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July 2021

Support yourself with the right insoles

Written by Staff Member of VPO Nelson

If you plan to send it in the backcountry this summer, or if you are headed for a new season of long hours working in the woods, then head out with a pack full of hiking boot hacks. Most shoes and boots come with a generic insole pad that is slightly formed and does not provide much support. Shoe and boot companies put their efforts towards the outside of the product and let others provide insole support. There are simply too many variables for shoe and boot companies to bother making technically-inspired insoles.

Good insoles are shaped with various degrees of arch support. If you have a steep longitudinal arch (in the middle inside of your foot), a medium high arch, or a more flat arch, then you can probably find insoles to match.

High Arch

Medium Arch

Low Arch

The support you get from insoles reduces strain on your feet. Your ability to last through a hike or a long day of tree planting becomes much easier when the muscle chain that runs from the bottom of your feet, up your legs, along your back and up to your neck don’t have to strain as much. Yes, happy feet equals happy knees, hips, back and neck!

Often insoles fill the boot volume so you have less friction (blisters!) between your heel and the boot liner, as well as between the area just behind your pinky toe and the boot liner. If you need a slight lift under your insole, you can find flat boot liners of various thickness to add that extra volume in order to fill the boot properly.

High Volume

Medium Volume

Sole Active Medium

Thin Volume

Heel Support Matters

The added heel support enables your foot to line up more true in the boot. If it does not tilt inward (pronate) or outward (supinate), it will allow your walking gait to flow more naturally. Over long periods of time hiking or planting, your muscles fatigue and either they will have the support they need, or they will start to tighten or stretch and become sore.

Deep Heel Cup

SUPERfeet Green

Shallow Heel Cup

SUPERfeet Carbon

Most insoles come with variable density cushioning; the heel gets more cushion and the metatarsals, or your foot pad, gets less cushioning. The reason for this is that most people are heel-strikers; when the heel strikes the path first, then the rest of the foot follows. You can also get insoles that have moisture wicking technology, or anti-bacterial coatings, or a charcoal midlayer to reduce foot odour.

What About Rigidity?

Lastly, there are different types of rigidity for insoles. Some are very rigid and some are more flexible. Rigid is good for long days biking or with loads on your back. Flexy is good for dynamic movement with less weight on your back. And one of the best indirect perks is that purchased insoles are more durable and last a long time, so you can move your insoles from shoe to shoe ensuring that you are always comfortable.