If you've visited Boot Bomb before, then you'll know I'm not only a big fan of high quality footwear, but also of high quality insoles. Stock insoles are pretty much always never going to be able to hold a candle to a good pair of aftermarket insoles, and good insoles can make the whole experience of wearing footwear so much better.
A long time ago, I have reviewed Tread Labs insoles. And I've been one of the biggest fans of them ever since. They are exquisite, but I wasn't able to use them in a pair of fairly low Ecco walking shoes that I had lying around. The shoes are so low, yet the Tread Labs take up so much space. As much as I love Tread Labs, they weren't working well for me in my low cut walking shoes. They nearly pushed me out!
So, I decided to try something else. In my research, I stumbled across Soul Insoles. These are advertised to not crowd your shoe, because they are just gel pads that do not offer support for your heel or forefoot... only your arches. That sounded just like what I was looking for. So, I decided to order them and I received them a short while later.
Now I know that unboxing is a big deal on the Internet, so I've taken a few pictures of the Soul Insoles along with the packaging they arrived in. The packaging has a really nice touch & feel to it. It feels pretty solid and has useful information on it as well. I decided to save the packaging, should I ever want to store my insoles for later use in a different pair of shoes.
What Are Soul Insoles?
The Soul Insoles are really just sticky gel pads, that will only support your arches and nothing else. There is no forefoot or heel support. You have to stick them straight into your shoe or, as I have done, onto an existing insole (because I like support all over). The existing insole should probably not be a Tread Labs, since this combination is almost guaranteed to push you out of your shoes, unless they are extremely deep.
The gel pads are pretty thick. They do indeed provide a huge deal of support. I've tried them both in a higher cut pair of Mephisto walking shoes (not pictured in this review), as well as in the lower cut Ecco walking shoes (pictured in this review). No matter what type of shoes you use them in, the support is soft, yet sturdy at the same time. I consider this a good thing. It feels weird in the beginning, but you'll get used to it after a short while.
However, when I used them in my higher cut Mephistos without existing insoles, I was standing too deep. My Mephistos ankle collars, which aren't nearly as well padded as they ought to be, ended up chafing my ankles. I had hoped this would go away after a couple of walks. Alas, it did not. But it's okay, because I ordered the Soul Insoles for my lower cut Ecco shoes, anyway. And I'm happy to report that in my Eccos, they walk very comfortably.
The package states the following benefits:
- Helps to relieve symptoms of plantar fasciitis
- Use for both high arches and flat feet
- Sticks firmly in place, yet easily transfers to other shoes
- Promotes good balance and body alignment
- Prevents overpronation while training the foot to maintain proper alignment and gait
- Reduces stress on ankles, knees, hips and spine
- Made of Medical Grade Gel: anti-shock, high eslasticity, antibacterial, odorless, soft, flexible, smooth, clear color, maintains shape, long life expectancy
- Washable & reuseable - if soiled, just rinse with water and set out to dry - stickiness renews
- Satisfaction guaranteed
I've experimented quite a bit with the Soul Insoles. I've had them in two different pairs of shoes and in both pairs of shoes I've worn them with and without existing insoles. So they've been stuck to surfaces and pried loose many times already. Do this often enough and they'll lose their stickiness due to becoming dirty. However, you can get the stickiness back by simply rinsing them with water. I've tried this and it really does work.
I was kind of expecting it to, because when I was a kid, I had a squishy, sticky squid toy that you could throw up against the window and then you could watch gravity take over... its flailing tentacles would stick to the glass as it found its way down to the bottom. Like the Soul Insoles, this toy would get dirty and lose its stickiness. We'd rinse it in water, using a bit of liquid dishwasher soap. It would be super sticky (and super fun) afterwards!
So, I figured that this would also work on the Soul Insoles. I washed them with water and hand soap in order to get them even cleaner (than just using water) and, hopefully, stickier. Turns out using hand soap isn't a good idea, because they completely lost their stickiness after this. For a moment I thought I had screwed up my insoles, but I decided to rinse them again... with just water this time. Thankfully, they regained some of their stickiness, though not nearly all of it.
So for some reason, soap rinsing used to work on my sticky toys, but it's not working for my Soul Insoles. I have no idea why.
The package states that you have to rinse them with water, but it does not explicitly state that you shouldn't use any kind of soap. I really wish that it had, or I would not have tried hand soap at all. Oh well, they are still sticky enough to attach to my insoles and they don't move when I walk.
When they are still super sticky, it'll take a bit of work to take them off their surface and stick them onto another surface. You might even want to rinse them with water for every time you transfer them, because they'll lose stickiness with every speck of dirt that finds its way on there.
The fact that they don't crowd your shoe can be considered a blessing, but there's also a trade off. Most other insoles will take up your whole shoe and can only be positioned in precisely one way: the correct one. But since these gel pads can be placed however you want them, you'll have to make sure to place them symmetrically so that they'll be in the same position in each of your shoes.
This can be very hard to accomplish if you are going to stick them straight onto your shoes' soles, rather than an existing pair of insoles. Thankfully, I personally prefer to use them on my Pedaq Viva insoles. And these have convenient tiny holes placed onto them, which I use to ensure that I place my Soul Insoles onto them symmetrically. This is a neat trick for a guy like me, who's obsessed with getting everything in place correctly down to the millimeter.
Once you've positioned them to your liking, you won't have to take them out so often anymore. The one problem I have with them is that the front of the pads is always going to peel off when you pull out your foot. So you're always prying the gel pads a little looser with every time you take off your shoes. Even when you are not using or transferring them, they will lose their stickiness in due time. I let my Mephistos sit for a few weeks with the Soul Insoles stickied inside of them and when I revisited them, they were lying in there loose.
So be prepared to rinse these at least once every few weeks, or don't get started with them. However, if you want really great support, then you'll have to get used to maintaining your Soul Insoles from time to time.
Prolonging The Stickiness
Here's some feedback I've received regarding the stickiness. Straight from Laina Gossman, creator of the Soul Insoles.
Try using warm/hot water and really scrubbing the insoles, then set them out to air dry. Sometimes if the soaps have a lotion/moisturizer in them it can affect the adhesive. (some soaps are just fine to use and can be helpful if the insoles is very dirty) Also, it can be important to be gently when peeling the insoles off of one shoe and moving them to another. The more gentle you are, and the less often they are moved, the longer the adhesive will last. It's also important to make sure the shoes are clean before placing the insoles. If there's a little bit of sand, dust, dirt, shoe powder the adhesive will get covered and not adhere as securely. Many of our customers prefer to have a few pairs so that they don't have to move them as often. If you have a very old pair and the adhesive has lessened you can always use double sided tape to more permanently stick them to one pair of shoes. The shape doesn't compress over time, so they really can last and be useful for many years. Please let me know if you have any other questions.
When I asked how we are supposed to know which soaps are just fine to use and which ones aren't, Laina replied as follows.
We hope to do some tests at some point in time to dig deeper and figure it out. At this point, it seems just certain soaps with moisturizers in them can make the insoles less adhesive, but it seems the issue can often be fixed if you really wash the soap off with warm/hot water. It's not been a common issue, fairly rare. There is also a very rare occasion that somehow an insole is less adhesive than the rest (from the start), which we are calling a defect and we will of course replace for a customer who has this issue. The insoles also stick more securely to some materials (leathers, fake leathers, PU materials and less strongly adhere to certain canvas materials and certain fabrics).
It can be helpful if a shoe has a removable liner to place the insoles underneath the removable liner. All that being said, we are very happy with quality and performance of our insoles. They have helped thousands of people to heal from debilitating foot ailments such as plantar fasciitis and morton's neuroma. They are a unique solution for those in need. Maybe in the future there will be new materials developed that will have better adhesion along with all of the wonderful qualities of being washable, re-usable, transparent, durability, impact absorption, energy return. Please let us know if you have any questions for me. I'm always happy to help!
The Soul Insoles are a great addition to your arch support arsenal. Indeed, they do not crowd your shoe. In my opinion, this makes them very useful additions in shoes that are low cut or otherwise not particularly roomy. Use them in conjuction with existing insoles if need be. Thanks to their stickiness, you can experiment until you've found the best combination for your personal situation!
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