Sole Custom Footbeds : In-Depth Review
Your feet are important and in many activities they take a lot of punishment. Whether it’s walking or hiking for hours on end, pounding the streets on a run, or even repeatedly spinning the pedals on a bike ride, your feet play a very important role. Foot pain or discomfort is extremely common and can often be the difference between recording a good time or a poor time – or even finishing at all. So it makes sense to take good care of your feet.
Insoles offer your feet some valuable cushioning and support, and while they themselves are nothing new, there are a lot of different options available – some significantly better than others. That’s where Sole come in. Sole is a Canadian company that has been established since 2001 and produce orthotic footbeds that are used by mountaineers, professional football players and world-class cyclists.
We recently got hold of a couple of pair of Sole footbeds, one pair of lifestyle medium inserts for use in casual or everyday shoes and another of active thin inserts for cycling and running, so we were able to test them out in a few different scenarios – day-to-day wear as well as in running trainers and cycling shoes. Here’s what we thought of them.
The Sole footbeds we tested are premium quality insoles that provided excellent comfort and support for running cycling and general everyday wear. The oven heat moulding was quick and easy and provided a perfect fit.
They aren’t especially cheap at around £30 and there are a couple of minor niggles with sizing, but overall they made a real positive difference, so are worth the money and are recommended.Check price at Amazon »
No two feet are the same, and moulding footbeds to the unique shape of your feet is an important part of getting a comfortable and supportive fit.
One quite unique feature of Sole footbeds in this regard is that they have two different methods of achieving a custom orthotic fit – wear moulding and heat moulding. Wear moulding simply requires you to pop the footbeds into your shoes and over time allow your weight and gravity to surround the insole to your foot. Heat moulding, requires you to pop the footbeds into the oven to warm up for two minutes (yes, you read that right) and then place the footbeds into your shoes, replacing the original insoles.
It is somewhat strange for a pair of insoles to come with cooking instructions, but indeed they do.
It felt a little weird to stick the footbeds on a baking tray and then place them into my oven, but I did it and I’m glad I did it, as the fit felt perfect once I had placed the warm footbeds into my cycling shoes and then allowed the footbed to mould around my foot. I’m not certain how long the wear moulding would take to achieve the same fit, but I’d happily recommend the heat moulding method as it was simple enough to do and created a near instant perfect fit.
Packaging and Sizing
The footbeds come neatly packed, in completely recycled material that has great eco-credentials as it can, in turn, be recycled again. But the main reason for bringing up the packaging here is that the sizing was a little confusing to me. I ordered a size 10 but as you can see in the screenshot below, the front of the packaging includes a range of different numbers with 11 and 10 shown at the top, 11 and 10.5 shown next to the male icon and 13 and 12.5 shown next to the female icon.
I’m sure I received the right size and they fit me just fine (indeed, if they are a little large, the instructions say that you can trim some of the extra material from the toe-end of the footbed using your old insole as a guide – so probably better to order up if you take a half-size) but if I were looking at these in a shop I could see that this might be pretty confusing. But this is really a minor niggle.
As so to the crux of the issue – as the whole point of insoles or footbeds is to add increased comfort and support to your footwear. And I’m pleased to report that the Sole footbeds didn’t disappoint. I used the active thin footbeds in my Shimano RP2 cycling shoes, as the cleats and the stiffness of the shoes have for a long time caused me some discomfort on longer rides. I managed to get out on a 50-mile ride and the increased comfort level was noticeable along the way.
When I arrived home and removed my shoes, the areas of pressure under the balls of my feet that would normally be quite tender were much less painful. The arches of my feet too were less tender thanks to the terrific arch support, so the Sole footbeds saved me a bit of hobbling about and in this regard must be deemed an unqualified success!
I also tried the lifestyle medium footbeds in my regular trainers as I went about my usual day-to-day activities, and they too added a pleasant level of comfort and support. Indeed, a friend tried them on as well and commented poitively on the comfort-level and ‘squishiness’ they offered – which was particularly noticeable in the heel.
Looking on Amazon for orthotic insoles and footbeds offers plenty of choice and a wide range of prices, and certainly, these Sole footbeds aren’t the cheapest options available, retailing at around £30 per pair. But there is a saying that goes, “Don’t skimp on anything that separates you from the ground” and I think it applies here. I have used cheaper insoles before, most notably for added support to my football trainers and they actually ended up causing more problems and pain in my shins than before – so the extra cash is worth it in my opinion and you can tell that more care and attention has gone into the shape and countours of the Sole product than a standard or cheaper insole.
The Sole footbeds added a great level of comfort and support to the shoes I tried them in and I’ll certainly be keeping them in for the foreseeable future. As already discussed, the sizing is a little confusing and the price is on the high end, but overall I feel these are a more than worthy purchase that will make a big difference to your feet, particularly during sports and walking.
4.5 stars out of 5