Updated Gear Review: Aftermarket Insoles

A year after we opted for aftermarket insoles instead of the flimsy ones that usually come with a pair of new shoes/boots, we’ve racked up more than 15.6* million steps between the two of us – enough distance to inform a meaningful update to our original review of aftermarket insoles.

Plus, Cadence® added a new variation to its line up, and we’re ready to share our initial thoughts on the new, blue, Low Volume model designed for lower volume footwear (think men’s dress shoes, women’s oxfords, etc.). Apparently Mr. GeoK wasn’t the only one to recommend that Cadence® add something like this to its product range and we are grateful that Cadence® founder John Hinds sent us some to try.

Update: Dr. Scholl’s® Custom Fit™ Orthotics

I’m still using these in one pair of indoor shoes. I’ve transferred the other pair to my favourite dress oxfords from Fluevog Shoes. I wear these two or three times a month. And now that I’m not wearing shoes fitted with Dr. Scholl’s® Custom Fit™ orthotics every day, I really notice that they have the most heel lift of all the insoles we’ve tried. I know this isn’t a good choice for someone with plantar fasciitis, and now that Cadence® offers a Low Volume option, I’m looking to make a change.

Mr. GeoK has one pair of his Dr. Scholl’s® Custom Fit™ orthotics in his winter boots, where the Cadence® original Orange didn’t quite fit. His other pair is not in use.

From a durability perspective, these are holding up well, with minor pilling along the edges and slight pilling/wear on the top surface of the heel area on the pair that’s had the most use.

Bottom line: While Dr. Scholl’s® Custom Fit™ orthotics are the lowest cost option of the aftermarket insoles we’ve tried, we won’t be buying any more. They were a good way to give aftermarket insoles a try, but don’t measure up to Cadence® insoles when it comes to comfort plus relief from foot/back issues.

First Impressions: Cadence® Low Volume


Compared to the original Orange and the EX, the Low Volume insoles are thinner, have a narrower mid foot and heel and a wider forefoot (for footwear with a wider toe box). These dimensional differences were readily apparent as I made this set of side-by-side photographs. According to the Cadence® website, “Altra and Topo devotees especially love them.”

Like other Cadence® insoles, the Low Volume option provides durable support, is constructed using high rebound shock absorbing foam and incorporates a comfort zone in the heel.

Mr. GeoK immediately installed a pair of Low Volume insoles in his dress shoes. Their lower volume made a world of difference in terms of foot comfort – there’s now adequate wiggle room for his toes! Of course the thinner, lower profile also means a little less cushioning compared to the original Orange, and he can feel the difference in his lower back (an ongoing concern thanks to degenerative disc disease).

He’s also tried the Low Volume insoles in his everyday walking shoes, clocking 20,000+ steps/day for a few weeks now. Although he notices a little less cushioning for his lower back, the Low Volume insoles are waaay better than what came with his shoes.

My pair is in an old pair of KEEN Targhee II hiking shoes that I was considering taking out of everyday use and relegating to gardening work. The new Low Volume insoles are a great match for KEEN, as they have a wider forefoot and narrower heel. I have a pair of Original Orange in my KEEN Gypsum hiking boots and they make the vertical aspect of the toe box a little snug. This is not the case with the Low Volume insoles, so I know where these are going for hiking season!

If you live in the U.S., the Low Volume is available for purchase from select retailers and doctor’s offices. Check the map on the Cadence® website for options. For Canadians and others outside the U.S., the Low Volume model is not available through online sales; you can purchase the Original Orange insoles from the Cadence® website. We recommend contacting Cadence® directly if you have an interest in the Low Volume model, as the company continues to expand its global product distribution.

Update: Cadence® Original Orange

I use Cadence® Original Orange in my hiking boots and everyday outdoor shoes. Mr. GeoK also uses them in his everyday outdoor shoes and one pair of hiking boots. These get a lot of use!

From a durability perspective, these are holding up very well. There’s some minor pilling along the edges (partly from being moved between shoes/boots) and slight wear on the top surface.

Bottom line: These get a lot of use and continue to be our most preferred aftermarket insoles. They make hiking on rough terrain less taxing on your feet (and lower back).

Cadence® EX

Mr. GeoK continues to use his Cadence® EX in the shoes he wears cycling. The extra rigidity makes for effective energy transfer from his legs, through his shoes, to his bike. I can attest to this – his moving average speed when we’re out riding is about 20% faster than mine, which I attribute partly to the fact that he’s in better shape than I am and partly to his insoles.

As with the Original Orange, these are holding up really well, with minimal wear.

Bottom line: If you are looking for a little more rigidity, these are a good option. I’m thinking about getting a pair for cycling – anything to help me keep up with Mr. GeoK!

Where to Find Them in Canada

As best we can tell, there’s still no Canadian outlet for Cadence® insoles. You can purchase the Original Orange directly from the Cadence® website.  We recommend contacting Cadence directly if you have an interest in the Cadence EX model, as the company continues to expand its global product distribution.

Hack for Squeaking Insoles/Orthotics

One of Mr. GeoKs’ Original Orange insoles starts squeaking after he’s been walking for a while. Cadence® founder John Hinds sent out an email to customers with two options for ending the squeak:

  • Dust the bottom of the insoles with powdered corn starch; or
  • Place a fabric softener dryer sheet under each insoles (Mr. GeoK cut one in half and placed one half in each shoe).

We opted for the softener sheet – less messy – and it works!! I recommended this to Grandma GeoK, who has a squeaking custom orthotic and she also found that it works! Not sure how frequently the softener sheet will have to be replaced, but so far it’s been more than a month without a recurrence of the squeak.

Got a favourite insole that we haven’t covered? Leave a comment to let us know.

* 5.6 million for Mrs. GeoK + 10.2 million for Mr. GeoK, as measured by 2x FitBit Charge 2

One thought on “Updated Gear Review: Aftermarket Insoles

  1. Thank you Mr. and Mrs. GeoK for the review! Feedback from high mileage and thoughtful users like yourselves is appreciated. Much of what has made Cadence successful is the fact that most of the design features in all models have come directly from feedback received from hikers, walkers, runners and people from all activity backgrounds and work experience over many years, so thanks! Happy trails!

Leave a Reply