How to wear boots with orthotic inserts?
August 5, 2018 11:46 AM   Subscribe

I have flat feet, so I need to wear hard orthotic inserts in my shoes. I make this work well enough with most shoes by removing the liner that comes with them, and replacing them with thin shoe liners (e.g. by Dr. Scholl's) with the orthotics on top. With boots (work/winter/hiking boots), it's a whole different story. I haven't been able to make this work yet, and I hope the hive can help me out here by giving their own experiences (and hopefully success stories) or good ideas and advice.

My current need is for a decent pair of hiking boots or shoes. They don't need to be too high, but they do need to be higher than a typical shoe, for good stability and support. But I run into multiple problems trying to make orthotics work in boots like these.

For one, hiking shoes tend to have highly engineered, sculptural inserts. If I replace those with a flat thin liner (plus my orthotic), it seems like I'm losing a lot of the cushioning and such that I should be getting from the insert. Another problem is that it's simply hard to put a boot on properly with an insert in it; my foot tends to push the insert forward too far, and with the boot shape it's hard to fit my hand in to adjust it and keep it from happening again. Finally, the same stiffness and structure that make a hiking boot good for hiking also make them hard to fit orthotic inserts into. A hiking boot tends to just not fit around an orthotic decently - at least, not with the boots I've tried.

To date, I haven't been successful in wearing orthotics in boots of any kind. I either avoid boots altogether, or I wear a boot without orthotics. I don't want to make compromises like that any more.
posted by Mechitar to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total)
Are you sure you need the orthotics with hiking boots? Their sculptured inserts are usually pretty good for support for standard issues, including flat feet.

Otherwise - and for work and winter boots, which don't tend to feature heavily sculptured inserts - take the orthotics with you to try the boots on. I've never had anyone object to me trying shoes on with similar orthotics in the store. You may have to go up a size to get enough room, which should work with lace-up boots if you lace them tightly enough.

(Source: several years of feet bad enough to wear orthotics full time, and a shoe size that means I usually shop for boots in the men's department.)
posted by I claim sanctuary at 11:58 AM on August 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Can you put the orthotic beneath the default insert? And hold everything in place with strategic applications of double-sided mounting tape? You might have to size up since the orthotic + insert will be taking up more space.
posted by vegartanipla at 12:11 PM on August 5, 2018

Try Keens.
posted by fshgrl at 1:35 PM on August 5, 2018

Another option?

If you have a specific type of hiking boot in mind, can you afford have a pair of orthotics made to specifically to fit the boots?
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 1:45 PM on August 5, 2018

Just wanted to recommend the helly Hansen forester boot- and often they do 1/3 sizes which is awesome for me, maybe you too!
posted by catspajammies at 2:00 PM on August 5, 2018

Go 1/2 to 1 size up, and only wear boots with laces (this allows you to optimally adjust the fit, and gives you access to place the orthotics).
posted by cotton dress sock at 2:39 PM on August 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

my foot tends to push the insert forward too far

If you're using lace-up boots, unlace or loosen the laces on the boots more than you would otherwise so that you're more placing your foot in than sliding it down the sole. Also, yeah, the double-sided tape. (I've never had the sort where you could easily get the insole up to put it under; this seems like it'd be a good idea if workable.) I used to but don't currently use prescription orthotics, but I still do this with lace-up shoes where I'm going to be using an aftermarket arch support insole.

Also, yeah, if the shoe already has a pretty solid arch support, you might just not need them. Shoes made for stability/support tend to already do way more than you'd expect to keep you from overpronating. If you pay attention you should be able to try them on and see how much your ankle is rolling in as you walk.
posted by Sequence at 3:20 PM on August 5, 2018

In my hiking boots, I just pull the original liners and replace them with Powerstep Pinnacle Maxx inserts. I have had prescription custom orthotics for my flat feet in the past, but I find that the Powersteps work just as well. They are also cheap enough that I just have a set for every pair of shoes that I regularly wear, rather than swapping them around. They work great, for me.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:50 PM on August 5, 2018

Have you tried SuperFeet instead of a thin insole and an orthic? There are multiple kinds and I bet if you went to a running/local shoe store they could tell you the best kind for inside of boots.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 5:07 PM on August 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

For hiking boots with orthotics I try it in the store with my orthotic. Generally either one half size larger, OR usual size but one setting wider, will do it. For me a lot of issue is the orthotic is wider in the the middle than my foot, so it's usually the width I need to increase.
For the sliding issue I requested and got full length custom orthotics, they just left more of the padding/lining material around the sculpted part of the insert, so I could custom trim it to the boot. By making it barely fit, it can't slide around.
For the cushioning I use a thin gel insole under the orthotic, I ended up with a generic drugstore one because it was the least sculpted so interfered with the orothotic less.

all that said I switched from custom to SuperFeet when my podiatrist retired and my insurance stopped subsidizing orthotics and have been just as happy.
posted by buildmyworld at 6:30 AM on August 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

Right, I would suggest something similar to what Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The said. REI (and presumably other outfitters) sell full length orthotic insoles for all different types of foot conditions. Some manufacturers even sell orthotic insoles specific to their own brand of boots.
posted by Jahaza at 8:06 AM on August 6, 2018

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