Please sign in to post.

Help - Insoles and Hiking Boots - Finally, an Update

I bought a new pair of Salomon hiking boots. I have used them about 7 - 10 times now on trails about 3 - 5 miles long. The boots are fine except for the insoles. The boots cause my feet to hurt when walking on pavement (any hard surface) and/or longer than 3 miles. They are getting worse with wear. Overall, I like everything else about the boots. But, the boots are getting intolerable.

Are the trailblazer super feet insoles sold online at REI effective or do I need to see a podiatrist for help?

Never had this issue before. Looking for advice. Thanks for your responses.

Posted by
363 posts

I do use Superfeet in my hiking boots, but that is more for just extra comfort. I would look at a different pair of boots if this were me. Go to REI or a similar store and try on every single pari of boots you can, and try them out on the simulated rock. Wear them around the store for quite a while to get a good feel of how they will be, not just a short walk. Also, make sure it is a store such as REI where you can return if they do not work for you.

Posted by
685 posts

Sun baked, everyone's feet are very different and needs change as you get older. I used to do fine with some fairly cheap insoles from Walmart but not anymore.

If you have special needs - flat feet, high arches, plantar fasciitis, etc you're going to need more serious - and sadly more expensive - insoles.

You might not need a podiatrist but may benefit to find a shoe store in your area that specializes in orthopedic shoes/orthotics. They can help you find products that address your foot issues. Otherwise, you'll just need to experiment til you find something that works - which may end up costing more in the long run.

Posted by
1853 posts

I use Superfeet in my walking boots (the Green one) and they are great. But it was more to do with fit than comfort. Why are your boots hurting your feet? Too soft, too flexible, not used to walking in them? Is it plantar fasciitis?

The Superfeet insoles are great but they may not work miracles if the boot is the problem.

Posted by
25768 posts

I'm across the pond so I'm unfamiliar with what is sold over there (my insoles are made for me by the NHS here so unbranded) but it is my impression over many years that Salomon make excellent footwear.

What about your feet hurts? Both feet or just one? Could it be the fit? Too loose or too tight? Your feet will swell as you hike, what may have felt great at base camp may be getting squished as you go... is the toes, the heel, the instep?

Posted by
2813 posts

As a Triage Nurse for decades, I have dealt with similar questions. Due to your unique situation, it sounds like a consult with a savvy Podiatrist first to diagnose may be wise before proceeding. A Podiatrist can advise your specific needs. Hope you find resolution soon.

Posted by
3526 posts

You don't mention which Salomon hiking boots you're wearing, so it's hard to respond except in the general terms most people have.

I can only provide my own personal experience, which is similar to what others are recommending.

I started out with Salomons many years ago. I don't even remember if they were high, mid or low, but they didn't work very well for me for very long.

Over time I've worn and still have high and mid hiking boots including the following brands: Ahnu (versions now made by Teva), Abeo, Keen and Teva. I've used a variety of insoles, or none at all, depending on the boot and sometimes on the day. My newest boots are these Keens:

Terradora -- need insoles for more comfort.

Terradora 2 -- comes with a great, supportive insole.

All those boots are waterproof, breathable and lightweight. My size varies among 9, 9.5 or 10, depending on which boot and style. For the past few years, the mid height has worked the best for me. It provides the ankle support that I need for stability and which seems to help with fatigue and comfort.

I've worn Sockwell moderate graduated compression socks with my boots for years. They also help with comfort and fatigue.

My go-to places to try on hiking boots are REI, the Walking Company, other local hiking or comfort shoe stores and Amazon Prime Wardrobe.

Unfortunately, there's really no way to know for sure what's going to work until you wear the boots for an extended period of time. It sounds like the Salomons you have lack the depth or shape of sole you need for hours on your feet.

A podiatrist can help with figuring out what support your feet need. Other options include the Good Feet store or the machine they have at the Walking Company or elsewhere Abeos are sold.

Posted by
1357 posts

If you see a Podiatrist, I recommend one that does not also make the orthotics. There's just too much financial incentive to recommend orthotics that you might not really need. That happened to me- the Podiatrist made me $600 orthotics that hurt my feet, even when I returned several times for adjustments. The Aetrex over-the-counter ones work fine for me now. Not criticizing all Podiatrists- just mine!

Posted by
4991 posts

Two things, which may or may not work for you, and may or may not address what is causing your feet to hurt in those boots on hard surfaces:

A pair of double-foam insoles, trim-to-fit, available from Dr. Shell’s at my grocery store for less than $10, or store-brand double foam insoles for even less. I’ve used them with both my heavy-duty and with my low-cut light hikers. The extra cushion has helped. I pull them out after hiking to air dry the insoles and the boots.

Second, I hike with two layers of socks. A close-fit, thin layer liner, and perhaps a compression sock would serve that purpose, with a thicker, wool outer sock, has been my go-to arrangement. Having two socks reduces friction on the foot, ankle, and heel, helping avoid blisters, and provides additional padding. The interior volume of the boot needs to be able to accommodate any added insoles and sock layers.

Posted by
1780 posts

there's a chain called Good Feet, who are like pseudo-podiatrists. They will recommend insole options and work with you to try and get them right.

You could also look for a small sporting goods or runners store.

Posted by
7483 posts

I bought a new pair of Salomon hiking boots. I have used them about 7 - 10 times . The boots cause my feet to hurt when walking on pavement (any hard surface) and/or longer than 3 miles. They are getting worse with wear.
Never had this issue before. Looking for advice

What were you wearing before the new Salomon shoes? Go back to that brand?

Posted by
1461 posts

Wow! Thanks for your concern and rapid responses. My new boots are x ultra mid 3 Aero Salomon.
I use thick smart wool hiking socks. I used to wear Merrell. But, my last pair were purchased many years ago and finally completely died on a trail. I tried replacing them, but Merrell no longer makes anything close to what I had.
I live in a rapidly growing, but still semi-rural area where it’s difficult to get hiking boots. I actually bought these when visiting relatives in another state from a nice, family run, local type camping store. Selection was somewhat limited to a few well known brands and styles. These were the best for my feet in the store.
I am going to my podiatrist on Monday for help in finding insoles. I will report back.

Posted by
2813 posts

Sun-Baked in Florida- Thank you for your response to your inquiry. I wish you all the best as you pursue resolution and hope you will be back to hiking in the near future! In good health. ;)

Posted by
12214 posts

I hope the podiatrist can help you find something that works!

Your issue with the Salomons just shows how different everyones' feet can be. I have been a serious hiker for 50 years and have gone through a lot of hiking boots. My current Salomon X-Alp lowcut hikers are best I have ever tried. I bought them at a village sports store on the Tour du Mont Blanc route after one day of hiking in my regular La Sportivas. Those boots, which had been fine on 8 hikes before heading to the Alps, pressed on one anklebone in a way that was so painful I could not stand them another day. The Salomons the salesman suggested turned out to be the same hiking shoes that two of our female guides were wearing! And they were comfortable for hiking the rest of the trip.

My husband had already decided on Salomons as his best hiking boot two years earlier. He is on his second pair.

While both of us usually switch out the insoles that come with our boots for Superfeet ( green), we have stuck with the Ortholite insoles that came in our Salomons. He put his in his everyday Hoka walking shoes. Mine went back into an older pair of ankle-high boots that I keep for winter use (snowshoeing) and for hiking in wet tundra in Alaska.

Posted by
715 posts

Glad to hear you are seeing a podiatrist.

I note that you wear thick woollen hiking socks. I do too, currently use merino wool socks. But underneath these I wear a Coolmax liner sock. However this means that my hiking boots need to be a size up from my street shoes. And that alone may explain why your feet hurt - the boots are perhaps too small.

Living where I do my hiking boots are rather more substantial than the Salomon ones you use I believe (current pair are Aku - Italian I believe) and I wonder if something like them with a slightly more rigid sole would help? My ‘winter boots’ are also Italian - La Sportiva - and have a completely rigid sole. However while very comfortable they do alter your gait and really are only to be used in very specific sets of circumstances, including need to wear crampons, terrain, conditions underfoot, etc. But a slightly stiffer sole might be useful - I’m sure your podiatrist will advise.

Posted by
1461 posts

I enjoy reading all of your responses. I learned there is a good feet store over on the coast. Still going to my podiatrist on Monday, trying to avoid a long drive.

I am learning a lot about feet these days. Perhaps, age and terrain are factors. Also hate how the industry is always changing shoe styles. I feel like I have to “reinvent the wheel” every time I buy new footwear. I guess that’s evolution and progress. Cheers!

Posted by
107 posts

I would NOT go to the podiatrist first. It simply sounds like the boot is not right for you. A custom orthotic or insole can only do so much to alleviate that problem.

I actually have that very model Salomon in the men's version bought for light hiking in Colorado and Utah. It offers a great fit and good support for fast hiking or urban walking. I have used similar Salomon trail running shoes as light hikers for over 15 years on hikes less than 2 hours.

However, the problem I have had with the boot version it is that the midsole is basically a running shoe in that it is very soft and flexible. When I flex my boot, there is little resistance fore and aft in the from of the boot and it also allows a high degree of side to side flex in the forefoot. Great for running but not so much for long days.

I think for me, the soft midsole (while great for cushioning) puts extra strain on the ligaments and tendons in my foot when on irregular terrain. Over time, this causes substantial foot pain and fatigue. To combat this, I did add a Superfeet hiking specific insole but this only helped only about 50%. It seems that my feet start to hurt around the forefoot region and underneath my arch (even though the boot has decent support there).

I did take the Salomons (with Superfeet) on a multi-day hiking tour in the Dolomites and they worked okay. While there, I looked at many of the local brand offerings that seemed to be popular with other hikers and it seemed that all of the low and mid rise hikers that everyone wore had a much stiffer midsole - more like what I am used to in a backpacking boot, but with a much lower profile.

I actually bought a pair of Scarpa Zen Pro shoes at the beginning of this hiking season. They have a very stiff midsole with little fore/aft flex initially and hardly any side to side flex. This alleviated nearly all of my complaints. These are the shoes I will take on my next hiking tour. I did notice that 75% of people I met on the trail used low cut shoes rather than boots. However, they were also using hiking poles so the need for ankle stability is lessened somewhat. This is now how I hike anyways so it has been an easy adjustment,

I know brands such as Scarpa, Vasque and Salewa have a good selection of these style of light hiking/approach shoes.

As far as cushioning, try to use your socks to accomplish this. I do love the Smartwool Phd light cushioning for hiking. They are thinner on top with a decent amount of cushion. If you need more, they make a medium fusion version. I DO NOT recommend using liner socks as these were initially a solution for backpackers back in the day when these boots were so heavy and stiff that it took two seasons to fully break them in.

Posted by
1461 posts

Update!
I went to podiatrist. Staff person fitted me with appropriately sized insoles that are significantly more rigid and arched. Only cost about $45. Instructions state that I need to wear these about 2 hours per day for 1 - 2 weeks to “break them in.” Basically, so my feet can adapt. Already, the insoles seem like a big improvement. I am going to do the “break-in.” Then, I’m going hiking in 2 weeks on a moderate length trail (about 3 - 4 miles) and see how it goes. I think the rigidity of the insoles combined with the “cushion” of my smart wool socks may do the trick. I will report back after my hike and let you know. Thank you to all of you for your kind and thoughtful responses.

Posted by
2813 posts

Sun-Baked in Florida- thanks for the update. Sounds like you are on your way! Please do report back. Happy trails! ;)

Posted by
1461 posts

To JasoninDenver,
Your post is helpful. If I do any heavy-duty hiking - I will keep the brands you recommend in mind. I live in an area where it is difficult to obtain any decent hiking boot. I refuse to buy online footwear. I tried that once and it was a futile effort. Ended-up just costing me money for shipping to return the boots.

If I make a major trek - I will need to travel to a major city and check out REI or someplace similar for better boots.

Posted by
7483 posts

When you do find a boot/shoe that works, do like I learned from my brother, buy 2-3 pair of them.

Posted by
8248 posts

Sun-baked - I have a big wide foot and have trouble buying shoes and boots. I know buying online is a pain but will just mention Zappos has free shipping and free returns. You do have to drop the box back at the UPS store but that is doable for me. They do have boots from all the companies JasoninDenver mentions in his post which might be a starting point for you. If I am trying a new brand I generally order 2 different sizes. I've also ordered 3-4 pair at a time so I can compare brands and sizes.

I'm not connected with Zappos in any way, just have found they are a good shoe/boot resource for me

Posted by
3526 posts

Amazon Prime also has free returns. And Prime Wardrobe has the option of not paying upfront, but rather try before you buy. It's great when the things you're trying to decide on are available with Prime Wardrobe.

Where we live it is a long drive to get anywhere to try on anything. For shoes, both Amazon and Zappos have been my friends for at least 16 years.

I've been a customer at "comfortable" shoe stores for longer than that. There are many shoes and boots that are decent looking, in great colors and fun that are also comfy for long hours on all kinds of terrain.

Many stores will order the shoes they have listed online, but may not have in the store. If they do that for you, whether they go to your house or the store, there is typically no shipping fee, and if you return them to the store that's also true.

My experience is that no one shoe or boot is 100% perfect for every application, especially when traveling. But the light weight, breathable and waterproof mid-height boots I get come closest. I wear those all day on my trips, rarely changing into anything different for the evening.

I hope your attempts at a similar outcome are successful and/or that you find some footwear that will work for you.

Posted by
1461 posts

My 3.5 mile hiking trip was delayed until today. The insoles from the podiatrist helped significantly. The toe area of my boots are still a minor problem, but much improved. The arch area is fine with medical grade insoles.

I am heading north this Summer for a North Carolina vacation. I think I will take advantage of the trip and buy new hiking boots. I am sure there is a great store near Asheville for hiking boots. My current Salomons will be my secondary boots.

If you know of a good hiking goods store near Asheville, I will appreciate a recommendation.

Again, thanks to all of your replies.