Shoe insole choices

This is a tough one.  I’d love to get more feedback from other hikers on this.  I’m a normal sized 5’4″ lady with size 8.5 feet and no real foot problems.  I have been told I don’t need arch support.  I do, though need better insoles!
I used green superfeet in my Merrill Moab mid boots, and they were okay but a bit too thick maybe and the arch felt like it wasn’t in quite the right place.  I suffered no ill effects, and I’m sure they’re way better than nothing.  Hiking 16 mi per day for 3 weeks my dogs were barkin’ fearcely in a general throb.  IMO the Moab shoe is inadequate for uber-rocky terrain and that was my problem, I needed a shoe with a stiffer sole.


The PCT isn’t so rocky, but I’m trying a new shoe, Patagonia Drifter A/C.  It has a knobby vibram stiff sole, is very breathable, has tons of room to wiggle the toes.  My heel is slipping a little, so I’m thinking the Superfeet green or berry might work good in this shoe.  I want to try them out for myself first.

Other options:
Erik the Black likes Montrail Enduro Sole Foot Beds
Or there’s other moldable types… sheesh these are pricey- but why?
Powerstep moldable orthodics have good ratings but seem geriatric
Then there’s Dr. Scholl’s machine that tells you what your feet need- but nobody seems like what it tells them!
Sorbothane Ultrasole

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About wanderingdot

Thru-hiking the PCT 2011
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4 Responses to Shoe insole choices

  1. Rockin says:

    Dreams a 2010 hiker recommends:
    Montrail Enduro Heat Moldable Insoles – The Merrell insoles are cheap pieces of cardboard. Most insoles are. When I buy new shoes, I toss the insoles and replace them with Montrail heat moldable insoles. You heat them in the oven for two minutes, place them in your shoes, and put on your shoes. It’s like stepping in your own footprints. Customized insoles not only prevent blisters, they help stabilize your feet putting less strain on your knees. I’ve tried various other heat moldable insoles but I’ve only liked the Montrails. The Montrail insoles cost about 40 bucks, but they are a lot cheaper than professional orthotics, which can cost hundreds of dollars. I replace these insoles every time I replaced my Merrell’s. Highly recommended.

    I am going to try them in the next couple of weeks. Last year I was fine with the insoles that came with the shoes I wore. I had no problems, but needed a 1/2 size bigger at 4 weeks into the hike. Everyone is different.

  2. Whirlpool (john) says:

    With long day miles under foot, over rocky or even not so rocky ground, I’ve learned that a stiffer soled shoe is soooo much more comfortable in a long trek. I’m not talking leather boots or running shoes. I’m talking low-top trail shoes that don’t flop side to side. (Test in store by twisting them every which way you can). Running shoes are great for a week-end trip and their lighter weight is wonderful, but you feel every sizeable rock you pass over. If you’re carrying anything over twentyfive lbs on your back, and most do, with your body weight and it, you’re going to want something to insulate you from the ground and those mean-stones underfoot. I applaud your thoughts on stiffer soles.*** As for insoles,*** I think the most important thing from my experience is, ***replacement***. They wear out very quickly, compressing in key points. (Expensive Dr.Scholls machine soles aren’t so bad but way over priced. Everyone’s paying for the machine. Cheap insoles are every bit as good. Insoles often might look good, but if they go flat in heel, toe, ball, anywhere, test with fingers, replace them with inexpensive new ones. Gels seem to last way longer than foam. One other thing that often gets overlooked is stopping stream/lake-side to soak your feet. They love the cooler temps and will thank-you throughout the rest of the day. Force yourself to stop for at least twenty minutes. And — if you can — elevate your feet, at least for a while, before you fall asleep. These ideas, I’ve found, work wonders for me along with those new pair of insoles.

    • wanderingdot says:

      Good thoughts, and I agree! For me personally, in hot weather my feet swell alarmingly. So this further irritates any blister problems. I discovered this on my 3-week test hike in New England on the AT. I had no idea my feet could bloat like that. In SoCal where it was blazing hot (though really not so bad in my April start) it made an enormous difference to soak them in a stream for 10 min at lunch.

      Lots of hikers love trail-runners like Solomon and New Balance or the Merril Moab ventilator. Maybe they work for younger hikers? I wore the Merril’s on my 3-week, 300 mile AT section and hated them. Though they are great for short day hikes in the “real” world. My feet felt like they got spanked with a granite paddle, which, essentially is precisely what happened. Lightning stabs of electric-shock pain plagued me as I tried to fall asleep. And you’re right, you feel individual rocks, which doesn’t seem so bad at first but after weeks and months it’s terrible.

      I chose lightweight but very stiff, rugged soled “hiking shoes” and only used two pairs. I am actually still wearing the second pair, which I bought at S. Lake Tahoe, so they have about 1,700 miles on them! Their insane long life qualifies the higher price tag. Best shoes I ever had. Looking for a new pair now, and will try out some different variety of insole, like the gel ones maybe. cheers!

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