Performance outdoor footwear manufacturer Vasque celebrates a major milestone this spring: The Sundowner, the company's best-selling leather backpacking boot, is turning 25. Fittingly, the anniversary comes just before National Trails Day on June 6.
Lightweight for a backpacking boot, and extremely comfortable, the Sundowner became the â€œgo-to, do-anything bootâ€ soon after its release in 1984. For Vasque, notes company GM Rick Appelsies, this was great news. â€œThe Sundowner really stood out among boots. It was a simple design, but at the same time was truly innovative. It really helped us to build our brand around world-class fit and durability.â€
The Vasque Sundowner revolutionized hiking boots when it hit the marketplace in 1984. It was the first boot on the market to eliminate seams with its full-grain one piece leather upper. Additionally, it was one of the first American boots to utilize cement construction versus welt construction yielding performance-enhancing benefits like weight reduction and more forefoot flexibility without sacrificing support and stability under a heavy pack. Over the years, says Vasque director of marketing Sarah Pitts, more than one million pairs of the boot have been sold. â€œThe Sundowner represents what is authentic about Vasque,â€ says Pitts, â€œand its timeless beauty and quality craftsmanship have made it an icon. It truly represents the DNA of the brand and the outdoor industry as a whole. It's rare that products can achieve this type of status. We're proud to have designed one of them.â€
In the spirit of Vasque's Sundowner boot and its monumental anniversary, Vasque recently launched PROJECT Thanks, a program designed to encourage outdoor communities to give back to their wild areas by building and maintaining trail systems. Through the program, developed in partnership with community organizers of Vasque-sponsored trail-running events nationwide, Vasque has committed to matching participant donations to local trail-stewardship organizations. Vasque has partnered with such groups as the Wilderness Trail Running Association (aka Boonies) in Chattanooga, Kings County Trail Maintenance in Seattle, and the Navarino Nature Center in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, to name a few. Each group provides critical maintenance and preservation services to the beautiful natural areas in their region. â€œIt was important to Vasque to get involved corporately, but on a community level versus just writing a check to a big national organization and calling it good,â€ notes Pitts. â€œIt's the local communities than can really make a difference because it's personal to them. We leaned on our great race partners to help discover what project we could most affect. It's inspiring for us to know that we gave back to the outdoor community on a more intimate level. We know our corporate dollars can really help these trails.â€
â€œThe richness in the stories we receive about people using their Sundowners remind us to not forget the passion we feel in producing footwear,â€ says Appelsies. â€œI've received a lot of photos over the years of people with their boots all over the world. They send us their stories, and tell us how they couldn't have done itâ€”hiked a certain trail, backpacked around the globeâ€”without their Sundowners.â€ Considering that, says Appelsies, it only makes sense that Vasque celebrates the boot's 25th while looking forward to 25 more. â€œThe least we can do is honor the boot, the countless miles it's covered, and the many more it will likely travel in the future. For that reason, we'll be donating to organizations nationwide that fight to keep our trail systems alive. It's our way of saying Happy Birthday Sundowner.â€
For over 40 years, Vasque has crafted high-quality performance-driven footwear for the outdoor market with a line that includes specialized footwear for trail running, crossover, hiking, backpacking, alpine pursuits and kids. With an unyielding commitment to innovation, Vasque focuses on fit and world-class performance as the core pillars in every product they produce. Company product testing takes place through a team of exceptional athletes that report directly form trails all over the world, resulting in product that withstands the test of time and the hardest conditions and wear. To illustrate the â€œVasque Fitâ€ story, the company has brought on the Master of Fitâ„¢ to narrate, in a series of videos, exactly what it takes to become an award-winning footwear manufacturer.
To view the Master of Fit in action visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ibC2k7_NdQ
For more information on all Vasque products go to www.vasque.com