Memory Foam Vs Gel Insoles

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on the differences between memory foam vs gel insoles, two popular orthotic inserts designed to enhance foot comfort and support. At Savvyaboutshoes, we understand the importance of finding the right insoles for your needs, and that’s why we’re here to help you make an informed decision. The critical difference between the two insoles is that Memory foam insoles provide plush, custom cushioning, while gel insoles offer superior shock absorption and support during physical activities.

MemoryFoam Vs Gel Insoles compared. (image by Dr Scholls)

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Table of content

What are insoles and why do they matter?

Orthotic inserts, or insoles, are footbeds placed inside shoes to provide additional support, additional cushioning, and stability. They are especially beneficial for individuals suffering from foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis, flat feet, or high arches. By distributing pressure more evenly and promoting proper foot alignment, supportive insoles can alleviate pain and discomfort, allowing you to stay active and comfortable throughout the day.

Shoe Insoles are made from many materials, such as foam, gel, leather, and air cushions. However, this comparison is only about memory foam and gel. While both have pros and cons, whichever you purchase should depend on your needs. Let’s dive into the Memory Foam vs Gel insoles review.

Effect of insoles on shoe size and fitting

Memory Foam and Gel Insoles: A pair of insoles is usually designed to be relatively thin, and their effect on shoe size is minimal. They may slightly reduce the internal volume of the shoe, providing a snugger fit without significantly changing the overall size. (vs cork or leather insoles)

This article will first discuss the pros and cons of memory foam insoles, followed by a few examples, and then the same will be done for gel insoles. Read on to know the complete details of the differences in Memory foam vs gel insoles.

Memory Foam Vs Gel Insoles Summarized

If you want the main points of this article, all of them are summed up in a comparison style within this paragraph. If your daily activities consist of moderate walking, and you want soft, semi-rigid, and lightweight insoles, memory foam should be your choice. If your activities involve high intensity and you want durable, shock-absorbing insoles, you should opt for gel.

Comparison table of Gel Insoles and Memory Foam Insoles

AspectGel InsolesMemory Foam Insoles
ComfortCooling effect, but may feel firmer to some usersPlush and cushioned, conforming to foot shape
SupportExcellent shock absorption and stabilityCustomized support for individual foot structure
DurabilityLong-lasting and maintains shapeMay wear out faster with heavy use over periods of time
Heat RetentionCool and soothing for hot weatherMay retain heat, potentially causing warmth
Suitability for ActivitiesGreat for high-impact activitiesVersatile for various shoe types and activities
Customization to Foot ShapeLess conforming compared to memory foamContours to foot shape for personalized support
CostSlightly higher cost than memory foamGenerally more affordable

Should You Buy Memory Foam or Gel Insoles?

Foam-based insoles are crafted from viscoelastic foam that reacts to body heat, conforming to the shape of your foot. As your foot presses down, the foam gently molds itself to provide a custom fit and evenly distribute pressure. This unique property makes memory foam insoles incredibly comfortable and ideal for individuals seeking a plush, cloud-like feel with every step.

Benefits of Memory Foam Insoles:

  • Superior Cushioning: Memory foam’s ability to conform to your foot offers unparalleled cushioning and impact absorption, reducing joint stress and preventing foot fatigue.
  • Pressure Relief: By contouring to your foot’s natural shape, memory foam insoles alleviate pressure points, making them suitable for sensitive or sore feet. An extra layer of cushioning that reduces pressure can be beneficial for diabetic feet.
  • Customized Support: The custom fit provided by memory foam ensures that your foot is properly supported, enhancing overall foot and body alignment.
  • Versatility: Memory foam insoles can be used in various types of shoes, from athletic sneakers to formal dress shoes, without compromising their comfort and effectiveness.

Pros and Cons of Memory Foam Insoles

Superior CushioningMay wear out faster compared to gel insoles
Pressure Point ReliefCan retain heat, potentially causing warmth
Customized SupportMay not be as effective for high-impact activities
VersatilityMay compress over time with heavy use

Best Memory Foam Insoles review

Firstly, there is a difference between the standard foam and memory foam inserts. Memory foam insoles mold themselves according to the curves of your foot and retain that shape, while the regular foam is generally semi-rigid. Standard foam also wears down more quickly as compared to memory foam.


The following are our top two picks for memory foam insoles:

Powerstep Pinnacle

Powerstep Unisex-Adult Pinnacle Arch Support Orthotic Insert for Plantar Fasciitis, Equipment for Home Workouts, Blue, Men's Size 10-10.5/Women's Size 12

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These Powerstep insoles come with a double foam layer to provide maximum walking comfort. They are of a medical grade and hence can be used to treat symptoms of a certain foot issue. You will have complete support in your arch as the insole is semi-rigid.

This sturdiness helps in maintaining movement control. There is also a heel cradle that will shield your heel against forceful impacts. 

MEGAComfort Anti-Fatigue Mat 

MEGAComfort PAM-M1213 Personal Anti-Fatigue Mat 100% Dual Layer Memory Foam Insole,(1 per Pack)

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A doctor also designs these MegaComfort insoles to target potential problem areas. In these, the arch support is soft while still providing balance.

These inserts also have silver ions infused in their top layer. These ions will help repel bacteria as well as keep your feet moisture-free.

Let’s move on in the memory foam vs gel insoles review with the gel insoles.

Memory Foam vs Gel Insoles Compared
Memory Foam vs Gel Insoles Compared

What are Gel insoles?

Gel is the most frequently bought type of insole. The main reason to be a popular choice, is their function of shock absorption. While walking, you usually do not notice these shocks. Various joints absorb them in your legs. But over periods of time time, that strain will build and likely cause an injury.

Benefits of Gel Insoles:

  • Shock Absorption: Gel insoles absorb impact and reduce stress on your feet and joints, making them an excellent choice for athletes and those who spend long hours on their feet.
  • Enhanced Stability: The responsive nature of gel material helps stabilize your feet during movement, reducing the risk of overpronation or supination.
  • Cooling Effect: Gel insoles often have a cooling effect, which can be soothing for hot and tired feet.
  • Long-lasting Durability: Gel insoles are known for their resilience and ability to retain their shape, even after prolonged use.

Another benefit of gel insoles is that they are widely available. You will find one that fits seamlessly regardless of your foot type or size. You also will not have to worry about the price as many different price points are available. You can buy according to your needs and budget.

Pros and Cons of Gel Insoles

Excellent Shock AbsorptionMay not offer as much custom support as memory foam
Enhanced StabilitySome users may find them too firm
Cooling EffectLimited shape conforming ability
Long-lasting DurabilitySlightly higher cost compared to other insoles

Best Gel Insoles review

Our top two picks for gel insoles are the following:

Dr. Scholl’s WORK Massaging Gel Advanced Insoles

Dr. Scholl's WORK Massaging Gel Advanced Insoles (Men's 8-14) // All-Day Shock Absorption and Cushioning for Hard Surfaces (Packaging May Vary), 1 Count

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If the title didn’t already convince you, I do not know what will. These insoles will massage your feet while you walk, absorbing any harmful impacts. They even have advanced arch support that will prevent you from getting fatigued.

Sof Sole ATHLETE Performance Gel Shoe Insert

Sof Sole Insoles Men's ATHLETE Performance Full-Length Gel Shoe Insert

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Although gel insoles are considered to be weighty, these are surprisingly light. They have additional gel padding in the heel and forefoot area for extra reinforcement. They also have a moisture-wicking treatment to keep your feet dry and odorless. 

Related: 6 Best Insoles for Flat Feet – Review And Buyers Guide

Why would I need to replace my insoles? Who can use Memory or gel insoles?

Replacing standard shoe insoles with gel or memory foam insoles can be beneficial in various professions and occasions where individuals experience prolonged standing, physical activity, or foot discomfort. Here are some situations where it is advisable to consider using gel or memory foam insoles:

  1. Athletes and Sports Enthusiasts: Gel insoles are excellent for athletes and individuals engaged in sports activities that involve high-impact movements with their athletic shoes. They provide superior shock absorption, reducing the risk of foot and joint injuries.
  2. Healthcare Professionals: Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers often spend long hours on their feet. Gel or memory foam insoles can help alleviate foot fatigue and provide additional support during demanding shifts.
  3. Retail and Hospitality Workers: Those working in retail, restaurants, or hospitality often stand for extended periods. Gel or memory foam insoles can enhance comfort, reducing the strain on their feet and legs.
  4. Construction and Labor Workers: Professionals in physically demanding jobs, such as construction workers, benefit from gel insoles’ shock-absorbing properties, as they provide additional cushioning during intense activities. Also people from the army or tactical and security jobs could use an insole replacement
  5. Teachers and Educators: Educators spend much of their day on their feet, moving between classrooms. Gel or memory foam insoles can offer additional comfort and support throughout the school day.
  6. Travelers: People who travel frequently, especially during long flights or road trips, can benefit from gel or memory foam insoles to counteract the effects of prolonged sitting and provide added comfort during travel.
  7. Individuals with Foot Conditions: Individuals with conditions like plantar fasciitis, flat feet, or high arches may find relief by using memory foam insoles. The customized support and pressure point relief can help manage their foot discomfort. A visit to a podiatrist will help you figure out if you need over-the-counter insoles or a pair of orthotic insoles (rather rigid insoles)
  8. Senior Citizens: Elderly individuals who may experience foot pain or reduced mobility can benefit from the extra cushioning and support provided by gel or memory foam insoles, enhancing their overall comfort, foot pain relief and stability.
  9. Fitness Enthusiasts: Whether engaging in regular workouts or walking routines, fitness enthusiasts can enhance their performance and reduce the risk of injuries by using gel or memory foam insoles.
  10. Casual and Dress Shoes: Gel and memory foam insoles are versatile and can be used in various types of footwear, including casual and dress shoes, to add extra comfort and support throughout the day.

Memory Foam vs Gel Insoles explained (video)

What’s better gel or memory foam insoles? by Ask About EVENTS

Bonus: comparison of types of insole materials

Here’s a comparison table of memory foam, gel, leather, cork, and PU (polyurethane) types of insoles, along with their specifications and recommended brands:

Type of InsoleMaterialComfort LevelSupportDurabilityBrand Names
Memory Foam insolesViscoelastic FoamPlush, Cloud-like FeelCustomized SupportModerate to HighDr. Scholl’s, Superfeet
Gel insolesGelExcellent Shock AbsorptionStabilityLong-lastingSpenco, Powerstep
Leather insolesGenuine LeatherNatural and BreathableGood SupportHigh (with Proper Care)Vionic, Pedag
Cork insolesCorkContours to Foot ShapeArch SupportModerate to HighBirkenstock, HappyFeet
PU inoles (Polyurethane)PolyurethaneCushioned SupportLong-lastingHighSof Sole, ProFoot

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are Memory Foam Insoles?

Memory foam insoles are orthotic inserts made from viscoelastic foam that responds to body heat and pressure, conforming to the foot’s shape for a custom fit. They offer superior cushioning, distributing pressure evenly and reducing stress on joints.

What are Gel Insoles?

Gel insoles are orthotic inserts crafted from a gel-like material that provides advanced shock absorption and support. The gel evenly distributes pressure, offering responsive cushioning and stability during physical activities.

Which is More Comfortable: Memory Foam or Gel Insoles?

Both memory foam and gel insoles offer comfort, but the choice depends on individual preferences. Memory foam insoles provide a plush, cloud-like feel, while gel insoles may feel firmer to some users but excel at shock absorption.

Are Memory Foam Insoles Customizable?

Memory foam insoles conform to the foot’s natural shape, providing customized support and pressure point relief. This feature makes them suitable for individuals with specific foot structures and conditions.

Which Insoles are More Durable?

Gel insoles are known for their long-lasting durability and ability to retain shape even after prolonged use. On the other hand, memory foam insoles may wear out faster with heavy use.

Are Gel Insoles Suitable for High-Impact Activities?

Gel insoles excel at shock absorption and stability, making them an excellent choice for high-impact activities and athletes seeking to reduce stress on their feet and joints.

Can Memory Foam Insoles Retain Heat?

Yes, memory foam insoles may retain heat, potentially causing warmth. Individuals who prefer cooling effects may find gel insoles more suitable, especially in hot weather conditions.


What is best: memory foam vs gel insoles? The answer is: it depends on your preferences and activity. In summary, memory foam and gel insoles offer significant benefits and can significantly improve your overall foot comfort and support. I recommend assessing your needs and preferences to make the best foot choice. Whether you opt for the cloud-like comfort of memory foam or the advanced support of gel insoles, investing in high-quality orthotic inserts will surely keep your feet happy and healthy, enabling you to stay on your feet confidently and easily.

Related insoles size charts