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Reviews > Footwear > Footbeds and Insoles > SOLE Active Footbed > Test Report by joe schaffer

SOLE Active Footbed

Test Report by Joe Schaffer

INITIAL REPORT - March 17, 2019
FIELD REPORT - May 17, 2019
LONG TERM REPORT - July 16, 2019
NAME: Joe Schaffer
EMAIL: never2muchstuff(at)yahoo(dot)com
AGE: 71
HOME:  Bay Area, California USA

     I enjoy California's central Sierras, camping every month with a goal to match my age in nights out each year. For comfort I lug tent, mattress, chair and such. Typical summer trips run 5-8 days; 40 lb (18 kg), about half food and water related; about 5 miles (8 km) per hiking day in the bright and sunny granite in and around Yosemite. I winter base camp most often at 6,000 to 7,000 ft (1,800 to 2,000 m); 2 to 3 nights; 50 lb (23 kg); a mile or so (1.6 km) on snowshoes.

Product: SOLE footbedsMen's Active Thick footbed

Manufacturer:  SOLE (TM)
        Weight: not found
        Men's sizes: US 3-15        
        Features: (from mfr. website)
          • heat and wear molds to foot
          • Polygiene (R) odor control technology
          • 3.2mm (0.13 in) Softec cushioning
EVA base
          • moisture-wicking
• density mapped
            • heel & ball same height
• latex free
• Accepted by the American Podiatric Medical Association  
• no animal products or by-products
            ideal for hiking boots, work boots and footwear with removable insoles

MSRP: $49 US

Received: March, 2019
Layer art from mfr. website

layersMy Specs: 
        Weight (pair): 4 1/4 oz (122 g);  L 2 1/8 oz (59 g); R 2 1/8 oz (62 g)
             Length: 11 1/4 in  (28.6 cm)
             Width: 3 3/4 in  (9.5 cm)
             Thick: 3/16 in (4.8 mm)
                Heel cup depth: 7/8 in  (2.2 cm)
             Arch rise: 1 3/8 in 
(3.5 cm)

My Description:
       The product is a three-layer footbed designed to mold to the user's foot with body heat and wear. The bed is quite flat on bottom except for the arch rise, with pronounced arch rise and heel cup. The top layer is slightly textured fabric about 1/32 in (<1 mm) thick. It is glued to a compressible middle layer about 1/8 in (3 mm) thick. This middle layer is glued to the bottom layer of EVA about 1/16 in (1.6 mm) thick. The three layers appear to be uniform in displacement; and each layer appears to have uniform thickness throughout the construction of the bed. Coinciding with the front of the arch rise, about 4 in (10 cm) (all) of the forefoot is quite flexible; the balance of the bed rather inflexible.
The top and bottom layers are black; the center layer is blue. The right bed suffers an emblazonment of logo occupying virtually the dimension of the bed; and the left a much more discreet logo in the heel cup.
     My first thought was that with all due respect to marketing realities (presentation is everything), the 2 1/2 oz (70 g) of plastic and cardboard packaging seem in considerable conflict with eco-conscious product thinking.

    The beds strike me as substantial. The heel cup is deep and the arch support quite firm, but not solid. I'm eager to stuff these in my clodhoppers and feel how well the Softec actually adapts to my feet. I'll also be looking for durability indications. The top layer is so thin, will it wear off? Will the compression layer retain resiliency or simply smash hard. The EVA layer takes a beating micro-sliding around on the sole--will it be up to the challenge? Will all three layers stay securely glued? Does the bed seem to wick off moisture or accumulate it? Of course I want to take note of whether the odor control technology seems to counter the capacity of my feet to generate unpleasant characteristics for the nose. I'm thinking the reference more likely means the product itself will not accumulate particularly foul odor, though it won't do anything to the cat box surrounding it.

     Vendor description says 'Targeted density provides support where it's needed most'. I'm a long-term user of feet, but I confess to not knowing where footbed support is most needed. The compression layer, which I would think is the middle layer, appears to be the same thickness throughout. From squeezing the bed I can't tell any difference anywhere on the bed. I wouldn't think the density of the EVA changes, but if it does, perhaps that bit of engineering would be specifically noted. The EVA layer seems a little soft in a pinch, but it's certainly possible that finger-pinching applies more pressure per unit of area than 220 lb (100 kg) of static weight distributed across a larger area.

    I am reasonably familiar with aftermarket footbeds, having them in several pair of hiking shoes. These appear to be about as substantial as any I've ever used. I've not had any claiming to form fit from body heat and wear.

Field Conditions:
1. Mar 21, 2019: Local day hike, 3 mi (5 k) on asphalt. 65 F (18 C).
    2. Mar 23, 2019: Driving and minor walking about. 75 F (24 C).
    3. Apr 24, 2019: Garin Regional Park, urban day hike, 3 mi (5 km). 80 F (25 C)
    4. Apr 25, 2019: Lake Chabot, urban day hike, 9 mi (14 km). 70 F (20 C).
    5. May 1-4, 2019: Catfish Lake, Stanislaus National Forest, three nights backpacking 8 mi (13 km). Leave weight 45 lb (20 kg). 5,600-6,100 ft (1,700-1,900 m); 35-75 F (2-24 C). 1 mi (1.6 km) XC day hike. Clear and sunny.
    6. May 10-14, 2019: Kibbie Creek, Yosemite National Park, California. 4 nights, 2 mi (3k) hiking and 15 mi (24 km) backpacking; leave weight 45 lb (20 kg); 3 camps; 40-70 F (4-21 C), sunny, no wind; 5,100-6,400 ft (1,550-1,950 m).
    7. May 29-Jun 2, 2019: Kibbie Ridge, Stanislaus National Forest, California. 4 nights, 2 mi (3 k) hiking and 11 mi (18 km) backpacking; leave weight 40 lb (18 kg); 3 camps; 45-75 F (7-24 C), half sunny, half cloudy with a few spits of rain and two heavy showers; 5,100-6,700 ft (1,550-2,000 m).
    1. Day hike:
Eager to try the insoles I decided not to wait for a backpacking trip and did not follow the vendor's recommendation for shoe type for the Active model of product. With no need of hiking boots for the trail I tottered, I stuffed the soles into a pair of Asic running shoes and sauntered out to Lake Chabot Dam and back. The insole made the shoes feel a little tight across the top, especially over the old arthritic big toe knuckles. The bottom of the foot felt happy for the two hours total of wearing the insoles. The high arch is definitely noticeable, but was not uncomfortable. Heels felt stable, much more so than the insole that came with shoes.

    2. Driving and sitting:
I couldn't resist trying the running shoes a second time. Perhaps the day was warmer or the feet were swollen, but I couldn't tolerate the tension across the top of my feet. After an hour I had to take the insoles out.

    Snow boots:
Weather gods finally relented for a snow camping quickie and I wanted to try the insoles in my insulated winter boots.
The tongue connects all the way to the top, and the opening is not capacious. The insulation is 'furry' and the rigid part of the insole would not bend enough to slip in. Maybe if I would have worked at it a little more persistently I could have succeeded. That these boots will be out of season long before the end of the test period caused concern that the risk of damaging the insoles trying to jam them in or forceably extract them made little sense.

    3/4. Urban hiking. I tried Adidas Terrex hikers and found them quite comfortable for fit. The shoes with their factory insoles were just a little light for rubble-walking, but with the SOLE inserts they were just right. My feet did not feel unduly tired after the longer hike. At about 8 mi (12 km) I did start to notice the arch support in my left foot.
I got one blister on back of my right heel at the joint of the shoe/SOLE.

    5. Catfish: No issues; no discomfort; did not feel the arch. My socks didn't seem to be as fragrant as I expected. Worn with Oboz Bridgers, which were a little short on vertical dimension in the toe box.

    6/7. Kibbie: The insoles are a teensie bit thick for Vasque Breeze IIIs and raised a little toe enough to find pressue. It did not blister. The thicker insole helped isolate rubble better under a heavy load and overall my feet were happy. I'm believing the insoles do help reduce foot odor.

Field Conditions:
8. Jun 11-14, 2019: Chilnualna Falls, Yosemite National Park, California: 3 nights, 9 mi (14 km) backpacking; leave weight 35 lb (16 kg); 2 camps; 50-90 F (10-32 C), sunny; 4,200-6,500 ft (1,300-2,000 m).
    9. Jun 18-21, 2019.
Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California, USA. 3 nights backpacking, 35 lb (15 k) leave weight, 3 1/2 mi + 1/2 mi walking about (6 + 1 km), 2 camps, 85-38 F (29-3 C), sunny, 5,400-5,900 ft (1600-1800 m). Bit of trail, mostly extremely rough road, very often washed down to rip-rap and boulders,
    10. Jun 30-Jul 5:
Emigrant-Yosemite Wilderness, California. 5 nights backpacking, 41 lb (19 kg) leave weight, 12 mi (19 km) trail + 3 mi (5 k) cross-country = 15 mi (24 k), 4 camps, 80-38 F (27-3 C), sunny, 7,200-8,400 ft (2,200-2,600 m).

    8. Yosemite: Odor suppression still working on this very hot hike. Worn with Vasque Breeze III.

    9. Shasta-Trinity: This short loop's signature would be declivity on insanely rough road. The SOLE inserts once again added just the right amount of support to my hiking (to be clear, not backpacking) boots. Though I didn't hike long, the temperature was so high the feet worked up quite a sweat. I felt the heat coming out of my shoes, but no odor of road kill.
Worn with Vasque Breeze III.

    10. Emigrant/Yosemite: I had a creek crossing just before camp, so I plunged in boots and all, expecting the hot weather to dry things out by next day. SOLE takes a lot longer to dry than any other insert I have, though not as long as the boots. Even with the amount of wear and a good thrashing in water, the painted logo remains bright as ever.
Worn with Vasque Breeze III.

Total wearing: 91 mi (147 km) / 68 hours.

Lightweight support. They make my feet more comfortable in a lighter boot, which is a solid advantage. No sign of wear or materials breakdown.

Quick shots:
a) sturdy
    b) supportive
    c) odor-suppressing
Thank you SOLO and for the opportunity to test this product. This report concludes the test.

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Reviews > Footwear > Footbeds and Insoles > SOLE Active Footbed > Test Report by joe schaffer

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