Comment from: Mountain Evan Chang [Visitor]  
Mountain Evan Chang

Man I wish I read this months ago when I was picking an outsole for our new boots out of Vibram's huge catalog =P Great article!

In the end, I chose the zig zag Newflex as it was the best all-arounder, for similar reasons to yours =)

I do find the Cherry to be more dense, less flexible, and more durable than the Newflex though, in my experience.

05/07/15 @ 14:18
Comment from: [Member]

Mountain Evan Chang,

Please share your shopping experience! I have looked at the Vibram catalog many times and have found their descriptions to be somewhat vague, which is why Justin and I put together this article.

This was written as my own subjective take on each sole material, given the different physical--objective--properties and their application.

While Cherry is, technically, the most dense--it's basically the same TC-1 rubber that Vibram uses for their own soles (Thanks, Bedrock Sandals for that info)--I have personally found its use to be less versatile as Newflex and Gumlite and its function (due in large part to its tread design) to be less useful for off-road use, which makes it more on par with Morflex in terms of activities, properties, and application.

In my own experience and research, Cherry is used for road and casual shoes in the same manner as Morflex (usually 2-3mm for Cherry and 5-6mm for Morflex), so they are similar in terms of applications and activities, just not properties but the differences in the "usual" thickness applications of each evens things out a bit.

As anther example Woodstock is actually a bit soft when pressed, but it is usually used in thicker soles, so it works more as an all-terrain shoe than Morflex or Cherry because of its treads and thickness, which is great for new runners.

Between Gumlite and Newflex, I found that Newflex wears more evenly and its treads do not "cake" dirt as much as the little nubs of Gumlite, so that's why I consider it more versatile, though from a compositional standpoint, Gumlite is the denser sole.

-Jarvis

05/07/15 @ 17:29
Comment from: adam [Visitor]  
adam

great post. Are you able to buy sheets of these soles on your own and not in bulk? I ask because I've been trying to resole shoes with these vibram soles and have not had any luck with shops carrying them.
I settled on resoling with birkenstock soles, which are flat and sort of similar to the Woodstock. I put them on a pair of Clarks desert Treks and it make them zero drop and it looks great. I plan on doing this to more shoes in the future so I can be a little more fashion conscious but still have zero drop shoes..

05/10/15 @ 15:30
Comment from: [Member]

Adam,

You can purchase materials from a number of locations, including Amazon, eBay and direct from Vibram, but these are all typically either large orders or big slabs of Vibram (a 35x11 slab of Cherry from Amazon costs 60 bucks, a bit too much for sandals)

diyfootwear.com has more manageable sizes of material in terms of amount and price and they have a bunch of tutorials and what appears to be a helpful community.

05/10/15 @ 23:22
Comment from: Kim [Visitor]  
Kim

Are these soles conductive...i.e. do they allow the true grounding to the earth? Most rubber soles are not.

10/28/15 @ 23:08
Comment from: [Member]

Kim

Rubber soles do not allow for conducting, but Earthrunners prides themselves on having conductive sections, including the lacing systems and toe posts, that make contact with the ground.

We have many reviews of Earthrunners on our website. Check them out!

10/29/15 @ 08:53
Comment from: Nicolas [Visitor]  
Nicolas

Hi!

I am confused, are all these outsole based on rubber? If yes what type of rubber is best for outdoors?

Thank you

03/16/16 @ 13:42
Comment from: [Member]

These soles are patented rubber compound from Vibram. Each has its own special properties and typical thickness, but I recommend Newflex and Gumlite for trails and Morflex and thinner cherry for road running.

Vibram's TC-1 rubber (Cherry) is a good choice, as well as the foam/rubber mix (VLite) that they use for the Bikila EVO and V-Run is a great choice for roads as well.

-Jarvis

03/16/16 @ 14:36
Comment from: Mitch [Visitor]
Mitch

Hi Jarvis,
I've been wearing barefoot style foot wear for a few years now. I'm in a search for a flat light weight sole that Absorbs shock and has reliable traction. I stand on hard floors and concrete/asphalt for hours. But I can't go back to ordinary shoes. I've tried the vibram newporter sole and though it's flat and has good traction, it lacks the shock absorbing properties. What would you suggest ?

07/19/16 @ 20:04
Comment from: [Member]

Mitch!

My favorite road and walking-around sole is definitely Morflex.

The only catch is that it does not have any treading, but I never really noticed it as an issue on roads.

The next step up would be Woodstock, but I would recommend finding a thinner sheet as they usually are in the 10mm range. Perhaps cut off 1/3 to 1/2?

Then you have Newflex, which is denser than the other two, but still gives you a little softness. Usually in the 5mm range.

07/20/16 @ 09:44
Comment from: Tina [Visitor]
Tina

What about rubber toxicity? Especially from upcycled tires and any chemicals used in the sandal making process.

08/06/16 @ 19:35
Comment from: Mark Roberts [Visitor]
Mark Roberts

I have used the NewFlex on a pair of Luna Sandals for a year. Last summer I was putting about 50-60 miles on them a week for hiking and backpacking, with about 35-40 miles being on rocky trails mixed with dirt and good incline in the Columbia Gorge. They were far gripper on all surface in any weather than I ever would have thought. Seldomly slipping on anything wet or dry.
I do wish the sandal offered more moldability to my foot for better comfort and weight distribution.
Durability is great.

03/14/17 @ 16:21
Comment from: Chadwick Chadwellingtonson [Visitor]
Chadwick Chadwellingtonson

What sole will wear longer between the Woodstock and the Cherry? I cannot seem to find the former available for the life of me. It is not even mentioned in Vibram's 2015 repair catalog.

Also, have you tried the Kletterlift? Both those and the Cherry sheets have positive reviews on Amazon.

01/08/18 @ 07:02
Comment from: [Member]

Chadwick,

I would say that the Cherry denser and would probably wear longer, all things being equal.
However, woodstock is used in thicker soles typically while cherry is used in thinner soles, so it really depends on your needs.

Kletterlift is more of a traditional boot platform and I have not seen it in minimalist shoes yet.

04/02/18 @ 12:32
Comment from: Sami [Visitor]  
Sami

Hi! Thanks for a great article.
What is Vibram Geo? I think thats whats used by Softstar shoes according to their website for at least one of their shoes. I tried one of tbose in just 2mm thickness (though not 100 percent sure that one was geo since website doesnt say) and found it was too stiff for my feet to bend it. I have a small foot with high arch and perhaps just cant get enough leverage. So am looking at the different thpes of vibram to make sure i dont get the same thing- considering one that says its newflex. . Also, you show the newflex with zig zag pattern but when i was googling it i saw some selling sheets for soling that they said were newflex and had different pattern. They were 4 or 6mm. Any ideas on the differences? Thanks much.

05/09/18 @ 10:40
Comment from: [Member]

Hi Sami!

The Vibram Geo sole is a typically resolable (replaceable) sole

You can read more about it in my review of the Softstar Shoe Hawthorne
https://birthdayshoes.com/soft-star-shoes-hawthorne-chukka-review

I've seen it used in boots and lifestyle shoes with a stack height of around 8mm.

You can think of it as a slightly more aggressive version of Morflex. It has similar density (a shade denser) and better traction.

I also find it relatively stiff and not really for super flexibility.

Newflex is typically in that zig-zag pattern, but I have seen it in a cross-hatch pattern online. Personally, I have not used anything with this pattern and would highly recommend that usual zig zag design. If it is truly Newflex, that type of knit-like tread design will not be as good as the zig zag design for anything beyond road running.

-Jarvis

05/11/18 @ 09:13
Comment from: Anne picogna [Visitor]  
Anne picogna

I am wondering if Vibram soles containrubber accelerators. I am allergic to Carba mixwhich is an RA. Thank you
Anne Picogna

06/04/18 @ 14:31
Comment from: Paige [Visitor]  
Paige

Hi there! I’m wanting to start making my own sandals and am looking for a material that will not only hold up in water, but also be a type of “earthing” sandal. Certain sites have alluded to the existence of a type of rubber that will transmit the earths frequencies and I’m wondering in anyone knows what I’m talking about? Got a family of five with three growing children so footwear needs to be affordable and healthy. Thanks for any insight!

07/12/18 @ 00:43
Comment from: [Member]

Hi Paige!

I am not sure about any specific rubber that would work in the regard, but you should definitely contact the folks at Earth Runners, they are strong proponents of Earthing and make great sandals as well!
-Jarvis

07/12/18 @ 10:09
Comment from: Allan [Visitor]
Allan

Hi Jarvis,

I ordered a pair of shoes from Prime Trotter after reading your great review, thanks for putting it together. I have some questions about sheet outsoles. I love the sound leather and hard rubber heels make on hard surfaces and want to mimic that on my resoleable zero drop shoes.

Do the soles on the Prime Trotter make much sound? My Softstar Hawthorne chukkas make a slight thock when I land just right going up stairs, but I want more volume. I'm not worried about traction as much becasue these are for dressier wear. Do you have a recommendation, Vibram or otherwise, for a louder resoling sheet?

Thank you!

08/09/19 @ 13:59
Comment from: Gert [Visitor]  
Gert

Can you comment on the difference between newflex (#8870) and the super newflex (#8868), which is supposed to be 40% lighter?
See pg 78-79:
https://us.vibram.com/on/demandware.static/-/Sites-VibramUS-Library/default/dwe28fae38/pdfs/vibram-shoe-repair-catalog-june-2015.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwi_4Nro_sPkAhVBWq0KHYjPCfsQFjAAegQIARAB&usg=AOvVaw3dBuoKqKzqFC8MZrrWBozg

09/09/19 @ 10:53
Comment from: [Member]

Hi Allan!

So glad you liked the Prime Trotters review! I would say that the Prime Trotters have a louder sound than the Hawthorns. I think you'll like that 'thock more! In terms of soles, I think that Vivobarefoot shoes make a bit more noise than Vibram rubber soles and they have a nice variety of shoe models for sport and lifestyle.

I think that LEMS are also similar in that regard, but their soles are less dense, but thicker, so it might just be a wash. I like that Vivobarefoot and Lems have a wide toebox, those are not resolable though.

Carets shows definitely have a nice, traditional dress shoe noise in my opinion, but they use their own sole. We have reviews from Carets (and their former name, Primal Professional) on birthdayshoeshoes, so it's worth checking out!

09/10/19 @ 12:20
Comment from: [Member]

Gert.

From what I can see, that listing is also known as the Vibram GEO sole by some shoemakers. It's very similar to Newflex, but is a more "full" mold and you would have more material in the sole because there is more "empty" space in the Newflex mold because of the more aggressive tread.

When it says "40% lighter", they are not referring to Newflex, but it is 40 percent lighter than traditional rubber soles. Vibram always compares their stuff to some mysterious "traditional" material and I wish they would provide more metrics and details.

Overall, Newflex is probably better for more adventure-type activities because of its lug design, but I find GEO/Super Newflex in more shows that are lifestyle-type shoes. For example, Soft Star Shoes Hawthorn dress shoe uses a resolable GEO sole, so super newflex might be better for some lighter and urban applications because it is a smoother sole, while Newflex is better for trails and hiking because of its tread design and being lighter.

09/10/19 @ 12:29
Comment from: Gert [Visitor]
Gert

That's wonderful info. Very misleading that they don't mean 40% lighter than Newflex! And I didn't know that Newflex is the material used in Vibram Geo. That clears up alot. I don't know why it's so tough to find that simple info.
Where do you find the formal data on densities with regards to Cherry, gumlite, and newflex for example? I see hardness and abrasion resistance on Vibram's site, but there's no density consistently listed for materials, which makes it difficult to gauge the weight.

09/12/19 @ 17:44
Comment from: [Member]

Gert,

As with all things shoes, I wish that folks were more technical about how they go about things!
This is why I try to be as detailed and technical as possible in my reviews!

In terms of the data, it is all anecdotal; I am simply providing my own experiences with each sole and how to best utilize the material.

There will be some give and take, for example: cherry is slightly denser than Newflex, but Newflex has those lugs, so it is actually better for trails and outdoor activities, while Cherry is better for lifestyle shoes (but this, of course, does not prevent me from using Newflex sandals as my everyday sandals!)

09/13/19 @ 10:07


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