Shoe sole

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Profile of a new shoe sole
Expired shoe soles with patches in the heel area
The sole of a shoe in front of a destroyed T-55 tank on the " Highway of Death ".

The shoe sole is the general term for the tread of a shoe , i.e. the lower part of the shoe bottom that is in direct contact with the ground and which the expert calls the outsole or outsole .

Components of the shoe bottom

The shoe bottom (the part of the shoe, which in contrast to the shoe upper is below the foot) may be made of several layers / films (= soles) are made. A possible and often found division of the shoe bottom (from the foot towards the ground) would be as follows:

  • Deck (brand) sole or partial deck (brand) sole (only glued to the rear part of the insole)
  • Insole (inner sole)
  • Bulging (material for leveling the surface, which also serves as damping and insulation)
  • Midsole (possibly several layers / midsoles)
  • Outsole (outsole)

The insole describes the part of the shoe bottom that lies inside the shoe and comes into direct contact with the sole of the foot (unless there is an insole over it). The outsole or outsole is accordingly the outer part of the shoe bottom that is in contact with the ground.

An insole is an additional insole loosely placed in the shoe. Insoles are aids that are intended to compensate for defects in the shoe (soak up foot sweat, insulate against cooling, provide mechanical cushioning, size compensation, and so on). In the case of a medical indication, an insert (foot bedding) can also serve to heal the foot or relieve pain (orthopedic insert).

Function and material

Abrasion-resistant rubber has made it superfluous: leather soles with nailing for increased durability.

Good insoles are basically made of vegetable- tanned leather because of this

  • a good shoe climate enables and
  • ensures a stable shoe (the insole is the backbone of the shoe, to which the shaft and outsole are attached).

For reasons of cost, however, the majority of insoles made of impregnated cardboard or synthetic fabrics are used. To hide this, additional deck insoles are often glued on.

Midsoles are mostly used for cushioning or design and are either made of synthetic material ( e.g. ethylene vinyl acetate ) or - in the case of leather shoes, often made of leather.

Crepe soles

The following requirements are usually placed on outsoles :

Individual shoe models can deviate from these requirements. The outsole of a dance shoe, for example, should offer high abrasion resistance and at the same time allow defined sliding on the dance floor. The water resistance and impermeability are not important for this type of shoe. Or for platform soles, for example, the weight of the sole material is very important. Depending on the respective requirements (and the sales price of the shoes), different materials are processed in different qualities.

Outsoles are mostly made of leather , rubber , rubber (also known as natural latex or crepe / crepe sole) or a mixture of artificial rubber with natural rubber or plastic. In addition to the most widespread rubber and leather soles available in very different qualities, wooden soles, cork soles or soles made of unusual materials (e.g. plexiglass ) for fashion purposes are also used for certain shoe models .


  • Long soles are soles that extend from the tip of the shoe to the heel.
  • Half soles are soles that go into the sole joint (just above the ball of the foot).
  • Shell soles are made with a raised edge (often on hiking boots).
  • Heel soles are soles with an integrated heel .
  • Wedge soles increase in strength (height) like a wedge from the forefoot to the heel.
  • Platform soles are much thicker than ordinary soles.
  • Anti-skid soles are thin, subsequently applied half-soles made of rubber with a light profile.
  • Profiled soles describe soles made of rubber with a pronounced profile (work boots, mountain boots and so on)
  • Different materials lead to corresponding names (crepe soles, leather soles and so on)
  • Different profiles lead to individual sole types (ridgeways sole, commandostyle sole, golf sole, studded sole, Dainite sole and so on)

Environmental aspects

The abrasion of shoe soles caused by wearing shoes is one of the largest sources of microplastic . For Germany, this results in around 100 grams of abrasion per person per year.

Electrical parts integrated in soles, e.g. If, for example, they are used for “flashing shoes” by children or to generate electricity, they ensure that the corresponding shoes are considered electronic scrap and must be disposed of.


  • Colin McDowell: Shoes - Beauty, Fashion, Imagination . Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, Munich 1989, ISBN 3-453-03606-9 .
  • Helge Sternke: Everything about men's shoes . Nicolai Verlag, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-89479-252-3 .

Web links

Commons : Soles of Shoes  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Shoe sole  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Microplastics: Abrasion from tires and shoe soles is harmful to the environment. Badische Zeitung , September 4, 2018, accessed on July 28, 2019 .
  2. Microplastics in the sea - causes, consequences & solutions., February 8, 2019, accessed on July 28, 2019 .
  3. Solepower: Energy from the shoe sole. ENSO Energie Sachsen Ost , July 3, 2015, accessed on July 29, 2019 .
  4. New electronic waste law from August 15th: Furniture and shoes can now be electronic waste. Antenne Thuringia , August 15, 2018, accessed on July 29, 2019 .
  5. New waste rules: From Wednesday this rubbish is no longer allowed in the black bin. , August 15, 2018, accessed on July 29, 2019 .