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Reviews > Footwear > Footbeds and Insoles > Superfeet TrailBlazer Insoles > Test Report by Duane Lawrence

Superfeet Trailblazer Insoles

Product Test by Duane Lawrence

 
Initial Report March 30, 2017
Long Term Report August 7, 2017
 
Tester Information
 
Name:                Duane Lawrence
Email:                duanesgear (at) yahoo (dot) com
Location:          Sparwood, British Columbia Canada
Gender:             Male
Age:                    44 years
Height:               5’9” (175 cm)
Weight:              160 lbs (73 kg)
 
I have been an avid outdoor enthusiast for over 25 years.  I enjoy a verity of outdoor activities including mountaineering, day hikes, multiday backpacking trips, river and ocean kayaking, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking and rock climbing. I have climbed throughout British Columbia, the United States and when opportunity presents itself in Europe and India. I carry a wide variety of gear depending on the type and length of trip.  I am a search and rescue team member in the Southern Canadian Rockies and am part of the swift water, rope rescue and avalanche technical teams and ground search team.
 
Initial Report March 30, 2017
 
Product Information & Specifications 
 
Manufacturer                Superfeet Worldwide Inc.  
Model                              Trailblazer Comfort Max
Web Site                          www.superfeet.com
MSRP                               $49.95
Measured Weight          61 g (2.15 oz) each
Trimmed Weight           59 g (2.08 oz) each
Measured Length          285 mm (11.22 in)              
Size Tested                      US Men’s Medium
Available Sizes                Small, Medium, Large
Colour                               Orange
Manufacture In              South Korea
Guarantee                        60 Day Comfort
Life Expectancy              12 months or 500 miles (805 km)
 
Design and First Impressions
 
Superfeet Trailblazer Comfort Max insoles, specifically designed for hiking boots, are made utilizing a multi-layer system comprised of an EVOLyte carbon fiber stabilizer heel cup on the bottom, Areospring dual comfort foam, impact pad, and a full-length dual-density foam layer with a fabric antimicrobacterial coating on the top.  The insoles are designed, according to the website, utilizing podiatric medicine, the health care specialty that provides comprehensive medical treatment of the foot.  The design incorporates a structured heel cup that encapsulates the heel maximizing natural shock absorption, a stabilizing rear foot support, and a combined firm foam layer and stabilizer cap that increases support.  There is more detailed information on the web site that talks about how bone, ligaments, joints and supportive tissues work together. Also, how they have used the study of the foot and its movement in the design of each of their insoles.  The information is very easy to follow and not so in-depth that I didn’t want to finish reading it.  The web site also has a little information about the effects of an unstable foot on the body.
 
Looking at the insoles I can easily see the separate layers and components that went into the design.  A hard plastic heel cup on the bottom forms a supported mold for the heel with a gel pouch under the heel, a foam midlayer that runs the length of the insole and a thin fabric on top.  The heel cup is very defined and the plastic heel cup that runs about two-thirds the length of the insole also looks like it will be very supportive for my foot arch.  Pushing down on the insole I can distinctly see the shock absorption nature of the design and the added cushioning from the gel support.  Superfeet have also incorporated a fun topographical map design onto the top of the insole and a camouflage pattern on the bottom.
 
On the back of the instruction card Superfeet also has some general information about the product.  They recommend trying gradually using them increasing the duration of use from 1-2 hours the first day to 2-3 the next and so on until the users feet are used to the product.  They note that in some instances it could take a week or so to get accustomed to the insoles.  If the users feet experience pain they actually recommend returning to the original insoles. The guarantee is limited to comfort for 60-days and the warranty states specifically that Superfeet provides its products “as is and with all faults”.  Once I read the details it basically meant that there is only a comfort guarantee and nothing else.  Surprisingly I found instructions on cleaning the insoles, never did that before. Anyway if I ever decided to clean them I would need to hand wash with mild soap in lukewarm water using a tooth brush.  I can honestly say it would never have occurred to me to wash my insoles but apparently I can if I am inclined to do so.  Lastly they included some information on what can affect the Superfeet experience.  They list five general potential influences including brand of footwear, model and size; volume of the shoe; sock thickness; lacing method; and, having a non-removable insole or sock liner.
 
Instructions
 
The insoles span a fairly wide range of foot sizes and therefore need to be trimmed to fit.  Included in the box was a very simple to following set of instructions for sizing the insoles.  They first recommend trying the insole making sure the heel fits the heel cup and the width and length are adequate.  The next steps show how to trim the insoles in four simple steps.  1. Remove the old insole. 2. Line it up on top of the Superfeet insole. 3. Mark the shape of the old insole with a felt pen on the top of the Superfeet insole. 4. Trim along the outside of the traced line.  They recommend always to trim it large, then try it and trim it again as needed. They also note that the insole should be able to shift about 1/16 of an inch or 2 mm so that the insole can work with the natural movement of the foot inside the shoe. The process took me about 10 minutes to complete and was very simple.

     

Summary

 
These insoles look to be well constructed.  Placing my foot onto the insole, they feel comfortable and very supportive.  The design looks, as far as I am able to determine by looks alone, like they will be nice to wear and I really hope they will make hiking a pleasure throughout the day and ease the tired feet experience I usually have at the end of a long hike with a heavy pack.  I’m looking forward to testing these out and reporting back.  Check back in a few months for a full evaluation of the Superfeet Trailblazer insoles.

Long Term Report

Test Conditions

I took the opportunity to try out the Superfeet in a variety of boots to see how they would perform in a wide variety of applications.  Over the test period I used them in my trail runners, ski boots, light hikers and full shank hiking boots.  Over all I estimate that I wore them for about 40 days during the test period totaling an average of 8 hours per day or 320 hours of hiking, skiing and walking.  The total hiking distance was approximately 143 km (89 mi) with about 16,000 ft (4877 m) of elevation.  The terrain included dirt trails, loose scree, rock, snow and ice.   I also took the opportunity to use them at work during an event which had me walking around and standing on a concrete slab for about 8 hours or so.  My longest hike involved a 28 km (17 mi) back pack with a 40 lb (18 kg) pack and about 600 m (1969 ft) of elevation gain and loss.

Observations

The Superfeet insoles fit well in all but my ski boots.  I was still able to get them in but the insoles were a little too large for the boots so I only used them twice for backcountry skiing.  I could have trimmed them a little more but did not want to make them too small for all my other boots.  For the rest of my boots and shoes they fit all four with no issues regardless if they were light hikers, trail runners or my heavy, full shank hiking boots.  Within all my boots and hikers I noticed that I needed to adjust the lacing.  The insoles are substantially thicker than what came with my boots so I needed to adjust the lacing to allow for the extra volume.  I really noticed this after the first couple of hikes where I found that they were actually causing me some discomfort due to the reduced volume.  Once I loosened my laces a bit more, especially around the toe box I found that they became quite comfortable.  I should note that I did trim another eighth of an inch off of both insoles which also made a substantial difference in fit.  

With respect to comfort I found they were very easy on the feet although I was not sure if they really made a significant difference with respect to reducing foot fatigue in the beginning.  To figure this one out I took a 15 km (9 mi) hike using one regular insole and one of the Superfeet insoles.  I am not sure if it was a fair test though as my old insoles were in pretty rough shape but regardless the one boot that had the Superfeet insole was definitely less foot sore than the one with the old insole.  Another test involved wearing them for a day at work during an event.  This had me up on my feet for about eight hours on a concrete slab floor.  I've hosted the event for several years and noted at the end of each day that my feet were utterly done.  This year, using the Superfeet, I can honestly say that I had very little foot fatigue and was very impressed with the results.  

 

During all of my hikes including the 28 km (17 mi) hike with a pack and the 6 days of glacier travel with crampons, my feet were in the best shape I have ever experienced. Normally after a long hike I could not wait to get off my feet and out of my boots but with the Superfeet the fatigue that I would have expected was just not there.  Similarly with my 8-day trip on the Nemo glacier, where I would have expected very tired feet, I did not notice any foot fatigue at all.  

The manufacture notes that the wearer should expect to feel a little discomfort when first getting use to the insoles.  I did not notice any of this discomfort likely due to having other types of Superfeet insoles that I use in my other boots.  If I recall correctly when I did start using Superfeet several years ago they did take a bit to get use to so would advise the reader that this is likely to occur although for this test I did not feel any 'breaking in' discomfort.
 
Durability

After four months of continual use I have only noticed minimal wear on the inner edge of the insoles.  The top fabric layer is starting to roll a little.  The rest of the insole shows no desirable wear, flatting of the supportive layers nor abrasions.  Other than being a little dirtier they look relatively unscathed.  

Overall

Although I swapped the insoles between boots throughout this test report each of my shoes are slightly different so I would recommend getting one set and customizing them specifically for the intended shoes.  Once I had the insoles fitted and the boots laced properly to allow for the added volume I really enjoyed and will continue to enjoy using the Superfeet Trailblazers.  It's a rare thing after a log hike with a heavy pack or just long days on my feet that I don't look forward to taking off my boots and putting my feet up.  Using the Superfeet Trailblazers change this completely.  The insoles are very comfortable, definitely reduce foot fatigue and after many hours and kilometres of hiking and climbing look like they are going to last a nice long time.  

Thank you to Superfeet and Backpackgeartest.org for the opportunity to test the Trailblazers Comfort Max Insoles.

 
 
 
 

Read more reviews of Superfeet gear
Read more gear reviews by Duane Lawrence

Reviews > Footwear > Footbeds and Insoles > Superfeet TrailBlazer Insoles > Test Report by Duane Lawrence



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