Taiwanese solemaker Dr. Sole Originals initially set out to create their own updated takes on heritage-style soles for work and play. Drawing inspiration from older brands such as Biltrite, Cat’s Paw and O’Sullivan, they’ve developed some wildly popular products, including their Supergrip soles and Raw Cord soles.

Now, Dr. Sole’s latest offering is a heavy-duty lug sole that should appeal to outdoorsy folks of all stripes: the Tumaz sole.

Dr. Sole Tumaz Sole

This unit sole was developed in response to several customer requests for a product that could handle the rigors of hiking and other outdoor activities. However, it was a challenge to create a sole that could meet modern standards of quality while also giving a nod to the heritage of sole designs of the past. The main difficulty, according to Dr. Sole chief Lin, was creating something that could stand side by side with one of the most famous lug soles out there, the Vibram 132 Montagna. 

“The tread pattern of the Montagna sole is just classic and functional at the same time,” Lin says, “which is very difficult to achieve.”

vibram 132 montagna

The Vibram 132 Montagna sole.

To create a heavy-duty sole of his own, Lin knew “we need to take several elements into consideration, such as traction, flexibility, drainability, ground surface adaptability, and so on.” At the same time, Lin also knew he wanted to balance those elements with a timeless design, and from his point of view, the Montagna was the pinnacle of achieving that balance. The question he faced was, how do you create a lug sole that is comparable to the Montagna, without simply recreating the Montagna?

Lin admits that he struggled at first to design something unique. It was difficult for him to step out of the Montagna’s shadow; his initial sketches of a lug sole pattern “all just looked like the Montagna sole more or less.”

Then, Lin says, he turned to his own country of Taiwan for inspiration: “Dr. Sole’s products have been sold to more than 30 countries worldwide. It would definitely be a great opportunity to introduce the unique culture or natural creatures of Taiwan to the world by doing so.”

Lin happened to watch a nature documentary about one of Taiwan’s native animals, the Formosan black bear. It is also nicknamed “moon bear” for the crescent shape on its chest, and one of Taiwan’s indigenous tribes, the Bunun, refers to this bear as “tumaz.” Watching the documentary, Lin felt touched by this distinct-looking bear and its status as a uniquely Taiwanese animal, and he decided to use its look as the basis for the Tumaz sole design. 

Formosan black bear

A Formosan black bear. Source: Wikipedia

Looking over the Tumaz sole, some influences from the Formosan black bear are obvious: the bear face in the heel, for one, as well as the white V-shape at the waist of the sole. More subtle is the inclusion of divots next to the lugs which are shaped like acorns—one of the Formosan black bear’s favorite snacks. With this design, Lin believes he’s fulfilled what he set out to do: create a sole that is “simple and classic, without sacrificing functionality.”

Dr. Sole Tumaz Sole

The Tumaz sole—which is made with the same compound as the signature Supergrip sole—is available now for all your heavy-duty sole needs. It’s unclear if these soles have started making their way into the hands of shoemakers and cobblers who regularly stock Dr. Sole products, but I would assume it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing these in the wild.

Dr. Sole Tumaz Sole

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