I posted a few weeks ago about my terminal disappointment with my Salomon Comet 3D GTX boots (click here to catch up). Basically, I was fed up of wet feet, despite the boots being lovely and comfortable, their waterproofness was seriously flawed and although the Salomon warranty allowed me to swap them out, the new ones suffered from the same problem. In the end I decided to switch. I chose a lightweight leather boot from Brasher, the Supalite II GTX. A full leather upper means I can dubbin them to supplement their Gore-Tex liner.
I’ve used these for several walks now and I must admit to not being at all happy with them. They have addressed my wet feet problem, but instead I now have sore feet, even after short 7 or 8 mile walks my feet feel battered and sore, especially on the soles. I can’t put this down to the sole of the boot, although they are lightweight in the extreme, they are not particularly lacking in sole support. I can’t even blame the thin insoles in the boot because I’ve swapped them out and used my Superfeet Green insoles which have provided literally thousands of miles of comfortable walking.
I’ve tried pretty much everything I can think to alleviate this problem of sore feet. I’ve tried dozens of combinations of socks and none of them has made even the slightest difference. I sought advice through various sources to see if other people had any ideas and one option that arose was the use of gel insoles. These may offer additional sole support through shock-absorbing gel impregnated insoles that either supplement the existing insole or replace them altogether.
My weekends over the past few months have been spent either doing short walks in the Peak District or working on the Pennine Way guide book. I also needed to complete a couple of short sections of the Way and these pressures resulted in me using a two-day backpacking trip to test the new gel insoles. Ideally I would have tested them on a shorter walk, but the way the weekends worked out, I couldn’t really avoid this one. I either walked without them, resulting in guaranteed painful feet, or used them and hopefully reaped the rewards.
I set out from Marsden station with a 12 mile walk to Light Hazzles Reservoir ahead of me, where I would camp, followed by a shorter 8 mile walk the next morning down into Hebden Bridge where my car was waiting for me. I’d decided to try the gel insoles underneath the thin Brasher insole that was provided with the Supalites. The gel insole has a rather flimsy feel to it and I wasn’t sure the plush upper side of it would survive many miles of direct contact with my socks. Within a couple of miles of leaving Marsden I stopped to relace my boots and found my outer socks were falling down. I pulled the boots off and readjusted the outer layer of socks. A couple of miles further on and they were falling down again. I found the outer socks were bunching up around my heel, inside the boots. I swapped the insoles around; putting the gel insoles on top of the Brashers. I got a couple more miles and found my outer socks were now completely gone! Half the sock was off the end of my toes and the other half bunched up around my heel – quite bizarre!
I was also getting a hot spot on the back of both my heels; but at least my soles didn’t feel as battered as they usually did after this length of walking. The situation got worse as the miles passed by. My socks kept disappearing, irrespective of the layering of the insoles and my heels began to blister. I eventually removed the Brasher insoles and just tried the gel ones. My socks still got eaten by my boots. I tried just the Brasher insoles and at least now my socks stayed where they should be, but the damage was done.
By the time I reached my campsite, my feet were in tatters; the backs of both my heels were blistered and sore, the soles were sore, with two blisters developing on the bottom of my heels and two more under the balls of my feet. The next morning’s 8 miles were some of the most painful miles I’ve ever walked. I vowed never to wear the blessed Brashers again!! But that leaves me with a dilemma; where do I go now for boots?