Differences Between Gel, Foam & Air Insoles

As the famous shoemaker John Wildsmith once said, “You’re either in your bed or in your shoes, so it pays to invest in both.” This is too true as you should never settle for an uncomfortable pair of footwear.

Luckily, finding a comfortable pair is now easier with the several options available. More and more shoe manufacturers are also working hard to create the best designs that are suitable for different purposes and activities, so you can be sure to find a good match for your needs.

And if you can’t find the perfect pair for you, you can always opt for a pair of insoles. These things can make the fanciest yet most uncomfortable pair of shoes wearable with the additional cushioning that it can offer.

Why Wear Shoe Insoles?

While there are tons of comfortable options available, some people still find it hard to find the perfect match for their needs. Some foot conditions make it impossible for a lot of folks to find a pair of shoes perfect for their needs as is. Even those pairs with full cushioning may still be inadequate in providing the support and resistance required by those with issues like plantar fasciitis, overpronation, Morton’s toe, metatarsalgia, high arch, Hallux Rigidus and Limitus, flat-footedness, or heel spurs among many others.

With the right pair of shoe insoles, though, you can turn any pair of shoes into the perfect footwear for your condition. There’s no more need to scour the internet for a good-looking pair that offers ample support for your feet and no more settling for a gaudy pair of kicks just because they’re comfortable. These insoles can magically turn any pair of shoes the right pick no matter what your comfort preference or condition may be.

What’s even better is the fact that shoe insoles are available in different materials. This further ensures that you can take a pick with what feels more comfortable to you. Each offers a different advantage, so you can be sure that you can find a suitable match for your needs.

What are the three different insole materials that you can choose from? We’ve detailed them below to help you pick your perfect match:

Gel Insoles

This variety is possibly the most widely available, comfortable, and affordable options nowadays. They’re well loved for their great ability to absorb impact, effectively cushioning your feet while you stand or walk for hours on end. It can effectively decrease foot fatigue, making them great additions to your footwear.


  • They’re available in many shapes and sizes, allowing you to find the perfect fit for your needs.
  • They’re available at many price points so you can go all out or be frugal with these options.
  • They’re durable so even if you use them every day, you don’t have to worry about wearing them out.
  • A high-quality pair of gel insoles will retain its shape despite having to carry heavy weight for hours.


  • They’re quite heavy.
  • They’re not breathable and can cause your foot to sweat.
  • They can get slippery if your feet get slippery and you’re not wearing socks with this insole.

Foam Insoles

If you want to feel like you’re walking on the clouds, foam insoles are an option you can also look into. These products are often made of memory foam, making them durable and capable of molding into the shape of your feet to ensure ample support. This material also allows these insoles to provide relief to pressure points, allowing your feet to relax.


  • They’re very comfortable. If you sleep on a memory foam mattress, you’ll know just how cozy this material will feel on your feet.
  • It will follow the contours of your feet so there won’t be any area that won’t get its much-needed support. You just need to find the right match for your foot shape and issue to ensure proper pressure relief.
  • They naturally absorb shock so they can also reduce foot fatigue.
  • They’re versatile. They’re great for providing comfort but can also be ideal for your performance needs.
  • They have a rigid base support so they also provide ample resistance for those who need the perfect balance between comfort and support.


  • Some memory foam insoles can get hot. If you happened to wear this with a non-breathable pair of shoes, your feet can get sweaty.
  • They tend to wear out easily.

Air Insoles

If you’re not too keen about the breathability issues of the gel and foam insoles, the air insoles are something that might tickle your fancy. These insoles are made comfortable by their design that makes use of pressurized air bubbles that are encased inside a supportive foam sole. The foam bubbles offer effective support and shock absorption which ensures comfort and reduced foot fatigue.


  • It’s breathable so you don’t have to worry about your feet overheating.
  • Most air insoles are packed with additional advanced features that make them more comfortable.
  • They’re great for providing comfort and support.
  • They don’t wear out as fast as foam insoles do.


  • They tend to be a bit pricey.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Are insoles the same as orthotic inserts?

Answer: No, insoles are different from orthotic inserts. Orthotics are specially designed to cater to specific foot problems while insoles are mostly created to provide cushioning for your feet. Orthotic inserts are often crafted by podiatrists to specifically target your foot pain and improve the functioning of your feet, making them a more special than the readily available insoles.

Question: How much size allowance should your shoes have if you want to wear insoles with them?

Answer: It depends on the kind of insoles you’re looking into. Some kinds, especially the ones that are just meant to cover certain areas of your shoes, don’t really require a lot of extra room to be worn comfortably.

Question: Can you wear insoles with just about any pair of shoes?

Answer: Yes, insoles are now available for just about any pair of shoes, even those with open toes. You can find insoles for sandals easily should you need them.