Rubber and PVC are close and sharp competitors in the footwear industry. The two materials are often used to create the classic wellington style boot as well as encasing shoes as an outsole. But which material is better for your feet? That’s a tricky question, at first glance both PVC and rubber look almost identical, but a closer look allows the differences to shine through. The differences may seem small but can have huge consequences on your wearing experience.
The most obvious difference between the two materials becomes apparent once they are touched. PVC stands for Polyvinyl Chloride and is a substance made up of plastic. This makes it less dense than rubber and equally more affordable. The affordability and ability to manipulate the material makes it a cost-friendly alternative to rubber for many manufacturers.
However, this comes at a price, PVC can be quite stiff in comparison to rubber and consequently leads to harsh and sharp edges which can cause discomfort against skin. Additionally, it is also less durable than rubber, which contains natural latex making it more flexible. To make up for this, manufacturers occasionally incorporate rubber into PVC to rectify these aspects whilst being able to maintain a lower price range.
Conversely, rubber is a near completely natural material, produced from the sap gathered from rubber trees in the tropics. This tree-derived production process is more eco-friendly than the process of PVC, making it less harsh on the environment. Additionally, natural rubber is biodegradable unlike artificial materials like PVC.
Thanks to the natural latex in rubber making it flexible and naturally comfortable, rubber moves with you instead of against you. For this reason, rubber makes a good option for desert boots and is a prized material for other types of soles. The increased durability of such a material brings a long-term value. While PVC is cheaper on the immediate purchase, it has been proven to fall apart more readily than rubber, meaning repairs and replacement push up the price over time.
This comparison is true of any application of rubber or PVC. For example, this study on flooring, which compares rubber and a variety of vinyl-based plastics as well as carpet, illuminates a start difference over time; the most expensive rubber beats out all other competition in its long-term value.
Whilst PVC is a great alternative to rubber, it’s evident that rubber is more beneficial in the long run, both for the wearer and their wallet.
Why not try some out yourself an tell us what you think. Shuperb stocks a vast array of gorgeous rubber wellington boots such as the Hunter ORIGINAL, Muck Boots ARCTIC ICE TALL or something more exciting like the Joules WELLY PRINT.
Which do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below.
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