|ThermCELL ProFLEX available|
for $149 on Amazon
PROS: Easy to use and control, Keeps feet warm, Charges last long enough for day-long activities
CONS: Expensive, A bit stiff and thick for an insole
Have you ever hiked in the winter and wished your feet could just be a bit warmer? I know I almost always have and that was the reason I was excited to try out the ProFLEX heated insoles from ThermaCELL. As someone whose feet seem to get chilled as soon as I stop hiking, skiing or snowshoeing no matter what sock or what boot I wear, I thought a supplemental heat source that is almost built into the boot would be far superior than trying to use chemical hand warmers to add some heat.
“Remote controlled heated insoles,” I hear people mumbling as you think about wires, batteries and uncomfortable things in your boots, however ThermaCELL has done a decent job tackling these issues. The insoles are run by rechargeable batteries that fit into the insole and the temperature of the insoles is controlled wirelessly by a small remote control that you carry. The remote is small, light (only an ounce or two) and easy to carry. The rechargeable lithium ion batteries for the insoles are located in the heel portion and are padded, so when they are inserted into the insoles, you notice very little difference between the battery and the rest of the insole.
There are three heat settings for the insoles: standby; medium; and high and there is an internal thermostat that regulates the insoles to keep them from overheating your feet. The goal of the insoles is to keep your feet at your regular body temperature and they work harder the colder it is to do that. On the medium setting the batteries last for about 5 hours, but I have found that I rarely use them continuously so they last longer. One thing to consider is that standby really is standby, the insoles are still using energy from the batteries. The only way to turn them off is to remove the battery, in which case the insoles cannot be used because of the hole the batteries would leave. Charging up the batteries is straightforward with the included charger.
For me, I find I turn on the heating portion of the insole when I stop hiking and I am not actively working to raise my body temperature. At those times, the insoles can kick on with some heat and keep my feet comfortable so they never dip into the getting cold territory.
What about comfort? This is probably the only place I am a bit disappointed with these devices. I do not find them to be as comfortable as a good pair of regular insoles in my hiking boots, but I have been on a couple of hikes with them now without any serious problems or foot pain. To me, it is more that they just feel a bit more stiff (most likely due to the heating elements inside) than a regular insole and take some getting used to. They definitely keep your foot a bit higher up in the boot, so you will have to adjust your lacing a bit. My first time out with them I ended up adjusting my boots several times until I was able to get to a comfortable spot for activities
Overall though, they do keep your feet warm as advertised and for someone who is often chilly during winter activities, I will be looking forward to having these with me this winter.
ThermaCELL ProFLEX Heated Insoles are available in sizes from small to extra-extra-large and can be trimmed to properly fit your boot. When you purchase them, they come with the two insoles, two battery packs, a charger and power cord, the remote control with lanyard and a small carrying bag for the insoles and the remote. They are available through most outdoor retailers and sell from about $150 to $200.
The insoles were provided to our contributor Jeff Senterman free of charge in return for a review here at Adventures in the Outdoors and in the Trail Conference's Trail Walker.