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Reviews > Footwear > Footbeds and Insoles > SOLE Ultra Heat Moldable Footbed > Owner Review by Jennifer Koles

SOLE Heat Moldable Custom Footbed-Ultra Softec
BY JENNIFER KOLES
OWNER REVIEW
January 12, 2007


TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Jennifer Koles
EMAIL: jennksnowy at yahoo dot com
AGE: 32
LOCATION: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 5" (1.65 m)
WEIGHT: 140 lb (63.50 kg)

I started taking overnight backpacking trips three years ago in the Uinta Mountain Range in Utah. I found myself taking entirely too much gear. I am finding out slowly how to minimize my needs and not require extra luxuries. My previous outdoor experiences consisted of 4-wheel-drive camping in primitive areas and day hiking. I use a four season convertible tent or a three season tent for my shelter. I plan to take more trips, increase my duration, and reduce my two to three day backpack base weight below 17 lb (8 kg).

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Top
Top of footbed

Manufacturer: SOLE Custom Footbeds
Year of Manufacture: 2006
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.yoursole.com/
MSRP: USD $44.95

Listed Weight: not indicated on manufacturer's website
Measured Weight Each: 2.10 oz (60 g)

Size: women's size 8
Sizes Available: women's size 5 (CM 22, UK2.5, EU35.5) through men's 16 (CM35, UK16, EU51.5)
Thickness: 3.2 mm (0.13 in)

Color: black and grey top sheet, black bottom, and red cushioning
Colors Available: no other colors are available in this model

Other details: SOLE Custom Footbeds offer a few different product lines. The SOFTEC Series offers cushioning and support. The Slim Series offers pure support. Each of these product lines offer footbeds for various footbed volumes, varying degrees of cushioning, and various top sheet options.

Warranty: If the purchaser is unsatisfied with the footbeds for any reason, they are to return them within 90 days for a replacement or a refund. No questions asked. They are guaranteed to provide excellent cushioning for two years.


Manufacturer's Product Description:

SOLE Ultra SOFTEC is designed for footwear with removable insoles. Made for applications where shock protection is critical, the SOLE Ultra SOFTEC footbed comes with 3.2 mm of our proprietary cushioning material (SOFTEC). SOLE Ultra SOFTEC also provides excellent support and a heat moldable, custom fit.


My Product Description:

The SOLE Ultra SOFTEC Footbed is designed to be used with high volume footwear with removable insoles. The footbed is constructed of SOFTEC Cushioning that is to help provide maximum shock absorption. The arch of the footbed is aggressive and can be heat custom molded for additional support and comfort. The heel cup of the footbed is deep. I noticed that it cradles my heel in place and does not allow heel sliding. The top sheet fabric is constructed of a moisture wicking material.

The manufacturer's instructions note that: "Diabetics and people with poor circulation or lack of sensation in their feet should consult their health care professional before using this product to ensure appropriate treatment and care. Do not heat in the microwave. Do not cut them too short!"


Bottom
Bottom of footbed


Fitting Them:

I had the footbeds heat molded by the manufacturer in August 2006. They were heat molded to be worn in my Vasque Southern Traverse Cross Trail shoes. These shoes are a women's size 8. Initially I found the footbeds to be slightly harder/stiffer than the footbeds that were originally in the shoe. The original footbeds were very thin and did not offer much support if any at all. After they were heat molded I wore them for approximately 8 hours that day and I did not have any soreness or foot fatigue. I quickly adjusted to the feel of the footbeds that day and I found them to be more comfortable and that they offered me more proper support than the original foot bed that was in the shoe.

I did purchase another pair of the same footbed and I heat molded them to fit into my Raichle GTX Mountaineering Boots that I use for long backpacking trips. I followed the directions that came with the footbeds and I found them very easy to understand.

I pre-heated a small oven to 200 F (93 C) as indicated on the instructions for molding. I then compared the SOLE footbeds with the original ones that were inside the boots. I was determining if I needed to cut the footbeds for the proper fit. I did not need to alter the SOLE footbeds since they appeared to be almost the same size as the original footbed. I then put the footbeds in the oven for 2 minutes and then checked the footbeds to see if they were properly heated. I did this by looking at a sticker on the bottom of the footbed. This sticker is called the Opti-therm Molding Indicator by the manufacturer. The sticker turns from a silver color to a black color when the footbeds are heated to the proper temperature. I noticed that the indicator was still silver, so as the manufacturer suggests I placed them back in the oven for 20 seconds. I then removed the footbeds again from the oven and I observed that the indicator was black. I immediately placed the footbeds into my boots and placed my feet into the boots with my heels against the back of them. I then laced them up and stood with my feet shoulder width apart and my toes pointed forward for two minutes. My feet were toasty warm during the fitting process.

The manufacturer suggests to break the footbeds in over a three-day period. The fitting process can be repeated after three days if needed.

FIELD USE

It took me one day to adjust to wearing the footbeds in my cross trail shoes. It took approximately 8 hours. The first day I wore the footbeds I was subject to standing on concrete all day. I found that my feet were not sore or fatigued. I then continued to wear them for the next two days in the same type of environment with no discomfort noted. My feet were very happy!

I did not have time to break the footbeds in for use with my hiking boots. I figured my feet were already adjusted to them since I had been wearing them in my cross trail shoes. The first day I wore the footbeds in my hiking boots I hiked 12 mi (19 km) with just over 4,000 ft (1,219 m) of elevation gain. My pack load was 22 lb (10 kg) with food, water, and my gear. My feet felt great! I had no foot/arch fatigue, tiredness, or any other discomfort. I did bring a pair of camp shoes with me for base camp wear, but my feet were so comfortable in my boots I decided not to wear the camp shoes.

I did place a pair of the footbeds into my Rollerblades and my cycling shoes. I did this as a trial to determine if my feet were more comfortable with these footbeds in these types of shoes. I would need to cut the footbed down to fit better in my cycling shoes and I did not want to do this at this point until I purchase another pair. I would also prefer a smaller volume footbed with my in-line skates and my cycling shoes. However, my feet felt more comfortable and there was a significant decrease in vibration. I noticed that I did not get any arch fatigue while skating with these footbeds.

I have used these footbeds in the following locations in my Vasque Southern Traverse Cross Trail Shoes and my Raichle GTX Boots:

City of Rocks National Reserve, Idaho USA: day hiking, scrambling rocks
Elevation: 6,183 ft (1,885 m)

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming USA: backpacking
Elevation: 4,250 ft to 11,100 ft (1,295 m to 3,383 m)

Salt Lake City, Utah USA: daily wear in my cross trail shoes
Elevation: 4,600 ft (1,402 m)

Snow Canyon, Utah USA: day hiking
Elevation: 3,200 ft (975 m)

Uinta and Wasatch Mountain Ranges, Utah USA: backpacking and day hiking
Elevation: 9,480 ft to 10,354 ft (2,890 m to 3,156 m)

Zion National Park, Utah USA: backpacking
Elevation: 4,900 ft to 7,200 ft (1,500 m to 2,200 m)


I used the footbeds in temperatures ranging from mid 20's F (-7 C) to 97 F (36 C). The weather conditions varied with sunshine, rain, and snow. The terrain was dirt, regular trail, rocks, water crossings, moraines, and scrambling rock outcrops.

Since August I have used these footbeds while hiking just over 160 mi (258 km). I have not noticed any abnormal wear to the moisture-wicking top sheet of the footbed or any compression noted of the cushioning material. I do not notice an odor from my feet sweating.

The footbeds did become wet from river crossings and I found that they dry overnight at room temperature. I did clean the footbeds by hand washing the top sheet with a damp cloth of soap and water.

I found that in various terrain the footbeds provided me with good heel and foot alignment. I did not encounter any rolling of my ankle joint while descending, crossing rock fields, or on moraines. I encountered no pressure points or foot fatigue. I found that the top sheet of the footbed does allow some moisture wicking. They have only become slightly damp from my feet sweating.

SUMMARY

In the past I did wear a custom orthotic in my footwear because my arches are somewhat collapsed and I found that they gave me better support while hiking. My custom arch supports are rigid and give me some foot discomfort while hiking, especially after long distances. I found that the SOLE footbeds provide me with excellent support and foot alignment without compromising my level of comfort.

THINGS I LIKE

The amount of support the footbeds provide
They are very comfortable. The most comfortable pair I ever owned.
No pressure areas or arch fatigue
Easy to clean
No foul odor
Easy to custom mold
I really love these footbeds!

THINGS I DON'T LIKE

They are somewhat pricey, but not compared to a custom orthotic.
Other than the cost, I could not find anything I did not like.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

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