When it comes to rugged and technical footwear, Vibram has got the outsole game wrapped up. Founder Vitale Bramani founded Vibram in 1937 after he lost six of his friends in a tragic expedition in the Italian Alps. Inadequate footwear was partly blamed for the fate of Bramani’s friends, so he devoted his life to developing the best outsoles for climbing and exploring.Fast forward over 80 years and Vibram is one of the biggest names in the footwear industry, with the brand’s soles featuring on footwear across the board from sneakers to ice boots. And it’s for this very reason that we’ve put together this rundown of Vibram’s most iconic soles.
We’ve included the soles item number so that you can ensure you order the right sole if you’re resoling some of your own boots.
4014 Christy Wedge
Perhaps Vibram’s most recognizable sole, the Christy Wedge features on a wide range of work boots, iconically the Red Wing Moc Toe boot pictured above.
Made from a blown rubber compound, the Christy Wedge is comfortable from the outset but softens slightly over time, providing even more traction. This comfort is spearheaded with durability that often sees these soles last for a good few years of hard, daily wear.
430 Mini Lug
The Vibram Mini Lug sole is a pared-back version of a classic commando lug sole. Featuring less visible lugs for a lower profile, the Vibram Mini Lug still provides comfort and traction through its rubber composition.
As you can see above on the perennial workwear favorite, the Red Wing Iron Ranger Boot, the 430 Mini Lug sole is heeled, and scored where it is not lugged, providing a certified level of grip.
The Vibram Kletterlift is used with outdoor footwear specifically designed for comfort and durability. The heel is built up with a micro-cellular wedge material, providing comfort and superb shock absorption. With comfort and traction being strong suits of the Kletterlift, it comes as no surprise that this sole is widely used by Danner on the brand’s Mountain boot ranges.
Vibram’s exclusive rubber compound maintains its qualities in all weather conditions, making it perfect for a rugged hiker boot like the Mountain Pass seen above.
132 Commando Lug
The Commando or Lugged sole is your classic hiking/workboot rubber outsole. Known for its thick knobby tread, the commando sole offers great traction and weather resistance on both wet and dry surfaces.
Often dubbed as the ‘sole that conquered Everest’, you can’t really go wrong with the Vibram Commando Lug sole, especially if you’re looking for something rugged, durable, and comfortable.
2661 Ripple & 342C Mini Ripple
Vibram’s Ripple soles are slightly more niche than some of their other options, but they certainly make for a comfortable boot. Coming predominantly in two styles—the 2661 Ripple and 342C Mini Ripple, these soles provide different levels of traction and support depending on the depth of the ripples.
2661 has deeper ripples that make for a more rugged, functional boot that will provide you with strong grip and a spring in your step.
The 342C Mini Ripple makes for a more casual, everyday shoe that’s great for running errands, hanging out, and general walking. You often see the Mini Ripple applied on more formal footwear, replacing a leather sole to make the shoe more comfortable for commuting and walking around cities.
Please note that there is an even deeper rippled Vibram sole called the 7421 Jumbo Ripple which, to our knowledge, is only available in Japan.
9105 Gloxi Cut
The Gloxi Cut is a blown rubber Sole with large sipes that bend and flex to provide maximum cushioning and traction. The Gloxi-cut also features Vibram’s Vi-Lite soling technology which produces some of their most lightweight soles.
2021 Casual Wedge
The 2021 is a lightweight sole intended for casual walking footwear. This flat wedged sole made from Vibram’s lightweight Morflex rubber compound with small ridges on the outsole that provide grip and increased traction.
What’s your favorite Vibram style? Let us know in the comments!