What is a wedge sole?

What is a wedge sole?

Posted by Green Mountain Horse and Tack on 7th Feb 2022

If you’re looking for a new pair of work boots, you may come across some boots that have a sole that is completely flat, with no 90-degree heel. These are called wedge soles, and have some advantages that might be suitable for you, depending on the needs of the type of work you’ll be involved in. This brief article will explain what wedge soles are and why someone might benefit from them.

The sole is a very critical part of a boot or shoe; it is the only part of the shoe that meets the surface on which you negotiate your balance and traction on – a critical function, to be sure. When it comes to footwear that you spend your days working in, it’s even more important.

thorogood wedge sole

From a construction standpoint, wedge soles are one continuous piece that run the entire length of the boot and have no heel. There are no traction lugs on them, but wedges often have ridges or channels on the bottom to assist with traction.

Because of the larger surface area that contacts the ground, wedge soles are easier to maintain your balance than traditional heel soles. They are also known for better arch support than heel soles and are more comfortable to wear and work in, as they distribute your weight throughout the sole of the foot. Traditional heeled soles concentrate your weight on the heel and the end of your foot just before your toes branch out, often creating sore spots in your feet and legs as the day wears on.

Wedge soles are lighter than traditional soles, another advantage you’ll appreciate during those long workdays. All in all, wedges sole fans find them to be very comfortable; if comfort is high on the list of importance to you when selecting work boots, you might want to try a pair of wedge soled boots.

But everything is a tradeoff, right? Lacking the lugs that tradition soles have, wedge soles do not have near the traction that traditional soles do. If you’re working on dirt, uneven surfaces, or inclines, you’ll probably want to stay away from wedges - heeled, heavily lugged soles with 90-degree heels will give you the traction you need in these environments. If you work on ladders, you will need that 90-degree heel to brace against the ladder rungs. Also, wedge soles will wear down faster than heavily reinforced lugged soles, so you may find yourself burning through boots faster if you wear wedges.

Traditional lugged soles are the clear winner if you’re working on uneven surfaces, working on ladders or outdoors like a logger or landscaper. Lugged soles win again if you need slip and skid resistance due to water, oil and petroleum product spills on the surface you work on. The materials used in lugged soles are tacky and grippy, like snow tires on your vehicle. Wedge soles will not meet this need nearly as well as lugged boots.

Thorogood wedge sole profile

Wedge soles meet a need for millions of workers every day. Warehouse workers, carpentry, iron workers, shop workers, and others will benefit from the all-day comfort that wedge soles provide. If you typically work on flat surfaces, performing work that challenges balance (not ladders), long hours on your feet in cement floor warehouses, the wedge can help minimize soreness and pain at the end of the day.

Lugged soles, likewise, meet a need for millions of workers every day. Landscape, excavation, and forestry work, ladder work, roofers, and lineman work will all benefit from the extra traction and grip that these soles will provide. Climbing ladders, using shovels and other foot-driven tools will also benefit greatly from heel soled boots.

If you’re unsure which sole to purchase, try both to help you decide. If you wish to try a wedge sole, ask your boot shop if you can return the boots if they’ve only been worn inside for a weekend or so – at Green Mountain we encourage undecided buyers to give a pair a whirl indoors with no cost return privileges. They’re worth investigating if your work doesn’t require a heeled boot.