Insoles come in a surprising variety of materials, each with its own unique set of pros and cons. In this blog, we're going to break down the common materials used in shoe insoles. We'll also highlight the unique materials in Tread Labs insoles and help you choose the best insole material for your needs.
The Basics: TL;DR ---
- Tread Labs' Materials: High-density plastic and carbon fiber (in the molded arch supports) combined with polyurethane (PU) foam and 100%-recycled polyester (in the top covers).
- Foam: EVA: lightweight, shock-absorbent, PU: breathable, supportive, Latex: natural, responsive, Neoprene: flexible, waterproof, Memory Foam: cushioning, Gel: pressure relief.
- Cork: Natural, moisture-wicking, comfortable, bulky.
Leather: Durable, breathable, luxurious, expensive.
What You Need To Know---The best insoles use durable, long-lasting materials that provide consistent support and comfort. Tread Labs' two-part system prioritizes comfort, performance, and insole longevity. Whether you need arch support, shock absorption, or simply a luxurious feel, there's a material (and Tread Labs insole) out there for you.
Table of Contents
Tread Labs Two-Part System
- Insole Materials: Pros & Cons
- Materials Used By Other Insole Brands
Choosing The Right Insole (Material)
Treads Labs Two-Part System: Long-Lasting Performance
What is the best material for shoe insoles? Tread Labs' innovative two-part system combines high-density plastic and carbon fiber molded arch supports with replaceable PU foam top covers . This unique approach ensures consistent comfort and support while also providing optimal insole performance and longevity. Read 'What Makes Tread Labs Insoles Different' to learn more about all of the features that make Tread Labs insoles unique.
Tread Labs Molded Arch Supports:
Carbon Fiber (Dash Model)
- Carbon fiber, renowned for its strength and lightweight properties, offers unparalleled support and durability in high-performance insoles.
- Pros: Provides ultra-firm support with a lightweight structure, ideal for high-performance activities requiring maximum stability. Covered by Tread Labs' Million Mile Guarantee.
- Cons: The ultra-firm nature may be less comfortable for casual wear or for those new to semi-rigid arch supports.
Tread Labs Top Covers:
Open-Cell PU (Polyurethane) Foam
- All Tread Labs models feature open-cell polyurethane (PU) foam for cushioning and shock absorption, keeping feet comfortable and blister-free.
- Pros: Resilient and long-lasting, this foam maintains its shape and cushioning over time, offering reliable comfort.
- Cons: While closed-cell PU is less breathable than other options, Tread Labs' ventilated, open-cell PU adds extra breathability. PU does not feel as soft as some of the other foams.
100% Recycled Polyester Fabric
- All Tread Labs models feature a 100% recycled polyester top layer. This eco-friendly and comfortable material provides a smooth and luxurious feel while wicking moisture. It helps eliminate odors and keep feet dry.
- Pros: This sustainable, eco-friendly option is PURE™ antimicrobial treated, keeping feet fresh while reducing environmental impact.
- Cons: While environmentally sustainable, recycled polyester does not offer support or cushioning on its own, so it must be combined with other materials.
Insole Materials: Pros & Cons
What materials are shoe insoles made of? Why does it matter? The table below highlights the Pros and Cons of common insole materials. In the following section, we'll dive into the details to see how other insole materials compare with Tread Labs.
|High-Density Plastic (Tread Labs Ramble and Pace Models)
|Offers firm and extra-firm support, long-lasting with Million Mile Guarantee.
|Heavier than thin foam or leather, may be too rigid for some.
|Carbon Fiber (Tread Labs Dash Model)
|Ultra-firm support, lightweight, covered by Million Mile Guarantee.
|Less comfortable for casual wear or those new to semi-rigid arch supports.
|Open-Cell PU Foam (All Tread Labs Models)
|Resilient, long-lasting, maintains shape over time.
|Does not feel a soft as some of the other foams.
|100% Recycled Polyester Fabric (All Tread Labs Models)
|Sustainable, antimicrobial, moisture-wicking.
|Does not offer support or cushioning on its own.
|EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate)
|Lightweight, flexible, comfortable for daily use.
|Tends to compress over time, reducing support and cushioning.
|Cushioning, moisture-wicking, responsive.
|Cannot provide firm arch support, less durable, higher cost, availability issues.
|Pressure relief, plush feel, conforms to foot contours.
|Traps heat, loses shape over time, does not provide arch support.
|Waterproof, flexible, good shock absorption.
|Less breathable, less supportive for high-impact activities, not eco-friendly.
|Targeted pain relief, conforming, cushioned feel.
|Does not provide firm arch support, loses shape, retains heat, bulkier design.
|Eco-friendly, moisture-wicking, provides firm support.
|Lacks cushioning and shock absorption, can feel too hard initially.
|Molds to foot's shape, durable, premium look and feel.
|Less breathable, prone to moisture retention, requires more maintenance.
Materials Used By Other Insole Brands
What are shoe insoles made of? Different brands use different materials. The materials used in insoles play a pivotal role in determining their effectiveness and suitability for different needs. In the section below we'll explore some of the materials found in insoles from other brands, highlight their respective Pros and Cons, and show how these materials compare to Tread Labs.
EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) Insoles:
EVA is a lightweight and shock-absorbent material, offering comfort and affordability for everyday wear.
- Pros: Its lightweight nature and flexibility make it ideal for comfortable daily use.
- Cons: EVA has a tendency to compress over time which can compromise support and cushioning and reduce insole longevity.
- How it Compares: EVA foam does not absorb impact as well as the PU foam used in Tread Labs insoles. Tread Labs' breathable PU top cover provides enhanced stability and comfort over the long run.
- Pros: Provides cushioning and moisture-wicking properties.
- Cons: Latex cannot provide firm arch support and is less durable than other options. Higher cost and availability issues are other notable drawbacks.
- How it Compares: The materials used in Tread Labs insoles provide better support and durability compared to latex.
Memory Foam Insoles:
- Pros: Offers pressure relief and a plush feel, adapting to individual foot contours for comfort.
- Cons: Memory foam traps heat and lose its shape over time. It will not provide any additional arch support.
- How it Compares: Tread Labs insoles are more breathable that memory foam, keeping feet cooler and improving comfort. The molded arches in Tread Labs insoles offer firm arch support than cannot be matched by memory foam.
PU (Polyurethane) Insoles:
- Pros: PU is durable and breathable. It offers consistent cushioning and will not compress over time the way EVA does.
- Cons: It will not offer enough support for high-impact activities and can flatten over time, with limited moisture-wicking.
- How it Compares: Tread Labs takes advantage of open-cell PU's cushioning and durability, but combines the PU foam with semi-rigid molded arch supports and moisture-wicking recycled polyester to ensure long-lasting support and comfort.
- Pros: Perfect for water activities due to its waterproof, flexible nature, and good shock absorption.
- Cons: Neoprene is less breathable, less supportive, and not as eco-friendly as the alternatives.
- How it Compares: With open-cell PU, Tread Labs offers a more breathable and durable alternative, focusing on long-lasting support suitable for various environments.
- Pros: Offers targeted pain relief and a conforming, cushioned feel.
- Cons: Gel does not provide firm arch support and will lose its shape over time. It also retains heat and has a bulkier design that can affect shoe fit.
- How it Compares: Tread Labs' molded arch supports provide durable, long-term support for superior stability. Tread Labs insoles, with their deep heel cups and polyurethane top covers, will provide better long-term shock absorption than gel insoles.
- Pros: Cork is an eco-friendly material that provides firm support and wicks moisture.
- Cons: Does not offer cushioning or shock absorption. Cork can also require a break-in period and feels too hard to some people.
- How it Compares: Tread Labs provides immediate comfort and long-lasting support by combining PU with molded arch supports. PU foam will provide significantly more cushioning and shock absorption than cork.
- Pros: Leather will mold to the foot's shape over time and is quite durable. It offers a premium look and feel.
- Cons: It is less breathable, more prone to moisture retention, and requires more care and maintenance than synthetic materials.
- How it Compares: Tread Labs insoles use synthetic materials that offer a high quality feeling, while providing more robust arch support and better moisture management than leather.
Choosing The Right Insole (Material)
High-performance athletes will likely benefit from the firm support of Tread Labs' carbon fiber or high-density plastic arch supports. For water-based activities, neoprene insoles may be a good choice. If you prioritize a natural, luxurious feel, leather might be your go-to. If breathability is key, consider Tread Labs' insoles with their ventilated, open-cell PU foam. For those who are environmentally conscious, materials like cork or the 100% recycled polyester fabric used in Tread Labs insoles are excellent choices. Additionally, consider the longevity of the material; Tread Labs' Million Mile Guarantee adds value and ensures long-term durability.
Selecting the most appropriate insole material is crucial for achieving the perfect balance of comfort, support, and durability that will suit your specific needs. Whether you're an athlete requiring firm support and shock absorption, someone who stands all day at work, or just seeking everyday comfort, understanding the characteristics of different insole materials can guide you in making an informed decision.