BackpackGearTest
  Home Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Footwear > Footbeds and Insoles > OrthoSole Max Cushion > Test Report by Kurt Papke

OrthoSole Max Cushion Insoles

Test Series by Kurt Papke

Initial Report - April 5, 2010

Field Report - June 17, 2010

Long Term Report - August 17, 2010

Tester Information

Name: Kurt Papke
Age: 56
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 4" (193 cm)
Weight: 225 lbs (102 kg)
Email address: kwpapke at gmail dot com
City, State, Country: Tucson, Arizona USA

My backpacking background has mostly been in Minnesota where I have lived most of my adult life.  I recently moved to Tucson to take a new job, and am excitedly exploring the surrounding mountain ranges.  I am acclimating to the altitudes and mountainous terrain by doing a lot of weekend canyon climbs, where I hope to have the OrthoSoles protect my feet on the rocky trails.  I am recovering from Plantar Fasciitis, so I am very attuned to arch support in my footwear.

Initial Report

Product Facts

OrthoSole Max Cushion insoles are designed to replace the insoles that come with a pair of shoes or boots.  Insoles that can be customized by user hot-molding have been around for some time.  The OrthoSole units are unusual in that the fit of the arch and metatarsals can be customized by snap-in support pads.

Product Information
Manufacturer
OrthoSole OrthoSole contents
Manufacturer website
http://www.orthosole.com
Year manufactured
2010
Model
Max Cushion - Men's
Color tested
Only one color currently available
Size tested
12-12.5 US (11-11.5 UK, 46-47 EU)
MSRP
US $49.95
Weight (measured)
4.9 oz (139 g): two insoles with largest pads
0.78 oz (22 g): remaining total pad weight
Weight (specs)
None available

The OrthoSoles come packaged with three sets of arch pads with varying firmness (light, medium and firm), and two sets of metatarsal pads (light and firm).  The insoles were shipped with the firmest/largest pads installed.  Each pad in addition to being labeled with its firmness is also marked with an L or R to indicate which foot it is for.

Initial Inspection

Packaged OrthoSoles

The insoles arrived in a compact package as pictured above.  After unpacking I inspected the gear and could not find any noticeable manufacturing defects: no plastic molding issues, no fabric tears or loose threads, no discoloration.

Insole bottoms: in addition to the removable pads, I noticed there is a gray-colored heel pad as shown in the above photo.  The heel pad has a fair amount of "give" to it, so it should provide some cushion.  Surrounding the heel pad and extending up to almost the top of the arch is a rigid plastic shell.  This should provide some protection against sharp rocks.  The toe and ball of the foot have a fairly stiff padding on the bottom of the insole.

The tops of the insoles have fabric above a fairly soft padding.  Perhaps visible in the first photo above the OrthoSoles have a fairly abrupt transition from the flat area to the ridges surrounding the outside of the insoles.

The pads are color-coded to indicate the level of firmness: the paler the color, the lighter the pad.

Initial Experiences

Right after they arrived I popped them into a pair of clogs that I was going to wear to work.  It was a snug fit, but no problems getting them to fit in the shoes.  I used the pads that came installed in the insoles, the firmest of the set.  I wore the insoles all day at work and found them to be very comfortable, though with very aggressive support; I could definitely tell I had them on.

A day or so later I decided to do my morning run with the OrthoSoles.  I removed the two pads from each insole.  They are held in place with hook-and-loop fabric backing, and came off quite easily.  I replaced them with the lighter metatarsal pads, and the medium arch pad.  As with all hook-and-loop closures, I had to be careful to position them properly as there is no "sliding" them around to get the pads in the correct spot.  I wore them on a 3-mile (5 km) run and found with this pad set they felt quite similar to my custom orthotics.

First Impressions

I am looking forward to experimenting with the different pads on my hikes.  My initial thoughts include the following.

Kudos:

  • Good foot comfort
  • The pads are easy to replace
  • The pads are well-marked and color-coded as to their firmness and which foot they go on to minimize confusion

Concerns:

  • The lightest firmness level of arch pads may not have enough support for me.  I would expect that with this type of product design: after a bit of use I will focus in on 1-2 pad firmness levels that match my needs and stick with those.

Field Report

Field Use

Date
Saturday May 1, 2010
Saturday May 8, 2010 to Saturday May 15, 2010
Sunday May 30, 2010
Monday May 31, 2010
Saturday June 12, 2010
3-4 times per week throughout the test period
Location
Catalina State Park and Coronado National Forest just North of Tucson, Arizona
Streets and paths of various cities in Switzerland: Lucerne, Zug, Lugano & Berne
Globe, Arizona
Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Arizona
Tortolita Mountains near Tucson, Arizona Oro Valley, Arizona
Trail
Sutherland: exceptionally rocky, as some segments are horse and/or ATV use
Cobblestone streets and paths
Round Mountain Trail, just north of the city
Linda Vista
Wild Burro
biking paths & sidewalks
Distance
8.2 miles (13.2 km)
~20 miles (32 km) total for the week
3.3 miles (5.3 km)
3 miles (4.8 km)
5.5 miles (8.9 km)
~10 miles/week
(16 km/week)

Terrain
High desert
Cobblestone streets and paths, some flat (around lakes), some more steep (Lugano)
High desert mountain
Mountain foothills
Desert wash, very sandy
flat, paved
Weather
70F (21 C) mostly sunny and breezy
50-60 F (10-16C) mostly cloudy & rain
70F (21 C), sunny
80 F (27 C), sunny
85 F (29 C), sunny
65-85 F, sunny
(18-29 C)

Altitude range
2700-4100 ft
(820-1250 m)
900-1400 ft
(275-425 m)
3600-4200 ft
(1100-1280 m)
2500-3150 ft
(760-960 m)
2700-3300 ft
(823-1006 m)
2700 ft
(823 m)
Shoes
Oboz Hardscrabble trail runners
Oboz Hardscrabble trail runners Oboz Hardscrabble trail runners Oboz Hardscrabble trail runners Oboz Hardscrabble trail runners Adidas Supernova running shoes
Pads used
medium arch, light metatarsal
medium arch, light metatarsal medium arch, light metatarsal medium arch, light metatarsal medium arch, light metatarsal medium arch, light metatarsal

Usage Notes

The Sutherland TrailSutherland Trail: this was a fairly gradual but steady climb and descent of 1400 ft (425 m) on an exceptionally rocky trail as can be seen in the photo at right.  It was rocky enough that I turned my ankle a few times, but no damage was done.  Hiking on this kind of rock surface can be punishing on my feet, particularly when I am not wearing hiking boots with stiff, protective soles.

When I completed the hike my feet were really fatigued, though I had not stretched as much as perhaps as I should have.  I was happy with the arch support and the protection my feet received, despite the trying conditions of the trail.



Lugano cobblestonesSwitzerland:
I spent a week in Switzerland for my job, and while there did about a 3 mile (5 km) walk every morning to get some regular exercise.  We did make it to a few other cities, and the picture at left shows the steep cobblestone streets of Lugano leading down towards the lake from the train station.  The cobblestones were very hard on my feet, but the Orthosoles did a great job of protecting and supporting me.


Regular road running: I try to run about 3-4 times/week, most mornings about 3 miles (5 km).  During the test period I used the Orthosoles in my road-running shoes with good results.

One obvious observation from the usage table above is I did not experiment much with different pads during this test period.  I did not want to take any chances with foot injury.

Summary

I have been very satisfied with the Orthosoles.  In addition to the conclusions from my Initial Report:

Kudos:

  • The insoles are easily moved between various shoes on a regular basis
  • I noticed no degradation or wear of the product during my use
  • Excellent foot protection on rocky trails and cobblestone streets

Concerns:

  • It'll be interesting to see how much I vary the pads in the next test period.  I do want to experiment a bit, but I am also quite cautious about avoiding problems with my feet.

Long Term Report

Field Use

Date
Tuesday June 22, 2010 Saturday July 10 through Sunday July 11, 2010 Friday August 13 through Sunday August 15, 2010 3-4 times per week throughout the test period
Location
Picacho Peak State Park northwest of Tucson, Arizona Aravaipa Canyon wilderness north of Tucson Arizona Pinaleno Mountains near Safford, Arizona
Oro Valley, Arizona
Trail
Around south side of Picacho Peak This was a canyoneering hike with a mostly unmarked trail Ash Creek: very steep canyon descent
biking paths & sidewalks
Distance
4.3 miles (6.9 km) 10.6 miles (17.1 km) over 2 days 8.2 miles (13.2 km) over 2 days
~10 miles/week
(16 km/week)

Terrain
Mountain foothills Canyon bottom with ankle to knee-height water, gravel, sand and rocks Sky Island canyon: rocky trail, steep descent & ascent, some wet conditions
flat, paved
Weather
95 F (35 C)
sunny
85-100 F (29-38 C) with high humidity and a few raindrops 50-75 F (10-24 C), rain during the evening, sunny during the day
80-95 F (27-35 C), sunny to partly cloudy
Altitude range
1850-2325 ft
(564-709 m)
2600-3000 ft
(792-914 m)
9500-6900 ft
(2900-2100 m)
2700 ft
(823 m)
Shoes
Oboz Hardscrabble trail runners Oboz Hardscrabble trail runners Oboz Hardscrabble trail runners Adidas Supernova running shoes
Pads used
medium arch, light metatarsal medium arch, light metatarsal medium arch, light metatarsal medium arch, light metatarsal

Usage Notes

Gravel in OrthosolesAravaipa Canyon: This was a canyoneering trip, though an easy one as there are no steep ascents or descents, just a lot of walking in the water and gravel.  The insoles got wet within 10 minutes of starting the hike and stayed that way for the entire two days I wore them.  They dried out overnight, but were wet again within minutes of starting out on day two.  The one issue I did have is lots of sand and gravel in my shoes as shown in the photo at left, so I had to empty them several times per day.  This was pretty hard on the insole top fabric, as the grinding of the sand into it all day long could have created some real wear, but I noticed no fraying of any kind, just some lightening of the color.

The Orthosoles did a great job of supporting my feet on the entire trip.  They were not fatigued at the end of the day despite clambering over small rocks all day.


Ash Creek TrailAsh Creek Trail: as can be seen in the photo at right this trail is mighty steep.  The Pinaleno Mountains are the highest in Southern Arizona, and jut up right out of the surrounding valley.  We started from the top to get some relief from the Tucson heat, as it was supposed to be 107 F (42 C) there.

We started our descent early in the morning, and within an hour my quads were aching.  The OrthoSoles protected my feet on the rocky trail.

We turned around at about noon, as this was a new trail for both I and my companion and we didn't know how painful the ascent would be.  About 15 minutes into the climb my partner had a bout with dehydration and perhaps some heat stroke, so we had lunch by the creek, took a snooze, then walked just a bit further to a spectacular campsite overlooking the rushing creek.  The next morning we got up early completed the return to our vehicles with no problems.

On the ascent my Achilles tendons got quite sore, but I think I have been over stretching them lately with my frequent running and it has nothing to do with use of the insoles.


Summary

The OrthoSole Max Cushion Insoles have performed well for me over the entire test period.  They have been comfortable, I've had no blisters on the bottoms of my feet, and I've had no flare-ups of Plantar Fasciitis.  I have had some issues with Achilles heel inflammation, but I believe this has been due to the frequency of my morning runs, and has been unconnected with my use of the insoles.

The following pictures illustrate the condition of the insoles at the conclusion of the test:

Tops
Tops of the insoles

Note the wearing and loss of color right at the arches.  This seemed to occur during the Aravaipa hike where the sand ground into the insoles over 2 days.  This appears strictly cosmetic and did not diminish the insole performance.

Bottoms
Bottoms of the insoles

Again there is slight wear of the "OrthoSole" printing on the bottoms, but a cosmetic issue only.  The bottoms also show a bit of accumulated dirt and grime; I guess I need to clean them up a bit.  I should note that I did not attempt to launder them during the test period.

In addition to the notes from the Field Test:

Kudos:

  • I noticed no degradation of the product during my use, though there was a bit of color loss on the wear areas, but this was cosmetic only.  In particular, I noticed no degradation of support or cushioning

Concerns:

  • None to speak of.  I had no problems with the product during the entire test period.
If I reflect back on my use of custom insoles, I wish I had a pair of these when I first developed Plantar Fasciitis.  It would have allowed some experimentation so I could determine just how much support I needed.  On the flip side now that I have become very aware of my needs, the extra expense of an adjustable insole might not make sense to me unless I suspected that my feet were changing.

Many thanks to OrthoSole and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.



Read more reviews of OrthoSole gear
Read more gear reviews by Kurt Papke

Reviews > Footwear > Footbeds and Insoles > OrthoSole Max Cushion > Test Report by Kurt Papke



Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to BackpackGearTest.org. Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

If you are an avid backpacker, we are always looking for enthusiastic, quality reviewers. Apply here to be a gear tester.


All material on this site is the exclusive property of BackpackGearTest.org.
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson