Almost every man needs a good pair of dress shoes in his wardrobe, but not every man is fully equipped with everything that men need to know about footwear in order to get the most long-lasting and comfortable shoes possible. Buying shoes can be a difficult process if you are looking for the perfect pair of shoes for your feet, and the world of shoe soles is one of the most confusing parts of this.

Dozens of websites offer guides to different parts of shoe styles, from high-end boots to sandals, but the materials used to make good shoe soles are often overlooked in the online world of .com shoe business, meaning that you might have to hunt through a long list of .com shoe blogs to find much of the information you need, which may take up a lot of time and effort.

Fortunately, we are here to help. If you are trying to work out which is best out of leather-soled shoes vs. rubber soles, we have got you covered. Below, you will find a full guide to leather soles, rubber soles, and the strengths and weaknesses of each one, as well as an introduction to appropriate shoe care for both types of dress shoes.

If you are trying to get a good sense of the pros and cons of leather and rubber shoe soles before you buy a new pair of shoes, just read on below to find the answers to all your questions and more!

Leather Soles vs. Rubber: which is more Comfortable?

Both leather sole shoes and rubber sole dress shoes have a number of advantages and disadvantages and should be explored one category at a time. Let us start by having a look at how comfortable a shoe with rubber soles is vs. a shoe with leather soles. The leather used in a leather sole shoe is generally seen as being a hard, uncomfortable material by many blog posts and articles.

That is not necessarily true, however, leather soles offer a surprisingly high level of comfort when you wear them, as they are quite flexible and mold to fit the contours of your feet. Combining a layer of leather with a soft, cushioning layer of cork, as is often the case with new dress shoes for men, makes for a classic style, flexible footbed that can feel really natural and comfortable, even without a padded insole being included.

If your shoes have been made on a proper last, double-layered, and welted with goodyear stitching, then leather soles will be one of the best and most comfortable pieces of clothing you can buy, and your feet will feel right at home as soon as you start to walk in them. However, a leather sole pair of leather shoes that is not particularly high end can be uncomfortable to wear.

Without the cork padding, a leather sole can be rigid, offering minimal comfort and shock absorption. Before you buy a new pair of leather shoes with leather soles, check whether they are made with a layer of cork and proper arch support before you try to wear leather shoes like this. Poor arch support can cause back pain and other problems, reaching from your ankles up to your back in some cases.

A properly made pair of boots with sturdy leather soles and cork padding is good and comfortable, but poorly made leather-soled shoes without much padding or arch support can be one of the most uncomfortable things you will ever put on your feet! In some ways, particularly for casual wear, rubber sole shoes can be even better than leather soles.

This is not always the case, but there are definitely certain advantages to rubber soles that you might not know about. Rubber is a more flexible material than leather when it is new, reducing the length of time taken to break the shoes in properly. Rubber soles also have more shock absorption than leather, meaning that they are more resistant to impact, which many people find more comfortable as they feel less of the pavement as they walk.

Because of the springy nature of rubber and the way that it is resistant to permanent molding, rubber soles will not mold to fit the shape of your feet as much as leather will, even if you use the same rubber-soled boots for years without replacing them.

Rubber sole shoe styles might be more comfortable at the start of the day, but if you wear them all day, then you may well find that they are not as comfortable by the end, which is an issue that you may want to take care with and think about before you go to the shop to buy new shoes! In extreme cases, this can cause joint and back pain if your shoes do not have appropriate support.

Leather Soled Shoes vs. Rubber Soles: Which is the Most Durable?

There is no clear and definitive “right” answer to whether leather or rubber is the best and most durable option. The durability depends more on how the boots are made than on the material used for the soles, and each option has certain advantages and disadvantages which are worth being aware of. Leather soles can have surprisingly high levels of durability if they are made properly.

That means that if you are going to wear leather sole style shoes a lot, you will need to ensure that you have a double or triple layer sole – the durability of leather soles is directly proportional to how many layers of leather have been used to make it. A single layer of leather might look good, but it won’t last long at all, while a double or triple layer would be a much better choice for regular wear.

It is also worth noting that leather absorbs water very easily, so even a small crack in the leather of the sole or a broken seam can give you very wet feet very quickly when you go for a walk in poor weather conditions! Rubber soles are generally very durable, and if you take care of them, they can last exceptionally well, ensuring that you get your money’s worth from your shoe choice.

Rubber soles are water-resistant, and you can wear them all day long for years on end with no fear of wearing out your shoes. With a good set of rubber soles, you won’t need to worry about water getting to your feet at all! The downside of rubber soles is that if your shoe sole cracks, then your shoe is done for.

No matter what you might read on a blog or what people might say, either on a blog or on social media or anywhere you find as the result of a search, there is no repairing a cracked rubber sole. You may as well just throw out your shoes immediately, no matter what people might say.

The most important thing to keep in mind about this is that if your rubber-soled shoes get wet, you should dry them in a warm place or on an object like shoe trees rather than putting them on the heater. High heat on wet rubber shoes can cause the rubber to crack, and at that point, you may as well go right back to the shop and buy new shoes immediately.

Grip and Traction in Rubber and Leather Soles

When you are walking on slippery, wet surfaces, you will want to be able to stay on your feet as easily as possible, which is one of the areas where there is more difference than you might think between leather and rubber shoe sole choices. In general, leather soles have a smooth underside with less grip than a rubber sole. This gives less traction on slippery surfaces, meaning that it takes more effort to keep your balance in particularly poor conditions.

Rubber shoes have more texture on the sole, which gives them more grip on slippery surfaces and better traction in most situations. If you are expecting to spend a lot of time in wet conditions, or think you might want to wear your shoes on smoother, more slippery surfaces, then rubber soles and their higher grip are likely to be the best option for many situations.

The difference in grip can be significant, although there are a number of higher grip designs of leather shoes available that can offer almost as much grip as a good set of rubber sole shoes!

Which Is More Formal: Leather-Soled Shoes or Rubber-Soled Shoes?

This is one of the first things people always consider when buying shoes or other similar accessories. You are not just going to wear these around your own home, so knowing if leather or rubber is really the best choice for formal situations is important. The good news is that this is a detail that actually matters less than you might think; comfort and longevity are better things to focus on in your search for the perfect shoe.

A good set of leather soles will look incredibly slick every single time, but most of the time, nobody is going to notice what the soles of your shoes look like unless you feel the need to directly share that information with them. Rubber soles are often a bit chunkier than leather accessories, but this is not likely to ever be a major problem. The first thing people will notice is the upper of the shoe, and they will hardly ever pay any attention at all to the sole material.

So, yes, theoretically, if style and formality is your top priority, you would want leather soles, but comfort is much more important, and wearing rubber sole shoes to a formal event would not be a problem. In practice, this question is not a particularly relevant consideration, as most styles of formal shoe will be designed to feature the most formal design of sole possible.

You are never likely to find shoes that look formal apart from an inappropriate sole, and you can rest easy in the knowledge that if you buy shoes that are sold as being formal and suitable for more elegant occasions, they should be designed to be appropriate!

Any Further Questions?

Hopefully, our guide to leather soles vs. rubber-soled shoes above should give you a good sense of the difference between these two sole materials. However, you might still have a few questions. If that is the case, feel free to reach out and contact us via Facebook, Twitter, or email!

We are always happy to help, although if you are using email rather than Facebook, Twitter, or similar to contact us, please check out our privacy policy and terms and conditions first! As with any of ourĀ  website content, this guide follows all of our privacy policy guidelines for the utmost security!

And if you like the article, share on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media website you like! If you share this guide, then you can even help your friends to solve their footwear buying problems and understand the different types of shoe sole material available!


When you make your decision as to whether to buy leather or rubber shoe designs, keep all of these variables and details in mind. Both of these options have their advantages and disadvantages, and if you want to make an informed decision, you will need to keep an eye on the manufacturing styles and construction of your chosen shoes. Make sure you do your research before you buy anything!

The world of shoes can be a confusing nightmare, with many different options available for every single variable. Hopefully, our guide above will have provided enough information to help you make an informed decision on shoes soles. In general, though, the soles of your shoes are less important than most other areas, like the material and color of the uppers. That means that if you can’t wrap your head around this area even with the help of our guide, you shouldn’t worry too much!

The good news is that, while there is no definitive right answer to which option you should choose, that also means that there is no definitively wrong answer. So much of this is down to personal preference and exactly what your personal plans for your footwear might be. Pick whatever style fits your needs and preferences best, and enjoy the results!

About the Author

Hey, I'm Lilly Harvey. If there's two things I'm passionate about in life, it's shoes and writing!

Combining both my passions with my Fashion Design degree, I've helped create Shoe Adviser to help readers choose the best shoes for them, enjoy!

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