Rubber for Shoemaking

Rubber, a versatile and elastic material, plays a pivotal role in the footwear industry. Derived from the latex of rubber trees or synthesized artificially, it's primarily used for outsoles due to its exceptional grip, durability, and water resistance.

Rubber's Origin

Rubber can be sourced both naturally and synthetically. Natural rubber is derived from the latex of rubber trees, primarily found in regions like Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America. Synthetic rubber, on the other hand, is made from petroleum-based compounds.

Rubber's Properties

Rubber is celebrated for its elasticity, durability, and water resistance. It can withstand significant stress and strain without deforming, making it ideal for footwear that undergoes constant wear and tear.

Uses in Shoemaking

Outsoles: The most common use of rubber in shoes is for the outsole. Rubber provides excellent traction, preventing slips on wet or slick surfaces. Its durability ensures the sole lasts, even with daily wear.

If you intend to use rubber for the soles of your shoes, the first step is to create an outsole pattern, especially if you plan to use ready-made rubber soles and adapt them to your shoe lasts.

In the Dr Martens Boots Course, for example, we use a ready-made rubber outsole and modify it to fit the shape of the shoe last's bottom.


Some athletic shoes use rubber or a blend of rubber and other materials in the midsole for added cushioning and shock absorption.


Rubber is often used for the heel of a shoe, especially in men's dress shoes and some boots, providing grip and reducing the impact on the heel when walking.

Toe Caps

Rubber toe caps, often seen in sneakers like Converse, offer added protection and give a distinct style to the shoe.


Rubber is used in rain boots and some winter boots due to its water-resistant properties. It keeps feet dry in wet conditions.

Elastic Inserts

Rubber is used to create elastic gussets or inserts in shoes like Chelsea boots, allowing for a snug fit and easy slip-on.

Decorative Elements

Some designers use rubber for decorative elements, adding texture or patterns to the shoe.

Types of Rubber Used in Shoes

Natural Rubber

Offers excellent elasticity, resilience, and tensile strength.

Crepe Rubber

Derived from latex, it's textured and often used for outsoles of casual shoes and desert boots.

Carbon Rubber

A mix of natural rubber and carbon, it's durable and commonly used in athletic shoe outsoles.

Blown Rubber

Lighter in weight and is used in the midsoles of running shoes for added cushioning.

Gum Rubber

Has a tan color and is often used for indoor sports shoes because of its non-marking property. Some of vans outsoles also made out of gum rubber.

Neoprene rubber

It is a synthetic rubber produced by the polymerization of chloroprene. It's known for its flexibility, water resistance, insulation properties, and cushioning. This base material can be used in various applications, including shoe soles or parts of shoes.

Sustainability Factor

While synthetics offer versatility and specific properties, there are environmental concerns associated with their production and disposal. However, advancements in technology are leading to more sustainable synthetic materials, including bio-based and recycled options.

Online stores to buy rubbr for shoemaking

Here are some online stores where you can purchase various rubber sheets for soling:

All Shoemaking Supplies 

If you want to make shoes there is no way around it, you will need knifes, hammers, leather, glue, shanks, boards, and everything else to get the job done.
For that purpose I have created a detailed list of everything you need to make shoes.