L to r: Ecco, Superfeet Green, Superfeet Blue, Montrail Enduro, Sidas Conformable
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been experimenting with different footbeds in my Ecco Biom Hike boots to get the right fit. Overall, I’m really pleased with the Bioms and I’ve not had the problem with tenderness on my left Achilles tendon, which was an issue recently on Dartmoor. I’ve been using them three times a day for dog walks and I think they are nicely broken in. Here’s a summary of my findings so far:
Ecco OEM footbed: These have no structure, but are heavily padded. I was right to be sceptical about this footbed. It provides no support. While not uncomfortable, it definitely doesn’t feel right compared with more structured footbeds. I suspect on long walks it would lead to aching feet, so that’s a miss from me.
Superfeet Green: I’ve used these footbeds a lot over the past few years, mainly in my Salomon Fastpackers. Initially they feel slightly odd with a high arch, but after a while they are very comfortable and the arch is less noticeable. However, they don’t feel quite right in the Bioms, but I’m not sure why.
Superfeet Blue: These have a slightly less pronounced arch. I bought them principally for my La Sportiva Raptors, where they have been very good. While the arch support is less noticeable than the green footbeds, they still didn’t feel quite right. Perhaps the internal shape of the Bioms is not entirely compatible with Superfeet.
Montrail Enduro: These are slightly thicker than Superfeet and heat mouldable. After heating them, you stand on them for about ten minutes and they mould to the shape of your feet. This is not as pronounced as the Sidas footbeds, but is still noticeable. The problem with the Enduros is the arch support feels like you are treading on a tennis ball. Again, not quite right.
Sidas Conformable: These footbeds are from my ski boots which are 25 years old! I thought I’d give them a try out of curiosity. They are a size smaller, because ski boots need to be tight fitting. The footbeds are heated on a special machine and the wearer stands on them for about 10-15 minutes while they mould to the shape of your foot. As you can see from the picture, they have the most pronounced shape. The base of the footbed is quite rigid and there’s a thin, non-slip, perforated foam covering. Amazingly, after 25 years, these are by far the most comfortable! They have just the right amount of arch support and the dip under the ball of my foot is bliss. Even though they are slightly short, they don’t slip in the boot and work well. I looked at a newer version online and they’ve changed the design a bit. They are also quite expensive at about £55. On the other hand, if they last more than 25 years, that’s not too bad, especially as you can tranfer them between boots.
L to r: Brasher volume reducer (3mm), B&Q foam laminate underlay, heel pads (top to bottom: sorbothane, evazote foam, Inov8)
At the same time as experimenting with footbeds, I’ve been trying volume adjusters and heel pads. The Bioms are quite high volume boots compared with, for instance, Salomon. To get round this, I thought using a volume adjuster would be a good idea. My first attempt was using some B&Q foam laminate underlay. This works OK but it soon compresses. Next I used the Brasher 3mm volume reducer. This is much better as it doesn’t compress and I recommend using these if you need a volume reducer.
I played about with heel pads as well. In general, I’d avoid them as they lead to a slightly unbalanced feel. This was particularly noticeable with the sorbothane pads. Evazote is OK, but compresses after a few uses. The Inov8 pads (left over from some running shoes) were the best, but still had a slightly unstable feel.
If the fit of your boots or shoes is not quite right, it’s worth playing about with a few footbeds and volume reducers to get the fit just right. I’m bowled over by how good the Sidas Conformable footbeds are, even after all these years. I might get an updated pair to see whether there has been any improvement.