Five years ago I was getting ready for my first long-distance walk, an 84-mile excursion in England.
And it was scaring me, because I knew something was wrong with my feet. I had broken in my new boots, but they still didn’t feel right.
This wasn’t new to me. As a kid, many decades ago, I hiked monthly with my Scout troop. My boots back then were stiff and unforgivable, with soles that felt and weighed like concrete. Every nail, eyelet, and grommet would stab into my feet with each tortuous step on the trail. We wore thin cotton socks that soaked up sweat like a sponge. It wasn’t a matter of getting blisters, but how bad they would be.
Back to five years ago, it was clear to me that boot-making materials and technology had changed dramatically since the 70s. My new Merrell boots were light and flexible, and I had the best synthetic moisture-wicking socks you could buy. But something was still wrong.
Thanks to the Google, I figured out that boot companies tend not to put much effort into their insoles. The manufacturers just assume that any serious walker is going to replace them with a pair suited best for their type of feet.
I had no idea there were so many types of insoles out there. Oh, I soon found out, trying out three different brands before finding one that fit me and my Merrells best.
Just before it was time for me to board a plane for England, I settled on a pair of gel insoles from Dr. Scholl’s. They weren’t perfect, but they helped.
And then security at the airport tossed them out. They weren’t allowing gel insoles on planes back then.
So, I ended up in the middle of London in a mild panic, until I came upon a backpacking store near Victoria Station. They took pity and introduced me to the Spenco Polysorb Walker/Runner insoles that saved my life on that trip.
I walked those 84 miles with confidence and comfort. I became a believer in quality insoles, whether you’re hiking, walking, running, or just standing on your feet for hours. Continue reading