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How to Tell if Slippers & Shoes are Non-Slip

How to Tell if Slippers & Shoes are Non-Slip

Slippers and shoes are an essential part of our everyday lives, providing comfort and protection for our feet. But have you ever found yourself slipping and sliding on certain surfaces, even with your supposedly non-slip footwear? It can be frustrating and even dangerous, especially as you age or if you constantly must navigate slippery & uneven floors.  

So why do shoe manufacturers say shoes are “non-slip” when that’s clearly a false label? Well, we don’t know. But we do know how to tell if shoes & slippers are actually non-slip, and we’re going to share that with you here. We’ll show you which specific features to look for, as well as testing methods you can do at the store, online, and even once you get home. 

Identifying non-slip footwear can sometimes be challenging, and brands have no liability whatsoever if they say that their shoes & slippers are non-slip when they’re in fact not. But let’s get past that, and show you how to tell if those soles are truly going to keep you steady and balanced. 

Why Non-Slip Soles are Important

Slip-resistant soles are more than just a convenience; they play a vital role in keeping us safe and preventing accidents. And depending on your lifestyle, the non-slip aspect may serve a different purpose. 

Safety Considerations

Slippery surfaces, such as wet floors, polished tiles, or icy sidewalks, can pose a significant risk of falls and injuries. Non-slip soles are designed to provide better traction and grip, reducing the chances of slipping and falling. You can move around with more stability and confidence, even as you transition between dry and slippery surfaces. This is especially important for individuals who may have balance issues, like elderly adults or those recovering from injuries. 

Special Environments Requiring Non-Slip Footwear

Professions such as chefs, restaurant staff, healthcare workers, and construction workers often work in environments where spills, liquids, or slippery surfaces are common. Wearing non-slip shoes or slippers helps reduce the risk of slip and falls, as well as the legal fallout that may follow. Similarly, if you enjoy hiking, trail running, or multi-terrain sports, you need shoes that guarantee steady footing so that you can focus on what’s directly in front of you. 

How to Identify Non-Slip Footwear

When it comes to identifying non-slip footwear, it's important to understand the key features that distinguish them from regular shoes and slippers. If a shoe has most or all of the following features, it’s a safe bet that the soles are indeed non-slip. 

Key Features of Non-Slip Soles

  • Tread Pattern – Non-slip soles typically have a specific tread pattern that provides better traction and grip on various surfaces. Look for deep grooves, lugs, or patterns that are designed to enhance traction and prevent slipping. The tread pattern should be visible and well-defined.

  • Sole Material – Rubber is known for its excellent grip and slip-resistant properties, which is why it’s a staple of slip-resistant footwear. Look for shoes or slippers with rubber soles, as they often provide better traction compared to other materials like leather or other polymers.

  • Outsole Flexibility – The sole should be flexible enough to allow natural foot movement, but not too soft that it compromises stability and grip. Test the flexibility of the sole by gently bending it with your hands. It should bend with enough force but quickly snap back into place when you release.

  • Outsole Thickness – Opt for footwear with a thicker outsole, as it provides an additional barrier between your foot and the ground. A thicker outsole can help absorb impact and provide stability, enhancing the overall slip resistance.

Testing Methods for Slip Resistance

Manufacturers use various testing methods to determine the slip resistance of footwear. While these methods may not be feasible for individual consumers, you should understand how the shoes are tested before they end up on your foot:

  • Coefficient of Friction (COF) – This involves measuring the frictional force between the shoe sole and a specific surface. The higher the COF value, the better the slip resistance. However, this testing method is typically conducted by manufacturers or specialized laboratories and not clearly advertised to consumers, though it can be found with thorough research on the internet.

  • Wet and Dry Testing – Footwear is tested on wet and dry surfaces to evaluate its slip resistance in different conditions. This testing method simulates real-life scenarios and provides valuable insights into how the footwear performs in various environments.

  • Slip Resistance Rating – Some manufacturers provide slip resistance ratings for their footwear. These ratings are based on standardized tests and provide an indication of the shoe's slip resistance. Look for footwear with higher slip resistance ratings for better performance; these will be clearly marked on the footwear or the box that you bought the pair in.

We just covered manufacturer testing methods, but surely you want to perform your own tests, right? Absolutely, these are how to test the slip-resistance of your slippers, shoes, and even sandals at home. 

Checking Non-Slip Features at Home

Once you have your slippers or shoes, you may want to check if they truly possess the non-slip features claimed by the manufacturer. There are a handful of ways to do this; these are the most effective. 

Simple Tests to Evaluate Slip Resistance

Water Test

Wet the sole of your slippers or shoes and walk on a smooth, flat surface. Pay attention to how well the sole grips the surface, especially as you twist your feet to test the lateral traction. If you experience slipping or sliding, it may indicate a lack of slip resistance, especially with only a bit of water on the sole. Conversely, if you feel a firm grip and traction, it suggests that the footwear has good slip resistance.

Traction Test

Find a surface with some texture, such as a textured tile or a rough concrete floor. Walk on this surface while paying attention to the grip and traction provided by your footwear. A lack of slipping or sliding indicates good slip resistance.

Inclined Surface Test

If possible, find a gentle slope or incline and walk up and down using your slippers or shoes. This test can help evaluate the stability and slip resistance on uneven or sloped surfaces. If you feel secure and stable while walking on the incline, it suggests that the footwear provides good slip resistance.

Evaluating Wear and Tear

Over time, the slip resistance of your slippers or shoes can wear down from regular use – this is normal. You’ll want to replace them before you find yourself in a slippery situation. Make sure to look for these warning signs:

  • Tread Wear – Examine the tread pattern on the sole. If the grooves have become shallow or worn out, it can significantly impact the slip resistance. Replace your footwear if the tread pattern is significantly worn.

  • Sole Flexibility – Check the flexibility of the sole. If it has become excessively stiff or shows signs of cracking, it will negatively affect the slip resistance. Flexible yet sturdy soles are ideal for slip resistance.

  • Surface Damage – Inspect the sole for any damage, such as cuts, tears, or flat spots. These can compromise the slip resistance and should be addressed promptly. If the sole is damaged, consider replacing your footwear.

Regularly performing these tests and assessing wear and tear will help you determine if your slippers or shoes maintain their slip resistance. If you find that your footwear no longer provides adequate slip resistance, it may be time to consider purchasing a new pair. 

Knowing whether your slippers, shoes, and other types of footwear are non-slip is crucial for your safety and stability. Or if you’re looking out for an elderly family member or someone that’s recovering from an injury, you’ll want peace of mind knowing that their feet are steady when you’re not around. Do thorough research before purchasing footwear, even going so far as to test some of the at-home methods in the store or when you receive your slippers in the mail.