ORTHOSOLES MAX CUSHION INSOLES
BY KATHLEEN WATERS
Canon City, Colorado, USA
5' 4" (1.60 m)
125 lb (56.70 kg)
Living in Colorado and being self-employed, I have ample opportunities to backpack. There are over 700,000 acres/280,000 hectares of public land bordering my 71-acre/29-hectare "backyard" in addition to all the other gorgeous locations which abound in Colorado.
Over the past 15 years, my husband John and I have also had the good fortune to hike/snowshoe glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in exotic locations, including New Zealand, Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley.
My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. I use a tent (rainfly if needed). Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) excluding food and water.
|Manufacturer: OrthoSole, LLC
Date of Review: July 09, 2010
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: http://orthosole.com
MSRP: US$ 49.95
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 4 oz (113 g) per pair without support pads
Sizes Available: 5.5 to 11 US Women's - EUR and UK conversion chart on website
(men's sizes also available)
Size Tested: 7.5-8 US
Designed in the United States of America
Made in China
Guarantee: 90 Day Perfect Fit Guarantee
|My OrthoSole Insoles
Seven different components make up the unique construction of the OrthoSole Insoles. From the top, they look similar to any other insole - molded heel cup with sloping sides to mid-foot. The top (the part that my foot rests on) dark gray cover is made from nylon fibers OrthoSole touts as moisture-wicking, antimicrobial and abrasion-resistant. Just below the suede-feel, lightly embossed cover is a layer of Poron Urethane which is a heat and pressure-sensitive layer designed to conform to the shape of the foot. Lastly, Eva foam provides the Insoles cushioning.
Up to this point, the OrthoSoles appear to be the same as other insoles, but here's where things change in a big way!
|Arch and Metatarsal Pads with Gel Heel Inserts
|OrthoSole has added a few tricks to make this Insole stand out. First is the heel chassis which extends from mid-foot on the outside of the Insole and wraps around the gel heel insert to cup the heel. The heel chassis feels, for the most part, like a semi-rigid plastic and is actually made from Thermoplastic. The function of the heel chassis is to stabilize the ankle joint during strike-down of the foot according to OrthoSole. A silver-gray, egg-shaped gel heel insert is cushiony to ease heel impact. Together, the heel chassis and gel heel insert form the back bottom section of the Insole.
Now for the really neat part - what makes the OrthoSole Insoles "custom"!
The OrthoSole Insoles come with removable, interchangeable arch and metatarsal pads. A total of six supports - three arch and three metatarsal - for both left and right feet are included and can be stored in an accompanying cloth drawstring pouch - in my case a pretty pink one. The OrthoSole logo in white insures I will remember what's "in the bag". The pads attach easily to the Insoles by way of a very fine "hook and loop" sort of fastener.
The semi-rigid supports are shaded in gradually deepening shades of pink with the lightest color pink, the lightest support and the darkest color - a deep rose - the heaviest or thickest. Because the supports are independently interchangeable (obviously, I suppose), I can mix or match the arch and metatarsal supports to have various combinations on each foot.
FIELD CONDITIONS AND USE
Before January 2010, I had never used after-market insoles except on rare occasions when the insoles of a favorite pair of footwear became just too disgusting to live with. On those instances, I bought the kind sold in drugstores, the cheaper the better. I don't have any foot or leg problems but am always looking to improve my ability to hike, snowshoe and backpack.
In January, I was lucky enough to meet and talk with Aimee and Damian Donzis of OrthoSole at the Outdoor Retail Winter 2010 Show in Salt Lake City. After a few minutes with the couple, I was curious enough to try a pair of the Insoles for myself.
Once I gave Aimee my shoe size and she handed me the corresponding Insole, Aimee explained the process of customizing the Insoles in three simple steps: 1.) Pick the arch and metatarsal support pads for each foot that "seems" right based on my own past experiences with footwear; 2.) Replace my shoes' old insoles with the OrthoSoles; and 3.) Walk around for a few minutes to see how they feel and change/adjust the support pads as needed. OK, a fourth step would be - repeat, as needed!
Not surprisingly, those 3 steps are the same steps that are detailed on the OrthoSole's website and in the User's Guide included with the Insoles.
After a couple of trials, I was happy with my configuration and flummoxed to find my left and right feet haven't the same support needs. My left foot requires a thicker arch support than the right. Wow! I never suspected I was asymmetrical! Oh, and in my case, no trimming or anything was required to get the Insoles into my trail runners. They fit perfectly.
OK! I now had the Insoles in my shoes and was off to pounding the cement at the trade show. This is a brutal test for insoles and I think the Insoles did quite well as I didn't notice my feet at all that day. Not noticing my feet is the best thing but usually I'm very aware of my feet during these sorts of affairs. So far, so good!
After the Show was over, I was very anxious to put the OrthoSoles to the test on the trail, hiking and snowshoeing. Over the course of the next 5 months, I estimate I wore the Insoles at least 20 times on trails that ranged from dry, powdery dust to rock-hard granite with snow, ice and our famous mud mixed in there, too. I wore the Insoles in my dedicated-for-the-treadmill cross-training sneakers a couple times a week as well. So, the Insoles were abused.
From inexpensive sneakers to $250 winter boots, I only found one pair of shoes in my outdoor footwear collection that I couldn't wear the Insoles installed. This particular trail shoe have a smaller than normal toe box and with the OrthoSoles in place, my tootsies were just too cramped. No worry, I just gave those shoes to my daughter-in-law!
Most of the time, I found I didn't need to change the configuration of the arch and metatarsal supports from trail shoe to trail shoe, but when switching to my heavier winter boots, I found I needed the thickest arch support on my left foot and I "went up" one level on the right as well. I was very happy with the ease of making the switches and found with practice, I could determine just which pads I needed quite quickly.
|Out in the wilds, I noticed my feet definitely were less tired and certainly less bruised feeling after I started wearing the OrthoSoles. We live on 71 acres (29 hectares) of high desert in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Our property backs up to state and federal land which goes on for miles (kilometers). We mostly hike into this land with no marked trails and have been doing so for quite a while now. I know the terrain and I can say, without a doubt, I can feel the difference in my feet and legs since I've been using these Insoles.
While the added thickness of the OrthoSoles to my winter boots, no doubt, helped keep my feet warmer in the coldest snows of winter, it did not cause my feet to sweat in the hottest days of summer so far.
I couldn't begin to calculate the number of hours and or miles/kilometers I've hiked and snowshoed while using the OrthoSoles, but it's a lot! There has been absolutely no degradation of the materials constructing the Insoles and no smell either. Other than a slight "lightening" of the top nylon material in the arch of the Insole, the OrthoSoles look almost new. Definitely, lots of wear in them yet!
|Hiking on Snowy Terrain
|Top of Insoles after 5 months
1.) The flexibility and ease of customizing the Insoles via the removable metatarsal and arch supports.
2.) Very supportive and therefore, comfortable, in all my trail shoes and boots.
3.) Durability of the Insoles
4.) Lack of funky smell after almost constant use over 5 months.
1.) They aren't built into ALL my trail shoes and boots!
I've been very pleased with the fit, comfort and durability of the OrthoSoles Custom Insoles. I have been able to wear them in almost every shoe I've tried them in thanks to the ability to change the metatarsal and arch supports. I definitely can tell the difference - and in a good way - when I am using the Insoles versus when I am not. OrthoSole states they are "continually designing with innovation, performance, functionality and practicality in mind." I think they have hit the mark with this product!
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
The Insoles are so supportive I plan to purchase at least one more pair so as to not have to constantly be changing insoles around in my various trail shoes and boots. I'm an Insole convert! Thanks, OrthoSole!
Kathleen (Kathy) Waters
Read more reviews of OrthoSole gear
Read more gear reviews by Kathleen Waters