How to Tell If Shoes Are Non-Slip in 6 Easy Steps 

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by  William Barton | Last Updated: 
non-slip shoes

Non-slip shoes are pretty self-explanatory. They’re shoes made to keep you safe and on your feet. 

Defining the shoe’s use may be easy; spotting them is another story. With dozens of work shoes out there, how can you be sure yours are non-slip?

While most shoe brands will state on their packaging if they are anti-slip, this is not always the case.  

This article will walk you through everything you need to know to find a non-slip shoe that is best for your work environment. 

6 Ways to Tell if a Shoe is Non-Slip

If you’re working in an environment with surfaces that present traction issues, it can be dangerous to work in your standard pair of shoes. 

Whether it’s an industrial setting with oil, specific farming environments (such as a milking area), or you want to hike a slippery path; you need a pair of trusty slip-resistant shoes.  

Let’s examine these six factors that will tell you whether your shoes are non-slip. 

1. Check the Label 

Before you put in the extra effort of examining the shoe, save yourself some valuable time and check the box. 

Most brands will have a specific name for this non-slip technology. For Timberland’s range, it is the Timberland Pro® Rubber, while Merrell has two versions of outsoles, the M Select Grip and the M Select Grip+, with the latter providing even more grip. 

And although most brands have a specific trademarked seal on their anti-slip technology, you might want to investigate by reading up on how various brands test their boots.

The packaging may sometimes display other standards to indicate whether these boots are non-slip. 

2. Inspect the Tread 

When picking out non-slip shoes, getting up close and personal is best. Take them out of the box and get to know your new work partner a bit. If you are purchasing the shoes online, make sure to zoom in and check for the tread. 

Shoes developed to be oil-resistant or slick-resistant will have a specially designed tread. Typically you’ll see an intricate pattern of hexagons, circles, or squiggles.

Like a car tire, if your shoes are smooth, they trap water, grease, and other slippery substances between the sole and the floor. Which in turn creates a slippery surface. 

As a generalization, the patterns molded into the sole should be smaller shapes rather than larger ones. The smaller shapes allow for the liquid to be channeled around even more. 

3. Materials Matter

If the sole is not made of rubber, put it back on the shelf.  

Leather-soled shoes will never be deemed slip-resistant, and the simple fact is leather doesn’t provide the same traction as rubber. Leather-soled shoes will also wear faster than rubber soles. 

Unlike rubber, leather soles won’t have that intricate pattern required to channel water to the sides of the shoe. 

4. Examine the Shape of the Sole 

As I mentioned, the ability to channel water to the sides is what makes a shoe non-slip. For non-slip sole technology to work correctly, you need the edges of the sole to be curved. 

To maintain this ability to drain water away from the sole, you must ensure that there is rigid EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) rubber on the sole’s outer edges. 

It will be challenging to spot whether or not the rubber is EVA, but to the touch, it should be able to grip a surface without wobbling. 

The last element to note when inspecting the sole is you want the rubber to be soft rather than rigid. 

5. Give Them a Feel

Yes, by simply placing your hand on the sole of the shoes, you should be able to feel them gripping your skin. 

However, most shoe soles will grip, but slip-resistant shoes will attach to the skin. 

While this will work for most, giving your shoes a good test drive (or walk) is best. 

6. Give Them a Test Walk

There’s no better way to know whether or not your shoes are slip-resistant than put them to the test. 

Slip into your shoes and take a stroll around the store. While it’s unlikely to come across a wet surface, shop floors tend to be tiled and slick. This should give you a general idea of the shoe’s grip. 

8 Hacks to Make Shoes Non-Slip

If you’ve invested in a pair of work shoes that you hoped were non-slip and now are not, you can tailor them to be fairly anti-slip. 

But if you’re using your shoes in a working environment, I strongly suggest purchasing a properly rated pair of shoes. And for those who just want slip-resistant shoes around the homestead, you can try some of these hacks. 

1.  Use Traction Spray 

While this will not give you the same results as a non-slip shoe, applying the spray to the soles of your footwear will help to create grip and traction. 

This spray is typically used on worn-out shoes that need a bit of rejuvenation. 

2. Scuff the Bottom of Your Shoes 

If you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere and need your shoes to grip, there are a few tricks you can perform on your footwear. Again, not the most fool-proof plan, but if you have no options at your disposal, scuffing the soles on a rock will create more traction.  

By scuffing the sole, you’ll create new ridges and channels for the water to escape. For this scuffing to work, you will need to work hard. 

If you have a craft knife, you can simply score the bottoms of your soles. Cutting them in straight lines across the sole of the shoes will allow the liquid to escape out the sides of the shoes. 

For an in-between effect, you can use coarse sandpaper. This all being said, these hacks will ruin your shoes and also, it will speed up the need to replace the sole completely. 

3. Tape or Band-Aids 

Electrical tape or a band-aid will add additional grip to your shoes if you are in a bind, but these are temporary solutions. You will have worn through the tape and band-aids within a few miles. 

But why not if it is an emergency and you have no grip? Also, any adhesive strip tape will work. 

Now let’s look at icy situations. No non-slip shoes will help unless ice grips are attached if you want traction on ice.

4. Replace the Soles of Your Shoes

If you have the time and want your shoes to have anti-slip capabilities, the best route is to get them re-soled. 

You can do this at any local cobbler store. Also, by replacing the shoe’s sole, you will extend its usefulness. Just make sure to specify that the new sole needs to be non-slip. 

If this isn’t in your budget, or you’re not keen to change the shoe’s look, there are still more options.  

5. Add Glue and Sand

While the best method to ensure that a shoe is appropriately non-slip is to push the water away from the contact area on the sole – you can also create a grip with abrasive surfaces. 

If this method of adding more grip doesn’t appeal to you, we’d strongly recommend getting a new sole. But if you want to try this out, mix sand and rubber cement together and apply evenly over the sole of the shoes. 

6. Attach Ice Grips 

While shoe manufacturers make many claims, none of them are rated for ice. If you plan on hiking a trail with ice, please invest in ice grips for your shoes. 

No amount of home DIY solutions will help either. So, please don’t put nails through the sole of your shoes, as this will just create a point of water entry. 

Also, when exploring environments exposed to ice, you must prepare adequately. Mother nature is not to be taken lightly. 

If you are making an overland trip, we’d recommend spending money on a pair of shoes out of the box that will last. 

7. Apply Hairspray 

Hairspray is a great option in a pinch, as It’s affordable and easily accessible. You can spray this directly on the outsoles of your shoes or apply it with a cloth for better control. 

The solvent in hairspray will provide your shoes with traction and keep you from slipping. Remember that you need to reapply this as the day goes on. 

8. Use Sandpaper

At a slippery job site with a toolbox handy? Grab a piece of sandpaper and get ready to transform your shoes. 

Sanding down the soles of your shoes will help create grooves and texture to give you additional grip. Any type of sandpaper should do the trick. 

Types of Non-Slip Shoes

Many industry sectors will require PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) to meet a certain standard. This ensures that individuals in these potentially dangerous environments are safe using the equipment. 

Work shoes must meet specific criteria before being used in the professional environment. This includes the SRA, SRB, and SRC standards. 

These standards indicate the conditions they have been tested in. While we might assume there’s a sliding scale for extremities, it’s only rated for specific conditions. 


The standard of an SRA is achieved if it can hold onto ceramic floors, which are covered in a slippery substance. 

You would use these shoes in factory settings or in large kitchens. 


You must wear SRB shoes if your working environment has steel floors covered with glycerin (a natural compound derived from vegetable oils or animal fats). 

You must wear these non-slip shoes in the food processing industry. 


SRC shoes meet the requirements of SRA and SRB shoes and are perfect for multiple industries.

 If your work environment often changes, these may be the best non-slip shoes for you. 

While it is great to know about these standards, if you don’t have the packaging, you might not know whether the shoes you are looking at meet the criteria. 

This is especially true if you purchase a pair of previously loved shoes. 

Find Your Perfect Pair of Non-Slip Shoes  

Now that you know how to spot a non-slip shoe, you can walk into the store with ease. 

Remember to check the box for a non-slip label, and inspect your shoes before making a purchase.

Don’t be afraid to take them out of the box and try them on; after all, you’ll spend a lot of time together at work.  


What is defined as a non-slip shoe?

The definition of a non-slip shoe has the proper outsole molded from rubber and allows the wear more grip in specific environments. 

This also applies to shoes as well.

Can I make shoes anti-slip?

While the hacks above will provide a temporary solution, there’s a lot of research and development to create a proper non-slip sole. 

You can create a shoe with more grip, but it won’t meet specific industry standards. So, no.

Can a cobbler make a shoe non-slip?

Yes, a cobbler will have access to new soles that they can attach to any shoe. This is the best method to ensure that your unidentified shoes are slip-resistant. 

They will also carry a guarantee with their workmanship. Which, if done as a DIY job, can lead to issues. 

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