EVA foam has become more and more popular in the last few years. As a result, there has been a trend among footwear companies to use more novel materials than traditional cork-and-leather constructions. Which is a big plus in terms of comfortability and sustainability.
Thus, let’s check what EVA foam is, whether it is suitable for kids growing feet, and where we can find the insoles with EVA foam.
What is EVA Foam?
EVA foam or also known as ethylene-vinyl acetate is an elastomeric polymer that produces flexible and soft materials similar to rubber. It represents plastic made by mixing ethylene with vinyl acetate and is naturally stretchy. This foam is commonly used in shoe midsoles to absorb shock while walking or running.
When we talk about EVA sole, that represents a plastic shoe sole, usually used for sneakers. The sole is also lighter and more flexible in comparison to rubber.
Besides that, these soles are also more comfortable than traditional materials such as leather and cork.
Simply put, it is that extra cushioning in the midsole that usually makes running shoes for kids so comfortable. The squishy stuff in the midsole of your running shoes. Actually, about 50 years ago, Nike was the first to popularize EVA foam. So even though it didn’t seem like a big deal back then, this midsole cushioning thing has radically changed the feeling and the look of footwear.
Even though this foam is commonly found in sport’s shoes for both kids and adults, it can be a part of dress shoes and different kinds of boots as well.
How Is EVA Made?
Thousands of microscopic air-filled bubbles are bonded together to form the foundation of EVA polymers. When compressed, they offer good cushioning and shock absorption.
Thanks to that compression EVA foam is an ideal material for good-quality footwear. Thus, EVA is a great material for performance footwear because of its compression.
Is EVA Foam Durable?
The most significant disadvantage of EVA foam is probably its lack of durability.
Oftentimes, usually in hiking shoes, the EVA midsole usually wears out first. The EVA can no longer absorb shock after a certain number of miles.
It is the compression set that determines the durability of midsoles, which is basically the percentage that springs back after wearing.
When it comes to low-quality EVA soles, they have a high compression set and little spring back. As for higher quality EVA soles, they maintain their shape and can last a long time before they need to be replaced.
However, we cannot expect materials to be durable forever. All materials will wear out eventually, especially if you have a little kiddo who will spend all day on the playground.
However, the biggest advantage of high-quality footwear is that its shoe parts can be replaced as they wear out. But, EVA midsole footwear may not adhere to this rule, so make sure to check that before you make a purchase.
The Advantages of Shoes With EVA Foam?
As we established, the EVA foam is located in the shoe’s midsole, to be precise, in between the upper and the outsole. This foam provides cushioning rebound and protection from hard surfaces and sharp objects. If it is well made, it will follow the foot line.
Besides that, it also provides stability against the kid’s foot; thus, it needs to be constructed from a material that can withstand the terrain, a kid’s weight, and any pressures that can occur when walking or running.
Let’s check some of the main advantages of shoes that feature EVA foam and the main reasons why shoes with this foam are suitable for kids:
- Flexibility – EVA is often softer than rubber, and it is also more flexible.
- Lightweight – When compared to rubber, footwear with EVA foam are much lighter on the feet.
- Dry feet – EVA foam don’t produce much heat; hence it will make your kid’s feet dry and keep the same temperature.
- Shock absorption – These soles with EVA foams, compared to other soles, absorb more of the step impact. Thus, while they walk, your kid’s shoes are comfier and less stressful on their joints.
Besides these advantages, soles with EVA foams are usually good for vegan footwear and are convenient for recycling which is always a big plus!
The EVA Foam Lightweightness
The most significant advantage of these soles for kids is probably how lightweight they are. This is because EVA foams’ low density makes them incredibly lightweight. Thus, they are suitable for certain shoes where weight is a factor. For instance, you cannot place heavy midsoles in a kid’s bathing sandals or other summer footwear.
As we mentioned in the section on how are these foams made, thanks to those tiny bubbles, the cushioning inside the sole is losing air and becoming compressed.
These foams are great in terms of weight but will not last forever. As time goes by, products featuring EVA foam will lose their cushioning and support.
Is EVA Safe for My Kid?
EVA foam is considered a safe material. The greatest thing of all is that this foam does not contain BPA, nor does it have plasticizers.
Moreover, some countries have forbidden the usage of EVA foam in certain products for kids, especially when it comes to playmats for the youngest ones.
But this claim is not accepted worldwide, nor is it something that applies to EVA foams for shoes!
However, parents shouldn’t be concerned about EVA in kids’ footwear because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has pronounced it safe for use in food packaging, processing, and transportation as well.
Even though EVA is considered fully safe, there are certain common-sense recommendations that we, as parents, should take into account. For example, when EVA foam is heated over 400 degrees Fahrenheit, it can release harmful fumes.
But this foam is flame-resistant, which means that it has an automatic ignition temperature of 644 °F. Thus, when we talk about the safety of kids’ shoes, they won’t burst into flames, so you do not have to worry about that. Moreover, the only thing we should pay closer attention to is not digesting the EVA foam.
EVA Foam VS Polyurethane
The main distinction between polyurethane and EVA is that polyurethane degrades no matter whether your kids wear those shoes or not. While your kid’s footwear is kept in the closet, the polyurethane’s ability to absorb shock will be lost. Even if they have never worn them, polyurethane will really physically degrade with time.
Even though it is plastic, EVA is very comfortable and suitable for kids’ little feet. It is one of the main reasons why companies that craft boots, hiking, and sports shoes are using it. Even though the longevity of these soles is not the highest, they can withstand for a couple of years. This is more than enough since your kiddo will probably outgrow its shoes before the soles have the chance to get worn out.
We understand why so many parents are skeptical about shoes with EVA foam. While some think they are harmful, others are perfectly fine with it. One thing is for sure, these soles are actually totally safe for your kid as long as they do not ingest them.
These foams are very comfortable, they are widely used for running and hiking shoes, and we all know that these types of footwear are the most comfortable ones, and it is all thanks to EVA midsoles.