Tread Labs’ orthotic insoles come in two pieces: a hard plastic arch support that also helps prevent plantar fasciitis and a replaceable fabric top cover that can be replaced when it wears out. This can save you a lot of money and cuts down on waste if you walk or hike a lot and use third- party insoles to protect your feet.
Specs at a Glance
- Sizes: Men’s (8-9.5, 10-11.5, 12-13.5) and Women’s (5-6.5, 7-8.5, 9-10.5)
- Arch Heights: Thin, Medium, High, Extra High
- Trim to Fit: Yes
- Antimicrobial treatment: Yes
The vast majority the running shoes, low hikes, mids, and hiking boots available today have really crappy foam insoles that wear out quickly and don’t provide any arch support (one notable exception are Oboz boots and shoes). It’s kind of scandalous that you have to pay extra for insoles when you consider how much hiking shoes and hiking boots cost.
Third-party insoles are needed by about one-third of hikers and backpackers. In addition to added arch support, they cup your heel to prevent it from pronating or supinating (turning in or out) which can lead to plantar fasciitis, a painful and debilitating inflammation of the foot arch that can take months to heal.
What Tread Labs has done is to separate the hard plastic arch support from the fabric cover. The arch support never wears out, so there’s no point in ever throwing it out. Right? The molded arch supports are unconditionally guaranteed. Forever. While the interchangeable top covers are easy to replace, as often as you need. That cuts down on plastic waste and saves you a lot of money.
Tread Labs also sells a selection of different insole covers for different purposes. For example, I wear trail runners for hiking and need a very thin top cover like their Stride Thin so that my toes don’t rub against the top of my shoes’ toe box. For my winter boots, I can use the thicker Stride Insole and top covers which provides more insulation and cushioning. Tread Labs even makes Stride Short Insoles and top covers for shoes that don’t come with removable inserts like women’s flats and men’s dress shoes. My wife likes those for her shoes.
For example, I go through four pairs of SuperFeet Carbon Insoles every year and it’s expensive to replace them at $55/pair and $210 for the year. Tread Labs sells their reusable orthotic insoles for $75/pair and replacement fabric top covers for $15/pair. If I purchased three pairs of replacement fabric top covers, my total annual cost would $120, which is over 40% less than using SuperFeet. That’s a pretty significant year one savings and it grows larger when you take it out across multiple years.
I am very cautious about changing my hiking footwear because I hike a lot and my feet are very sensitive when it comes to insole changes. But I haven’t experienced any problems switching from SuperFeet Carbon Insoles to the Tread Lab’s Stride Thin Insoles, which work just as well inside my low volume trail running shoes. Like any new insole, you need to let your feet acclimatize to the change and ramp up slowly by wearing them a few hours a day at first. But in addition to a lower cost over the long term, I really like the sustainability benefits of reusing the Tread Labs arch support and just replacing the top covers when they wear out, instead of throwing both out every time I blow through a top cover. Therefore, I’d recommend giving Tread Labs Stride Insoles a try if you want to save money and reduce waste. It’s a simple idea, but it has benefits for us all.
Tread Labs Insoles even come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so there’s no risk in trying them out. Cool, huh?
Disclosure: The author received several pairs of insoles from Tread Labs in order to help a small manufacturer with new product testing and for review.Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.
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