How to Understand Insole, Midsole and Outsole

There are lots of different terms and lingo when it comes to shoes.

Green Sole

And the soles can be confusing as hell, especially if you have don’t know anything about shoes.

Are people talking about the insole, midsole, or outsole?

These are all different components of a shoe and I want to talk about them in this article.

I hope you learn a thing or two 🙂

What is a Shoe Sole? (AKA Outsole)

The sole of the shoe is also known as the outsole.

It is the bottom that comes directly into contact with the ground.

When shopping around for shoes, they will often use “sole” in their description. This is what they are talking about.

It is usually the first part of the shoe that wears down, which is something you need to look at if you’re buying second hand shoes.

There is likely no grip anymore and the buyer doesn’t have the faintest clue.

Shoe outsoles are made of different materials and feature different traction patterns for different types of activities.

For example: A dress shoe is going to need a much different outsole compared to a hiking shoe.

Hiking Shoe Sole

Most shoe soles are made of rubber but it’s not uncommon to see leather soles too.

What Is a Shoe Insole? (The Cushion)

The insole is the cushioning of the shoe.

Our feet take a lot of beating as we walk around all day, so insoles are designed to offer comfort and support for different types of activities.

There are thousands of different insoles to fit the many different types, shapes and sizes of feet out there.

Some have foot deformities, others have a high arch and some need more cushioning for standing all day.

Well that’s the importance of an insole.

Without a comfortable insole to absorb the impact of our weight, our body takes the hit instead.

This can cause all sorts of pain in our feet, ankles, knees, hips, etc.

A good example is that a person with a high arch will find an insole with NO arch support extremely uncomfortable and can experience foot pain in a matter of hours.

And the unfortunate thing is that people ride it off as nothing, but the pain worsens overtime and moves up the body.

From the heels to the knees and eventually the hips.

It’s best to fix the issue when you experience minor pain in the beginning stages.

What Is a Shoe Midsole?

So we have the insole and outsole out of the way, what could the midsole consist of?

Well this is the entire inside of the shoe.

It is the place between the upper and outsole.

Basically, it houses all the components inside the shoe such as the insole, arch and pronation technologies.

When you remove the insole, you will find the midsole properties.

It is usually made of plastic but can feel like rubber or foam.

This part of the shoe is responsible for the durability, longevity and quality of the ride.

However, not all midsoles are created equally. Some are heavier than others.

A shoe designed for everyday running will have a thick midsole to absorb the majority of the weight.

While a racing flat has a thin midsole to keep the shoe lightweight. These are good for long distance, track and field, road races and cross country.

As a rule of thumb: The firmer the midsole, the stiffer and heavier it will be and will last much longer than a thin midsole.

What Is an Upper?

So I’ve almost explained most parts that make up a shoe, so I might as well finish it off with the upper.

The upper is the top of the shoe.

This is the part that gets the most attention. It is the icing on the cake, the cherry on top, or the cream of the crop.

This is probably the most important part because an ugly-look shoe is not going to get many sales, is it?

How well a shoe looks determines how much sales it gets and how much attention or compliments it gets from other people.

There are thousands of shoe designs, colors combinations and styles.

But for the most part, designer shoes are more aesthetically pleasing and cost more money.

Shoes that aren’t really good looking focus more on the comfort and support and cost less money.

Although now there are walking and running shoes coming out that have much more style to them than before.

And that’s why you will see your favorite Instagrammers rocking the latest and greatest Nike running shoe.

Wrapping Up

So that’s the basic components of a shoe and I hope you learned a few things.

Now you can shop for shoes without having questions about the different lingo or what’s so important about a midsole.

If you’re still a little confused, I’m all ears and would love to answer all questions and concerns you may have regarding this article.

So please leave them in the comments below 🙂


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