From Endurance to Dressage
Product Review: Equifit Gel Bands
I love my Ariat Volants; they are super comfortable and wear more like running shoes than tall boots. Except…
I've been wearing them for almost a year, and I still get rubs at the top of my heels. I've dealt with the problem by layering mole foam inside the boots. I have to use two layers of the foam or else it becomes painful to walk. And even with the foam, I can't wear them all day. This isn't really a problem for me as I only wear them for a few hours at a time anyway.
The mole foam strategy works well, but I do have to replace the worn out foam every couple of months. I was content to keep using this plan until my trainer gave a pair of Equifit Gel Bands as her gift for our barn party's gift exchange.
I like to think that I know every product from Smartpak; I am a long time customer, but I had never heard of these. They come in either a tall band (one per package) or as a pair in a shorter length. The short bands are five inches long. Both sizes run $25.95. I ordered the shorter pair.
The outside material, "a unique stretchable fabric," feels and looks like an ace bandage. They're pretty stretchy with a compression feel. The inside of the band is "lined with a polymer gel." The packaging claims that "these supportive wraps gradually release a soothing mineral oil into the skin." The bands are washable and reusable. The package doesn't say for how many uses/hours the gel will release its "soothing mineral oil," but it certainly can't be forever.
The gel band was fairly easy to put on, but it doesn't slide like a sock. I had to stretch it open and place it where I needed it. The package instructs the user to wear them next to skin, but at least one reviewer wrote that she wears them over her socks. The gel bands can be cut to size as well.
I've worn the gel bands several times, placing them differently on my foot each time. For the initial trial, I wore them over my heel as seen in the photo. They were super comfortable, but when I took them off, they were worn thin at the heel and a bit stretched out. After sitting on my dresser for a day though, the shape did return.
The next few times that I wore them, I placed them at the very bottom of my heel so that I wasn't stretching them out or stepping on them. They were comfortable in that position, and my boots didn't rub, but I only wore my boots for an hour with little walking around. I don't know how effective they'll be with longer wear, say at a show.
The gel didn't both me at all, and once I was walking around and riding, I completely forgot the bands were even on my feet. When I took them off, the gel bands were pretty warm, but my ankles were cool. There was no residue from the mineral oil, and I didn't have any kind of a reaction.
Overall, I hope these work, but I suspect that I will simply wear them out too quickly. At $25.00 a pop, I wouldn't want to replace them more than once a year. Mole foam is cheap, works well, and doesn't need to be put on each day. Since I ride five to seven days a week, I don't know if the gel bands can stand up to that kind of wear. I'll let you know how they look in a month.
12/17/2014 11:10:24 pm
One of my good friends has had the same pair of these for a couple years now. She only wears them for showing with her tall boots, but she shows quite a bit. She does wear hers over her socks. Definitely a neat invention. If my new boots end up bugging me (if I ever get brave enough to take them out of my house and let them get dirty) I would definitely purchase some.
12/18/2014 09:32:58 am
Good to know I can wear them over my socks. Thanks for sharing!!!! :0)
12/18/2014 09:34:10 am
So glad to hear that they lasted that long!!!!!! I wear my boots every day, so a long term (CHEAP) solution is necessary. :0)
12/18/2014 09:36:44 am
I have paddock boots and half chaps, but I prefer tall boots which I find really odd. I am all about comfort, but for me, half chaps get in the way while tall boots give me a "cleaner" connection. Everyone has different preference, don't they? :0)
12/18/2014 09:37:09 am
Me too! :0)
I had this problem with my boots. It happened because the foot was slightly too big, and the boots broke in wrong at the ankle. I solved the problem this way:
Btw-- I would wear these for my all day Working Student days with my trainer. And after hours and hours of catching horses, grooming, riding 3-4 horses, and even driving a few hours, they stayed in place and did their job. They weren't uncomfortable or cut off circulation. In fact, I just kind of forgot I was wearing them. Then I'd peel them off at the end of the day.
12/21/2014 02:44:33 am
I know the foot bed is a tiny bit too big, and I thought about doing exactly what you suggested. It didn't occur to me that I could change the drop (where they rub my heel) which is why I never bothered.
12/19/2014 12:38:13 am
I hadn't heard of the mole foam before. I bet THAT would solve a lot of my problems, especially since I have screws in my ankle that have been bothering me more and more as time goes by. It'll be interesting to see how the gel pads hold up. $25 is a lot of money...
12/21/2014 02:41:57 am
I know mole foam is intended to be stuck directly to your skin (ouch!), but the adhesive is so good that I just stuck it directly to my boots. I also layered it and stuck it to itself. It lasts a LOOOOONG time (months and months) and is CHEAP!. :0)
3/21/2019 06:28:46 pm
I've been using these gelbands since they were first released about 10 years ago. I have a giant scar on inside of my calf and can't ride without non-friction padding. For years my riding suffered as nothing like this was available. Long story short... they are awesome. More durable than they look and definately worth the price. My only issue is size. Wish they made a 12" that would cover my entire calf.
3/22/2019 05:21:35 am
I had forgotten about these, Nicole, but I wore that pair for a couple of years! They ended up lasting a long time. I finally quit wearing them when I had a zipper blowout and bought a new pair of boots. The new pair fit better and didn't require any extra help. :0)
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
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