Each time you plan a hiking trip, a backpacking one, a run, cycle or even just a simple getaway out in the wilderness, you want to be prepared for everything and have you list checked for all details. What does that include?
Clothing, footwear and whatever you absolutely need in your backpack, right? As far as footwear goes, you probably think it’s enough to have a good pair of shoes or boots but after a number of steps, there might be something there that could’ve been added to make the walking more comfortable.
So why stop and think about it on the spot, rather than make a simple extra step and ensure that you actually had the best insoles for hiking on your initial checklist?
Even the best hiking shoes are prone to wearing because there is no such thing as “designed to last forever”.
The first part which tends to give up first is the one supporting the most pressure, and that’s the insole. Why is that? Because insoles are the main cushion between your soles and the boot’s base. Their purpose is to absorb shock, give a good comfort for your feet and even dissipate sweat.
Features to Consider When Buying
If you want to take that extra safe step and not rely solely on the standard equipment your hiking boots come with, you need to consider a few features when exploring your options for hiking insoles.
- Comfort: For those who need their feet as comfortable as possible in their boots, this is a feature which must be absolutely taken into account. A pair of insoles which offer the highest grade of comfort will be the difference between a rested and healthy foot and a tired one with foot pain.
Insoles designed to absorb shock will prevent that pain and make your hiking experience a lot better.
- Support: Higher stability is sometimes preferred to a softer cushion, especially by the folks experiencing structural misalignment which can literally be a pain not only for the feet but also for the upper parts, going towards ankles, knees and all the way to the neck and even head.
- Volume: Even if you make a compromise between comfort and support, choosing one, the other or both, volume is something you need to really take into consideration. You wouldn’t want to have our boot filled up and your foot pressing hard on the shoelace part, even if your sole is in a good position, would you?
Depending on the boots you’re wearing, there are two types of insole volumes which you must consider.
High volume insoles are best used for hiking boots (where you need more cushion for the sole), ski boots (your whole body weight will rest on them) or running shoes, where you need shock absorption.
Insoles with low volume are best suited for casual shoes where there’s not much pressure on the shoe’s base, skate or ski skate boots where you also have to take the thickness of the socks you are wearing into consideration.
Don’t Step in Your Problems
Besides knowing what features to mark before buying insoles, you also must be aware of some fit problems you might have.
Since insoles vary in shape, sizes for arch and heel, a REI specialist will be your best choice for getting advice regarding special needs for your feet.
- Problems with heel slipping: if you have a shoe fitting well in the mid area and on the forefoot, but you don’t seem to leave space for your heel, allowing slippage, the best option is to go for insoles designed to support mid-high volume.
With this, you will have less volume in the rear of the shoe and your heel will be stabilized, thus eliminating heel slipping and preventing those nasty hot spots and blister.
- Problems with elongation of the foot: There are many cases where one or both feet have an elongation depending on position (standing or sitting). This particular problem can be resolved by choosing supportive insoles.
It will reduce your foot elongation when more pressure is applied on the sole (when you are carrying something extra than your body weight for example) and you won’t have to chop for bigger footwear size than your normal one.
- Low arches and collapsed arches: It’s a common problem often countered with a bad fit: insoles for arch support. Actually, those are not the proper solution for this problem.
A pair of insoles designed for foot support is a much better choice, simulating the activity in arch muscles. Heel stabilization and an even pressure applied on the foot’s base is almost a cure, instead of having pressure concentrated towards the arch area.
Do not treat your problem with the wrong solution, limiting the natural foot flexing with a direct support for arch will create more pain.
Top Products for Your Hiking Needs
I believe we managed to highlight the importance of comfort while hiking and the insoles are a big part of this aspect.
If your feet are not comfortable, then you won’t be comfortable. The other items of your equipment won’t matter when your feet are aching or cold so make sure to take a look at the products we consider the best.
Our selection offers you details and insight for top 8 of the best insoles you can use for hiking, but if you have another favorite brand, please don’t be shy. Let us know about it in comments.
Powerstep Full-Length Orthotic Shoe Insoles Original
Support Type: Semi-Rigid Arch Support
Fabric: heat and friction reducing, anti-microbial top fabric
Size: no trimming necessary
Specific Features: eliminates the pain from Plantar Fasciitis, heel support
Best Use: tighter fitting shoes with limited space
Description: The Powerstep Orthotic Shoe Insoles are actually recommended by podiatrists everywhere. So they will work in any situation, not just when you’re hiking. The feature that makes them so great is the encapsulated design, which promotes a firm and flexible support shell.
The design supports both the arch of the foot and the heel with a moderate dual-layer cushioning. Even more, the product is extra thin which allows you to use these insoles in any type of shoe you want (for instance, some of the current users like to wear the same pair with both work and golf shoes).
The Powerstep Orthotic is a product recommended for people who fight foot problems like Plantar Fasciitis, bunions, or heel pains. They are also great for Mild Over-Pronation of flat feet (or fallen arches).
The person who founded Powerstep and their products was a podiatrist, an athlete, and a foot surgeon so you can imagine why these insoles are so great.
You can think of them as to a ready-to-wear orthotic that doesn’t need any preparations before going on a long walk or hike. Even more, you won’t spend a fortune on an orthotic that fits your feet and your specific problems.
Users mention that it takes about 2 days to break these insoles in, but after the first few walks you will get accustomed to their presence in your shoes.
Also, you will see improvement in only 4 weeks of constant wearing. So, regardless of the fact that you use them for hiking or day-to-day use, these insoles are a great product.
Superfeet Black Premium Insoles
Support Type: Low-arched insole for light support
Fabric: Synthetic with natural NXT anti-bacteria latex-free coating
Size: 8.5 centimeters wide
Specific Features: very helpful with common foot and heel pain, arch pain, and plantar fasciitis
Best Use: fits most footwear, even tight-fitting styles
Description: The Superfeet Black Premium Insoles are specially designed to accommodate almost any kind of shoes and does that by adapting the midsole to your foot’s shape and specific characteristics.
The design is quite unique and offers both stability and comfort through a well-built heel cup and a full-length layer of foam.
The layer of foam is thin and won’t bother you with any type of shoes. The foam is dense enough to offer comfort while hiking for long distances or performing intense athletic activities.
Another feature that makes them amazing for long hiking trips is the anti-bacterial coating which will keep your feet dry and fresh for the entire trip.
Orthaheel Insole Relief Full Length Large
Support Type: for all arch types
Size: Come in various sizes, that fit the size of your shoes
Specific Features: deep heel cup, tri-plantar motion technology
Best Use: fits most athletic shoes
Description: The Orthaheel Insole Relief is a product designed to fit most shoes one would wear during hiking, but you must beware of the fact that they are a bit hard to break in. The insoles are hard and it takes up to 4 weeks to soften up.
However, the deep heel cup offers increased stability and the tri-plantar motion technology is great in reducing excess pronation.
Users are happy with them and many say that their problems with heel pains and plantar fasciitis were reduced after wearing the Orthaheel insole. All in all, the product is great for long walks and hiking trips, but you must make sure they fit your needs.
Superfeet Green Premium Insoles – High Volume
Support Type: High-arched for maximum support
Fabric: Synthetic with natural NXT latex-free, anti-bacteria coating
Size: 2 inches high and 5 inches wide
Specific Features: Great for reducing foot pain, heel and arch pain, and plantar fasciitis
Best Use: fits most roomy shoes with removable insoles
Description: The Superfeet GREEN Premium insoles are great for high-profile footwear and medium to high volume shoes with removable insoles. They go great with anything starting with casual footwear to work shoes to hiking boots and they have amazing orthotic features.
The insoles are designed with a stabilizer cap, at the base of their structure, which provides support for the foot and comfort for the heel. Next, the dense foam offers increased comfort for the entire foot and the shape is very generous with the heel area.
This is one of the reasons why they are recommended for hiking – the heel is extra-protected and you won’t feel those pesky rocks even with plantar fasciitis. The insole also supports the ankles and reduces stress on the knees which is amazing when it comes to rough terrain.
Keep in mind that these need trimming to fit your shoes so you’ll need more pairs if you want to wear them in different situations. Also, they take some getting used to but once this happens, you’ll enjoy walking on clouds.
SOLE Signature EV Ultra Footbeds
Support Type: Mid volume medium thickness footbeds
Fabric: Synthetic with natural NXT latex-free, anti-bacteria coating
Size: designed in general footwear sizes
Specific Features: 3M ThinsulateTM, 400gram insulation, 16mm layer of proprietary Softec opencell cushioning
Best Use: optimal for cold weather in most footwear
Description: The Sole footbeds are designed to fit your feet shape perfectly. They are called footbeds and not insoles because they are seen most like an important orthopedic base layer that must be in your shoes as an intermediary between the flat insoles of your footwear and your feet.
The Sole footbeds are mouldable (you have to heat them in the oven and then sit on them so they’ll take your feet shape) so you’ll have to work them a bit before you can enjoy the comfort.
These are designed to protect you from the cold as well so they’ll be great when hiking through snow. The Sole footbeds are recommended for improved balance, reduced stress on ankles and knees, reduced heel pains, and custom orthopedic support.
Users are extremely happy with them and many are happy to pay a bit extra for this amazing comfort. Even more, the insoles are durable so you don’t have to worry about wear and tear.
Support Type: Medium arch profile
Fabric: Synthetic with DryTek Fabric Top Cover
Size: general footwear sizes
Specific Features: help reduce Achilles tendinitis, ankle pain, overpronation, plantar fasciitis, and knee shin splints.
Best Use: great for running / walking shoes
Description: The RunPro Insoles were designed for an active person who likes to run, jog or simply walk for miles. This is why we also recommend them for hiking activities as they will offer optimum support for the foot, ankles, and knees.
The insoles are integrated with gel dots that help keep your feet fresh and improve physical performance even for long period times of wearing.
The top cover is designed to absorb moisture which allows you to feel comfy in your shoes for longer time periods and the mid-level memory foam in the insoles is impregnated with Bamboo charcoal to reduce odors and kill bacteria.
The generous heel cup and the specially designed rubber integrated into the insoles help absorb shocks and mold to your feet shape. In conclusion, RunPro Insoles are amazing for long hiking trips on rough terrain.
Sof Sole Plantar Fascia Comfort Insole
Support Type: maximum support for low, neutral, and high arches
Fabric: durable composite nylon
Size: 3/4 length
Specific Features: disperses heel strike and relieves pain from heel spurs
Best Use: fits most types of footwear (for athletic, dress, and casual shoes)
Description: The SofSole Orthotic Insoles are designed to offer maximum support for most arch types and comfort for people suffering from Plantar Fasciitis or heel pain.
We included these insoles in our top simply because they are equipped with a defined heel cup that offers extra support and stability during long, difficult trips.
Also, the heel is designed with a gel pad that improves the comfort with a bit of extra cushion. This protects the heel when walking on tough surfaces or rough terrains.
Timberland PRO Men’s Anti-Fatigue
Support Type: all foot shapes
Fabric: leather and synthetic sole
Size: it adapts to any foot size and can be trimmed
Specific Features: anti-fatigue technology and OrthoLite top layer, high-quality top cover with temperature regulation and antimicrobial odor control
Best Use: great for most shoes with removable insoles
Description: The Timberland PRO Men come with a series of interesting features for hikers. From the great top leather cover which helps keep the odor and temperature in control, to the great support the insoles offer due to the anatomically contoured footbed, everything sounds great.
The design is quite unique and this helps absorb shocks and keep your feet fresh and rested. To use them properly, you would have to remove the original insoles of your boots and replace them with Timberland ones.
Users are thrilled with these insoles and recommend them for work on rough terrain or difficult surfaces. You can work with them on concrete and other similar surfaces because they act as a wonderful shock absorbent.
Walking on Clouds Is Possible
As you can see, insoles today are more than just an extra layer in your boots. They are specially designed to support various types of foot, slide in various type of footwear and help with problems like plantar fasciitis or heel pain.
Before we end, it’s important to understand that not all models will be great for you. Some will work and some won’t so you have to test a few products before finding the best for your needs.
In accordance to this, which product does the job for you? And, how many insoles you tested before finding the best one?