Nearly every hiker has experienced foot pain at some point during a hike. In fact, roughly 75% of people, in general, will experience foot pain during their life.
Sore feet and blisters are one of the worst issues to develop during a hike, quickly turning an otherwise enjoyable activity into one that is anything but fun. Thankfully there are steps you can take to help keep your feet comfortable and fully supported.
First things first – the most common reason for experiencing foot or ankle pain while hiking, especially when absent from your day-to-day activities, is improper shoe fit. Most people that deal with foot soreness are wearing shoes that are not the right size or perhaps just simply chose a pair of shoes that aren’t contoured in a way that matches their foot.
Shoe fit when it comes to hiking shoes is vitally important. Your choice of shoe or boot must fit very well and provide a foundation of stability. Keep in mind that things like sock choice can also have an effect on fit. If your summer hiking shoes work great with thin socks it doesn’t mean they will fit great when you move up to thick wool socks.
If you suspect your shoe might not be fitting right you must have this issue addressed first. Your shoes must fit properly and offer balance on their own before insoles will be helpful. Consider hiking insoles to be the finishing touch to your hiking footwear. It is there to help add a little more comfort, but it will not make a shoe with poor fit better.
Ideally, you will have your hiking shoes or boots fitted, in-store, by an experienced outdoor gear employee. If your shoes fit great but you still want a little extra “something”, then you can consider using an insole.
The two main reasons people want new insoles for hiking is to either add more arch support or to help reduce foot fatigue by adding an additional comfortable, suspension layer. If this sounds like you then chances are one of these following three best hiking insoles will give you the comfort you are seeking.
Up first is the Superfeet Green full length insole. Superfeet Insoles & Footwear is a very well-known brand and the Green model is one of their most highly rated insoles. While not specifically designed for outdoor or hiking use, the Green insole stills outperforms many “athletic” style insoles.
There are five main factors at play that make Superfeet Green such a great choice. The first two factors are the stabilizer cap and deep heel cup design. Both of these are located on the heel of the insole, no surprise, and offer shock absorption as well as stability. The deep heel cup really helps lock the foot into place.
The third factor is the overall biomechanical, ergonomic shape of the insole, which helps alleviate stress on the feet, ankles, and legs. The fourth factor is the high-density foam material used.
This closed-cell foam gives a cushioned bounce and reduces foot fatigue. Lastly, the fifth factor is the non-toxic, natural coating to prevent bacteria as well as odor from forming.
Superfeet Green are excellent insoles for hiking since the design focuses on stabilization and support. You will get a cushioned effect, but more importantly, your heel will stay in place and you’ll be able to more effectively traverse terrain in your favorite hiking boots/shoes.
If you don’t particularly have any issue with your current shoe or insole, but just need a replacement, then the Sof Sole Athelete Full Length may be exactly what you needed. While many insoles tend to try and pack in a bunch of features, this Sof Sole insole is fairly basic in design.
Nevertheless, it has close to 2,000 positive reviews proving it could be a great choice for the casual hiker.
Sof Sole Athlete is really designed for the average person, with an average foot shape, that wants an insole that performs better than the one their shoe/boot came with. The neutral arch design means it won’t work for everyone, but is a welcome change for those with an average foot that aren’t looking for any type of additional arch support.
Overall the Sof Sole Athlete is a very lightweight insole, with sufficient padding and stability. The careful place of gel pads in just the heel and forefoot helps keep weight down without sacrificing comfort.
The price and sizing options help ensure they will have whatever size you need, though you may need to do some trimming to make them fit your shoe properly. For the price, the Sof Sole Athlete is an excellent bargain.
Sole is a performance company that focuses on insoles/footbeds as well as their own line of footwear. While other insole companies tend to cater either specifically to serious athletes needing custom molded insoles or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, casual use only in your everyday street shoes, Sole Performance fills the “in between”.
While the brand certainly produces some high-tech insoles designed for strenuous use, you’ll also find some of their footbeds to be ideal for hiking. Their Performance Thick insole is a perfect example.
The cork sole of this insole is unique but allows for custom molding to ensure you get a perfect fit. The use of cork also helps keep the weight of these insoles down, despite being fairly thick. The insole itself is made of a high volume Softec open-cell foam as well as Polygiene permanent odor control.
Overall the Sole Performance Thick is an ideal choice for older hiking boots or shoes who’s previous insoles have worn away. This model is also a great choice for those that really crave a cushion effect but worry about how much-added weight normal thick footbeds add.
Remember – if you’re experiencing unusual foot pain during your hikes, the first step is to check if your shoes are still fitting you properly. If you’ve had your pair for a while then it’s probably time for a new set. Also, if you’re experiencing sudden foot pain it is also wise to visit your doctor to ensure there isn’t some injury or ailment that isn’t obviously visible.
Insoles can really help bring up your level of comfort up a notch, but only if your shoes already fit well. If you love your current footwear but just wish it has a little extra oomph, then check out one of the above featured three insoles.
Sam Hardy is an outdoor enthusiast with a penchant for survival prepping. He writes about the great outdoors and his favorite equipment here.