Gadling Gear Review: SOLE Softec Response Footbeds

Anyone who has ever spent a day walking around Rome, Tokyo, Paris or any other cobblestone and concrete jungle knows that comfortable shoes are essential. But sometimes your favorite shoes aren’t always the best for your feet. Or, they’ve worn a tad thin and no longer provide the comfort that you need for a long day of sightseeing, shopping and meandering on foot. That’s why insoles and footbeds can be vital pieces of gear that keep you going even after a full day on your feet. We recently tested the SOLE Softec Response Footbeds to see if they can keep our tootsies happy while pushing pavement in New York City.I chose to test the SOLE footbeds in my Converse Jack Purcell sneakers for two reasons. Firstly, they are my favorite pair of shoes and I wear them daily. Secondly, they provide little support on their own and have recently resulted in a tremendous amount of back pain. I was hoping that the SOLE footbeds could salvage my favorite pair of shoes and make them comfortably usable. If they could that that, then they’d be worth the $44.95 price tag.

The SOLE Softec Response Footbeds come in a variety of sizes and then must be cut to fit your shoes. I removed the insole from my shoes and placed them on top of the SOLE footbeds. Using the insoles as guides, I used a regular pair of scissors to cut the SOLE footbeds to fit inside of my shoes. SOLE’s instructions are careful to warn users not to cut the footbeds too small. If you leave a large gap between the footbed and the edge of the shoe, you will be uncomfortable.

In order to mold the SOLE Softec Response Footbeds, you must heat them in your oven. Thankfully, they only require a rather mild 200-degree environment, so you won’t be handling any scolding materials. The pads must be placed on a baking sheet. If you’re a clean freak, I suppose you’ll want to wrap the sheet in foil first. As you can see from the photo to the right, I let any germs and bacteria bake off in my oven.

Rather than having to guess when your footbeds are ready to be molded, they come equipped with a color-changing thermometer (see photo below). When the circle on the sticker turns black, your footbeds are ready to be served molded. The footbeds reached the appropriate temperature in under ten minutes. They were warm but not too hot to handle when I removed them from the oven and easily slid into my sneakers. I put on the shoes and then stood upright, heals back, feet shoulder-width apart for the recommended two minutes to allow the footbeds to mold to my feet.

After that, the footbeds were ready to roll. Or step. I spent the last ten days traversing New York City in my sneakers with the SOLE Softec Response Footbeds and have experienced a noticeable difference in the comfort of my shoes. My back pain has subsided, my feet feel less sore after hours of walking and the sneakers themselves seem more durable overall.

That comfort could also be attributed to the relative thinness of the footbeds, Unlike other insole products, the SOLE Softec Response Footbeds are relatively slim. This allows you to use them without making your shoes suddenly feel tight and ill-fitting.

The footbeds are partially made out of recycled materials while seemingly making no sacrifices in dependability and comfort.

Let’s get to down to the basics:


  • Easy to cut to a customized size
  • Heating and molding takes under 15 minutes total
  • Thin footbeds maintain proper fit in shoe
  • Comfortable and durable


  • Cutting footbeds leaves room to make an expensive mistake
  • Expensive

The SOLE Softec Response Footbeds do everything that the company promises. While the price seems high, the footbeds are said to last for roughly a year. If you extend the life of a pair of shoes for another twelve months, $45 may be much cheaper than buying a new pair of shoes. SOLE also offers a “Truth in Comfort Guarantee.” If you are unsatisfied with your SOLE product at any time, you can contact the company to arrange for a refund or exchange.

I recommend the SOLE Softec Response Footbeds if you are looking to enhance the comfort of your shoes and do a large amount of walking. If my disappearing back pain is any indication, these footbeds fulfill their promise. They are available for purchase directly from the SOLE website.

SkyMall Monday: Solafeet Foot Tanner

This week, as promised, I’m featuring the best new product in the Holiday 2009 SkyMall catalog. And it couldn’t come at a better time.

This may shock you, but being America’s leading SkyMall expert doesn’t pay very well. So, I’ve applied for a lot of jobs to supplement my income. My resumé is impressive. I interview well. But at the end of the process, I always get turned down. And my status of a Doctor of SkyMall also doesn’t attract as many woman as you might think. So, I end up asking out random females every chance I get. It’s not that I have trouble meeting women. I can usually entertain them with witty anecdotes and cheap liquor. But when the time comes to have adult relations, they always point and laugh. To be honest with you, I was about to kill myself after all of this rejection. But then I realized that the problem was right there in front of me. Well, more accurately, it was underneath me. My pale feet were making me a social pariah. But how could I possibly remedy such an acute condition? How could I treat a problem as complex and localized as Pale Feet Syndrome Disease Condition (PFSDC)? Depressed and out of socks, I turned to my Primary Care Physician: SkyMall. And what did the good catalog prescribe? You guessed it: The Solafeet Foot Tanner.
For too long, the world’s greatest minds have sought to cure PFSDC. You’ve all seen the rubber anklets being worn to support the cause and participated in the annual Walk Over Hot Coals for PFSDC Research. And finally, all of this hard work and dedication has been rewarded. We’ve won the battle against PFSDC!

The product description may be the most uplifting collection of prose that I will read in my lifetime:

If you always feel like people are gawking at your white feet and the unsightly tan lines around your ankles when you wear sandals or pumps, then you need the Solafeet foot tanner. Those tan lines can be gone in 5 to 10 days with just fifteen minutes a day. Then you can go from the golf course to the clubhouse in confidence. The Solafeet is ideal for flip-flop wearers, tennis players and joggers.

If I had a nickel for every time I had to say, “Excuse me, my eyes are up here,” while a woman gawked at my pale feet, I’d be nickeless. But now, in five to ten days, my tan lines will disappear. That’s only slightly longer than the time it takes for tan lines to naturally disappear. This truly is a marvel of modern science. Finally, I can enjoy my elitist leisure activities with confidence. My friends in the PFSDC chatrooms will be so thrilled.

I’m certain to find gainful employment and a hot girlfriend now that I can wear flip-flops with impunity. It’s a brand new day for me and all my PFSDC brethren. No longer will we have to just not care about tan lines like the rest of the world. No. Now we can spend $230 and look like assholes at our desks while curing our superficial problem. Thank you, SkyMall!

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

Be wary of flip-flop travel this summer

Come summer and flip-flops are back in style. I personally own 6 pairs of carefully selected, comfy-yet-fashionable flip-flops and I wear them everywhere, all the time, especially when I travel.

Mine are mostly soft rubber with a decent grip on the sole, so I have often pushed my flip-flop limits and worn them hiking. OK, not smart but comfort wasn’t the problem, the bugs were!

Anyway, looks like wearing flip-flops for long periods of time needs to be reconsidered as they change the way you walk. According to the American College of Sports Medicine in Indianapolis, when in flip-flops, other than walking, the foot needs to put extra effort into keeping the flip-flop on the foot. This could lead to various aches and pains that could ultimately lead to tendinitis, lower leg, knee, hip and back problems.

But I love my flip-flops and I don’t have any other footwear for summer! I have a pair of Nike rubber sandals but they are really ugly. Looks like I need to invest in some open walking shoes. Any suggestions?

Savvy Traveler: Never Point Your Feet at People

…that would be in Southeast Asia. According to Schott’s Almanac 2007, here is some elementary etiquette when traveling to that part of the world:

  • Dress modestly, especially when visiting holy sites or important buildings (My take on it: Nope, those shorts with “Juicy” across your butt are not gonna cut it)
  • Remove shoes before entering temples, mosques, pagodas, and private homes (My take on it: This is especially true if you are wearing Crocs; unless you are 3 years old, you should just remove those things at the airport and leave them there)
  • Buddhist monks are not allowed to have close contact with women, so do not stand or sit too near them
  • The head is considered sacred, therefore it is considered very rude to touch another person’s head
  • Feet are considered unclean, so avoid pointing them at any person or religious image (My take on it: I assume he means the bottoms of one’s feet. Otherwise, I am not sure how you avoid pointing your feet at other people, or at least other people’s feet)
  • Left hand is used for personal hygiene, it is impolite to shake hands or eat with it

For those puzzled over what “Southeast Asia” means, here is a list of the countries.