Did you know cork isn’t just for stopping wine bottles, bulletin boards, and floor tiles — or that county in Ireland where the Blarney Stone is? It’s also a very versatile material that absorbs shock, is elastic, and prevents odor, making it great for shoe inserts.
Here are the top 5 picks of the best cork insoles for your consideration.
We detail the benefits of cork for your feet, and the features to consider when choosing cork shoe inserts. Who knew this material was so useful?
Here our top picks for the best cork shoe inserts
1. Sole Active Insoles
These medium-depth insoles are supportive and cushioned. They’re made from recycled wine corks with a moisture-wicking upper layer. Available in sizes for men and women, they mold to your feet with wear.
- Lightweight cork construction decreases overall weight.
- Softec superior open-cell foam technology provides industry-leading shock absorption and comfort.
- Features polygene permanent active odor control
- Metatarsal pad relieves pain and pressure in the ball of the foot
2. Birkenstock Blue Footbeds
Birkenstock is one name that comes to most people’s minds when they think of cork shoes — well, they also make insoles. These three-quarter length ones are lightweight with arch support and a deep heel cup. They have a silk liner that absorbs moisture to keep feet fresh.
- Instep arch support offers inside and outside longitudinal support to help control pronation (foot rolling inward).
- Metatarsal arch support at the ball of foot lifts and separates the toes, allowing your foot to relax.
- Deep heel cup absorbs shock, cushions and protects the heel bone, helping relieve heel pain.
- Cork EVA footbed, silk top lining, moleskin base lining.
- Made in Germany.
3. Honey Soles Natural Cork Insoles
If you love going barefoot in your shoes, you might find these insoles comfortable. They have cork uppers, a supportive foam middle layer, and a contoured cork heel base. The ridged bottom stops them sliding in your shoes.
- The best way to comfortably wear your shoes without socks
- Natural cork cover wicks away sweat
- Shock absorbing foam for comfort and protection from hard surfaces
- Low level arch support helps with posture, alignment and common pain
- Designed to be trimmed and fits best after removing the manufacturer's insoles from your shoes.
4. Kaps Pecari Cork Premium Shoe Insoles
For a bit of luxury in dress shoes, these insoles have a vegetable-tanned sheepskin leather upper layer — perforated to let your feet breathe. Natural cork supports and cushions your feet. They’re a trim-to-fit design suitable for men’s and women’s shoes.
- ELEGANT AND COMFORTABLE: Made of the best quality vegetable tanned sheepskin leather free of PCP and other chemical substances. Thoroughly tested for you to be safe
- PERFECT DESIGN: Best for formal and dress shoes, as well as casual and everyday shoes and boots
- PREVENT BAD ODOR: Afraid of removing your shoes in front of your family and friends? The PECARI Cork Insoles perforated leather provides air circulation so that your feet can breathe
- NATURAL CORK: The bottom layer of the insoles is made of natural cork that absorbs sweat and gives extra cushion
- LEGACY: Made in Europe by a family business with decades of experience manufacturing shoe insoles. 1 package contains 1 pair (two insoles). If in sizing doubt, buy the bigger one and trim to fit
5. Downunders Ultra Walker Footbeds
These insoles have a moisture-wicking upper layer, a cork and EVA core, and a honeycomb design heel pocket. They keep feet stable, have arch support, and mold to your feet with wear. With sizes available for men and women, they can be trimmed to fit.
- Constructed of EVA and natural cork, the Ultra Walker is softer under foot and has the best abil
- Dynamic heel cup: the deep heel pocket captures a large area of the calcaneus (heel bone) and
- Forefoot arch support: Tear Drop bubble bolsters the natural transverse (metatarsal) arch shap
- Self molding Active Arch: longitudinal arch contour provides neutral support to the arch witho
- Easily trimmed with scissors to fit inside shoes
Reviews of the Best Cork Insoles for Shoes
There are many insoles on the market constructed from a wide variety of materials, but here we’re all-things cork. Let’s narrow down your selection by detailing the features of the best cork inserts for shoes.
1. Sole Active Insoles
Founded in 2001 Sole is a Canadian company that aims to use as many recycled materials as possible in its insoles. They also donate to some charities, including Soles4Souls — a non-profit organization that distributes clothes and shoes to those in need.
These insoles come in a choice of red or green and a huge range of sizes. Those on offer for men include a size 3 to 22, and the women’s from a 5 to 24.
They can be molded to fit, either with wear or by heating. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for heat molding to give a custom fit out-of-the-box. If the size isn’t quite right, they can also be trimmed to fit accordingly.
The top sheet of the insoles has moisture-wicking properties, and they have proprietary Polygeine Stays Fresh technology.
As a medium volume shoe insert, they support your whole foot. There’s Softec cushioning in the middle and a recycled wine cork base.
These insoles are latex-free and vegan-friendly — suitable for those with allergies or the stern animal lovers.
If you’re expecting something soft and squishy, then these insoles won’t be the ones for you. They’re quite firm underfoot, and some find them too hard.
- Recycled cork base.
- Moisture-wicking upper layer with odor control.
- Mold to your feet with wear or by heating.
- Extensive range of sizes.
- While supportive, some find these insoles too hard underfoot.
|These insoles come in a choice of two colors and a vast range of sizes for men and women. The base is made from recycled wine corks, and the upper layer has moisture-wicking and odor-control properties. They mold for a custom fit.|
2. Birkenstock Blue Footbeds
Birkenstock is a well-known name in the realms of supportive footwear and has been for over 230 years. Many are fans of their sandals with cork footbeds.
Now you can have the benefit of their expertise in any of your shoes. These three-quarter length insoles are suitable for dress shoes, heels (up to two inches), sneakers, or boots.
There are sizes from 4 to 10.5 for women and 4 to 15.5 for men. They also come in narrow, wide widths and extra-wide widths.
Anatomically designed, they have a silk top layer that absorbs moisture away from your feet. Beneath this is a cork and EVA bed that offers support and shock absorption for further comfort.
The heel cup is deep to hold feet stable, and the arch support helps relieve pressure and keep feet aligned in the right position. Flexible edges help them adapt to the shape of your feet and shoes.
On the downside, these insoles are quite rigid and might be too hard for some. It also seems they can damage existing insoles — so you might not want to pop them in expensive shoes where you can’t remove the original footbed first.
- Suitable for many different shoes.
- Support for heels and arches.
- Three-quarter length.
- Quite rigid, making them too hard for some.
|Many love Birkenstock cork sandals, and also appreciate the benefit of having that cork in an insole. These three-quarter length insoles are suitable for most shoes and come in a wide range of sizes and multiple widths. They support heels and arches.|
3. Honey Soles Natural Cork Insoles
Honey Soles is a relatively new kid on the block. The company makes insoles from recycled rubber foam and sustainably harvested cork. They’re designed to allow you to wear shoes without (or with) socks.
They come in seven sizes designated by the letters A through G. These cover a range from a women’s 4.5 to 10 and men’s 7.5 to 15. Each one spans one and a half sizes, and you can cut them to get a perfect fit.
A natural cork upper layer wicks sweat away from your feet to keep them dry and fresh. The middle layer is constructed from foam to cushion your feet and absorb shock as you walk. Finally, a cork layer beneath the heel area with grooves helps prevent the insoles from moving in your shoes.
Low-level arch support helps correct posture and align your feet, and the deep heel cup helps keep your feet stable.
These insoles might be too narrow in the forefoot for some shoes. This area of the insole also seems to be thinner and offer less support.
- Made from recycled foam and sustainably harvested cork.
- Grips in the heel to keep them in your shoes.
- Designed to be worn without socks.
- Heel and arch support.
- Width and thickness in the forefoot might be lacking.
|This relatively young company uses sustainable materials in its insoles. They’re designed to allow you to go barefoot in your shoes. Support is built-in for your heels and arches, and the cork upper layer is moisture-wicking for dry, fresh feet.|
4. Kaps Pecari Cork Premium Shoe Insoles
Kaps is a European company based in Poland. It manufactures a range of shoe care products and accessories, including orthotic insoles.
Eleven sizes are on offer from a women’s 4 to 9 and men’s 9 to 13. They’re designed as a more luxury insole for dress shoes and heels, although you can wear them in sneakers or boots.
The upper layer is made from chemical-free, vegetable-tanned sheepskin leather. It’s soft and perforated to allow for better airflow and will mold to your feet over time.
Beneath the leather is a natural cork designed to cushion your feet and keep them comfortable. These insoles are thin and lightweight, making them a good option if you don’t want too much room taken up in your shoes.
It seems these run on the small side, so you might need to size up and trim a little to fit. They also don’t offer support for your arches or heels if that’s an essential factor for you.
- Breathable leather uppers.
- Natural cork base.
- Lightweight and thin.
- Tend to run small.
|These insoles are thin and lightweight — designed for use in dress shoes and heels. The chemical-free soft leather upper has perforations to let your feet breathe. A cork base provides some cushioning for your feet.|
5. Downunders Ultra Walker Footbeds
Downunders describes its insoles as being “like bucket seats for your feet.” They’re designed to conform to the shape of your whole foot, and the shape of the shoes you wear them in.
Sizes available for these inserts range from 5 to 12 for women and a 4 to 13 for men. They can be trimmed around the forefoot area to fit.
The fabric top layer is hard-wearing and helps wick moisture away from your feet. Beneath that is a layer of natural cork and foam which gives support and cushioning.
A deep heel cup has a honeycomb EVA that helps keep feet stabilized. In the forefoot arch support, there’s a teardrop bubble to help your foot maintain its natural shape.
These insoles are low profile and flexible making them comfortable without taking up too much room in your shoes overall.
However, the volume under the heel might be too much in some shoes, and this area cannot be trimmed to fit.
- Moisture-wicking upper layer.
- Natural cork and foam base layers.
- Added support at heels and arches.
- Conform to the shape of your feet and your shoes.
- Might take up too much room in the heel.
|These insoles have a hard-wearing, moisture-wicking upper layer and a foam and cork base beneath. They have reinforced arch and heel support. Over time, they conform to the shape of your feet and your shoes.|
What Are The Benefits of Cork Insoles
Cork is a material harvested from the bark of cork trees. It’s elastic, and buoyant to resist water. It can also be recycled easily.
The production of cork is generally considered to be environmentally-friendly. When harvested correctly, the tree that produces it isn’t killed. The bark grows back over several years and can be collected again.
This video shows you the harvesting of cork.
As well as being sustainable cork offers more benefits when used for insoles. These include:
- Conforms to your foot shape: When cork has heat and weight applied to it, over time, it will mold itself to shape. This means as you wear cork insoles, you will eventually end up with a comfortable, custom fit. The material will, at the same time, stay firm offering proper support for your heels and arches.
- Moisture-wicking: Cork can take moisture away from your feet, keeping them dry. Ultimately, as this can lead to less sweat in your shoes, it means fewer bacteria and less odor.
- Naturally elastic to absorb impact: Cork has some flexibility and suppleness enabling it to absorb shock and keep your feet supported. However, it’s firm enough to keep your feet in a correctly aligned position. This can lead to a reduction of pain and other symptoms from various foot issues like plantar fasciitis and metatarsalgia.
This video from Dulis shoes highlights some of the benefits of cork insoles.
Things to Look for in Cork Insoles
We can see that cork helps alleviate pain, keeps feet dry, and absorbs shock. Here are some features to consider when choosing the best cork shoe inserts:
- Support: Look for a deep heel cup that will keep your feet stable, and arch support to align your feet. There might be added foam or shaping in these areas that will provide this.
- Contouring: We’ve mentioned that cork molds to your feet over time. Some insoles can be heated out of the box to get that custom fit immediately. Others will need to be worn for some time to get a contoured fit.
- Moisture and odor control: While cork naturally helps with smells and wicking moisture, a synthetic top layer, added foam or leather could improve this factor. Antimicrobial treatments are another thing to keep an eye out for.
- Thickness: While you might not want your insoles to take up too much room in your shoes, the thicker the cork is, the more shock absorbency it will have.
- Sizing: Many insoles cover between one full size or a full size and half range. For example, if your feet are a size 6, the insoles you choose might range from 5.5 to 7. If this is the case, make sure they can be trimmed to fit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Wash Cork Insoles?
Insoles can be delicate and shouldn’t be washed in a machine. However, there are several ways you can clean insoles while maintaining their integrity.
This informative article on how to clean insoles gives you lots of tips on keeping your cork insoles clean and fresh.
Taking care of your insoles can help them last longer and keep your feet more cozy in the process.
Are Cork Insoles Comfortable?
Cork insoles are lightweight and conform to the shape of your feet. They’re naturally breathable and offer some shock absorbency. All these factors lead to comfort for your feet.
Should I Remove My Existing Insoles Before Using Cork Ones?
It’s generally a good idea to remove factory insoles when you buy new ones. The support from your existing insoles might be different from the ones you have now chosen. This could mean your feet will be thrown out of alignment, which leads to other issues.
Are Cork Insoles Good for Relieving Foot Pain?
There are many reasons why you might have foot pain. It could be from a previous injury, strain on your feet, or poor circulation. Maybe you have fallen arches or heel spurs that need support.
Cork is a natural material that conforms to the shape of your feet, giving support where they need it. This can help alleviate the pain associated with some foot conditions.
Comfort With Cork
Cork is a great natural material for making shoe inserts. These cork insoles absorb shock, wick away moisture, and cushion your feet. Their ability to mold to the shape of your foot supporting each contour makes them an excellent choice.
Our top 5 picks all have the qualities and features you would expect from the best cork insoles.
The ones you choose will depend on what shoes you want to put them in and how much support you need. There are sure to be some that will meet your individual needs.
We hope you found our guide useful and enjoyed reading it. If you’re looking for new insoles, why not give some of these cork ones a try? Please let us know how you get on and don’t forget to share.