Best Cork Sole Shoes & Sandals Reviewed & Rated
Criteria Used for Evaluation
In shoes, real cork is mostly used only in the outsole of the shoe. This is why the outsole is so important to consider, as it is the place where the benefit of cork shoes really shines through.
To begin with, we must first explain what the outsole is. The outsole of a shoe is sometimes known simply as the 'sole,' and refers to the bottommost part of the shoe. It is the part of the cork shoe on which you walk, and which makes contact with the ground. Depending on your needs and conditions, the outsole must have certain qualities in order to ensure that you stay comfortable and that your feet and joints are protected. If you are hiking, for example, the outsole must be thick and durable to ensure you perform well, and if you are running indoors or playing indoor sports, adequate grip and traction must be provided to prevent you from slipping.
Outsoles can be made of many different materials. Some popular materials include rubber, leather, and synthetic materials, all of which have slightly different properties which render them suitable for different types of shoes.
Cork is not a very common material to use in the outsole; however, there are amazing advantages when a real cork is used. As we previously mentioned, the density and softness of cork allow it to be molded to the shape of your foot through time, resulting in a custom fit footbed that can provide amazing comfort and structural support. It is also shock absorbent, meaning it provides cushioning and protection for the feet, ankles, and knees by lessening the shock impact on those joints. In the short term, this will prevent foot fatigue and keep you comfortable while walking in a cork shoe. In the long term, it keeps the joints healthy and can alleviate foot pain, such as that caused by plantar fasciitis. On top of that, cork is moisture-wicking, meaning it will get rid of moisture, which in turn prevents bacteria from growing and spreading.
A high score on the "outsole" criterion means the cork shoe is genuine, well-constructed, with a good traction, high comfort and molds well to the shape of your foot.
As cork shoes are most often sandals, it's also crucial to consider the design of the straps on the sandal. This can make a difference in their fit and affect how comfortable and practical they are.
The strap on the heel of the cork shoe plays a crucial part. It ensures that the foot does not slip out of the sandal when walking, as well as prevents the foot from moving around in the sandal. It essentially secures the cork shoe to your foot. Not only does this render them more comfortable and stress-free to walk in, it reduces foot fatigue by eliminating any strain in the feet that would otherwise be used to keep the sandals on your feet. The potential downside is that, if the back strap is stiff and not very stretchable, it may take you more time to put them on and off compared to sandals without a back strap.
Adjustable or Not
The straps can also be used to provide a better fit. Though the buckle on most cork shoe straps adds a good finishing touch to their style, it is also beneficial when it comes to the technical aspects of the sandals.
For one, you can worry less about size. Of course, it's always good to buy the exact size that is perfect for you and your feet, as it will ensure maximum comfort as well as prevent any long-term foot and joint problems that may arise from wearing ill-fitting shoes. You can choose the right size by measuring your foot with a tape measure from the longest toe to the very back of the heel, then compared the measurement with the sizing charts of the particular brand of the shoe. This will ensure the pair you purchase is as close to your ideal size as possible.
However, not all of us can (or want!) to spend so much effort on measuring our feet. Or, you may not have access to sizing charts, or the shoe may not run in half-sizes and therefore do not fit your measurements. In this case, adjustable straps are a savior. They will ensure that, if the shoes end up a little too big or too small, you can still have a good fit. You could simply adjust the strap on your cork shoe to what feels best for you and be good to go. It saves you time, effort, and is a foolproof way to make sure you have a good fit.
Of course, it's still important to be as close to your ideal size as possible. But sometimes you just need to make do, and adjustable straps are perfect for that. So when buying your next pair of cork sole shoes, (or just regular sandals), check to see if the straps on the sandals are actually adjustable. Most will be, but it's still good to double check.
Like with toe posts, the material of the straps of the sandals is also important. The straps of cheap, low-quality sandals are often stiff and uncomfortable. This can rub against the skin with every step and cause blisters through time.
Good sandals are made from high-quality materials. Leather is an example: it is supple, comfortable, and great when used to make sandal straps. Some sandals also have a suede upper, in which case the soft, fibrous texture creates minimal friction when rubbed against the foot, thus preventing blisters.
Some cork bottom shoes made of synthetic materials (faux leather and faux suede, for example) can also have these desirable qualities, but that will depend on the manufacturer. If you'd like to make sure they are of good quality, you can always take a look at the sandals' reviewers to find out what other customers think of the shoes and get a general idea for yourself.
A higher score on the "band" metric will mean that the cork shoe under review tends to have a strap or straps that are effective in securing a good fit, are comfortable and not chaffing the foot, and can be adjusted to fit your foot size (within reason, of course).
If the sandals are flip-flops, there's one very tiny aspect of them that can affect your entire experience - and that's the toe post. This is the part of the flip-flop that goes between the big toe and the second toe. When people claim they don't like wearing flip-flops, more and often than not it's because the toe post causes them pain or discomfort.
However, if you take care to choose cork shoes with the right kind of toe post, they can be much more comfortable.Canvas toe posts, for example, are not as hard and unforgiving as plastic ones and can provide adequate comfort. But do keep in mind that the toe post still must be rigid enough to hold your foot to the strap, or else other problems of discomfort will arise.
If you truly want a pair of comfortable cork sole shoes, you have to pay the price. Though you can buy them from nearly anywhere for $5, they will most likely have a hard, plastic toe post. Instead, look for a moderately-priced flip-flop with a canvas toe post, a good EVA outsole, and design that can keep you comfortable.
Finding a perfectly-fitting pair of cork sandals can be like finding the holy grail; there are so many brands, styles, models and makes of shoes that it seems like it’s next to impossible, especially when you are shopping online! Fear not, as we’ve ranked each product on our list for their fit and trueness-to-size to help guide you in finding the perfect match for you.
To come up with a score for fit of a cork shoe, we considered several factors, like the ones mentioned above, in addition to real customer reviews, to help boil down everything into one simple score. For example, Nike tends to make shoes that are true-to-size, meaning that you can buy a pair of 11s one year, and another pair of 11s next year in a different model, and they will usually still fit (unless your feet grown or shrank). A brand like Nike will most likely have a high score when it comes to fit, but the other variables in play, such as make, model and purpose, will also affect the overall score.
Consider that a running shoe, with its thicker midsole and synthetic sole, might fit differently than a flat shoe, with its thinner midsole and hypothetical leather sole. Each of these shoes, even if they are both from Nike, may have similar scores for trueness-to-size, but a size 11 in one might not be the same as an 11 in the other. What’s a reader to do in this case? You must also consider the purpose and type of shoe it is. Knowing what kind of shoe you are buying, and for what purpose, will help you make a better decision. A running shoe might run smaller than a flat because it has thicker materials, so read customer reviews as well to arrive at the best decision for fit, in addition to just our overall score.
At the end of the day, however, a higher score for the “fit” criterion will tend to mean that the cork shoe experiences a better trueness-to-size than a competing product; just don’t forget all the underlying factors that are baked into arriving at that single score! Finally, if you are looking for tips on how to identify your shoe size, check out this guide by the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society.
To assess each of the products on our list of cork shoes for durability, we not only read through thousands of customer reviews on our recommended products, but we also looked for some of the hallmarks of quality construction. From brand name reputation to their initial smell out of the box, there are a few ways of identifying a well-built, made-to-last product.
A product is a promise made, but a brand is a promise kept. A brand name is often a signal of quality and consistency in construction and durability from product to product. Although there are always exceptions to this rule, quite often brands that perform continue to perform. Brand names on our list of cork sole shoes tend to score higher in the durability score.
A shoe made for running and high-impact sports will not likely last as long as a good pair of general activity shoes and that’s okay. Being aware of the shoe’s purpose is critical for you as a reader and for us as a reviewer. Although shoes that will last longer score higher on this criterion, you might also see high scores to shoes with a more limited durability, if that product was specifically designed for certain purposes that involve high-impact and high-stress motions. We take into account the type of shoes you are trying to purchase when assigning scores to shoes in this criterion.
Certain materials last longer than others, even if that comes at the expense of a higher score in the “comfort” criterion. Materials that are thicker and firmer tend to score higher on durability for cork shoes.
A strap that doesn’t click or snap? Poor threading technique? A smelly, chemical residue on the shoe when you open the box? All these details were looked for an evaluated when assigning a score for durability.
The final word on durability is that a higher score on this metric means the cork shoe will last longer than its competitors, given similar shoe purpose, type, age and usage. Again, it never hurts to read some customer reviews before hitting the “buy” button.