better grip and less susceptible to wear but still slim in profile and lightweight.
Many Cork Nitrile soles are smooth with no lines or lugs for traction. These soles are not the best for heavy snow or icey winter weather as they may not provide the right amount of traction.
WHAT IS A DAINITE SOLE?
Dainite is the British manufacturer of this popular rubber sole option. These soles are characterized by their low profile and round lugs in the middle. The recessed round lugs allow for the profile of the sole to be flat and thinner than other lugged sole options. What you get is the ability to have great traction but with a slimmer profile. You can often find Dainite soles in dressier boot and shoe styles.
WHAT IS A CREPE SOLE?
Crep soles are made of rubber and have a distinct "squiggly" pattern on the outsole. Crepe rubber soles have a rich and long history as the soles on British troop combat boots during WWII.
They do not provide the best traction and should be avoided for wet weather or winter wear. But their common yellow/sponge characteristics can provide a great look in casual boots like the popular Clarks Desert Boots and other designer boots.
WHAT IS A CHRISTY SOLE?
A Christy sole or "wedge sole" is a very common sole typically found in work boots or Americana inspired style boots. These type of soles are commonly found with popular brands like Danner, Red Wing and Thorogood.
The Christy Wedge sole is a thick spongy looking sole with no defined heel. Instead the sole will get thicker or form a "wedge" to form a heel. This type of sole has it's pros and cons. They are generally anti-slip, making them great for work boots. But they unfortunately have very little grip compared to lugged soles, causing them to be less than ideal in winter boots. Also, because of the nature of the materials used Christy soles wear out a lot quicker than other sole options with repeated wear.
WHAT IS A VIBRAM STOCKBRIDGE SOLE?
The Vibram Stockbridge manages to mix lugged and low profile features into one attractive sole option. Around the edge of the sole are slim fine lines to offer a flat sole profile. The middle of the sole features ridges and lugs for traction. Finally the toe and heel sections are flat for stability. Victory is another manufacture of a similar sole that offers many of the same features. An authentic "Victory Sole" is made in England and can be found in higher end boots.
This type of sole is a great in-between of a flat outsole and a lugged outsole. It provides great traction in inclement weather while allowing a dressier boot profile.