Understanding Footwear Materials

When choosing your footwear for any specific activity it is important to understand the terms used to describe your boot/shoe. With our feet carrying a relatively low temperature they are particularly exposed to the cold so it is essential to protect them while out and about. From sole to insulation to lace up system there is a vast array of different materials used, all designed to heighten your performance and to crucially protect your feet. There is nothing that is going to ruin your day faster than having cold or uncomfortable feet so we have compiled a glossary of the terminology used to help you determine what the differences between the various materials are.

Shop Mens’ Footwear

Shop Ladies’ Footwear



Highly technical, Vibram® has developed and advanced its compounds and rubber soles, midsoles and uppers and can offer all manner of effective footwear depending on the wearers’ specific needs.


Vibram® Carrarmato – the mountain climbers sole, rugged solid rubber with various star or spiral lugs, high or low shins, round or square tips, this is a durable tough rubber sole that has been constantly evolving for every hiker, hunter and mountaineers’ needs. Seeland and Harkila have specifically worked with Vibram to choose a sole with the optimum compound for hunting.

Vibram® Monster – constructed with a ‘biomechanical swing’ on the sole, ensuring that the heel, through foot to ball touch the ground in a regular and comfortable rhythm, a concept sole realising ultimate levels of performance and safety.

Vibram® Faster – a multilayer sole, elastic and dynamic, the soles grip are optimised by micro-inserts that secure themselves to the ground.

Vibram® Spiderweb – the design resembles a spider web, thin rubber interweaving made of many interlaced threads and with 30% of the sole surface perforated, the foot can breathe freely.


Lying between the rubber sole and the leather upper of the shoe, is the midsole whose main purpose is to provide comfort and improve the stability of the footwear. Made from various materials according to the foot wears purpose, some examples are:

PU – Made from Polyurethane, these midsoles are light and provide excellent cushioning power. Suitable for trekking and safety shoes, these create long lasting elastic efficiency footwear.

EVA – Etha-vinyl-acetate material which offers an extra light midsole with good cushioning power and thermo-formability. Ideally found in light sport shoes and deckshoe wear.

GUM –rubber wedges- although heavier- have the stabilising effect on the footwear and are extremely resistant to abrasion and wear and tear, thereby found in hiking, mountain climbing and safety shoes.

Compounds –examples of which found in many hunting, stalking and fishing boots:

Vibram® Fire&Ice™ – Designed for extreme situations and provides traction through high grip density rubber soles that perform at their optimum in both low and high temperatures (from -20°C to +250°C) Harkila and Seeland offer a wide variety of hunting and stalking boots that have been rigorously tested by Vibram to ensure they will hold fast to the terrain.

Vibram® IceTrek™ – a solid rubber compound with small pointed lugs and a smooth larger surface that ensures an optimal surface grip on very cold, icy and snow covered terrain. This is a sole that will stay flexible even in extremely cold weather. Hunting boots made by both Seeland and Harkila use this IceTrek compound.

Vulcanized rubber – this is the process used by both Seeland and Harkila in making their hunting boots whereby the rubber is layered methodically to create a perfect fit, reinforcing where needed creating an incredibly waterproof and strong boot. Vulcanization is done in a special oven at 120-130C deg for 1 hour which seals the rubber once layered.


Cordura – an incredibly durable and lightweight material as such found in Harkila boots, excellent for offering long lasting yet light feeling footwear. High tenacity fibre technology ensures an exceptional durable fabric from ultra lightweight to heavy weight, the more densely woven, the more exceptional abrasion, tear and puncture resistance.

ARMOTEX Kevlar® – Fibres made by Kevlar that are stronger than steel and yet remain light, flexible and comfortable are used in the security material ARMOTEX, and are also found Harkila Pro Hunter boots.

Leather Leather is extremely breathable and comfortable to wear so a large proportion of footwear is constructed from genuine leather uppers, not only offering a high performance and comfortable shoe but also look smart and stylish. Nubuck and Suede are both materials used in the construction of uppers within boots/shoes.

Natural Rubber Combined with added components to 52% or 72% Natural Rubber to make a durable, hard wearing rubber upper boot. Fully vulcanized and handmade, the rubber is also protected against the ozone to prevent rubber splitting or cracking.


Gore-Tex®, a sign of quality and shouts that the product will be waterproof, windproof and have a breathable membrane designed to keep you warm and dry within. Extended Comfort, Performance Comfort and Insulated Comfort are three differing types of Gore-Tex® membrane used in footwear depending on which function the boot is developed for. Both durably water resistant and highly breathable, Gore-Tex® will take you between constant changes indoors and outdoors, standing and walking, working and leisure time. Always rigorously tested, all Gore-Tex® products carry the same stamp of authority and professional application.

Thinsulate™-Ultra Insulation Extreme Performance – Thinsulate Microfibres provide more fibres per square inch than other materials and will trap air many molecules between you and the outside; the more air, the greater the insulation meaning you are protected from the wind, cold and wet. Found in all areas of clothing and boot lining, Thinsulate means breathable, water resistant and warm products.


Ortholite® – these insoles found in Harkila products amongst others, have shock absorbing gel pads and extra stability for heel and arch. Moisture transporting and breathable, they also counteract foot odour. Crucial to the properties of a boot, optimal comfort is exceptionally important during demanding walking, hilly or icy terrain, both keeping you warm, dry and overall maintaining your sense of well being.


YKK – zippers renowned for their robustness and stability, the YKK mark is the sign of a dependable zip, found in all manner of boots/rubber boots.

Boa®- a brilliant closing system that replaces shoe laces. A simple closing mechanism provides a totally even lacing by turning the mechanism a few times. Neat and easy, found in Harkila Big Game boots, the clever Boa® system will snugly fit your foot and lower leg perfectly.

Ardmoor teamBuyers guidesFootwearGuidesHomeNews