Shoe Comfort

What Are Features of Top Performing Insoles?

October 22, 2023

Knowing the features of top performing insole helps all footwear brands make the best performing product. In this post we’ll cover the features that a top performing insole absolutely must have, features that are optional, and the features that you should always avoid.

The Must Have Features for Top Performing Insoles.

Contoured for Comfort

“Contour” is one of Heeluxe’s 4 keys of Comfort. A well contoured insole matches the shape of the bottom of our foot and allows for optimal movement of our foot during an activity.

The most important contour feature is a heel cup. This hemispherical shape in the back of the insole cradles and aligns the heel and enhances our bodies built in cushioning. There are two important measurements for a heel cup—the depth of the heel cup and the curvature. Heel cups with a depth of at least 3mm are most effective. This means that even a low-profile shoe like a ballet flat or football cleat will accommodate a heel cup.

The second key contour is the arch support. Many of your customers are familiar with arch supports but few people in footwear understand how to make one that has amazing comfort. The best arch supports have arch supports that are 20-22mm high in M9 US.  The stiffness of the insert will change the recommended height of the arch.

Where the arch exists on the length of the insole is also important. The peak of the arch curve should be 32-35% of the length of the insole.

Foam is Your Friend.

Material matters when making a comfortable insole. Compression molded EVA is a fine material due to its low weight and low cost, but it typically does not perform well in our human based comfort testing of insoles. Premium materials like ETPU and LDPU offer superior cushioning and comfort performance in insoles. Additionally, these premium materials last longer than lower priced materials which provides lasting benefits for your customers.

How the insole is molded also alters performance. In our database die cut insoles have lower comfort scores than molded insoles.

Optional Features for Top Performing Inserts

Having multiple types of foam in 1 insert is not required to make a top performing insole. However, there are occasions where this strategy is effective. If you need to make a great insole but cannot afford for it to be made entirely of a premium foam, then use premium foam in the heel, ball, and toes and surround it with a lower price foam.

Harder materials are used in inserts and orthotics to improve the support in the arch and heel. Sometimes these are referred to as the “shell” of the insert. While materials like TPU and Carbon fiber can be used, they are not required to make a supportive and comfortable insert. Consider the activity of your user and the type of cushioning material used in your orthotic before committing to a shell of hard material.

Features to Avoid for Top Performing Inserts

The #1 feature that you should avoid when making an insole are breathability holes (or “perf holes”). The truth is that these do not improve air movement under the foot, do not change temperature on the bottom of the foot, and remove foam material that we need for cushioning.

Keep Perf Holes Out of Your Insoles.

Next Steps

Now that you know why insoles are important and what the key features of insoles are, it’s time for you to design and test an insole for your customers. Please read part 3 of our series on insoles for details on steps to follow for building your best insole.

In the meantime, if you have questions about insole features the team at Heeluxe would love to hear from you.

Thank you for trusting us to help you make better shoes.