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What are Lug Soles?

J. Beam
J. Beam

Lug soles are a type of outer sole found on heavy-duty and utility shoes such as hiking boots or work boots. They are thick and designed with deep indentations to improve stability and traction. The pattern of these soles varies to include V-shaped and diamond shaped indentations. They are most frequently found on boots, including fishing, hunting, logging, hiking, and work boots.

Most lug soles are made of rubber, some may be PVC injected, and they are generally slightly wider than the perimeter of the shoe. Though they offer improved traction and stability and can be ideal for hunting, fishing, or work boots, it can be difficult to find the right combination of additional features. That being said, lug soles are often one of the best types of outer soles for utility shoes or boots.

Lug soles are found on heavy-duty hiking boots.
Lug soles are found on heavy-duty hiking boots.

Though boots with this type of sole can feel heavy other types of soles, such as logger soles, often feel heavier. One drawback to either type of sole is the tendency to accumulate mud in the deep indentations. They can be messy and difficult to clean, but this is a small price to pay for added traction and stability. If your work situation warrants oil resistant soles, you can find work boots with lug soles, as well as other types, offering this feature.

Lug soles improve stability on work boots.
Lug soles improve stability on work boots.

Several different manufacturers, including Chippewa, Red Wing, and Rocky, offer utility shoes with lug soles as well as a variety of other outer soles. The best way to find a boot with the right features for your needs is to try them on. Comfort is the number one factor for determining an appropriate work boot.

Before you begin shopping for utility shoes, determine the features you need your boot to have, including waterproofing, insulation, and safety features such as steel toe and slip-resistance. There are several models from many manufacturers that offer variety in features and pricing. To get the most value out of your shoe, be sure to check the stitching and the insole in addition to comfort and features.

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Discussion Comments


There should be a way to make the weight of the average work boot lighter than it currently is. I have worn a few and the soles alone can make it feel as if you're walking with weights on your ankles. When you add in the steel tipped toe area, then you realize just how heavy these boots can be.


The steel toed work boot is the standard. I don't know that there are steel heel boots, probably because the heel requires a little more room for movement than the toes.

Work boots have evolved from what was once available off the store shelves. At one point in time there was only really only one type of work boot, but due to advances in technology there are so many varieties that it can be hard to find just one that will suit the purpose you need. Can it possibly be that too many choices can cause a problem? Would it be better to have just a few choices that cover the entire range of types and styles for the various situations you might come across?
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    • Lug soles are found on heavy-duty hiking boots.
      By: bartholomäus
      Lug soles are found on heavy-duty hiking boots.
    • Lug soles improve stability on work boots.
      By: tiero
      Lug soles improve stability on work boots.
    • Loggers wear lug-soled boots.
      By: onepony
      Loggers wear lug-soled boots.