KNOW YOUR TECH breaks down the scientific technology used in your favorite sneakers and activewear. Let’s demystify your next purchase: today’s technology is the Nike Waffle Sole. Introduced to the public in 1972 in the form of the Nike Waffle Racer, the Nike Waffle Sole helped pave the way for the biggest brand in performance sneakers. Although it’s not very technical compared to more modern breakthroughs, the iconic Nike Waffle Sole deserves recognition for being a true game changer.
What is it? The Nike Waffle Sole is a rubber outsole released in 1972 that was much lighter and provided better traction than other track outsoles on the market. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman said that, “The ordinary track shoe is covered with junk. Leather trim, tongue, laces. All unnecessary.” Although it was hardly minimalist by today’s standards, the Nike Waffle Sole was yet another addition to this stripped-down outlook. The original Nike Waffle Sole was actually constructed using the Bowerman family’s waffle iron (pictured in gallery).
How does it work? The Nike Waffle Sole’s traction comes from the textured pattern produced by the waffle iron. Its sleek rubber construction allowed for a lighter weight than other track shoe outsoles of the era.
Bottom line: The Nike Waffle Sole isn’t recommended for serious running use, but it deserves recognition for being a groundbreaking technology.