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BLOG | HISTOIRE DEPARTMENTS | 27 August 2015

Footwear for mountaineering, alpine-climbing, hiking, rock climbing...R+D applied to your safety...and enjoyment.

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Most young climbers, mountaineers and trekkers haven't had to go through the gruelling task of the recent past, that consisted of having to wear-in mountain boots. And when we say gruelling, we mean really gruelling.

Mountain footwear has to be tough and durable and also rigid in the case of high mountaineering. But the technology of the past was unable to produce a durable boot without it being extremely heavy. And it was also unable to mould the rigid materials to the exact shape of the foot.

The result? Rather than moulding the boot to your foot, your foot had to mould itself to the boot; through pain, blisters, bruises and discomfort, and although this decreased over time, it never went away all together. This and the hindered movement and technique meant that wearing mountain boots was certainly an ordeal and it was the price we all had to pay in order to reach summits and trek through the mountains, in safety.

For this reason, the investment into Research and Development for footwear materials over the years has proved to be a much greater breakthrough than any other advancements in materials for mountaineering, hiking & trekking. Those of us who, just 20 years ago, had to suffer wearing mountain boots, are amazed with the boots that have become available this generation. Ergonomic lasts that fit like a glove and make a mountaineering boot feel as comfortable as a shoe; ultra-light, tough and durable materials which limit weight without losing out on properties such as rigidity and protection; state-of-the-art designs that maximize our technique...

And lets not forget the appearance of totally new kinds of footwear: shoes for mountain racing and trekking, serious trekking boots that offer outstanding performance and safety on the highest peaks all-year round.

The new generation of boots and shoes make life much, much easier, because they directly affect our level of comfort and this translates into a much greater level of enjoyment. But the end result is that they affect our level of safety: boots are lighter, this causes less fatigue, which in turn leads to increased dexterity. The absence of painful points means you can freely use your whole foot and the overall design no longer feels as if you're walking on huge blocks of wood.

And what about climbing shoes? They didn't become popular until the 70s, along with the appearance of the grading system during the revolution in the world of climbing. Before this, people climbed where they could in mountain boots or hand-made shoes made of hemp or rubber. Imagine what it was like for Rabadá & Navarro, to climb the Espolón del Firé, in Riglos, Spain, wearing shoes made out of hemp. The evolution of climbing shoes brought with it the new climbing level: VII and universalized level V. Climbing shoes are totally responsible for what was to come; when most climbers reach level 6 and the best reach 9b+...

Here is our selection. To say they are well-known brands is to say little. We invite you to visit our brands page, where you'll be able to read about their origins & history. You'll discover some surprising facts. For example...Did you know that Garmont has been making boots in the same place it started? and has been owned by the same family since 1867? or that La Sportiva and Scarpa have a history of nearly 100 years, or that Salomon has spent nearly 70 years producing footwear from the Alps? Or that Bestard still semi-hand-crafts its mountain shoes and boots in the heart of the island of Mallorca?

How can they not inspire anything but confidence?
Tags: Footwear

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