Is it a shoe – or is it actually a slipper?  More importantly: if it’s super comfortable, does it really matter what you call it?  If your footwear is SOLE’s Exhale, call it whatever you want – your feet are happy either way.

SOLE Exhale Features

  • Wear moldable sheepskin-lined footbed
  • Metatarsal support pad
  • Fold-down heel panel
  • Water resistant upper
  • Odor resistant interior lining
  • Suede toe guard
  • Finger loop on heel
  • Natural/synthetic rubber blend outsole
  • Weight 13oz
  • MSRP $74.95

SOLE Exhale slipper/shoe

SOLE Exhale Shoe Review

SOLE is most famous for its do-it-yourself custom insoles, which have sold in the millions and been adopted by NFL and NBA teams, military personnel, and medical professionals. They’ve recently expanded their product line to include orthopedic sandals, and the Exhale represents their first foray into full-fledged footwear.  The company website describes the Exhale as a “slipper/shoe hybrid”, and it’s been marketed as a post-activity shoe after a long day on the slopes, or perhaps just a long day in work shoes.

All of SOLE’s products are approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association for their ability to improve alignment and prevent injury, but here’s my own anti-bias:  I’m a barefoot guy.  I like my feet to function naturally, and I seek the most minimal footwear possible both for high-demand activity and post-workout recovery.  So if you’re anything like me, the Exhale simply isn’t your shoe – but if you like sturdy support underfoot, read on.

Wear-moldable insoles with sheepskin lining

The Exhale features a wear-moldable orthopedic footbed that gradually becomes individualized to the unique shape and weight distribution of your feet.  After repeated use, the result is a continuous contact surface across the underside of your foot, providing even support.  The insole is covered with a sheepskin material that provides great insulation and is extremely comfortable, even on bare feet.

“Moon boot” upper with recycled polyurethane fill; suede toe caps

The remainder of the upper is composed of mini-ripstop polyester with insulated baffles that kind of remind me of the old moon boot styles from the 1980s.  The filling is recycled polyurethane foam, which is eco-friendly and very effective at containing warmth.  An inner polyurethane coating provides water resistance, and there’s a polygiene lining for odor control.  Another cool feature of the upper is that the heel can stay upright like a traditional shoe, or stay folded down for easy slip-in access.

Heel down for slip-in access

One final note to consider with a shoe built around an orthopedic insole is its overall rigidity: this shoe doesn’t flex or bend even a little bit through the midsole.  Whether that’s a strength or a drawback is up to you.

Good Exhale

  • Very comfortable interior
  • Outstanding insulation
  • Ideal for dual indoor/outdoor use

Bad Exhale

  • Somewhat heavy/bulky feel (but remember, I’m a minimalist)
  • Very little flexibility

Bottom Line: SOLE Exhale Shoes

The Exhale is clearly intended for a particular niche: people who want combine the comfort of a cozy post-workout slipper with the structure of a traditional orthopedic shoe.  If you fit in that category, these slippers (or shoes – call them what you will) are definitely worth a look.

Buy Now: Find Sole Insoles and Shoes at REI

About Author

Donald is a physical therapist, ultrarunner, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 20 years of experience in endurance sports. When he's not training for ultramarathons, he enjoys hiking or slacklining with his family in Monterey County, CA.

1 Comment

  1. Hey Donald… excellent review and take on these. I share much of your thoughts as I’ve worn mine for the past month or so. They are a little funky looking (think cocoon) and a little firm for my tastes, but they aren’t bad for a lounge, chilling shoe.

    I still go back to my Patagonia Maui Moc’s as the best lounge, comfortable kicking-it shoes.

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