My Boots and Insoles

As a frequent hiker who’s attempting to walk one-thousands miles this year, the fit and support offered by my footwear is of great importance.

I find myself ready to dip in to the market for a new pair of boots, with long summer walks and The Ridgeway in mind… In this post, I’d like to go over what I currently wear and the various insole and footbed configurations I’ve tried.

Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX

I bought this boots in May 2015 and they’ve become the most comfortable walking boots I have owned. I’ve probably walked the best part of eight-hundred miles in them, if not more and the state of the tread on the soles should illustrate that.

Sadly, these are due to be replaced. While I could still wear them, I found the lower leather beginning to crack in February or March last year and, due to my own lack of care (perhaps), these have grown in to splits. Needless to say, these boots are now only about ninety-percent waterproof.

Other than that, I really should’ve bought a half size bigger – I’ll explain more on that once we’ve looked at my second pair of boots. Please, don’t interpret this the wrong way. I LOVE these boots, would wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone and will be looking within the Salomon range for my next pair.

Berghaus Supalite II GTX

I bought these only six-months ago in October, from a local independent store who were offering them for the sale price of only £100. I was attracted to these boots for their full leather, waterproofing properties – these boots have yet to fail me in either account.

They’re made from almost a single piece of leather – what I was keen to avoid was any pair of boots with stitching close to where the toes bend (past experience has taught me that this is where my boots most commonly fail). Underneath, the tread on the soles is in very good knick.

I find myself continually looking for faults and failures, having previously read reviews of how the soles come away after time. My only complaint so far is that they’re not as comfortable as my Salomons and I find that I can only walk about ten-miles before discomfort begins to creep in… But I am not calling these boots uncomfortable; I just know what my feet prefer.

The Problem

I have what I consider to be an abnormally long big toe on each of my feet… Meaning that it extends significantly beyond the reach of my other toes. I can almost get away with a UK 10 sizing on my Salomon boots, when I find this toe takes a slight bashing as I begin to descend a hill.

I’ve tried different lacing techniques and improved grips to hold the boots tight around my ankles but, to no improvement. When I bought the Berghaus boots, I made sure to buy them in UK 10½ and haven’t looked back. This is a near-perfect sizing for the length of my toes but, I found excess space surrounding the rest of my feet.


In order to fill the gaps and try to improve the comfort of my Berghaus boots, I’ve been experimenting with a range of insole options.

At the top, you can see the original removable insole, of which there isn’t really much I can say. Blue is Berghaus’ own volume adjuster (3mm) and at the bottom, their Ortholite insole (5mm). While the volume adjuster did seem to help, I still found that neither insole was offering me the support or comfort I desired.

Before spending any more money on footbeds, I invested in a pair of Superfeet Tongue Depressors. Contrary to what you may think, this slide underneath your laces on the outside of the boot. It’s fair to say that they helped to remove some of the slack above my foot but I then developed an issue with blisters on the backs of my heels.

In January, I took the plunge and invested just over £30 in a pair of Superfeet Green (trim to fit) insoles. These offer improved heel support and have a truly shaped profile to suit the natural curve of your arches. Only recently though, I’ve relegated these to my safety boots for work (I work on my feet and have been suffering from heel pain and fatigue for years), in favour of another solution.

Superfeet Carbon Premium Insoles. As the name suggests, the heel is supported by a solid piece of carbon and, having now completed two walks, I’m very pleased to report that I’m not suffering with heel pain in my walks. They’re slimmer than the Superfeet Green insoles, which I think suggests something about the comfort and how ‘thicker isn’t always better’.

Now, within my Berghaus boots, I’m wearing the Superfeet Carbon insoles with the Berghaus volume adjusters underneath. Superfeet provide their own volume adjuster but I see no need to buy them.

For what it’s worth, my Salomon boots come fitted with an OrthoLite footbed, based on the design of their popular trail-running shoes. I hope to find these in my next pair and, with a bit of luck, I won’t need to make any further insole purchases!

Thanks for reading.

Author: Olly Parry-Jones

I live in Weston-super-Mare, close to the Mendip Hills in Somerset and I enjoy time spent outdoors, whether that's walking, camping or backpacking. My day job involved making furniture from recycled wood (I'm a furniture maker and carpenter by trade). I have two blogs: Olly Writes (woodworking, DIY, baking) Walks With Olly (walking, camping and kit) You can also find me on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. My second YouTube channel is titled 'Walks with Olly'.

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