Runner’s Tech: OrthoLite Fusion Insole
Do you throw away expensive running shoes only because their insoles have become thin or uneven, although the midsole or outsole still seem reasonably healthy? One way to get more out of a pair of running shoes is replacing the insoles. Recently I’ve been contacted by OrthoLite to try out its performance insole – the OrthoLite Fusion. To be honest, prior to this review, I have never heard of OrthoLite. However, a little research revealed that OrthoLite is commonly found in many athletic shoes. As a matter of fact, the Skechers GOrun, which I reviewed recently, uses OrthoLite. So you may have been using OrthoLite insoles without knowing!
According to the official website, below is a list of distinguishing features:
- Designed to fit all athletic and outdoor shoes or boots
- Made with open-cell foam, allowing air to circulate around the foot, keeping it cooler and drier inside the shoe
- Wicks moisture away from your foot leaving your foot cooler and drier
- Unique spring-back technology ensures that your insole won’t flatten out and it will retain over 95% of its thickness over time
- Our patented anti-microbial formulation (approved by the EPA and FDA) fights fungus, bacteria and shoe odor
- Lightweight and fully washable
I received a pair of OrthoLite Fusion as a free test sample about 1.5 month ago. These insoles came in a simple cardboard box with brief descriptions printed on the back. Upon initial inspection, I noticed that the OrthoLite Fusion is comprised of 2 foams (yellow and red) of different densities. The upper-layer foam (yellow, closer to the foot) is softer and plushier than the bottom layer, which is dense, springy, and stiff to the touch.
The top surface of the insole (the sock liner) appears to be made of tech fabric – I suspect it’s nylon – that is generally preferred in performance gear or apparel for its characteristic wicking property. Although there is an arch contour on it, the OrthoLite has no arch support at all. In fact, the entire insole is flexible enough to be rolled up or twisted. Besides the foam and the liner, the OrthoLite Fusion has no gel padding or hard plastic heel cup found in many shoe inserts. In terms of weight, the Fusion felt slightly heavier than the typical insoles found in my other running shoes – but definitely much lighter than other aftermarket “cushioned” or “support” insoles I’ve purchased in the past.
The OrthoLite Fusion doesn’t come in half sizes; I had to get one size larger. I planned to use the Fusion in my old Saucony Kinvara 2 which already had about 440 miles logged. My Kinvara’s midsole and outsole were still somewhat intact – however its insoles were paper-thin in high impact areas. Using Kinvara 2’s insoles as a template, I trimmed the Fusion with ease and off I went.
My immediate reaction after taking a few steps with the Fusion was that it was significantly “more” than the the insole. Not that the Fusion was extremely bouncy or cushioning, it just had more give than my old insert – as if I was wearing a really thick sock. In the past month and a half, I was able to run 60 miles on the OrthoLite Fusion without any complaint. Although the Fusion wasn’t noticeably more breathable and wicking than other insoles I’ve tried, it certainly kept my feet dry and cool.
These insoles held up quite nicely even after 60 miles of moderate-to-intense running (shortest run being 5 miles). In the forefoot area there were minute discoloration and wear from friction – otherwise the nylon
liner had no other visible wear. One thing I’d like to add is that there was some deformation on the foam, particularly in the forefoot and the big toe area. The deformation wasn’t very pronounced – I could only feel it with my hand, but not see it. The insole retained its thickness (0.5 cm for both initial and final thickness) and foamy composition throughout testing.
As for the anti-microbial claim, I find it hard to verify because I don’t have access to a lab. But based on my observation, it neither eliminated nor contributed to my usual foot scent.
The OrthoLite Fusion insole is a high-quality replacement insole. This product works well as advertised, especially if you want to get some extra miles out of an old pair of shoes. If you are in the market for a breathable, wicking performance insole that doesn’t add bulk to your shoes, for $19.99 the OrthoLite Fusion is certainly worth taking a look.
What’s your experience with shoe insoles? For what reason would you consider replacing an insole? What do you look for in a premium performance insole?
(Kevin Lu is an engineer, currently working in the field of orthopedic devices. He received his B.S. and M.S. in biomedical engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology. Science, technology, and running are Kevin’s passions. In his spare time, Kevin trains for and participates in races of various distances. His recent personal records include 20:58/5K and 5:48:22/50K. Follow him on Twitter (@SweatEngine) and check out his blog Beyond Distance.)