Literally minutes ago, Arc’teryx officially unveiled a new technical performance footwear line for the Spring/Summer 2015 season, to a packed house here in Chamonix, France. You are getting to see a first look now, right here on SSD.
The natural building block for introducing new footwear is to understand the foot. Once Arc’teryx had sufficiently studied that, they moved toward an actual footwear design. They spoke with their pro athletes and others to determine what was most important. They found that fit, improved climate management, and weight vs durability were key to their customers.
This whole project started a couple of years ago with a single LEAF designer who is also an avid climber. Since then, Arc’teryx has brought in some real rockstars to make this happen, including footwear Product Line Manager Federico Sbrissa. Federico hails from Montebelluna, Italy, the place where the rubber truly meets the road in outdoor footwear development.
“From the very beginning, our goal was to bring a fresh perspective to footwear that enhances the overall mountain experience. We have a rich history of thinking beyond current materials and construction and everything about these shoes reveals the Arc’teryx genetic code of understanding what a products needs to be at its most essential level.”
- Footwear Product Line Manager Federico Sbrissa
But now on to the shoes themselves. The line consists of eight shoe styles for men (five) and women (three), separated into low-cut approach shoes (Alpha2 FL) and mid-cut Hiking and light trekking boots (Bora Mid). Regardless of model, the first thing that strikes you is that there is no tongue and that’s by design.
With any Arc’teryx launch there is going to be a corresponding enabling technology and this is no different. Key in their design process for footwear was breathability. This led them to development of a liner. Specifically, separate shell-liner construction. Based on this concept, they’ve developed the ‘Arc’teryx Adaptive Fit’ (pronounced A squared): the combination of a stretchable liner and single-piece, seamless laminated outer shell that are manufactured separately but worn together for improved comfort, climate management and durability.
This new liner is constructed from a Gore-Tex Performance Comfort Stretch membrane which is removable for cleaning. This liner conforms to the shape of the foot, does not absorb moisture and also functions to cushion impact. Think of it as an inner boot that also can be worn as hut/camp shoe. It is available in different options for higher insulation and protection. For example, there is a mid-height liner that offers insulation higher up the leg.
On the other hand, their new outer laminate features four different layers:
• a non-woven DWR-treated microfiber for smooth internal surface
• a textile woven with PU coated Nylon yarn for air flow and abrasion resistance
• 0,2 mm TPU film build integral upper support
• 0,35 mm high abrasion TPU film reinforcement on more exposed areas
Notice there’s no leather here. It’s all synthetics.
That outer laminate is a single piece so there are fewer seams and larger breathable surface areas. Naturally, this also means less tape and adhesive which equates to less weight.
“By incorporating techniques like lamination, we developed shoes that offer unprecedented durability, comfort and precision performance in the most breathable mountain footwear construction on the market.”
-Footwear Product Line Manager Federico Sbrissa
They’ve minimized gluing points to fix the Gore-Tex® booty (on those models) which improves breathability and the absence of a bulky tongue maximize its waterproof/breathable surface area.
This two-piece construction of the A2 Adaptive Fit models reportedly also has the benefit of facilitating air flow between the inner and outer boot to minimize moisture buildup. It’s thin design also conforms to the shape of your foot and can be rinsed out when needed.
In addition to the Alpha FL, there are also mesh and Gore-tex versions of this low top which don’t feature removable liners. The mid height Bora is also offered with a removable liner as well as Gore-tex versions.
No matter the model, Arc’teryx has really gone all out with the sole design. The one-piece upper wraps around the midsole. The boots also integrate a new Vibram® Arc’teryx Approach outsole made with the new Megagrip compound. Also, individually shaped for every size available, three-dimensional rubber components protect heel and toe area from rock contact. Finally, an Ortholite-insole rounds up the outer shoe construction.
While some of the colors in this initial launch are bright, there are also options available for the LEAF customer including Black and Greens.
Look for these new technical performance footwear with adaptive fit technology next Spring.