All of my around-town shoes, trail runners, and hiking shoes have aftermarket insoles inside of them. Even my winter boots and ski boots have quality insoles inside them. When I get a new pair of shoes or boots I remove the manufacturer’s insoles immediately.
The insoles that come in most hiking shoes and hiking boots (and all shoes) are often flat, floppy, and slippery. They really do not offer much comfort, support, or value compared to aftermarket hiking insoles.
If you want to improve your comfort level and foot support on long and rigorous hikes you should definitely acquire some insoles that are constructed specifically for hiking. Insoles are often overlooked. But they are high-value hiking gear items that have a relatively low price.
Table of Contents
- Who should get insoles for their hiking boots or shoes?
- Common reasons to get hiking insoles
- Benefits of after-market insoles
- Our picks: The best insoles for hiking and backpacking
- Best insoles for plantar fasciitis
- Hiking insole care tips
Read on to learn more about the best insoles for hiking footwear. Upgrade your insoles today for super happy and healthy feet on the hiking trails!
After experiencing several foot injuries I have invested in five pairs of aftermarket insoles for my hiking footwear. They allowed my feet to heal, repair, and protect themselves from future injury. Find out my top picks below!
Who should get insoles for their hiking boots or shoes?
Everyone should! Very few “out of the hiking shoe-box” insoles provide any benefits to your feet.
Seriously, if you want to be more comfortable and reduce your risk of injury (heel pain, underfoot bruising, blisters), get yourself some insoles for hiking.
If you consider yourself a serious hiker, you should invest in your feet and keep them happy and healthy. Once you have tried them, you won’t use stock insoles again. The difference is instantly noticeable.
Common reasons to get hiking insoles
If you run into any of these issues, consider getting aftermarket insoles for your hiking shoes, hiking boots, or trail runners.
- Plantar fasciitis
- Knee or back pain
- Joint or foot pain
- Shin splints
- Supination (foot rolling out)
- Over-pronation (foot rolling inwards)
- Foot or heel slipping
- Hot spots or pressure points
- Maintain general foot health to prevent injury
Benefits of after-market insoles
Insoles are going to provide support and cushioning and thus more comfort.
This is what you can expect from an upgrade.
- Minimize fatigue
- Less shifting and rubbing (reduces the chance of blisters or hot spots)
- Shock absorption
- Support and stability
- Prevents heel slip
- Bacterial growth reduction
Our picks: The best insoles for hiking and backpacking
We took an in-depth look at what is available at REI and other online stores.
The three main brands you will find are Superfeet, Oboz, and Sole.
In our opinion, the Oboz offering isn’t a worthy option. Although significantly cheaper at about half the price, the quality doesn’t appear much better than the stock insoles that come in any hiking shoes or boots. They seem just as floppy and flimsy, so we do not recommend them.
These insoles are an interesting option because they are primarily made of recycled wine corks. Cork is a natural material that has some very positive benefits and qualities.
Incredibly, using these insoles in my footwear coincided with my plantar fasciitis disappearing within just 2 weeks of wearing them regularly. It may have been a coincidence, but it is the first time in an entire year that I have not woken up with pain caused by plantar fasciitis.
Natural cork qualities
- Eco-friendly, 100% natural
- Cork provides natural cushioning and shock absorption
- Naturally dry material for powerful moisture-wicking and odor reduction
- Cork is supportive and does not compress over time
- 1.6 mm of cushioning delivers fantastic underfoot comfort and support
- Insoles are heat-moldable (in a conventional oven) or wear-moldable that create a customized fit
- Polyester moisture-wicking Polygiene antimicrobial top sheet
- Deep heel cup prevents slipping and lateral movement
- Modable cork base adapts to your foot
- Promotes equal pressure distribution in the footbed
If you want a bit more support or an insole that is more suitable for hiking boots or winter hiking boots, check out the Sole Performance Thick insoles. I own the Sole Performance thick insoles and I use them in my winter hiking boots and my ski boots.
You can also get Sole Performance insoles with metatarsal pads. These provide extra relief to your feet by supporting the toe bones with metatarsal pads. I own them too and have been using them in my Hoka Speedgoat GTX Trailrunners.
Why we like these insoles: These insoles are very light and supportive. I love how they push up into my feet. This helps prevent injury and helps to conserve energy in my feet on long hikes. They lock my feet into the heels of my hiking shoes. The Sole insoles have better forefoot support compared to other insoles. I also like that they are made from recycled cork and not plastic.
This is the first after-market hiking insole that I purchased and tried out in my new Vasque Breeze AT Low GTX Hiking Shoes. Although I love these new hiking shoes, I found my feet were slipping a bit when hiking with the stock insoles that came in them. I was also experiencing minor shin splints from steep rocky descents.
The quality, materials, and sturdiness of the Superfeet Trailblazer Comfort hiking insoles looked way better than most other available options.
- Deep heel cup to prevent slipping
- Heel impact technology pod disperses impact on rough terrain
- Aerospring Ascent dual-comfort foam absorbs shock, increases comfort, reduces fatigue
- EVOLyte carbon fiber stabilizer caps increase support and stability
- Moisturewick helps to reduce bacterial growth and odors
- Good for 12 months or 500 miles
After inserting my brand new Superfeet Trailblazers the difference was noticeable immediately. You can just feel the additional support under the foot. It is absolutely amazing what better materials and a few extra millimeters of thickness can accomplish. I feel like they easily enable me to hike several hours further per outing. They are awesome!
Why we like these insoles: The black section in the above photo is made of stiff plastic. These are a good pick if you want extra-firm support in your arch.
Best insoles for plantar fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is no fun. The bottom foot pain is nagging and persistent. I have suffered plantar fasciitis for the past 12 months.
In my experience, the key to recovery has been icing regularly and wearing proper footwear. I threw all my older shoes in the trash, purchased 4 new pairs of shoes, and a couple of sets of insoles. I have found that a supportive yet very cushiony shoe has sped up my recovery.
You can increase foot support and cushion with aftermarket insoles. I have found supportive cushioning (not super firm or hard) in the heel delivers the best results. This can be found with our top picks:
- Gel in the heels helps relieve pain
- Nylon plate supports arches
These Sof Sole Full-Length Plantar Fascia insoles are the best insoles to wear when you first experience plantar fasciitis because they are very cushiony and supportive.
However, as I mentioned the SOLE Performance Medium Insoles are also fantastic and completely cured my feet of plantar fasciitis.
Hiking insole care tips
These aftermarket insoles for hiking generally last about 12 months.
However, if you care for them you might be able to extend their lifespan.
Here is what you can do.
- Air them out to dry after hikes if you have sweaty feet
- Remove and shake out debris
- Wash them every couple months by hand using a mild detergent
- Inspect for any damage
Want more footwear ideas? Check out our top picks for the newest and best hiking shoes and boots:
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