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Leather vs. Rubber soles.

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by mobeme, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. CalzolaiFeF

    CalzolaiFeF Well-Known Member

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    The best compromise, for me, is the Tundra sole from J.Rendenbach. Oak bark with a rubber insert in the middle.
     
  2. Holdfast

    Holdfast Senior member

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    There's two slightly separate considerations being discussed here: 1) is it ok to wear leather shoes in the rain, 2) is there a role for rubber soled dress shoes in a wardrobe.

    I feel that the answer to 1 is yes. I would not wear brand-new leather-soled shoes in wet weather, but after a dozen or so wears the sole is worn-in nicely and seemingly more resilient (at least in my personal experience) to water. You do need to let them dry out naturally, with trees, and that usually means giving them a few days off, but they're absolutely fine.

    However, it is nice to have some dainite-soled shoes for use on truly wet days in town as you don't need to worry about having to let them dry out in that somewhat careful way. It's just a case of horses for courses.

    For light snow, I feel rubber soles are definitely preferably as they're a bit more waterproof in that context of standing slush.

    PS. for country boots that will actually be worn in wet muddy fields, go for a commando type of sole. If they'll only see relatively good country tracks and the like, you can get away with dainite soles. Leather is asking for trouble. Even if you go for a triple-sole, the issue isn't water-resistance, but what other crap - literally - you might walk into. Getting dog or cow mess off leather soles is extraordinarily difficult; the smell lingers even after scrubbing. I had to bin a pair of shoes for exactly this reason. Rubber soles can be rinsed clean easily.
     
  3. SuitedDx

    SuitedDx Senior member

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    From my experience, Dainite is good but I typically reserve them for downpours (since they are on country/derby footwear it's more casual). For rainy days, I just wear my leather soles. Even on light snow with salt on the ground, I wear leather soles. The salt cruches but unless it has mixed with water and reached the uppers, I'm not too worried (I know it can wear down my soles faster). On heavy snowfall I wear overshoes. I used to be very worried about how soles hold up but I got over it...

    On the sole guards, I typically place them on my Blake shoes since I really don't like a really thin sole and they are a nice compromise. They also make maintenance less costly. I do prefer full leather soles so I typically don't add sole guards to my GYW or HW shoes. If you do decide to go the sole guard route, Nick does an excellent job especially with the flushed taps combination.
     
  4. tigerpac

    tigerpac Senior member

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    Good discussion on here.

    So far personally my own answer has been, it depends. On shell cordovan Alden LWB I recently put topys on b/c I take shell out in rain, sleet and snow. Cleans up so easy they really can be great all-weather shoes. Conversely I just received some acorn tricker's stow boots with a double leather sole that I'm going to leave as is. The leather is so light I'm not going to take them out in bad weather and have to deal with a bunch of conditioning products that darken or streak up the leather.
     
  5. Nick V.

    Nick V. Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    There is another option.....Oiled leather. Alden's call it "flex-welt". Allen Edmonds call it "Butyl" This is simply a leather sole dipped and treated in oil. The oil treatment makes the sole more flexible, longer wearing and, more water resistant.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. archibaldleach

    archibaldleach Senior member

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    Interesting. Can you share a bit more about how this works?
     
  7. Nick V.

    Nick V. Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I'm not clear if I understand your question, but...
    Oil resists moisture, correct?

    When you oil machine parts they glide better. The lubricant reduces the friction adding to a longer life-span of the parts.
    In the case of leather if you saturate it with oil it will stain (darken) the leather but, make it more pliable, flexible.
     
  8. Academic2

    Academic2 Senior member

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    I assume he's just asking for details. If he wasn't, I am.

    E.g., what kind of oil? What happens after it's "dipped and treated"?

    Thanks.

    Cheers,

    Ac
     
  9. Academic2

    Academic2 Senior member

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    OK.

    I just checked AE's website, and they don't describe butyl as an "oil." Here's what they have to say:

    "Thank you for your interest in Allen Edmonds.
    Both our Double Oak Leather Sole and Double Butyl Leather Sole feature the same thickness, support and durability of a leather sole.
    The difference between the two is Butyl, a chemical in which some rubbers are derived; butyl rubber is known for its leak-proof qualities. We offer our Butyl Leather Sole which is Butyl soaked, giving the leather sole a high resiliency to water.
    Keep in mind, while the rubber part of the sole is waterproof, the upper and remainder of the sole are still made of natural leather and so is not waterproof."

    That's still not entirely clear (or even entirely grammatical ...), but it's sounding a bit more plausible than simply "dipping" the sole in "oil" did.

    Cheers,

    Ac
     
  10. Nick V.

    Nick V. Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    How about if you call AE and ask them if the chemical used in their Butyl sole is heavily oil based and dipped. While you're at it ask them what's in the oil. If I'm wrong I would be happy to acknowledge it.
     
  11. archibaldleach

    archibaldleach Senior member

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    Exactly. I was trying to get some more details on how this works. I know Nick V. is a respected expert on shoes (and can probably give more of an unvarnished opinion on these things than the shoe companies themselves) and since he provided some novel information that I wasn't familiar with, I was wondering if he might be able to expand on it.

    Not a problem if there aren't a lot of exact details available, but it seemed like an interesting nugget and I might buy a pair of shoes that have been so treated at some point if I knew a bit more.
     
  12. Academic2

    Academic2 Senior member

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    No need, I think. Unless the AE quote was misusing the terms, this seems to be what they're talking about:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butyl_rubber

    Cheers,

    Ac
     
  13. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    You're not wrong about butyl dipped outsoling. But it will suffocate the leather and in my...admittedly, limited-because-I-didn't-like-it-from-the-minute-I-saw-and-handled-it...experience,it will also cause the leather to wear away more quickly.

    FWIW, rubber outsoles, synthetic insoles, butyl dipped outsoles and corrected grain leather are all of a piece. If one won't inhibit the leather, the shoe from breathing none of them will.

    And shoemakers have been wrong for centuries.
     
  14. Academic2

    Academic2 Senior member

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    Funny story told to me by a British Horse Society riding instructor at a stable I used to go to. She had a beginning student who had purchased her first pair of brand new riding boots, and the instructor gave her the usual advice: treat them with mink oil and let them sit overnight before doing anything else to them. She didn’t, however, think to tell the student not to do this to the sole.

    It was some time before the student was able to keep her boot in the stirrups.

    Cheers,

    Ac
     
  15. Academic2

    Academic2 Senior member

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    For the record, I never questioned that. And I wasn't questioning anyone's expertise.

    I was just puzzled by the description of the stuff as "oil."

    Cheers,

    Ac
     
  16. Nick V.

    Nick V. Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I refer to your post #30 in this thread:
    "Both our Double Oak Leather Sole and Double Butyl Leather Sole feature the same thickness, support and durability of a leather sole"
    Does it not say leather?
     
  17. Academic2

    Academic2 Senior member

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    Huh? I'm not questioning that it's applied to leather. I'm just questioning whether it's oil. Nothing more, nothing less. Here's the bit in the AE quote prompted the Wiki link:

    "[...] Butyl, a chemical in which some rubbers are derived; butyl rubber is known for its leak-proof qualities [...]"

    Apparently I'm not being clear. Nowhere in the AE text is the word "oil" used.

    Cheers,

    Ac
     
  18. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Never figured you were. No worries.
     
    1 person likes this.
  19. Nick V.

    Nick V. Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Forgive me but, I don't have details on this. Please understand that I have a vast amount of suppliers, customers and, products to deal with. Therefore I am the first to admit that I am not nearly as apt to define details as say DW. I can tell you though my eyes and ears are on what my customers demand of me. That's my primary focus. Often they ask me for products that are no longer available here in the U.S. But, I know of them from sometimes decades ago when they were. In those cases I source to Europe. For instance, at one time a shoe repair operation could get oil dipped soles from almost any shoe repair supplier in the U.S. Now bc of customers asking for them I think I'm the only s.r. company that offers them. I wouldn't offer a product that was not time tested over years and mostly decades. Accordingly, I would not offer a product that I would not use on my own footwear. Also, there are products that customers ask me for that I have access to but
    refuse to bring in. An example....customers often ask me for flush mounted heel plates. They are called segs. I find (among other things) they lend to a very "hard" heel strike and are slippery.
    Again, I wouldn't put them on my own footwear so, I wouldn't put them on yours.

    I realize that I didn't answer your question directly. Just wanted to give you more of an insight of my priorities.
     
  20. archibaldleach

    archibaldleach Senior member

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    Much appreciated. Thank you.
     

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