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More on inner soles ; a comparative study of Six brands

Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances , St Jean Pied de Port - Finisterra May/ June 2017
Le Puy en Velay - Ales May 2018
#1
I have continued my quest to find the best inner sole for the Merrell Moabs I wear for most training walks .
Previously I found that Steel Blue inner soles were comfortable and of good quality ,after a hundred odd kilometres they were still comfortable but I thought that there must be something just a little better available .
I have now tested six different brands of inner soles available here in Australia , all prices are in approximate Australian dollars , each pair of inner soles were used for at least 100km in similar conditions and over the same terrain .
Some photographs are of new, unused examples , most after the testing was over .

The candidates ,
Nike Runfast , a replacement inner for running shoes , no arch support , minimal cushioning . Manufactured from a resilient foam with a tough upper layer that resists bunching . Aprox. $12 aus.
These photographed are new unused ones , I have another pair in old runners at home .
Conclusion , lightweight , tough , suitable for running and not much else .
Would I wear them on a long distance walk ? not on your Nelly
IMGP3424.JPG IMGP3424.JPG
Oliver ComfortCushion , essentially a work boot inner sole , reasonable arch support , cushioning under ball and heel with sorbithane inserts . Made from a closed cell foam with ventilation perforations , top layer is tough and non slip . Aprox. $12/16 aus .
Conclusion , lightweight , tough , well ventilated , comfortable when standing , could be thicker .
Would I wear them on a long walk? , yes if there was no alternative , they would probably be suitable , just .
IMGP3420.JPG

Steel Blue Ortho Rebound , another work boot inner sole , tough with excellent anti fungal properties and good ventilation, a heavy inner sole . Arch support adequate , resilience very good , top layer has anti slip areas . Aprox. $16/20 aus
Conclusion , tough ,comfortable very well ventilated so suitable for hot days , the waffled profile at the base accommodates any sand that enters the shoe so emptying out the day's accumulation can be delayed .
Would I wear them ? Yes , some inadequacies with ball cushioning though .

IMGP3421.JPG

Spenco PolySorb, a cross training inner sole , multiple layers , superior arch support , a claimed low friction top cloth . Aprox. $45 aus .
Conclusion , the best in terms of rigid arch support , cushioning is really only adequate . A major flaw developed within the first twenty kilometres of use , the ' low friction ' top cloth came loose , bunching up and causing much irritation. A shame really as they were not bad otherwise .
Would I wear them ? No , not unless the top layer could be guaranteed to not peel off on the next pair .
IMGP3418.JPG

DR Comfort , a dual layer inner sole with gel inserts , available from podiatrists . Top layer is of a suede material , good arch support , good ball of foot and heel cushioning . Aprox.$50 aus
Conclusion, certainly comfortable and supportive , the gel inserts are well placed especially under the Hallux [ big toe joint ] ex football players may appreciate this . Some reservations on the durability of the suede top cloth, some wear was noted although there were no signs of separation during the test .
Would I wear them ? Yes , with no hesitation .
IMGP3419.JPG

Neat Feat, , made from a single foam injection of Ultrabound plastic with a plastazote self moulding top cover . Arch support almost as good as Spenco, ball of foot and heel cushioning excellent. Thicker than some so the shoe must be able to accommodate the extra bulk . Aprox $36 aus .
Conclusion, without question the very best tested , resilient foam and moulded top cover combine to give superior support through the entire foot . No wear or compression noted , the pair photographed are new , the ones I am using at the moment securely fitted to my Merrells .
Would I wear them on the Camino ? Of course .
IMGP3422.JPG
 

Magwood

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (15 April 2013)
Camino Portuguese (1 May 2014)
Camino Mozárabe from Málaga (8 April 2015)
Camino del Norte & Camino Ingles (April 2016)
#2
Interesting - thanks for reporting
 

linkster

Nunca dejes de creer!
Camino(s) past & future
Francés 05/17 brazo roto Portomarín
Francés 09/17 SJPdP - Santiago
(Portuguese: 09/18)
#3
I have been using Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid Hiking Boots for years. They hardly require any break in. I have replaced the insoles with SOLE Ed Viesturs. They are heat moldable to your feet. I usually switch them out when they start to show signs of wear, but they do last a long time. I did have a pair where the top cloth delaminated after a year or so, but that was beyond its lifespan. They are thick (cushioned), so your footwear will have to be able to accommodate them. I tried them in a pair of Merrell Moab Ventilator Shoes, but I ended up with blisters on the back of my heel (achilles). The back heel cup was not tall enough to accommodate the insole. I have pulled out the insoles and put them into my crocs after a long day. It is like walking on air. I still have a new replacement pair on the shelf, but it looks like SOLE has updated their product line. The Ed Viesturs are still available online at discounted prices.
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
#4
I wore Merrell Moab Ventilators on two of my CF's. I like them too, and I know there are better shoes/boots out there on the market, but they seemed to me to be a good deal for the average pilgrim's budget.
I found the factory innersole to be too thin and lacking in support and cushioning. I replaced them with insoles by a company called 10 Seconds. They're a dense, firm, rubber material and provided me with a lot of support and cushioning. They do take up a bit more room in the shoe, so you do have to adjust accordingly in shoe size or sock thickness.
s-l1000.jpg
I also like these insoles by Spenco. They are just as thin as factory insoles, but provide more support and stability. That arch section is a firm and flexible carbon fiber type of material. Never used them for a walk as long as the CF, but judging from everyday use, I think they would work well.
thinsoleorthotics.jpg
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2013
Camino del Norte a Chimayó (USA), 2015
Camino Portugues, 2017
#5
I wore Superfeet Blue Premium Insoles in my Moab mid-heights on the Camino and ended up with plantar fasciitis beginning around León. I painfully limped the rest of the way to Santiago on a steady diet of ibuprofin. I have since been wearing Sole Performance Medium insoles (orange) in both my Moab low and mid-height hiking shoes and have had no further plantar fasciitis symptoms. I do, however, continue to wear blue Superfeet insoles in some of my more casual shoes.
 
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
#6
After similar trial, error, and expedient podiatrist treatment on my feet in Burgos, I decided to see a local podiatrist. As a result, I had expensive custom orthotic insoles made.

While this may be seen as an extreme measure, I evidently have odd shaped feet. This represented the best solution for me.

The OP presents a LOT of excellent information for the majority of pilgrims. However, no two pair of feet are exactly the same. So, I counsel that you explore your alternatives.

I hope this helps.
 

movinmaggie

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015) Scotland GGW (2017) Primitivo
#7
I'll be replacing my well worn Ahnu boots for my Spring walk in Scotland and for the Portuguese in 2018. I did like the lght weight of the Ahnu, but would like to have gotten more miles on them. I guess my question would be, is there a shoe/boot that can stand (no pun intended) on their own, without requiring insoles?
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
#8
After similar trial, error, and expedient podiatrist treatment on my feet in Burgos, I decided to see a local podiatrist. As a result, I had expensive custom orthotic insoles made.

While this may be seen as an extreme measure, I evidently have odd shaped feet. This represented the best solution for me.

The OP presents a LOT of excellent information for the majority of pilgrims. However, no two pair of feet are exactly the same. So, I counsel that you explore your alternatives.

I hope this helps.

Althuogh I welcome the informative post of the OP I, like t2andreo, need customised , personally designed insoles for my shoes. A technician makes them for me and with our federal health care system I get a pair of insoles reimbursed every two years.
Store bought insoles won't work for my feet ( combination of hallux valgus and pes cavus ).

So I would suggest that when orthopedic issues are too serious or complex you consult a specialist. My specialist does not only look at my feet but also takes knees and backissues into consideration.
 

gittiharre

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF Austria Czech Le Puy Geneva RLS V. Jacobi V. Regia V. Baltica/Scandinavica Porto Muxia
#9
I am extremely dubious about orthotics. I had some custom made by a senior sports podiatrist, kept on telling him the right foot felt like it had a golf ball under the arch. He kept saying I had to persist and would get used to them. Well on day 1 walking out of Geneva I landed myself a stress fracture in the 2nd metatarsal.
I was furious. I have walked over 6000 km on pilgrims routes and this has never happened to me before.
I walked/hobbled the 350 km to Le Puy, after a Dr and osteopath told me it wasn't broken, only to find on return home I had a fracture after all.
The sports specialist said there was no need for me to wear orthotics anyway.
3 months since I got home now and I still have to wear stiff boots as the fracture hasn't completely healed.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Mar 2010, May/Jun 2016, Sep 2011, 2012, Apr 2014, St Olav's Way 2018
#10
I'll be replacing my well worn Ahnu boots for my Spring walk in Scotland and for the Portuguese in 2018. I did like the lght weight of the Ahnu, but would like to have gotten more miles on them. I guess my question would be, is there a shoe/boot that can stand (no pun intended) on their own, without requiring insoles?
@movinmaggie, I walked the CF this year in Keens, and retained the OEM insoles but supplemented those with a heel support. The one I use is by Orthoheel. As well as a little extra cushioning under the heel, it provides some additional support at the sides and back of the heel as well. I have also done the same with a pair of Hi-Tex boots that I have been using on training walks. So there are a variety of options that don't require complete replacement of the OEM insole.
 
Camino(s) past & future
September (2016)
#11
I completed my Camino on October 11 after walking in my Merrell Moab mids from St. Jean to Santiago with the inserts that came with the boot. I had no problems, felt sufficiently supported and never had a single blister. I am 64 years old and when (not if) I walk the Camino again after retirement in 2 years I would consider doing the same thing. I also wore a thin pair of silk socks and a pair of Darn Tough wool hiking socks. My feet were very happy!
 

movinmaggie

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015) Scotland GGW (2017) Primitivo
#12
@movinmaggie, I walked the CF this year in Keens, and retained the OEM insoles but supplemented those with a heel support. The one I use is by Orthoheel. As well as a little extra cushioning under the heel, it provides some additional support at the sides and back of the heel as well. I have also done the same with a pair of Hi-Tex boots that I have been using on training walks. So there are a variety of options that don't require complete replacement of the OEM insole.
thanks so much Doug; well noted.
 

movinmaggie

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015) Scotland GGW (2017) Primitivo
#13
I completed my Camino on October 11 after walking in my Merrell Moab mids from St. Jean to Santiago with the inserts that came with the boot. I had no problems, felt sufficiently supported and never had a single blister. I am 64 years old and when (not if) I walk the Camino again after retirement in 2 years I would consider doing the same thing. I also wore a thin pair of silk socks and a pair of Darn Tough wool hiking socks. My feet were very happy!
thanks Marc, yes, I always wore silk ankle stockings over either my Smart Wool or Wright Socks and it helped immensely. I've heard good things about the Merrell Moab mids.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances , St Jean Pied de Port - Finisterra May/ June 2017
Le Puy en Velay - Ales May 2018
#14
Marc , the inner soles that came with my Merrells were no thicker than paper and had no arch support whatsoever . Perhaps we Australians are being shortchanged on the Global market once again .
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean 2017.
#16
I also support our OP for his original research. Another reason why of love this forum - this is info you cannot get from the manufactures.

As for feet and Merrell walking "boots" - well considering that even on special they are over $225 AUD ($200 US / E 160 - approx) it's a shame that they are fitted with such extremely poor inner soles (my opinion - from use). They gave up after 125 km and caused me significant foot injuries - took 18/20 months to recover. So lesson to the young/old/inexperienced - double check the inner soles that come with your walking gear and be prepared to dump them if necessary. Cheers
 

GreatDane

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF to Burgos Sept/Oct 2014, Burgos to Astorga April 2016, Astorga to SdC 2017
#17
I've posted this elsewhere a couple times but before my 2014 camino I decided to try SuperFeet after years of Dr Scholl gel inserts. Both readily available in the US. I was working in 110°F+ heat all summer on hot concrete and in my camino boots. So one week I'd wear the SuperFeet insert in my left boot, Dr Scholl in the right, the next week switch, switch back the next week. Found that for my feet anyway the SuperFeet were more comfortable in the long run. Did the rest of my training and my camino with SuperFeet inserts and have since replaced all my Dr Scholl gels. Used the Superfeet on my 2016 camino too.
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
#18
Marc , the inner soles that came with my Merrells were no thicker than paper and had no arch support whatsoever . Perhaps we Australians are being shortchanged on the Global market once again .
Yeah, the same with the Merrells I bought in the US as well. That's why I changed them out, but that's just my preference. I'm sure for some the factory insoles suffice, others not so much. So many variables in foot type, old injuries or conditions, weight of the person, etc etc etc
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances , St Jean Pied de Port - Finisterra May/ June 2017
Le Puy en Velay - Ales May 2018
#19
As a boy and young man I would walk from sunrise to dark barefoot . Through the bush and along the mangrove swamps of the coastal village not far from where I was first posted .
My feet didn't give me an ounce of trouble for forty odd years .
Now at 60 it seems that anything that can go wrong with them will , growing older is most certainly '' not for the faint hearted '' .
It is a shame that superfeet thermo moulding inner soles are not available here , if the cold moulding comfort properties of the neat feat soles are any indication then thermo moulding soles may very well be a further improvement .
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese.
#20
Many years ago I had a bad case of plantar fasciitis. Custom made orthotics (semi-hard, not completely rigid) worked like magic taking me from being unable to take a single step to walking normally within weeks. So when I started walking the camino it was automatic to use innersoles - either the orthotics or the Orthoheels mentioned by @dougfitz.

The Ecco sandals I now use have taken me several thousand km without an innersole, so the shape of the last must suit my feet. The wording on the soles says "powered by receptive technology" (marketing hype), which presumably means it has some spring built in.

If you find something that works for you, stick to it. And hope that when you need a replacement the manufacturer has not "updated" to something different.
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
#21
As a boy and young man I would walk from sunrise to dark barefoot . Through the bush and along the mangrove swamps of the coastal village not far from where I was first posted .
My feet didn't give me an ounce of trouble for forty odd years .
Now at 60 it seems that anything that can go wrong with them will , growing older is most certainly '' not for the faint hearted '' .
It is a shame that superfeet thermo moulding inner soles are not available here , if the cold moulding comfort properties of the neat feat soles are any indication then thermo moulding soles may very well be a further improvement .
Same here. Never gave any thought to insole types when I was younger. I bought running shoes, put them on and off I went. Same with hiking boots. In the military the boots we were issued had shite insoles. They were thin and waffle like, but it didn't make a difference to me in my twenties. Now I'm older and heavier with dodgy knees and an old ankle injury. Shoe/boot type and insoles seem to make all the difference, ha ha.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (Villada to SdC) (2016)
Primitivo (Ribadesella to SdC) (2017)
#22
I wore my insoles out after walking to Ponferrada (from Villada). A quick stop at Decathlon and they were replaced with some 10 euro insoles (Aptonia Shock 300), which are still going at the minute.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#23
I have used the Spenco for a decade with no quality control problem. My instep bears all my weight, so that part eventually breaks down. But that is just my foot!!
 
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
#24
This thread just continues to validate my statement that "No two pair of feet are alike..." For that matter each person's left and right feet are also structurally and alignment-wise, different.

It is normal for one foot to be slightly larger than the other. It is normal for your two feet to have different arches, insoles, heels and plantar regions. Mine are.

For example, my right foot is 1/2 size larger than my left. The arches and insoles are different. My right heel is subject to nasty callous growth, whereas the left is more or less benign in that respect. It makes outfitting for a Camino ever so challenging.

There is no single solution that will work for everyone the same way. Your need to investigate and refine your findings and assessments for YOUR FEET.

I hope this helps.
 

linkster

Nunca dejes de creer!
Camino(s) past & future
Francés 05/17 brazo roto Portomarín
Francés 09/17 SJPdP - Santiago
(Portuguese: 09/18)
#25
I agree that there is not a single solution for everyone. I had plantar fasciitis about 5~6 years ago. I went to the podiatrist and had some custom insoles made. They were thin hard plastic that could be placed under the insole of your shoe. They were uncomfortable. I found a good balance with the heat moldable insoles that offered more cushioning. They provided the custom fit that my feet required. I have been a convert ever since.
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
#26
I replaced my boots supportive insoles with 'Orthosoles' from Millets UK. They have interchangeable inserts so can be altered to suit and for me are much better than any 'fixed' type. Bought in store not on-line and with boot insole in hand.
 
Camino(s) past & future
September (2016)
#27
Yeah, the same with the Merrells I bought in the US as well. That's why I changed them out, but that's just my preference. I'm sure for some the factory insoles suffice, others not so much. So many variables in foot type, old injuries or conditions, weight of the person, etc etc etc
I never even gave any thought before the Camino to looking into alternative insoles. Maybe that is a piece of advice that I missed, but I am only 5'1" tall and weigh in at 123 lbs. Perhaps that may be one reason that my Merrells worked as well as they did. And I have to say as far as wear goes, after putting over 850 KM on these boots during both the camino and my prep time before starting, they still look like new and the soles show very little signs of wear.
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
#28
I never even gave any thought before the Camino to looking into alternative insoles. Maybe that is a piece of advice that I missed, but I am only 5'1" tall and weigh in at 123 lbs. Perhaps that may be one reason that my Merrells worked as well as they did. And I have to say as far as wear goes, after putting over 850 KM on these boots during both the camino and my prep time before starting, they still look like new and the soles show very little signs of wear.
I'm 6'1" about 220 lbs, and with another 15 lbs or so of pack and water on the Camino. Shoe and insole choice makes quite a difference for me, but even so, my Merrells looked pretty good after each Camino (SJPdP-SDC). The lining inside got kinda trashed, but the outsole and exterior of the shoes still had a lot of miles left in them. The pair I wore on my first Camino finally gave out one day after a couple more years of being worn for yardwork and similar tasks. I was hosing them off one day and I saw the outsole looked loose and when I pulled on it, it completely separated from the shoe easily, ha ha. Oh well. They did their duty well.
 

BlackDog

Older Peregrino
Camino(s) past & future
Francés part 2012, Francés 2013, Inglés 2014, Muxía 2014, Fisterra 2012, 2014, Portugués 2016, 2018
#29
I replaced my boots supportive insoles with 'Orthosoles' from Millets UK. They have interchangeable inserts so can be altered to suit and for me are much better than any 'fixed' type. Bought in store not on-line and with boot insole in hand.
I would also recommend this brand for the personalisation aspect. I have walked with them over several caminos and on day walks.
 

RelEngOz

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
el Camino Frances, Sep 2016
#30
Thanks Charles Zammit,
A bit of comparative testing is better than the usual "I use xxyyyzz and they work well for me".

I have a long history of trying out insoles here in Australia.
Originally I was prescribed custom orthotics for running after suffering stress fractures during training for half marathons.
I used them for years but when my running schedule dropped off I started buying off the shelf insoles both for running and most of my other footwear - eg work boots.
I am not looking for cushioning, just the approximately correct (for me) amount of foot tilt correction via a high, stiff inner arch section.
One other factor for me was price as these units are extremely cheap to make but the price variation is huge depending on where they are sold (eg podiatrist, running shoe shop or cheap pharmacy outlet).

The availability of brands has changed over the years and at the moment I am using Orthaheel brand sports inserts. They are now owned by Scholl but still sold as Orthaheel in Australia.
They can vary between $25 - $45 per pair and should last a year or two for medium usage. They have minimal cushioning and the arch section is quite stiff and doesn't deform with usage.
I used these in my Marmot Pacific Crest boots for my 500 km CF and they are still in good condition.
I could not hike that far every day without these "orthotics".
 

Attachments

Camino(s) past & future
Future 2017
#31
I wore Superfeet Blue Premium Insoles in my Moab mid-heights on the Camino and ended up with plantar fasciitis beginning around León. I painfully limped the rest of the way to Santiago on a steady diet of ibuprofin. I have since been wearing Sole Performance Medium insoles (orange) in both my Moab low and mid-height hiking shoes and have had no further plantar fasciitis symptoms. I do, however, continue to wear blue Superfeet insoles in some of my more casual shoes.
I have the superfeet and they like me :)
 

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