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Soft (leather) soled shoes

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
What are some signs of quality in the various types of soft-soled shoes which usually don't feature a raised heel. I figure that since most traditional peoples wear their moccasins or weejuns or kamiks (arctic skin boots) for walking all around the great outdoors, soft soles are the way to go outside of the concrete jungle. But 90% of all shoe manufacturers seem to sell the soft-soled type of footwear for loungewear only, i.e. something you wouldn't wear across the river and through the woods. So I thought someone here might know something about which leather soles hold up the best (I know they'll need replacing eventually). And what can I do to keep a leather sole supple? All shoe product manufacturers talk about how good their cream or wax is for keeping the upper soft and pliable, but surely the same can be done to thin leather soles?
post #2 of 7
Very interesting topic. From time to time I have thought about trying thin leather soled shoes like moccasins for hiking, since this is what is worn traditionally. However, I have never known where to get hold of something suitable. The nearest I have got is trying to wear tratitional all-leather sandals in quite akward places. The problems with traditional sandals for off-road use is to get them to fit well enough on the feet. The thin leather soles protect the feet well even on sharp stones. These soles last for years, even after getting soaked through numerous times using them in dinghy-sailing. My other approach to wearing leather soles off-road is using old army boots, which the Norwegian army sold out some years ago for $3 a pair, so I bought a few pairs. They are reverse welted (Norwegian construction) probably made in the 1950´s and are very comfortable when broken in. The only disadvantage is that they are quite heavy. So apart from the support to the ankles you get wearing boots, I am not sure of the advantages over light moccasins. Regarding the care of leather soles, I have tried different protecting stuff through the years. On some of my footwear, I have done nothing to the soles, and I can not see any noticable difference either in durability or waterproofness. I think the only thing that will really damage them is to dry them too near a heat source. Leather like wool should never be exposed to temperatures higher than normal body temperature. Lastly, leather shoes or boots will never get totally waterproof, but if you wear wool socks, your feet will not feel uncomfortable even if they should get wet.
post #3 of 7
I cannot say that I've ever had my leather soles dry out and crack on me but I suggest that Lexol would work well as a preventative measure. -Ed
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the information. It's good to know that leather soles can be worn dinghy sailing. Ever since hearing about Sperry's 'siped' soles, I've been wary to wear a leather sole in a boat. I wonder, though, if I'd be able to get the comfort of bespoke shoes with such soft soles? I mean for walking around in the city. If the raised heel is vital for absorbing the unnatural impact of a foot against cement, then I think a half-way strategy between a heeled shoe and a mocassin would be a wedge-shaped sole. Less chance of catching the heel on something. And does anyone know about leather vs steel shanks? A Parisian shoemaker, Olga Berluti, uses leather because...I can't remember--it's in an Esquire article pining the loss of the bespoke businesses.
post #5 of 7
Here is an interesting pair of leather soled shoes. Look very comfortable. http://www.russellmoccasin.com/new_p...acker_moc.html
post #6 of 7
Looks very interesting. Have been looking for something like that for years.
post #7 of 7
This is not a case in which emulating "traditional peoples" is likely to work. In comparison to them, we city dwelling shoe-wearers have soft, weak feet and ankles. For example, native Nepali porters are able to carry crushing loads over steep, rocky trails through the high mountains wearing nothing but flip-flops. A Westerner who tried the same thing would last about 15 minutes before going down with a twisted or broken ankle. Sturdy walking shoes and hiking boots compensate for these limitations.
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