View Full Version : Insoles
I'm looking for advice/information about using insoles....
Are they necessary and or beneficial?
Your experiences with their use, please.
Yes,Yes. When your boot treads wear down to the nubs and the insides get all compressed they are beneficial.
I fitted hikers in boots for over 5 years and I highly recommend some type of footbed. Here's one way to look at it. Boots for all practical purposes are like tires on cars. Would you spend $125 per tire for replacements on your SUV and NOT get them high speed balanced ?? Probably not. Boots, like tires, are designed for a large percentage of the hiking population and for that reason have to fit a variety of widths and volumes. What a good footbed does is to "fine tune" a boot to the characterstics of your feet. If they are good footbeds they will even take into account differences from your right to left foot.
Another reason for a footbed is to manage something called "elongation". When we stand up with a load on our backs the muscles in the foot are stressed causing the natural arch to flatten somewhat which translates into a lengthening or "elongation" of the foot. Everyone has some degree of elongation and the greater the degree of elongation the more you need a good footbed. If you haven't already done this, the next time you are in an outfitter's store have them measure both of your feet while sitting and then while standing. Not only will you likely find a difference in foot length from right to left but you will also very likely see your feet "grow" anywhere between 1/4 and 1 full size. What a good footbed does is support the arch and keep the foot in the rear of the boot where it belongs. They "manage" the elongation and in doing so they stabilizes the heel, giving the hiker a more solid and efficient "plant" as they land and push off during a stride.
One word of caution though for hikers who have never worn footbeds in the past. They need to be "broken in", just like your boots. The footbed is adjusted to fit your boot and then your foot has to find its natural position on the footbed. I strongly recommend that a hiker spend several hours over several days allowing the process above to take place before heading out on a distance hike.
Finally I just want to comment on one of the most widely misundersood aspects of footbeds and boot comfort. There is a school of thought out there that says "soft is good". For that reason a lot of hikers seek out the thicker and more spongy footwear inserts. They feel great at first but in the long haul they are causing more damage than good. We were born with all the padding we need on the underside of the foot. We just need it to be supported and stabilized so that it can do it's job. By placing a flat, soft and spongy insert under the foot what we are really doing is providing way too much room for movement. What feels good in the beginning will generally turn into the perfect environment for friction, heat build up and ultimately blisters.
My story about superfeet footbeds. In 2001 I hiked the northern half of the trail. I scoffed at superfeet, because they cost another $30 on top of the price of a good boot. By Katahdin, my feet were so tender, I didn't know if my feet would ever feel normal again. It took months before they did finally feel normal.
After that, I bought superfeet, and used them in 2002 for the southern half of the trial. No problems with my feet. And within days after finishing, I was running road races. I'm an advocate of superfeet.
I have sustained a few serious foot injuries. These injuries started me on a quest for painfree hiking and running. I have used several different types of footbeds. I echo what Fooslogger and Peaks stated. I use green Superfeet often. I think the best Superfeet are the three piece ones that are fit and molded to your feet. All feet are different. Some will get injured without proper (good quality) foot beds. Some folks get lucky and have no problems.
As stated above, it is a good idea to break them in slowly. You could cause great damage to your feet and possibly legs, hips, and back if you do not.
Bad Ass Turtle
Here's my footbed story: I started out with those green trim-to-fit Superfeet (didn't break them in -- duh!) and on my second day out of Springer I started feeling a lot of pain around my arch. By the third day, the bottoms of my feet were bruised. The issue for me is that I have flat feet and the arches on the Superfeet were too high for my flatness. Or it could be that I just didn't work enough on them to break them in -- I'm not sure which. Anyway, Footslogger provided a temporary solution to that problem by cutting out the hard plastic arch on the Superfeet. I hiked with them that way to Damascus, but by the time I got there there was a hole in the heel of the footbed that I could put my thumb into -- I think by cutting out the plastic arch, we weakened the structure of the whole thing.
anyway, in Damascus, I had custom footbeds made and hiked another 1000 miles on them. Fantastic! They're expensive but they're wonderful . . .
I have the opppsite problem that BAT has. I have very, very high arches. No general insole was going to give me enough support.
My solution? I got custom footbeds by Superfeet. I would highly recommend them to anyone.