See paragraph regarding Danner Combat Hikers.
In a previous post regarding the importance of getting the best boots you can afford, here, two commenters were very positive on the addition of SOLE brand insoles to replace those that came with whatever brand boots (typically Danner in the post). Here’s what they had to say:
“Added some SOLE insoles, lots of BodyGlide and Leukotape for the heels, and not one blister in 110 miles of training rucks to break them in. ”
“SOLE foot beds are the best.”
After reading them, and reinspecting the manufacturer’s supplied foot beds in my Danner Acadias and ‘Combat Hikers’, I decided to try them out, at least on one pair of boots, as they’re a tad expensive at $40 a pair. I went to the SOLE web site, here, and looked for the best insole for combat boots or heavy walking/work. The site recommended the ones above, and that’s what I ended up purchasing. I thought getting a pair might take care of a couple of ‘hot spots’ my feet would experience when doing long walks with a heavy ruck. An aside, hot spots are really a pain, because it makes taking every step after they develop highly unpleasant. So, having good boots, Vermont Darn Tough socks, and moleskin wasn’t proving enough to kill the hot spots in the Acadias.
The product itself comes well made with instructions on how to heat mold them in the oven or by plain old walking in them. I tried the walking routine first, and decided later to do the oven routine, and I’m glad I did. It takes a few long walks to generate enough heat and pressure to form the foot bed to your specific unique foot shape. The oven routine takes about 3 minutes to heat them up to 160 degrees and about a minute or so standing in the boots after immediate insertion after removing them from the oven. Makes a HUGE difference in how they feel.
Hot spot wise, coating the area with body glide helps with the friction that causes the hot spot, and a single package will last one user a long, long time.
Because the new footbeds are a tad thicker and much more rigid than the manufacturers supplied version, they’re going to snug up your boot a bit, but not so much that they don’t fit anymore, at least in my case. The difference is evident to me when I lace up — the laces have more space between them (about 3/16 of an inch). I also tape my heels with Leukotape and body glide that area (on top of the tape) as a precaution against friction.
So far I’ve walked about 25 miles total (5 to 8 miles at a time) in the Acadias with rucks weighing 65 to 80 pounds on pavement, gravel roads, and grassy lanes. My feet aren’t near as exhausted as they were, and don’t have the tendency to cramp like they sometimes would in the past. I’ll know more in the next couple months when I log in another 100 miles or so.
The ‘Combat Hikers’ are my ‘get home’ shoes kept in my car along with necessary kit/clothing, and I just custom fitted them to my feet yesterday, so I can’t comment on anything other than initial feel, which is superb! I won’t be carrying a heavy ruck with them, but will test them nevertheless in the next few weeks doing a ruck walk or two. UPDATE: Initial test with a 70# ruck, 5 miles, 88f, 86% humidity on the afternoon the original post was published. Outstanding performance from both the SOLE Softec Ultra Footbed and the Danner hikers. No hot spots (that’s right), no blisters, no discomfort whatsoever or anything other than a bit of heat build up to the point my Vermont USMC temperate socks were soaked through with sweat when I finished. I always do the walk with no significant rest (more than 30 seconds or so) no matter what distance I’m going up to 10 miles, so the sweat build up would be expected. If I were on a 20 or 30 mile jaunt, I’d change socks at the 10 and 20 mile marks and rest for 20 minutes or so while hydrating.
Right now, today, DTG gives the SOLE Softec Ultra Footbed 4.8 stars out of 5 (have to do more walking to get a complete 5…). The instructions for oven heating and fitting are easy to follow, and using your oven won’t make a mess and piss off your wife, so that’s a plus, too!
Thanks for the advice, guys! Looks like I’m going to be able to increase the length of my walks now, to realistic distances for getting home and moving during a SHTF situation.