Arc’teryx unveiled its entry into footwear, Friday, leaning on lamination techniques the brand is known for in its packs and apparel.
The premiere line includes a small collection of men’s and women’s approach shoes and hiking boots that espouse durability, protection and functionality while remaining relatively lightweight and breathable.
The centerpiece is a seamless, one-piece laminated upper that is wrapped around and an EVA midsole, then connected to a Vibram outsole. Hardly any glue or tape is used in the construction, which aids breathability and minimizes failure points, according to the designers. Inside, a separate, stretchable booty — in some styles, detachable and waterproofed with Gore-Tex — conforms the foot for a close fit.
Arc’teryx previewed the footwear, scheduled to hit shelves in spring/summer 2015, to select retailers and global media, including SNEWS, Backpacker and Climbing, at the Hotel Mont Blanc in Chamonix, France. New Arc’teryx Product Line Manager Federico Sbrissa, formerly with Salewa and Dynafit, led the effort on the new footwear line and ran attendees through the details.
The removable in booty in the Alpha2 FL shoe (MSRP $270) and Bora2 Mid (MSRP $320) boot drew the most interest and questions. Sbrissa said the advantages are numerous, including the ability for faster drying, easier washing and the ability to switch out different booties — extras sold separately (MSRPs $80-$95) — for more or less insulation and protection. With a rubber sole, the booty can also double as a hut sleeper. The booty snugly fits into the shoe — designers are confident it won’t slip around — and offers 360 degrees of water protection in the GoreTex versions right up to the angle.
The laminated upper is actually four layers of material: a burly TPU exterior and microfiber interior sandwiching a breathable grid of pre-TPU coated woven nylon. (It’s pre-coated to get the protection but not loose the air permeability between the weave, which would happen if post coated.) The final pieces are heel and toe caps, each pre-molded and laminated to the exterior to avoid stretching and weakening of the rubber.
The construction of the footwear with the separate laminated uppers and stretch booties is meant to provide durability on the outside with comfort and fit on the inside, Sbrissa said.
Retail buyers at the event applauded Arc’teryx for the different design and approach, but added, as with any product, consumer testing and feedback would be the ultimate verdict. While the exterior might be the bigger tech story, many said, consumers might be most drawn the removable booty aspect in the Alpha2 FL and Bora2 styles.
In other styles, the Alpha FL GTX (MSRP $220), Alpha FL (MSRP $190) and Bora Mid GTX (MSRP $270), the booty is attached to the midsole, yet remains stretchable and conforming.
For the remainder of the weekend, retailers and press attended several Arc’teryx Academy alpine clinics — also open to the public — conducted at the glacial base and mid-mountain area surrounding the Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest peak at 15,781 feet.
Company officials said they are working to bring similar clinics to North America.