Finally ready to get into proper foot support? Check out my Fulton insoles review below to see why you need to buy a pair for yourself ASAP!
Full disclosure: I was gifted a pair to try. I wound up buying a second pair and getting my mom second pair to try!
I feel like I’ve probably had some amount of foot and lower back pain since college. During my senior year, my retail job required us to wear heels on hard floors for hours at a time, and it was pretty much down hill from there. When I did my half-marathon in 2017, I went to a running store to get measured for shoes, and they pointed out I had really, really flat feet, so I always chalked it up to that.
Two times I remember people bringing up getting custom-made insoles from a podiatrist. One was a friend in Korea, who had gotten a pair in Jeonju for a cool 300,000 KRW (~$300 USD) right before her big Asia backpacking trip. Another was a friend recommending I look into it after I said I still experienced foot cramping after buying a more specialized pair of running shoes. Again, this would be well over $300 (more like $500), and I wasn’t in that much pain in my day to day to justify the cost.
Anyway, fast forward to this summer when I’ve been wanting to get back into running. Once I came home from Korea, I ordered a pair of the Allbirds Tree Dashers, hoping they be my sustainable answer to running sneakers. However, I almost immediately started feeling the same pains and aches I had before, much to my dismay.
Funnily enough, when I asked at a running meet-up what others were doing, they all recommended getting insoles. I swear to you, that very day I came home to an email in my inbox from Fulton about trying theirs out. Talk about a serendipitous moment!
This was all about two months ago, so now I’ve had time to fully break my insoles in and put them to the test with running, travel, and even a bit of hiking! If you can’t tell from the fact that I’m writing this review and that I ordered another pair — I’m a big fan. They’re not only absolute game changers as insoles, they’re sustainably and ethically made!
Here’s the full breakdown on these Fulton insoles including some information about the company, how they’re made, and my personal experience with them.
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First let’s dive into how Fulton started. It’s a very new company with just one focus – making sure everyone is getting the proper arch support they need. It was founded by Libie Motchan and Daniel Nelson who both found themselves experiencing the same issues – constant back and foot pain from simply living life normally. This was such a constant that apparently it was a point of bonding when they were both MBA candidates at UPenn’s Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia.
One cool fact I discovered in my research is that Fulton was initially meant to launch in March 2020 (yeah, that March 2020). Obviously, that didn’t happen so instead they spent the year refining the brand and they gave their insoles to all the local Trader Joe’s employees. (Source)
Anyway, as I always like to do when I introduce new brands to you guys, here’s my little deep dive. When I eco-grade a product for myself, I always ask, “is this brand…
Here are the answers below!
The big question – just how sustainable are Fulton insoles?
Part of this is longevity. They’re meant to last the lifespan of a shoe. For me means at least 2 years (though most of my sneakers last much longer). I’m at the two-month mark now, and my most worn pair looks great, so I’ll circle back and update this post as I go!
As far as manufacturing goes, they manufacture in Porto, Portugal and get their cactus leather from Mexico. The cork is harvested by hand (and under very strict conditions) and the manufacturing machines run on renewable energy.
They have made sure all factories involved abide by fair labor practices.
Fulton is made from completely environmentally-friendly material. They have three parts, each carefully selected for both their effectiveness and their eco-friendly natures:
1) A cactus leather top layer
Who knew cactus leather was a thing? I did some reading on how exactly this works as this was the first I’d heard of it. According to My Modern Met, “Mature leaves are cut from organically grown cactus plants, cleaned, mashed, and then left out in the sun to dry for three days prior to processing… This makes for vegan leather that is certified organic and can hold up to regular usage for nearly a decade.”
As far as raw material goes, cactus farms are incredibly environmentally-friendly. They absorb more CO2 than they produce, cactus plants are left unharmed, and they require significantly less water than both animal and plastic vegan leathers. (Source) On top of that, cactus leather is breathable!
2) A natural latex foam mid-layer
Fulton uses latex made from the Pará rubber tree (Hevea Brasiliensis). This sturdy tree doesn’t require any fertilizers or pesticides to grow, and you can begin to harvest rubber sap (similar to how maple syrup is tapped) after the trees are 7 years of age. (Source)
3) A cork bottom layer
All of Fulton’s materials are important parts to their insole working, but their cork bottom layer is the real superstar. It has proven to be moisture-repelling, anti-microbial, and shock-absorbing. Additionally, unlike the gel material most insole companies use, it’s sustainable and carbon-negative. They have a whole blog post that deep dives into if you’re curious to learn more.
As of now, you can purchase Women sizes 5-11 and Men sizes 8 – 14, and they’re designed to fit a normal width shoes. I will say, I have pretty wide feet, and I don’t notice them feeling too narrow. You also shouldn’t need to cut them or anything to fit into your shoe.
My Fulton Insoles Review
Which Size I Bought
I ordered an 8, and so far it’s fit perfectly in both my size 8 sneakers. If you’re between sizes, it’s recommended to size up!
Pricing & Quality
At $48, Fulton might seem a little on the pricey side if you compare to the stuff you can find in drugstores. However, they’re much more effective than a drugstore insole and significantly cheaper than something from a podiatrist. While drugstore insoles are squishy and feel nice at first, they don’t actually offer any support whereas Fulton insoles will.
Breaking Them in
One thing I noticed is that these insoles feel very thick and stiff when you first get them. They do take a bit to break in (Fulton recommends 10 hours over all). If you have flatter arches like me, you’ll probably get a little rubbing and some slight blisters right in your arch, but nothing too bad.
My Different Experiences
I thought I’d go into the different little tests I’ve put these babies through in the last 2 months to let you know how they faired!
Since I replaced the insoles in my Allbird sneakers with these, the first thing I did with them was try some running and walking. I’ve also been wearing them to my running meet-ups in Philly (which are usually a mix of running and calisthenics) or using a stationary bike.
I 100% noticed a difference even as they were being broken in. Like I said in the intro, I was experiencing the same cramps/pains with the Allbirds Tree Dashers while running as I did with other sneakers. These pretty much single handedly fixed that!
I’m planning to sign up for a half-marathon next year so will obviously be running more seriously throughout 2022 (famous last words), so I’ll have to update you how they fair with more mileage!
Mini-Hike around Bushkill Falls
Normally, I wear my regular hiking shoes. However, when I wore them on the day I did Hawk Falls and the Shades of Death Trail, they absolutely tore up my heels, giving me the worst blisters. Most likely from me not wearing them in two years.
Said blisters still weren’t quite healed by the time I went to Bushkill Falls with my mom. Like I could physically not put my hiking shoes on they rubbed so badly. Instead I decided to just wear my Allbirds and throw them in the wash later.
I noticed the difference in support immediately. Actually, when I was walking to Hawk Falls, I noticed my feet were not pleased with not having proper support like they’d gotten accustomed to. I was a lot more comfortable at Bushkills even though the running sneaker wasn’t quite the right shoe for a wet autumn hike.
A Full Day of Sightseeing in San Francisco
Since we were going to San Francisco in November, I thought it’d be a little chilly for my normal sightseeing shoe choice, Birkenstocks, but wasn’t sure what to wear. I knew I’d be doing a ton of walking, so I decided to just wear my Allbirds for the first day. They’re cute for running sneakers but not really ~my style~ for regular days in a city, so I tried to make it better by not wearing any socks.
Listen, you definitely need to wear socks with Fulton insoles, which is what they recommend anyway. You can probably do a few chores or even walk up to a few thousand steps and be fine, but after the 10k step mark I definitely started feeling small blisters form on my arches.
Besides that, though, my feet were well supported for almost 19k of steps all around San Francisco! They certainly faired better than the next day when I walked around in loafers, which had no support at all.
In my new Vejas all around California
So I wound up buying some Veja sneakers in San Francisco for a cuter sneaker look. I know Fulton doesn’t recommend switching your insoles in and out of shoes, but after a day of wearing the Veja sneakers on their own I needed more support and just swapped out the ones from my Allbirds. Instant comfort and wore them the rest of the trip!
Obviously, now is why I have the second pair of insoles, one for my Allbirds and one for my Vejas. Probably going to need to purchase a third for my hiking shoes!
On my feet all day at the Philly Half Marathon
I just recently threw on my Vejas to head into Philly to cheer for those running for the half and then the Rothman’s 8k and was on my feet the whole time. I’d say I was standing for at least 4-5 hours if not more with little issue!
Bonus: My Mom’s Experience
Since our family got a puppy, my mom’s been walking him three times a day, so she put her insoles into her walking shoes. So far she’s given her stamp of approval and said they were incredibly comfortable.
That, my friends, is probably more than you ever wanted to read about insoles at once! But seriously, if you’re planning a trip, working out more, or just living your day to day life, you NEED to get these Fulton insoles. They’ll make everything 10x better, I promise. I swear I’m becoming evangelical about them, right up there with period cups, Girlfriend bras and leggings, and wearing all linen in hotter climates!
Any questions for on this Fulton insoles review? Ask away below or check their site for more!
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