polar wrap's toasty feet aerogel insoles
Lake winter boot insoles
then as controls some 'regular' insoles I had at home
the Nike's out of my favorite doper's signature shoes
sidi dominator insoles
Each of the above has a different "take" on being an insole. With an extreme range of thicknesses and support provided as well.
Lance Nikes. I put these in the test primarily because they are out of the road shoes that I personally wear when road riding is still doable but the temperature is cold... think down to about 20 degrees F with toe covers and smartwool socks.
Now to set up appropriate testing conditions...
The feature of the insole that we are trying to test is how much cold they transmit through them to the riders foot in the dynamic environment that is your shoe as you ride. One of the major claims of aerogel is that it retains it's insulative properties even under relatively high PSI.
My first thought was to use a block of ice with an insole on it and something metal, a wrench maybe?, on top. The steel wrenches would have a high heat transfer and would hopefully serve as an adequate measure of how cold your foot would get. However, I quickly found that they were too reflective for my thermometer gun to accurately measure them. Decided to try ceramic bowls. Placed two room temp. bowls on the ice and one on the countertop to serve as control. Was hoping the bowls on the ice would transfer heat/cool rapidly enough that they could be used to measure the insole performance.
After 30 minutes the bowls on ice were both right around 38.5 degrees
I decided to go on using the bowls. The next test would be if the bowls would cool enough when placed on top of an insole such that comparisons could be made. If the control insole only cooled it's bowl a couple of degrees then there wouldn't be enough variability in the results to really draw any conclusions. I decided to keep track of this while running the rest of the experiment concurrently.
And then here is the rest of how I set things up:
First off, not exactly the results I was expecting! However, the range in values was enough for me to call it a successful experiment. The method would work and the results were appropriate enough that it would be possible to differentiate between the different insoles and draw some conclusions. I ran all of the insoles two more times such that they had each been run in each position and starting with room temperature (66 degree) bowls and insoles on each run. I won't post all the pictures but I found the results were repeatable and precise in that all 3 runs for each insole were within +/- 0.5 degrees.
The "cheap" aerogels had done poorly initially, but they are very thin (maybe 1.5-2mm "thin" at most) and it followed in my mind that the above was the most appropriate way to run them. By adding them to your existing, supportive insoles you actually wind up with the least added material in your shoe and you don't sacrifice comfort or performance.
The lake boots or the wolvhammers each come with insoles that work but neither is a very good option to add to some other shoe, at all.
The aerogel technology isn't a big deal in this application. Neither of the aerogel insoles were surprisingly "NASA technology" style warm.
Buying the jaztronauts for $50 or $55 is a terrible idea- but they certainly work and if you sprung for wolvhammers be happy with them.
Buying the cheap aerogels and expecting miracles is silly, but they do provide something. They are best for adding to your existing shoe to provide extra warmth. This would be great for your road shoes or if you work in a warehouse with a cold floor and want to use the same boots you wear all summer too.
Right after completing this test I went for a ride with my regular old winter shoes as shown here
and my feet got way too hot.
I wonder how these would perform