For the amount of wear and tear we put on our feet in the mountains each year, it’s remarkable how frequently we fail to invest in the proper support needed to ensure maximum comfort and longevity for our most abused load bearing body parts. Purchasing quality boots is a definite step in the right direction toward happy feet, but for many of us, a well made aftermarket insole is the missing link that prevents us from achieving the utmost comfort. According to studies, an astounding 75% of the population has some sort of foot problem, with just 10% of those people using some sort of over-the-counter supportive device.
After locking in SCARPA as our boot to offer in 2015, Jason came up with the idea of adding a line of insoles to our Gear Shop and the hunt was on. I researched the top insole brands on the market and met with a number of them in Salt Lake City at Outdoor Retailer in January of 2015. After speaking with insole designers, meeting with reps, and testing an array of samples, Superfeet came out on top by a considerable margin. If you don’t want to take my word for it, Superfeet is the #1 insole worn and recommended by doctors.
Why Factory Insoles Fall Short
Boot companies specialize in the making of boots to “fit” a wide range of foot volumes and arch types. From a business and production standpoint, large scale boot manufacturers have enough on their plate in dealing with the accommodation of different foot lengths and widths. Trying to add a third dimension to the built-in fit by offering an array of arch support types would simply be unreasonable, so they slap in a cheap flat factory insole and call it good, assuming the buyer will upgrade depending on their specific needs. Whether or not the end user realizes this is not the boot makers problem. This is consistent among all boot companies, regardless of the quality of their product.
Why Superfeet Make a Difference
Superfeet insoles today are a product of 40+ years worth of R&D in foot biomechanics and cutting edge materials. By leaving the footwear making to the footwear makers, Superfeet has been able to focus on the fine details that matter when it comes to quality foot support. The simple answer to “Why Superfeet make a difference” is that their distinct shape mildly manipulates the structure of the foot, transferring the weight of the body onto the most supportive portions of the foot’s arch.
To relate this back to improved comfort and boot performance in the backcountry, by upgrading from factory insoles to Superfeet users will experience:
- Better alignment of the back, knees, and ankles while standing still.
- Decreased ankle pronation and supination (side to side flex) while side-hilling.
- Increased shock absorption while carrying a heavy pack.
- Decreased pressure in toe box during steep descents.
- Decreased risk of Plantar Fasciitis: inflammation of the connective tissue in the sole of the foot caused by heavy use on hard surfaces and uneven terrain. This is one of the most common foot ailments associated with improper support in the mountains.
Below you can see the pronation of my knee and ankle while standing one-legged on a factory boot insole (Left). While standing one-legged on the Superfeet Green (Right), balancing was much easier and provided much better alignment in the knee and ankle. As shown in the diagram above, poor knee alignment has a direct affect on the rest of the body.
Styles Offered by KUIU
Superfeet insoles are now available in the Gear Shop section of the KUIU online store! While Superfeet offers a wide variety of insole types, we have narrowed it down to what we feel are the two best options for the backcountry big game hunter: Superfeet Carbon and Superfeet Green. These are both top of the line styles, and each is designed to fit a different foot shape. Not only are these great options for use in hunting boots, but they work very well in athletic type shoes as well. Take a look below to find out which insole is best for you.
If you are still unsure about which insole is best for you, feel free to call KUIU Customer Service as they have received quality training from our regional Superfeet Rep.
Superfeet Carbon is designed for those with a flat foot or low arch. Furthermore, Carbon’s low profile allows extra room inside the toe box which can be a benefit for those with a higher volume foot looking for just a little more wiggle room than the factory insert provides. The structured cap on the bottom of this insole is a carbon-composite material that is incredibly light weight and durable, and also allows a small amount of flex during use (think shock absorber). A single Carbon insole for a size 11 foot weighs just 1.4 oz. Longevity for this product is rated at 12 months or 500 miles.
We chose to carry Superfeet Green as a solid option for users who have a high arch and need more support than what the Carbon provides. Green uses a larger polymer cap for support and does not offer the flex of Carbon (this is necessary in providing full support for a high arch). Because of it’s higher supportive profile, Green may require a short break-in process for some users. Lastly, Green has a higher profile toward the toe, offering a slight increase in insulation over Carbon. A single Green insole for a size 11 foot weighs 1.9 oz, and has an estimated longevity of 12 months or 500 miles.
Superfeet is so confident in their product, they offer a 60-day comfort guarantee. If you are not satisfied with the performance of your KUIU bought Superfeet, you may return them to KUIU within 60 days of the original purchase for a full refund.
UPDATE: DEWEY PRATT, YOU WERE CHOSEN FOR THE FREE PAIR! I HAVE SENT YOU AN EMAIL. THANKS TO EVERYONE ELSE WHO COMMENTED!
Everyone who Subscribes and submits a comment to this post will be entered into a drawing to win a FREE pair of Superfeet. I will pull the winning name out of a hat this Friday, March 13th at 12pm PST. The winner will get to choose between the Green and Carbon models.
Don’t worry if your comment doesn’t appear right away. I have to approve them before they show up on the public page.
Lastly, I want to thank all of the new subscribers who joined The Hunt last week in response to the KUIU newsletter. We are over the 500 subscriber mark as of today (3/10/2015). Email me at email@example.com if you have ideas for future posts.
Determining Your Arch Type (Addition to Original Post)
There were a few questions that came up in the comments on how to determine your arch type before choosing an insole. One way to do this is by wetting the bottom of your bare foot and taking one normal step onto a piece of thick paper. A “flat” foot (little to no arch) will look like the print on the right. A “normal” arch will look like the print on the left. A print that lays down even less water in the arch area than the print on the left would be considered a “high” arch. Tim, who took the step on the left, is comfortable in both the Carbon and the Green insoles.