January 31, 2023

I’ve had my feet in plenty of gym shoes and running sneakers over the years, and while there’s plenty of variants in cushioning and stability, one thing often remains the same — the insoles are abysmal. With little arch support and a lack of coziness, I often wear the originals out far before the silhouette has reached its training peak.

Athletic insoles are a little different than your normal day-to-day footwear accessories. While you can get away with the plush underfoot feel you’d see in traditional insoles when walking around in your dailies, athletic styles should help absorb the impact you’ll experience when sprinting or putting yourself under a heavy squat. Because of this, there needs to be a tender balance between support and cushioning, which makes finding the right athletic insole more of a chore.

One of our favorite insole manufacturers, Fulton, has been a welcome addition to our normal footwear for a while, but I’ve been hesitant to place these orthotics in my training sneakers due to the enhanced cushioning. Well, it appears Fulton has listened to its audience, myself included, as they just unveiled the brand’s all-new Athletic Insole. Built with shock-absorbing cork, a deeper heel cup and plenty of eco-friendly traits, these orthotics are designed to help you get the most out of your gym kicks while also giving the Earth a bit of a rest.

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a pair of these new insoles before today’s launch and have been wearing them in my favorite training shoes, the Nike Metcon 7s. Here’s what you can expect from these new orthotics looking to give your performance a leg up on the orthotic competition.

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What’s Good About the Fulton Athletic Insole?

The deeper heel cup gives every lift and training modality that much-needed stability factor.

One of the biggest complaints I have about most original insoles in training shoes is their lack of variety across the surface — there’s little to no change in the heel depth, which essentially creates a flat foam surface that just pillows out when you plant or step. I appreciated how the Athletic Insoles featured a deeper heel cup, which set my stance up in a more stable setting from the get-go. I was able to lock into my footing more easily without feeling that foam wash out.

I believe this better foot alignment allowed me to unlock the shoe’s potential more, as if I didn’t need to work through a layer to find the technology baked into the shoe’s profile. In my Metcons, for example, I was able to engage and feel the Hyperlift insert and Nike React midsole for that secure platform under a squat. While I was still able to find this footing in the Nike insoles, the Fultons made that process much quicker and easier.

Ben Emminger

Ben Emminger

The shock-absorbing cork molds to your foot for a truly custom feel while also delivering ample shock absorption.

Your feet can take a beating, especially if you’re pounding the pavement or constantly stomping through heavy lifting sessions. The cork profile of Fulton’s Athletic Insoles allowed the orthotic to mold to my footprint over time while also deadening any impact in a comfortable, welcome fashion. It didn’t feel like I was grounding my toes on cinder blocks after an RPE 9 deadlift, and when my sessions called for some quick sprints, I felt more than comfortable underfoot in each stride.

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Additionally, I like how the cork creates that customized feel over extended use. According to the brand, it takes about 10 hours of wear to achieve that molded aesthetic, which means you only need to break these puppies in for a little over a week, (depending on your training schedule). What you’re left with is a truly personalized footprint that’s ready to support every workout endeavor you sign up for.

What’s Less Than Ideal About the Fulton Athletic Insole?

These insoles take a while to break in, and can feel rigid upon first wear.

While Fulton says the cork insoles need roughly 10 hours to break in, it can be a long 10 hours. These orthotics are very rigid on first wear, and while I was okay with this feeling underfoot, especially in heavier lifting scenarios, I can see where this would be a problem for some.

It’s also worth noting that I only tested these orthotics in quick-paced sprinting scenarios and didn’t break them in for my running shoes (more on that later). I’m sure I’d find the rigid initial structure less appealing in these training sessions, as you want a little cushion underfoot when you’re logging mile after mile.

You can’t swap these between your gym shoes and running shoes.

As stated above, I only wore the Fulton Athletic Insoles in my gym-specific Metcons, and this is for good reason. Because the cork adapts to your personal footprint in whichever shoe you initially place them in, swapping insoles between silhouettes can get tricky, especially when hopping from a rigid training sneaker to a well-cushioned runner.

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Your step is, naturally, going to alter given the differences in midsole foam, so it’s best to purchase multiple pairs of Athletic Insoles and place them in your go-to sneakers first to create that personalized fit, regardless of your day’s workout.

Fulton Athletic Insoles: The Verdict

While there were some growing pains in the break-in process, I still think Fulton has really nailed down the athletic orthotic market. The cork absorbs plenty of shock, and I’m really excited to add another pair to my go-to runners. Plus, the carbon-negative construction makes the Athletic Insoles a sustainable fitness pick, too.

The Athletic Insoles are available online, starting today, for $48. This pricing is on-par with other training-specific orthotics out there, albeit with a much higher grade construction.