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Reviews > Footwear > Footbeds and Insoles > OrthoSole Max Cushion > Test Report by Nancy Griffith

ORTHOSOLE MAX CUSHION INSOLE
TEST SERIES BY NANCY GRIFFITH
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - March 29, 2010
FIELD REPORT - June 05, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - August 16, 2010

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Nancy Griffith
EMAIL: bkpkrgirlATyahooDOTcom
AGE: 44
LOCATION: Northern California, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 6" (1.68 m)
WEIGHT: 130 lb (59.00 kg)

My outdoor experience began in high school with involvement in a local canoeing/camping group called Canoe Trails. The culmination was a 10-day canoe voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since my college days in Pennsylvania. I have completed all of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. My typical trip now is in the Sierra Nevada in California and is from a few days to a week long. I carry a light to mid-weight load, use a tent, stove and hiking poles.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

IMAGE 1
Manufacturer: OrthoSole
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.orthosole.com
MSRP: $49.95 US
Listed Weight: Not listed
Measured Weight: 4.0 oz (112 g) for pair
Size Tested: Women's 8.5 - 9 USA (6 - 6.5 UK, 40 - 40.5 EUR)
Other Sizes Available: Women's 5.5 - 6, 6.5 - 7, 7.5 - 8, 9.5 - 10, 10.5 - 11 USA
Shoe Size: Women's 8 or 8.5 USA
Also available in a Men's version
Designed in USA
Made in China



PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

IMAGE 2The insoles appear to be made in several layers with the portion forward of the arch having different layers than the aft section. The top layer is a finished smooth thin layer of moisture-wicking nylon which covers the entire insole. In the region forward of the arch, the middle layer is a light gray thick foam cushion of urethane. The bottom layer is a darker gray stiff EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) layer.

Aft of the arch portion, the middle layer is the darker gray stiff EVA cushion. The bottom layer is made of a stiff thermoplastic which is molded to form the arch shape and to conform to the sides of the heel except for the very center of the heel where there is a bubble of gel-like cushion material.

Included with the insoles are three sets of arch pads (light, medium and firm) and two sets of metatarsal pads (light and medium). The pads are all made of the same material (EVA) but the firmer ones are a thicker version. The color of the pads also correspond to the firmness with the lightest color pink being the lightest pad. Each pad has embossed on it the firmness and whether it fits the right or left insole. There is also a small storage sack for holding any pads that are not in use.

The arch and metatarsal pads have a soft felt-like material on the back which sticks to the insole via a hook-and-loop type of attachment. The pads are easily removable and easily interchangeable.

The User's Guide states that there should be no need to trim the insole since a wide range of sizes are available. There are no cutting guide lines on the toe like I have seen with other insoles.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

A small user's guide is included which gives Easy Fitting Steps:
1) Replace old insoles with OrthoSole insoles
2) Wear for a minimum of 2 minutes
3) Adjust the support pads, if needed

The pads can be adjusted any time and as many times as needed. So different combinations may feel most comfortable for different activities or in different shoes.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS & TRYING THEM OUT

My typical shoe size is an 8 or 8.5, so the sizes available didn't perfectly match. The available choices for me were 7.5 - 8 or 8.5 - 9, so I went with the larger size. I didn't want the insoles to be able to slip around in my shoes. I have tried them so far in my size 8 running shoes and two pairs of hiking boots (size 8 and 8.5). They fit easily into all of them with no slop.

I first tried a firm arch pad with a medium metatarsal pad on my right foot and a light arch pad and medium metatarsal pad on my left foot. The firmer arch pad was definitely noticeable. I then changed the right foot to the light arch pad and light metatarsal pad. I could feel the difference between the light metatarsal pad on the right foot versus the medium metatarsal pad on the left foot. I decided that the light arch pad and light metatarsal pad are the most comfortable combination. So, I then tried that on one foot and the old insole on the other foot. I did this with both my running shoes and hiking boots. I could not really say whether the OrthoSole felt more or less comfortable than my old insoles, but they do feel more defined in that I can feel more pressure on the bottom of my foot and arch.

SUMMARY

The OrthoSole Max Cushion Insoles are a unique and interesting insole. Overall they seem to be what I was expecting based on their website, but the quality is outstanding. They are high quality and seem to be made even better than some custom orthotics that I have seen.

Initial Likes:
Heel cushion
Variety of pads for custom fit
Quality construction

Initial Dislikes:
None


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

FR HikeOver the Field Testing period, I wore the insoles for over 100 miles (161 km). These included two backpacking trips, 9 pre-dawn runs and 10 hikes. I have worn the OrthoSoles with the light metatarsal and light arch support during this period.

For running, I wore them in my Asics running shoes. For hiking, I wore them in my Merrell light hiking boots or my Keen hiking boots. On one backpacking trip, I wore them in my North Face snow boots with snow shoes. On the other backpacking trip, I wore them with my Keen hiking boots.

Some examples of usage conditions:
Backpacking:
Loon Lake, Van Vleck Trail, Sierra Nevada, California; 2 days; 6 mi (10 km); 6,327 to 7,000 ft (1,928 to 2,134 m) elevation; 28 to 55 F (-2 to 13 C); clear with some windy conditions

Western States Trail, Sierra Nevada, California; 3 days; 18 mi (30 km); 1,800 to 4,365 ft (549 to 1,330 m) elevation; 45 to 72 F (7 to 22 C); clear to partly cloudy conditions

Hiking:
Stevens Trail, Sierra Nevada, California: 9.0 miles (14.5 km); 1,300 to 2,300 ft (400 to 700 m) elevation; 75F (24 C); clear conditions

Mitchell Canyon Loop, Mount Diablo, California: 8.1 mi (13 km); 1,400 to 3,000 ft (427 to 910 m) elevation; 55 to 65 F (13 to 18 C); cloudy conditions

Multiple hikes in Auburn State Recreation Area, California: 3 to 8.4 mi (5 to 13.5 m); 1,200 to 3,000 ft (366 to 910 m) elevation; clear to cloudy to light rain conditions

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

FR conditionI feared that I would be a poor test candidate for these insoles because I have never have had any issues with my feet. I can wear virtually any shoe or boot for backpacking and never get blisters or even hot spots. I don't have foot pain or joint pain and haven't seen any need to change my insoles from the cheap ones that come with my shoes or boots.

However after wearing the OrthoSoles I found that I missed them when I wore shoes without them. One day I worked in the yard/garden all day wearing some old hiking shoes (without the OrthoSoles). At the end of the day, I noticed that my feet felt tired and I realized that I didn't have the OrthoSoles on. The very next day we hiked for 9 miles into and out of a canyon. This time I wore my OrthoSoles in my hiking boots and at the end of the day my feet felt fine. On a later hike where we scrambled up steep slopes, I wore those same old hiking shoes but this time with the OrthoSoles. The insoles helped to provide more rigidity in the sole and prevented my feet from feeling every rock like I can without the insoles.

I like the feel of the extra support that the insoles provide. I even ended up putting some arch supports in my house slippers because I don't like the feel of having flat insoles anymore. I found the OrthoSoles to be comfortable and to make a definite difference in reducing how tired my feet get.

The insoles fit easily into multiple pairs of shoes including running shoes, snow boots and hiking boots. I moved them often into different shoes and did not have much trouble removing and inserting them despite their snug fit. I did notice that they take up more room than the insoles that came with my shoes, so I found myself wearing thinner socks than usual. I typically buy hiking boots a bit large to accommodate swelling of my feet during use, so I had plenty of room for the insoles. But thin socks still worked better for me.

I have used the insoles for over 100 miles (161 km) and see no deterioration in them at all. They seem to be wearing well and providing similar support as when they were new.

SUMMARY

The OrthoSole Max Cushion Insoles are a high quality insole. They support my feet well and seem to reduce tiredness in my feet after long days of hiking.

Pluses:
Heel cushion
Variety of pads for custom fit
Quality construction

Minuses: (wink)
I'm now hooked on insoles and won't be able to stand not using them.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

LTR TrailOver the Long-Term Testing period, I wore the insoles for an additional 110 miles (177 km). These included three backpacking trips of 7 days total, 9 pre-dawn runs and 6 hikes. I also wore them for walking and playing tennis. I tried the OrthoSoles with the medium and light metatarsal supports and medium arch supports during this period.

For running and tennis, I wore them in my Asics running shoes. For hiking and backpacking, I wore them either in my Merrell light hiking boots or my Keen waterproof boots.

Some examples of usage conditions:
Backpacking:
Mumford Bar Trail, Sierra Nevada, California; 13 mi (21 km); 6,327 to 7,000 ft (1,928 to 2,134 m) elevation; 55 to 90 F (13 to 32 C); trail ranged from rocky to packed dirt to loose dirt

Desolation Wilderness, Sierra Nevada, California; 19.5 mi (31.4 km); 6,560 to 8,220 ft (2,000 to 2,505 m) elevation; 40 to 80 F (4 to 27 C); trail was mainly rocky with some packed dirt and some marshy areas

Hiking:
Western States Trail, Sierra Nevada, California: 10 mi (16 km); 1,630 to 3,520 ft (500 to 1,073 m) elevation; 65 to 80 F (18 to 27 C); packed dirt trail with some rocky areas

Desolation Wilderness, Sierra Nevada, California: 9 mi (14.5 km); 6,600 to 7,100 ft (2,012 to 2,164 m) elevation; 70 to 80 F (21 to 27 C); rocky trail conditions

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

LTR ConditionAt the beginning of this test period, I changed the supports to medium metatarsal and medium arch support pads. I wore them for a run and noticed significant pressure on the bottom of my right foot. I then changed the right insole to a light metatarsal pad while leaving the medium arch support and leaving the left foot with both medium pads. This felt great and I ended up leaving the insoles like this for the rest of the test period.

The OrthoSoles are very comfortable and definitely reduce the amount of fatigue in my feet after long days on the trail. They also keep my feet from feeling the sharp rocks that exist on many of our local trails. Despite some long hikes on rocky terrain, my feet never felt tired afterwards.

The insoles are much more substantial than the insoles that come with my footwear, so they end up taking up more space. Although I buy most of my footwear with extra space, the insoles have now taken up most of that which has caused me to wear thinner socks. This generally is not a problem especially for warm summer hikes. I will have to purchase larger boots to wear with these insoles and heavier socks.

I have used the insoles for over 210 miles (338 km) in total and they are still in great shape. The lightening in color at the metatarsal region is in part from wear, but it also existed when they were new. See the photo in the initial review for comparison. The OrthoSole logo is nearly completely worn off which gives an idea of how much these have been used. The pads do not seem to be providing any less support than ever.

SUMMARY

I am hooked on these insoles. They are a high quality insole with enough adjustability to customize the fit. They are comfortable and reduce tiredness in my feet after long days of hiking.

Pluses:
Cushion against rocky trails
Variety of pads for custom fit
Quality construction

Minuses:
Take up more room in my shoes

This concludes my Long-Term Report and this test series. Thanks to OrthoSole and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in this test.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Read more reviews of OrthoSole gear
Read more gear reviews by Nancy Griffith

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