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Upper Material

Leather upper – is that still up to date?

In most of our bike shoes, we use polyester synthetic upper material; we also offer some MTB shoes with leather uppers. Polyester has become extremely popular over the past few years, and these shoes are easy-care, breathable and also durable – but does that mean the traditional leather shoe is a thing of the past?

No, not by a long shot! After all, no other material has the outstanding properties of leather. As a natural fiber, leather is extremely comfortable; it’s breathable, adapts to the shape of your feet and is also waterproof if properly cared for. Especially for people with feet that are more “problematic” or prone to pinching or chafing, leather can often offer a much better fit in the long run than synthetic upper materials alone.

We use different types of leather for our shoes:

Genuine leather

Cowhide and pigskin leather are very durable and robust which is why they are used so often. Pigskin leather is mostly used in linings and cowhide leather is usually used for upper material.

Nubuck leather

Slightly buffed on the outer side of the leather. This gives the leather a velvety surface and increases its breathability. Nubuck leather is usually made from fine calf and cow hides.


A collective term for leather types with a napped surface. Similar to Nubuck leather, suede also has a buffed surface but with a rougher nap and more breathable than smoother Nubuck leather.

Hydrophobic leather

During the tanning process the leather is treated with water-repellent substances that bind to the leather fibers and increase the surface tension. This reduces or almost completely eliminates water permeability while still allowing the leather to remain breathable.

Terracare®: Certified Leather

By the way, we are very picky when it comes to selecting the right leather… That’s why we only use sustainable Terracare® leather from Heinen Leder, made in Germany. Their high level of environmental sustainability has been recognized with the Gold Medal by the Leather Working Group several times. This guarantees that you can enjoy natural wearing comfort and rest assured that resource-conserving and environmentally-friendly methods were used for its manufacturing.

If you would like to learn more about Terracare®, you can find additional information about leather in our Sustainability Report.

Certified organic cotton

Partially made from certified organic cotton grown under strict ecological conditions. Cultivation requires less water consumption than conventional cotton and needs no chemical fertilizers, pesticides or genetic engineering. By buying organic cotton, VAUDE is contributing to the sustainable development of small farmers and to the preservation of biodiversity in areas of cultivation.

• renewable raw resource made from natural materials
• cultivated without chemical fertilizers, genetic engineering or pesticides
• protects the environment and reduces water consumption


Especially in warm temperatures, the breathability and temperature regulation of the shoe or upper material plays a decisive role. The upper materials (inside and outside) are moisture-regulating, well-placed ventilation areas on the shoe prevent heat accumulation and ensure a better foot climate during activity.

Basically we use two different mesh materials:
– Mesh: breathable, but somewhat denser material
– Airmesh: extremely breathable