Dedicated to Mara's travel and hiking adventure journals as well as her words of wisdom and suggested resources for hikers and travelers.
SUPERfeet QuickFit Everyday insoles
[Originally written for BackpackGearTest.org, this review was current at the time it was written but should now be considered out-of-date. It is likely this product has been improved based on test results such as those reported here and experiences from other users. It is also possible that this product no longer exists or has been superseded by products produced at a later time. This page is included for historical purposes as an example of a gear testing report I had submitted.
Only minor updates such as email addresses, links, and formatting have been made as necessary to accommodate inclusion of an older report into this web site.]
Women's 13 5A/6A low volume, flat feet (men's 12)
I have been actively hiking and backpacking for the last 12 years. I hike in the local Middlesex Fells Reservation just 5 miles north of Boston. On weekends, I often hike in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. On vacations, I love to travel and have been hiking in many areas including canyons of the desert southwest, the Olympics, Cascades, Norway, Alps, and Himalayas.
The SUPERfeet arrived over the weekend when I was away. I was only able to open them yesterday. They arrived in perfect condition in a padded envelope. The packet included documentation that describes everything from foot health to break in procedures for the footbeds.
The footbeds do require custom fitting and I expect to have them molded to my feet on Thursday.
The appearance of the footbeds surprised me a bit as I was expecting a two or three piece footbed like my custom green SUPERfeet. These are one piece footbeds that get molded to your feet.
I am a bit concerned about the physical size of the footbeds. They are a size larger than the current footbeds that I am using and will require a lot of trimming. The width also seems very wide compared to my feet and my current footbeds. A glance at my current footbeds and it is apparent that they are just a slight bit too short for my feet, but I'm not sure that radical trimming of the larger footbed will serve my feet better than the slightly short regular footbeds.
If there are any questions or concerns about the footbeds at the time of the molding, I'll get in touch with our contact at SUPERfeet for further guidance.
I will wait to post my second report until after I have had the footbeds molded to my feet.
Once they are molded and properly trimmed for my shoes, I will follow the instructions for breaking them in over an 11 day period and then continue to wear them on most days. There may be days when I continue to switch of for my custom green footbeds.
One more observation... Based on a discussion with my podiatrist, I had been under the impression that orthotics were prescribed by doctors. Insoles did not require a prescription. The SUPERfeet web site uses the term footbed throughout. But, one of the accompanying pieces of documentation that came with the SUPERfeet uses the term orthotic. Perhaps the terms are interchangable. Perhaps that insert just hasn't been updated in a while.
Initial 2 Report
Date: March 1, 2002
REI, North Reading, MA
I was planning on having my SUPERfeet fitted at the local REI in the afternoon but I was concerned about some fitting issues. I had been wearing Custom Green SUPERfeet for a number of years, but when I received the Everyday SUPERfeet, I realized the size I had been sent was a size larger than the Custom Green ones I was used to wearing. My Custom Green SUPERfeet were a little short for my feet and shoes, but they had worked just fine for me. So, I wanted to find out what options were OK to consider once I got to REI for my fitting.
I called our contact, Kirsten, at SUPERfeet to discuss the issue. She indicated that if necessary, it would be OK for REI to switch to a smaller footbed if that seemed to be the most appropriate action given the situation and assuming it wouldn't be a problem for REI to change in their inventory system.
I was able to get to REI between 9:00 and 4:30pm when I had been told that Ryan would be available to fit the footbeds. When I arrived at about 3:30, I was told that Ryan had left at 2:00. Turns out that Ryan is the expert but there was another person there, Brian, who was also trained to fit the footbeds.
I told him of my concerns and he agreed that the size F looked quite a bit larger than the E but that the E really were a bit short for my feet. Given the narrow width of the shoes, we were both a little skeptical that the size F would fit in the shoes, but he also knew that the cork would mold to my feet and be somewhat narrower once fitted properly.
I thought it would be nice to have the full length footbed for a change so we decided to just use the size F that I had been shipped.
The fitting went quickly and easily. Brian put the footbed in the oven to heat, strapped a suction tube to my shin with the tube resting on the top of my foot. Once the footbed was heated, he put it in a tray, positioned it under my foot, positioned and strapped the bag over my foot and footbed, and started the suction. He did not use a strap around my instep to hold the footbed in place before putting my foot into the bag. This was something that seemed to be in the pictorial instructions so I'm not sure if that would have a significant affect on the fitting. As the suction started, he positioned my foot in a neutral position. He repeated this process for my other foot.
After the footbeds were molded, Brian took the time to very carefully trim the footbeds to fit into my shoes. They still seemed very wide at the heel to fit into my narrow shoes, but once the length and width at front of the footbed was properly trimmed, the heel did fit into my shoes.
The footbeds felt fine when I first put the shoes on. After walking around for a few minutes, there seems to be a slight pressure point just to the inside front of my heel. It doesn't hurt and it doesn't seem like the type of thing that could be addressed with grinding because it's not at the instep. I'm hoping that as the cork continues to mold and as I follow the break in period, that this pressure point will just cease to exist.
With the cork bottom, they seem much "stickier" to get in and out of my shoes than the Custom Greens with the plasticky base. As I do tend to switch my footbeds from shoe to shoe, and I will be switching footbeds within my shoes during the break in period, I should have some sense as to whether or not it will get easier to take them out and put them into other shoes.
As a followup to my observation about the use of the word "orthotic" in my first report, I asked Kirsten and she confirmed what my podiatrist had implied. "Orthotic" is now used almost exclusively for prescribed medical devices. Historically, that wasn't always the case. SUPERfeet has gotten away from using the term "orthotic" except where it appears on old documentation (but still otherwise accurate) that they still use. That one insert that came with the footbeds that they still use has a 1990 copyright.
I will now follow the instructions for breaking them in over an 11 day period and then continue to wear them on most days.
Field Test Report
Date: April 12, 2002
The field test started immediately after my fitting. In other words, I wore the footbeds home and for a few hours that evening. The SUPERfeet documentation suggest an 11 day period over which to wear the footbeds for longer and longer periods of time until you can wear them the entire day. I knew from prior experience with SUPERfeet that as I had already been wearing SUPERfeet prior to the test, my personal break-in period might go somewhat more quickly.
I had been concerned during the fitting about a slight pressure point just to the front of my heel in the shoes. While that same pressure point still exists, it never caused any discomfort. I speculate that these footbeds just take up more volume and perhaps have a higher arch than my older, custom green ones.
Over the first week or so, while I was at work, I was able to wear the SUPERfeet all day. That was primarily because sitting at a desk just does not put the same pressures on your feet and therefore the SUPERfeet as being up and walking around.
On that first weekend, just two days after being fitted, I went for a seven mile hike. About halfway into the hike, I started having some pain on the top of my left foot at the arch. Not being sure exactly what it was, I kept going for ten minutes or so to see if the pain would resolve itself. It didnít and seemed to be getting worse. Given that these insoles seem to give more support through the instep than I was used to, I realized that my arch was being stretched more than usual. Not wanting to push the point or have to limp out, I switched back to my old insoles.
Upon switching to my older insoles, it was obvious they were less supportive through the arch and took up less volume through the shoe. Wearing these, the pain did not dissipate but it did not get worse. It wasnít any worse than a bruise like pain and didnít cause me to limp so I was able to enjoy the rest of the hike.
The next day, I was hanging out at home and not wearing any shoes. By the time I returned to work on Monday, the pain had dissipated and I could wear the new footbeds again. Shorter afternoon hikes caused no problems and by the next weekend, I was able to wear the footbeds for the entire day, with no pain, even during longer hikes.
While I wore a pair of New Balance 971 2As to the fitting, they are narrower than the old New Balance 961 Bs I ended up wearing for most of the test period. Whether it was the thick socks I tend to wear or the higher volume of the footbed compared to the custom green footbeds, I found that while the shoe mostly still fit, my small toe would rub and get pressed a lot with the combination of foot gear that included the NB 971s. I'm not at all sure whether this was a function of the insole or just the shape of the new shoes. I hope to get some thinner socks to try with the new shoes before the end of the long-term field test period.
In addition to the NB 961s which I wore both to work and out on the local trails, when I went up to New Hampshire to do some winter hiking, I used the footbeds in my Sorel's, too. it was nice to be able to use the same footbeds in these boots as well.
Because I did not switch the footbed between shoes very much, I find the footbeds can still be a bit tricky to get out of my shoes. The cork material just does not slide against the shoe material as easy as plastic. With time, I think it will get easier as it is already much easier than the "struggle" I had to go through when I first got them.
I also had a recent experience with the footbeds getting wet and cold during a recent backpack. When I took them out of the shoes in the evening before I went to sleep, I was surprised as how flexible they were across the ball of the foot. When I grabbed one at the toe, the rest of the footbed just flopped over. I reshaped them and stood them up, heel side down in my shoes to air and either freeze or dry overnight.
I was concerned that if they did freeze, they might break as I tried to use them the next morning. While it was certainly cold enough to freeze them, the conditions were such that I really couldn't tell if that became an issue. I was in and out of the tent a few times over the course of the night and after the first time, I just left the footbeds in place inside the shoes rather than attempting to let them dry overnight. In any case, they do not seem the worse for the wear after the weekend. You can read a trip report at http://friends.backcountry.net/m_factor/taconic.html.
For the long-term report, I will pay close attention to the gray foam material at the ball of the foot. While that area has become extremely flexible compared to the rest of the footbed, there is no obvious wear and tear different from the rest of the footbed at this point.
I am planning on attending Trail Days in Damascus, Virginia this year and may have the opportunity to consult with Phil Oren. I will bring both pairs of SUPERfeet I have and inquire about appropriate footbeds (how many pairs, which ones, and whether or not to have them fitted in advance) for a Pacific Crest Trail hike I am preparing for in 2003.
Long Term Report
Date: August 13, 2002
Please see my field report for the basis of some of my comments in this long term report.
Until the summer came when I started wearing primarily sandals to work, I wore the Superfeet almost every day, whether at work or out hiking. As with most of the field test, the Superfeet caused no further discomfort after the initial break-in period.
A few times, I switched back to my older custom green Superfeet, but their lower volume usually made me see the benefit of primarily wearing the higher volume Everyday Superfeet.
As I broke in my new New Balance 971s, the Superfeet became easier to use in those shoes. The toe area of the shoe probably stretched a bit and I no longer feel any pressure points on my little toe. I have continued to wear thicker socks with the 971s and now feel that thin socks would not take up enough volume in the shoes.
Either the footbed has become more flexible or, more likely, my 971s have softened a bit with use. As such, removing and inserting the footbeds in the 971s has gotten much easier.
My earlier concerns about the gray foam material at the ball of the foot have come to naught. There is no more obvious wear and tear at that point than at any of the rest of the footbed.
A quick consultation at Trail Days indicated that my footbeds were correctly sized and fitted to my feet.
I have since used the footbeds on all further hikes I have done this year, including a week's worth of hiking on the Long Trail, a number of 4,000'ers in Maine, and many hikes in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
They continue to serve my feet well and I am likely to have another pair made for me when these need replacing.
Last updated, July 10, 2010.
Tips and Tricks
Gear Reviews and Discussions
AT FAQ and Stats
Trip Reports Gear Lists Mail Drops About Me Acknowledgements Photos Updates Fun Email Mara