Superfeet - how many wear them?
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David Poston
(dgposton) - F

Locale: Texas / Colorado
Superfeet - how many wear them? on 06/03/2008 15:10:43 MDT Print View

I've been thinking about adding superfeet to my hiking footwear for a while now. After considerable research, I've not yet reached the conclusion that they are necessarily beneficial for all feet.

I tried out the blue ones for a few days, but they just didn't seem comfortable for my flat feet....so I returned them. Some questions I have are as follows...

1. Is there a compelling reason to wear Superfeet if you don't have any pre-existing foot problems?

2. When sizing Superfeet, do you go by your shoe length or width? (I normally wear 9 - 9 1/2, but I found the "D" way too narrow for my wide heels--in fact, I felt like I needed to wear an "F" or "G")

3. What does "breaking them in" mean?
a) do you "break in" Superfeet (i.e., do the insoles adapt to your feet) or
b) do you "break in" your feet (i.e., must your feet adapt to the insoles)?

4. If the answer to #3 is b), then must your wear Superfeet in all the rest of your footwear? What will happen if you don't? Will your feet acquire a Superfeet-dependency?

5. What is the main advantage of Superfeet, and can this advantage be gained by other means?

6. How do the custom ones compare to the blue/green Superfeet?

Whew, that's a lot of questions. I'll stop there for now.

thanks
David

Edited by dgposton on 06/03/2008 15:12:02 MDT.

David Neumann
(idahomtman) - M

Locale: Northern Idaho
re: superfeet on 06/03/2008 15:37:53 MDT Print View

David,

I've been wearing Superfeet insoles for a little over 3years. When I was training for a JMT thru-hike I started to have some foot problems and the salesperson at REI suggested I try the green ones. They made my feet feel instantly better. I have continued to wear them in all of my shoes since. I do use the blue ones for non-performance shoes.

To answer your questions:
1)If you have not experienced any problems, I wouldn't change anything.

2)I have always purchased the size appropriate for my shoe size. They have always fit without trimming no matter what type of shoes I have put them in. I have medium width feet and have experienced no width problems.

3)The Superfeet will "break in" in as much as they will mold to your feet somewhat but not to a great extent. I don't feel any break-in period is necessary. My biggest question was always how long do they last? I used to replace them automatically every6-9 months but now I wear them until they are visibly worn out.

4)While I now wear Superfeet in all my shoes, I didn't used to and I don't think it was any problem switching back and forth. I have been bothered by plantar faciitis and feel that they provide good arch support.

5)For me, the main advantage is the arch support and help in reducing a mild case of pronation. I also found them particular helpful in reducing the impact of rocks on the bottoms of my feet on long trail days (20+ miles). I am certainly no expert on feet but would refer you to "Fixing Your Feet" 4th edition by Wilderness Press for more information.

6)I have not had custom orthotics. If you are referring to the custom fit Superfeet, I have no experience with those also. I did just buy a new pair of Spenco insoles that are specifically designed for day hiking. They also make a pair for heavier, traditional backpacking loads. I do not have enough experience with these yet to really know how they will work, although they are comfortable and they do have a few nice features that the Superfeet do not. They also cost a little less.

Prior to 2005, I had never worn insoles in any hiking shoes. BTW I wear running shoes not boots for hiking. However, I am now sold on Superfeet. I have friends who have also had minor foot problems and, at my suggestion, they purchased Superfeet and they have continued to wear them also.

Good luck.

Sean Walashek
(caraz) - F

Locale: bay area
my thoughts on 06/03/2008 16:37:38 MDT Print View

My expierience comes from working as a boot fitter and a couple conversations with the superfoot rep. I use superfeet myself, not because I had problems but because I wanted to protect my feet.

What a superfoot does different from the stock insole is give your arch support. A very easy way to see how much support your current insoles give is to bend them, they are most likely like paper. Superfeet have high density plastic that wont bend, it will hardly flex. Most people who come in have been recommended superfeet by their foot doctors in place of a very expensive custom orthotic, (the best artificial support you could get if made right). What they are designed to do is stop ones arch from colapsing which is often the cause of pronation. If you have a strong arch with an even strike then superfeet may not be as big an advantage out of the box. However mile after mile our feet are stressed when walking leading to foot fatigue. With the added support of a superfoot or any well fit orthotic that stress is negated and the weight is supported by your arch which is in turn supported by the superfoot. The break in isn't so much for the insole but for your foot. If you were to hop into a superfoot for 24/7 you would most likely have a very sore foot after a day, the time it takes for your feet to correct and get used to the new feeling is what the breakin refers to. The blue/green/orange colors differentiate arch heights and use. For a low arch blue would be the way to go higher would be green, the orange simply have a little extra padding under the footbed and a small metataursal support (see small bump on top between balls of feet) but are for all intenst the same as green. If you could get the custom shaped ones I would say go for it they will protect your feet over the next years.

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: Superfeet - how many wear them? on 06/03/2008 17:30:42 MDT Print View

I always wear them. I'm not saying that they are for everyone though. I've never had any foot problems. I started wearing them when I began hiking in rocky, mountainous terrain. They definitely make my feet less tired at the end of the day. I also feel more stable while rock hopping.

My wife also started wearing them after she had a brush with plantar faciitis and she hasn't had a problem since.

I also tried Spenco Backpacker insoles and I absolutely hated them! Thought I had rocks in my shoes!

I get my Superfeet one size larger than my shoe and trim it. This moves the arch a little forward which feels better for me - I must have deformed feet :)

Dondo .
(Dondo) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Superfeet - how many wear them? on 06/03/2008 18:14:22 MDT Print View

David,

>>After considerable research, I've not yet reached the conclusion that they are necessarily beneficial for all feet.

Your conclusion is probably right. With feet there is not one thing that works for everyone. One thing I like about "Fixing Your Feet" is that the author presents a wide variety of ideas. It's up to you to try some and see what will work for you.

>>1. Is there a compelling reason to wear Superfeet if you don't have any pre-existing foot problems?

I don't think so. But if you have knee or hip problems you could give them a try since "..the foot bone is connected to the Knee bone..."

I can't answer #2 because my heels are narrow. Superfeet are true to size for me.

>>3. What does "breaking them in" mean?
a) do you "break in" Superfeet (i.e., do the insoles adapt to your feet) or
b) do you "break in" your feet (i.e., must your feet adapt to the insoles)?

My answer is b. If you are new to Superfeet it's best to wear them just a couple of hours a day to start with and work up.

>>4. If the answer to #3 is b), then must your wear Superfeet in all the rest of your footwear? What will happen if you don't? Will your feet acquire a Superfeet-dependency?

I use Superfeet in all shoes I wear for walking. Since I walk for a living (as a letter carrier) and do a lot of hiking, I put in a lot of miles in Superfeet. If I'm just hanging around I wear sandals and don't have a problem walking in them.

>>5. What is the main advantage of Superfeet, and can this advantage be gained by other means?

For me there are two main advantages--arch support and extra stability of rough trails. Superfeet center your foot right in the middle of the shoe.

>>6. How do the custom ones compare to the blue/green Superfeet?

Never tried the custom. The green have been good enough for me.

Edited by Dondo on 06/03/2008 18:15:05 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Superfeet - how many wear them? on 06/03/2008 19:34:32 MDT Print View

Hi David

> I've been thinking about adding superfeet to my hiking footwear for a while now. After considerable research, I've not yet reached the conclusion that they are necessarily beneficial for all feet.

The following are my own personal opinions based on my experience, not those of BPL. I don't think BPL has an official position on this subject at present.

I was approached by Superfeet to review their insoles for BPL. I asked for some technical literature and was sent some about their thermally molded version - which is a custom fit. The thermally-adjusted version may have some value for a few people, but it is not the OTC thing you buy in shops.
So I asked for literature justifying the value of the OTC versions which you are talking about. They never replied. I drew my own conclusions.

> 1. Is there a compelling reason to wear Superfeet if you don't have any pre-existing foot problems?
Bluntly, NO.

If an OTC insole of the Superfeet variety really was of value, don't you think that the big shoe manufacturers (Salomon, Nike, New Balance ...) would have put them into their own shoes? Can you believe they would ship poor quality insoles so you can replace them with better ones from a third party? Let's get real here. That's just inconceivable imho.

Cheers
Roger Caffin

Steve O
(HechoEnDetroit) - F

Locale: South Kak
Re: Superfeet on 06/03/2008 20:08:43 MDT Print View

"I get my Superfeet one size larger than my shoe and trim it. This moves the arch a little forward which feels better for me - I must have deformed feet :)"
------I second that. I also cut a small portion off the front part of the arch support which is on the bottom side of the insole.


I bought the green ones for some old style lugged hiking boots (Alico Summit) that I wear sometimes for work. The boots were not comfortable after an hour on my feet before I put the superfeet in. Now the boots are my some of the most comfortable footwear I own. Additionally, I think that the boots were a little bit too big for my feet and the superfeet helped fill them out, resulting in a better fit.

Joe Kuster
(slacklinejoe) - MLife

Locale: Flatirons
Superfeet - how many wear them? on 06/03/2008 20:34:19 MDT Print View

I think the only real reason that so many of us like superfeet is simply because many manufacturers put in substandard insoles in their shoes. Sure, a few running shoe companies have a decent insole from the factory but they are few and far between to find an insole that doesn't just bottom out after a few decent hikes.

I've switched to superfeet if nothing else to get a consistent insole that does the job, holds up well and molds to my feet. The first 2 weeks with my greens were very disappointing, but after they finally broke in I'm able to switch back and forth with no issues and otherwise they basically just make my feet feel not as tired at the end of the day.

I don't think that they are a magic ticket but they seem to do the job fairly well depending on your foot type. The fact you can buy one pair and switch them between shoes is a blessing in desguise as it radically decreases break in time for your next pair of shoes.

If you are shopping around to fix any issues with your current shoes I'd suggest looking at the book "Fixing Your Feet" for a much, much more detailed look at keeping your feet happy. Superfeet aren't for everyone and there are a lot of simple options in that book that are free to give a try and it'll help you assess whether or not you actually have an issue that needs correction where you actually could benefit from orthotics - most people don't need them, but may benefit from a higher quality insole than was shipped with their shoes.

Dondo .
(Dondo) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Superfeet - how many wear them? on 06/03/2008 20:51:23 MDT Print View

Hi Roger,

>>If an OTC insole of the Superfeet variety really was of value, don't you think that the big shoe manufacturers (Salomon, Nike, New Balance ...) would have put them into their own shoes? Can you believe they would ship poor quality insoles so you can replace them with better ones from a third party?

I have a shelf full of poor quality insoles supplied by Nike, New Balance, Saucony, etc. I really need to toss them. Try Superfeet. You may love them or hate them but I think you'll agree that they are very different from the cheap foam insoles supplied by the manufacturer.

Max Hoagland
(maxhoagland) - F
Re: Superfeet - how many wear them? on 06/03/2008 20:54:39 MDT Print View

I want to know how many people chose to wear the insoles on their own, or did a salesperson recommend them??
Please make sure to include this in your response to this question.

I wear them because the REI salesperson forced them on my influential mother, who gave them to me. I think the heel is way too thick. That's all.

Dondo .
(Dondo) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Superfeet - how many wear them? on 06/03/2008 20:58:50 MDT Print View

I chose them years ago based on the recommendations of hikers on another forum. At the time I was having problems with my feet. They stopped hurting within a week of starting to use them.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Superfeet - how many wear them? on 06/03/2008 21:44:46 MDT Print View

Been wearing them for years and have ended knee pain brought on from supination. Roger, it is O.K. not to post a reply. We discussed Superfeet before. If you haven't tried them, don't knock them.

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
I use the green OTC Superfeet (not custom molded ones) on 06/03/2008 22:53:23 MDT Print View

I use the green OTC Superfeet (not custom molded ones) for hiking in the High Sierras. I tried going with another hiking brand insole that is softer one year but got blisters, so I went back to the SuperFeet, I have always used the green colored one for hiking and went with the pre-sized version (not the custom molded version). I recommend you buy from REI, then if you don't like them, you can return them. I have used these for 3 summers now in the Sierras. Plan to use them this July/Aug on the JMT trail too.

ps - I get the one sized for my shoe size and they can be cut to fit just right. I wear a hiking boot one full size larger than normal street boot (I wear 8.5EEEE normally but wear a 9.5 regular width Keen eVent Mid-Height Targhee boot, and I find there is room to put a super small cheap, thin sponge insole beneath the superfeet insole ( http://www.odor-eaters.com/products.shtml - the odor eater ultra comfort is very thin ). This is the same as me wearing a very thick soft sock, but enables me to wear a very thin, breathable sock instead (Wright no-blister coolmesh crew double-layer sock.)

Last year I added more comfort by adding the teflon coated shoe pads by Engo - http://www.goengo.com/details.aspx?pid=35&cid=167 and I adhere them to the top of the superfeet insole where my foot normally gets warm. This made my feet even more comfortable on the trail. I also use Leukotape to put on parts of foot that might otherwise blister before I start the hike.

I go overboard with my feet but I do not blister on the trail and I am very thankful for that.

Edited by marti124 on 06/03/2008 23:03:07 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Superfeet - how many wear them? on 06/04/2008 01:51:30 MDT Print View

Hi Dondo

> I have a shelf full of poor quality insoles supplied by Nike, New Balance, Saucony, etc.
Interesting. I have to say I have never had that problem with any of the stock insoles in my shoes, and I have worn out many many shoes over the years. Perhaps my opinions are biased by my experiences - very likely.

I suspect that what we might all find is that what works for one person's feet doesn't work for another person. I do know that every one walks just a little differently. If you have a problem and you can afford it, a smart approach might be to try several solutions - IF you have a problem. Perhaps this answer will satisfy Ken?

I will however stand by my original comment that if you don't have a problem, don't try creating one!

Footnote: I actually save some of the stock inner soles from some of the lighter cheaper Australian shoes (DVs) because they are so good ...

Cheers

Edited by rcaffin on 06/04/2008 01:52:42 MDT.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
RE: Superfeet on 06/04/2008 06:42:12 MDT Print View

How about a podiatrist's opinion? That opinion I would take above Rogers'. Research scientist he maybe, but no MD. Just because he has an opinion on Eveything!

Sven Klingemann
(svenklingemann) - F
Re: RE: Superfeet on 06/04/2008 07:37:40 MDT Print View

I have used the superfeet green and they were killing my feet.
Not saying that they are bad but maybe just not right for my feet. Seeing a podiatrist may be the best thing before getting and special insoles.
S.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Superfeet on 06/04/2008 09:39:29 MDT Print View

If you don't have foot problems then Superfeet may well be unnecessary. If you do have foot problems then seeing a podiatrist is a good idea. If the problems are minor having your feet examined and measured by a trained boot fitter in an outdoor store might be enough.

The purpose of Superfeet is to stabilise feet that are moving too much in footwear due to over-pronation (basically your foot flattening too much when weighted). If you don't over-pronate then Superfeet won't do much for you. If you do they can be a great benefit. I've used Superfeet for over a decade now as I over-pronate badly. When measured my feet were two sizes bigger when weighted than when unweighted. It's not possible to fit footwear properly to feet like that. Superfeet stabilise my feet so they don't elongate anything like so much and my footwear fits much better.

Barry P
(BarryP) - F

Locale: Eastern Idaho (moved from Midwest)
Re: Superfeet - how many wear them? on 06/04/2008 10:18:55 MDT Print View

“1. Is there a compelling reason to wear Superfeet if you don't have any pre-existing foot problems?”

If everything is working great, I wouldn’t touch it. It is so nice to keep gear simple.

I only use Superfeet 1 or 2 months of the year and that’s in dead winter when I have to hike in winter boots (vs. sandals). The ONLY reason I put them in my 12oz winter boots is because my socks slip off if I don’t. So I needed something to keep my socks in place ;) I had to trim them to fit and I had to be careful with that so the arch would fall in the correct place.

May everyone find their foot zen :)
-Barry

Daniel Bell
(danbell222) - F

Locale: So. AZ
Re: Superfeet on 06/04/2008 12:49:56 MDT Print View

Hi,
I credit custom superfeet with saving my hiking career. I had reached a point 4 or 5 years ago where I was living with a fair amount of foot, knee, and lower back pain. I over-pronate and I think that years of hiking in sloppily fitting boots and cheap insoles had finally caught up with me (I’m 45). After letting my feet adjust to the new superfeet for about a week (that “break in” process was fairly painful the first time around) --I felt good as new. It was remarkable, actually.

I’ve never tried the over-the-counter versions of superfeet, but the customs did the trick for me. Yes, I'm dependant on them now, but I think of them as a poor man’s orthotic and don’t mind shelling out the 90+ bucks for them. I’m currently on my fourth pair.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: RE: Superfeet on 06/04/2008 18:13:15 MDT Print View

Hi Ken

> How about a podiatrist's opinion? That opinion I would take above Rogers'.
Ah, but that is MY opinion too.
Hum - I can see a logic loop here somewhere ...

Anyhow, we agree. Pro opinion best. Feet are so ... individual.