How breathable is my shoe? It’s always the first question came to my mind when I shopping for a pair of new shoes. I personally like 100% leather shoes because my feet sweat a lot and the breathable leather keep them dry. But exactly how breathable is leather, vegan leather and synthetic leather? I happened to run into the material breathablility tests conducted at CHIKO Shoes and the result amazed me.
To understand the test, we need to know how the moisture is being pushed outside your shoes: Due to body heat and moisture there is almost always higher heat and humidity inside your shoes. This creates a differential pressure forcing the heat and humidity toward the outside. The greater the difference between the heat and humidity inside the shoes and the outside, the greater the Differential Pressure to push that heat and humidity out.
If the material is breathable, the heat and humidity being pushed out can escape from the shoes and such ventilation keeps your foot dry and comfortable. If the material is not breathable, the heat and humidity are blocked inside the shoes and make your feet miserable and stink.
In CHIKO Shoes material breathability tests, the test instrument created an artificial differential pressure between the upside of the material and the back side of the material, which imitated the pressure difference inside of your shoes and outside of your shoes. After the water was poured on the back side of the material, the differential pressure will push the moisture towards the upside of the material. By looking at the humidity of the upside of the material, we would know how breathable is the material.
Test 1 – Genuine Vegan Leather (Microfiber Leather)
Microfiber leather is a type of high quality artificial leather with the good features as genuine leather but without animal cruelty. Genuine vegan leather (microfiber leather) is breathable, durable and slightly cheaper than genuine leather. Many sports footwear are made with microfiber leather.
The ventilation “pores” on microfiber leather is created artificially and distributed evenly. The test result shows the microfiber leather is very breathable. The moisture bubbles, which were pushed out of the material, are evenly distributed as the ventilation “pores” on the material. It never occurred to me that the vegan leather is so breathable. Apparently I should put genuine vegan leather on my acceptable material list for shoes from now on.
Test 2 – Genuine leather from cow hide
It has become a common knowledge that genuine leather is breathable. No surprise that the moisture is being pushed out of the genuine leather during the test. But what caught my attention is the sizes of the bubbles are so big and scattered all over the material. The natural pores on the skin are so breathable and obviously unevenly distributed. No doubts that the shoes made from genuine leather will still be my favorite.
Test 3 – Synthetic leather / Polyurethane (PU) / Man made leather lining
No moisture bubble came out at all! Unless you are looking for a pair of waterproof shoes, stay away from synthetic leather / PU or man made leather lining if you want to keep your feet happy.