BackpackGearTest
  Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Footwear > Footbeds and Insoles > SOLE Active Footbed > Test Report by Alyssa Kimber

SOLE Active Thick Footbeds

Test Series by Alyssa Kimber

Initial Report - March 26, 2019
Long term Report - July 15, 2019

Tester Information
Name: Alyssa Kimber
Age: 25
Gender: Female
Height: 5' 10" (1.8 Meters)
Weight: 130 Pounds (59 Kilograms)
Email address: alyssakimber at hotmail dot com
City, Province, Country: Fernie, British Columbia, Canada

Backpacking Background: I started backpacking two years ago after moving from the prairies to the Kootenay region of British Columbia. I’m relatively new to backpacking but I have significant outdoors experience having enjoyed camping and day hiking for many years. My trip length is generally one to three nights and ranges from prairie hikes to mountainous terrain. I am a 4-season hiker and typically a 3-season backpacker. My pack weight varies depending on the trip, but I tend to sacrifice weight savings for comfort.

Initial Report

March 26, 2019

Product Information & Specifications
Manufacturer: Sole
Year of manufacture: 2019
Manufacturer website: https://yoursole.com

Manufacturer's listed specifications:
  • Sizes available: Women's size 5-19, Men's size 3-17
  • Width - Forefoot (approx.)
    Men's 10 - 98mm (3.9 in)
    Women's 7 - 87mm (3.4 in)
  • Length - Heel to toe (approx.)
    Men's 10 - 290mm (11.4 in)
    Women's 7 - 245mm (9.6 in)
  • Available Colours: Black
  • MSRP from website: $55 CAD ($49 USD)
Actual Specifications:
  • Size tested: Women's Size 9
  • Weight per pair: 106 g (3.7 oz)
  • Length: 26.5 cm (10.4 in)
  • Width - Forefoot: 9 cm (3.5 in)
  • Colour tested: Black
The Sole Active Thick footbeds (I will call them footbeds for the remainder of the report) arrived in minimalist cardboard packaging that allowed me to easily see and feel the footbeds without removing them from the package. The package included two footbeds and instructions. The footbeds are described on the Sole website as a customizable support footbed for everyday comfort. The footbeds have "Polygiene" odor control technology, with the active ingredient being a silver salt to prevent odour. The footbeds are composed of 5 parts: a top sheet, a 3.2 mm "Softec" cushioning layer composed of open-cell foam, a moldable orthopedic base, accomodative arch support, and a deep heel cup. The active thick footbeds are designed for footwear with wiggle room, thick factory insoles and a wider shape such as hiking boots, work boots, loose-fitting running shoes and winter boots. The benefits of the footbeds as listed on the Sole website are:
  1. Provides highly cushioned support
  2. Reduces plantar fascia strain
  3. Improves balance
  4. Promotes natural foot alignment
  5. Distributes weight and pressure equally
  6. Heat and wear moldable for customized fit
Below are photos of the footbeds packaging and the footbeds.

footbed package    footbeds    side of footbed

Reading the Instructions
The instructions for molding the footbeds are provided with the packaging. The instructions for wear molding are to place the footbeds into my footwear and wear as with any other shoe. The footbeds should mold after a few days. Heat molding will provide the highest level of customization in the shortest amount of time and involves heating the footbeds in an oven before wearing them. Specifically, heat the footbeds in an oven at 200 degrees F (90 degrees C) until the opti-therm indicator turns black or for a maximum of three minutes. Place the footbeds in the footwear and stand in the footwear for two minutes.

Trying It Out
I tried the footbeds out in my 3-season hiking boots to make sure they fit. I removed the original footbeds and replaced them with the Sole footbeds. The footbeds fit inside the hiking boots well. I did not have to cut them down to size, which I have had to do before with other insoles I have purchased. I compared the Sole footbeds to the original footbeds in my hiking boots. The Sole footbeds are rigid and thick compared to the original footbeds which are thinner and flexible. See photos below of the footbeds side by side.

footbed comparison    footbed comparison side 1

Initial Impressions
My initial impression are that the footbeds are very sturdy and rigid. This gives me the reassurance that they will be durable but also the fear that they will be uncomfortable. I tried on my hiking boots with the Sole footbeds inside, and my hiking boots felt tighter than with the original footbeds. This is likely due to the significant shape and thickness of the footbeds. I do have bunions that usually become painful when I hike long distance (e.g. over 15 km) and I am worried that the footbeds will actually worsen this condition by decreasing the wiggle room in my boot and causing the bunions to rub. However, I also get sore and tired feet after hiking long distances and I am looking forward to seeing if these footbeds will bring relief.

Long Term Report

July 15, 2019

Long-term Report Test Locations and Conditions


Location of Trip #1: Soren Sorenson Loop Trail near Revelstoke, British Columbia
Length: Day hike
Distance: 5 km (3 mi)
Weather: Partly Cloudy
Precipitation: None
Temperature: -10 C (14 F)
Terrain: Hard, crusty snow in interior rainforest
Elevation: 600 m (2100 ft)

Location of Trip #2: Tunnel Creek Hut near Fernie, British Columbia
Length: 2 days, 1 night
Distance: 10 km (6 mi)
Pack Weight: 30 lb (13.6 kg)
Weather: Partly Cloudy
Precipitation: None
Temperature: -10 to 0 C (14 to 32 F)
Terrain: Hard, crusty snow in subalpine forest
Elevation: 1000 to 1715 m (3300 to 5600 ft)

Location of Trip #3: Sunshine Coast Trail near Powell River, British Columbia
Length: 5 days, 4 nights
Distance: 84 km (52 mi)
Pack Weight: 30 lb (13.6 kg)
Weather: Sunny
Precipitation: None
Temperature: 7 to 28 C (44 to 82 F)
Terrain: From rocky coastline to interior old growth forest to rocky alpine conditions
Elevation: 0 to 1200 m (0 to 3900 ft)

Location of Trip #4: Castle Mountain near Fernie, BC
Length: Day hike
Distance: 9 km (5.5 mi)
Weather: Sunny
Precipitation: None
Temperature: 25 C (77F)
Terrain: Mainly dirt trail, turned rocky at summit
Elevation: 1050 to 1600 m (3500 to 5250 ft)

Performance in the Field

During the long-term test period I have used the footbeds on two day hikes and two overnight backpacking trips for a total of 108 km (67 mi). I wore the footbeds with my backpacking boots for the entire test period. I tried them in my running shoes but the thick insole made the shoes too tight for wear. Even my backpacking boots felt tighter and a bit uncomfortable with the thick, rigid footbeds inside. I definitely "noticed" the footbeds while I wore them. The rigidity and the tightness they create make them hard to forget. The thickness of the footbed caused the bunions on both of my big toes to rub against my shoes, causing soreness and redness. Even though the insoles are advertised for use in hiking boots I find them unsuitable for this purpose; at least with the boots I own (Salomon X Ultra). I could generally wear them for about half a day before they became quite uncomfortable. The arch of the footbed is quite pronounced and it felt a bit awkward but not painful or uncomfortable.

The insoles did provide excellent support for the bottom of my feet. I often have sore feet when hiking over uneven, rocky ground, but the insoles seemed to provide an extra layer of protection against this. I also noticed no odours emanating from my boots at the end of a long hot hiking day, very likely a result of the use of the footbeds.

The footbeds do not look worn and I conclude they are durable, but alas, I will likely not continue to wear them. They may work for others, but for me (or more specifically, for my bunions), they aren't worth it.

Summary


Pros
1. Sturdy base provides protection against uneven, rocky ground
2. Footbeds are ready for install, no cutting required
3. Reduces odour in hiking boots

Cons
1. Thickness of footbed decreases wiggle room in my hiking boots, causing rubbing
2. The footbeds are noticeable. You don't forget you are wearing them.

This concludes my long term report. Thank you Sole and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.


Read more reviews of SOLE gear
Read more gear reviews by Alyssa Kimber

Reviews > Footwear > Footbeds and Insoles > SOLE Active Footbed > Test Report by Alyssa Kimber



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