Custom Insoles: The Ultimate Guide for Skiers and Runners


Custom insoles will change the way you feel about your footwear… and we don’t say that lightly. Whether you’re dealing with a foot injury like plantar fasciitis, have ski boots that never felt quite right, or want running shoes that won’t leave your foot aching and blistered, a custom footbed is as close to a magic bullet as you can get (but we’ll explain why it’s not one, later in the article). Ready to start loving your boots?

What are custom insoles?

Let’s start with the basics. An insole (also called an orthotic or footbed) is the part of a shoe that runs along the bottom of your foot. It’s a removable insert that is responsible for supporting your arch and anchoring your foot in place.

All ski boots and running shoes come with a factory footbed, but we recommend replacing it 9 times out of 10. It’s usually a thin, flimsy piece of foam that won’t do you much good in the way of comfort and support.

So what type of insoles do we replace factory footbeds with? You’ve got some choices…

You could use a premium insole that you simply take out of the box, trim to the right length and toss in your footwear. These are our favorites.

Or, better yet, get a custom insole. The difference is that these are molded exactly to the shape of your feet. We use the Sidas gravity machine to get an exact impression of each foot and then form the footbed so that it contours every nook, cranny, and bony prominence.

A close look at custom footbeds.
Step one, choosing the right type of insole.

Who are they for?

If you’ve got feet and you like to put them in ski boots or running shoes, a custom insole is for you! Seriously, unless your two feet are exactly the same size and shape, you’ll benefit from a custom footbed.

What kind of footwear can they go in?

The short answer is that you can use custom footbeds in any type of footwear! Well, maybe not flip flops… 

We like to use them in our backcountry ski boots and trail running shoes. That’s because high activity sports like skiing and running put a ton of added stress and strain on your feet. And if you don’t securely anchor your feet in place with the right support for your arch then you’ll experience friction and pressure which could lead to painful foot issues.

Although ski boots and running shoes are our top candidates for a custom orthotic, you’ll see tremendous benefits by using it in an everyday shoe, especially if you’re on your feet all day.

Foot anatomy and injury prevention

Friction and pressure are the sources of most foot problems – blisters, bony prominences, collapsed arches, hotspots, navicular issues, you name it… But they can be prevented with the right fit and footbed! 

With a custom insole, you’ll get a secure and positioned fit. No more extra space and friction, or pressure in unwanted places.

If you pronate or supinate (most people do), a footbed will help realign your stance to center. If left untreated for say, a lifetime of trail running and backcountry skiing, overpronating or supinating can cause issues with your knees, hips, and back.

Not sure if you’re a pronator or supinator? Make a boot fitting appointment and find out. 

Fitting a customer with custom insoles.
Aligning the feet and taking an imprint of foot shape.

3 steps for a perfect fit

When it comes to footwear, custom insoles are just one piece of the puzzle. They’re a key piece, but not a magic bullet. When you combine them with the steps below, you’ll get as close as possible to that elusive perfect fit.

  1. Book a fitting appointment and have one of our footwear experts analyze your foot. With their sharp eye, they’ll measure your foot length and width, examine your arch, determine if you pronate or supinate, and look for irregularities between your right and left foot. Only then can they recommend specific boots or shoes that will work for your particular foot shape and backcountry goals.
  2. Take a seat and get a custom footbed molded to your feet. Get ready for the “wow” moment when you slip your feet back into your shoe…
  3. Wear the right socks. You wouldn’t pair Alaskan sockeye salmon with a Coors light, so why are you wearing raggedy cotton socks in your ski boots?! Click here to learn how to shop for hiking and running socks.

How much do custom insoles cost?

Custom insoles start at $180. But like any good investment, the initial cost will even out over time, as these will outlast and outperform aftermarket footbeds and increase the longevity of your footwear. 

But more than that, getting custom insoles is an investment in your health. They’ll give your feet the support and comfort to prevent injuries and perform your best.

Putting the final touches on a custom insole.
Grinding the insole to fit your boot, the final step of a fitting.

Prepare for your custom insole fitting

Now that you know all about custom insoles, it’s time to get ready for your fitting! You’ll want to set aside 1 hour and make sure to bring your boots or shoes, a clean pair of ski socks or running socks (depending on the footwear), and the insole you’re currently using.  

Shopping for a new backcountry ski boot as well? Give yourself 2 hours minimum and read this guide beforehand: everything to know before your next boot fitting. If you’re like me, it’s a good idea to bring water and a snack too because no one likes a hangry customer.

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