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ITS has spent the last few days in Chamonix, France with our peers attending the worldwide launch of the Arc’teryx Technical Performance Footwear line. We were given the opportunity to not only get hands on with the new Arc’teryx footwear, but talk one-on-one with the designers and development team that made it all happen.
Footwear is a whole new category for the Canadian based company and one that’s four years in the making. From what we’ve seen here, these new Arc’teryx shoes represent a truly innovative shift in performance footwear.
Arc’teryx Adaptive Fit
What makes this Arc’teryx Technical Performance Footwear line unique is the out-of-the-box thinking in the way footwear is manufactured. Lets first break down the Arc’teryx Adaptive Fit technology found in the flagship models of the Alpha2 FL and Bora2, which feature a removable “bootie”. It’s in this that we start looking at all the potential this new design unlocks.
The inner bootie is a full-stretchable and removable Gore-Tex liner that not only provides a waterproof surface, but a breathable one as well. The breathability comes from the micro air-space created between the shell and liner which acts as a conduit for air exchange and moisture dispersion.
It’s important to note here that there are models of this new footwear that still retain the inherent features of the bootie, without it being removable; more to follow on this later. With the removable inner bootie design, there exists the potential of reducing hot spots from friction that eventually lead to blisters, due to the liner and outer moving as two separate pieces.
Another amazing feature is that the the removable liner has its own rubberized sole, so you’ve now got a built-in pair of camp shoes after a long day of moving on technical terrain. The liners can be dried in a sleeping bag overnight, or even tossed into the washing machine to clean them when you get home. There’s also the ability to interchange the low-cut liners of the shoes with the taller mid-version of the boots to further keep the elements out.
By completely eliminating the tongue found in traditional footwear construction, Arc’teryx was able to maximize the waterproof surface area with the removable liner as well. The potential exists to just toss a mid-size liner into the Alpha2 FL and have an even taller option to keep water out of shoes during shallow water crossings. We have confirmed an insulated mid-cut liner will be available as an add-on product.
Outer Shell Construction
Now that you know how the inner footwear functions, let’s talk about the outer shell. The first element is a seamless laminated one-piece upper that’s actually made from four different layers, providing a lightweight and durable solution for the typical abrasion encountered by rock, snow and ice. Despite the four layers used in construction, the upper is still air permeable to keep you cool.
The midsole, who’s role is to cushion and support the foot while providing flexibility and precision traction, is made from light EVA foam, chosen for its soft resilient nature, high durability and its ability to absorb shock while providing precision stability.
This stability comes from a rounded heel strike-zone, which features a Y shape that is assembled without adhesive to allow each side to flex independently of the overall midsole. This allows better cushioning impact on rough, uneven terrain.
Arc’teryx also custom designed the Ortholite footbed to maximize comfort, breathability and arch support.
Rather than simply wrap heel and toe caps around the shoe and glue them in place, Arc’teryx produced molded three-dimensional caps that are individually crafted for each size shoe. This resists cracking, prevents collapsing and adds protection to the most exposed areas of the upper and midsole.
Tying it all together are two different outsoles that are activity specific. The Vibram Arc’teryx Approach Outsole is found on the Alpha shoes and is designed with anti-slip lugs and mountaineering heel tread.
The Vibram Arc’teryx Hiking Outsole is found on the Bora Hiking Boots and features traction groves with a high-grip mountaineering perimeter and heel tread.
There are five primary styles of footwear that Arc’teryx will be releasing in Spring of 2015. Low-cut approach shoe options include the Alpha FL and Alpha FL GTX (with Gore-Tex) in both men’s and women’s versions, as well as the top of the line Alpha2 FL with removable Gore-Tex liner in just a men’s version. Just to note again the Alpha FL and Alpha FL GTX will not have removable liners.
Mid-cut hiking boots round out the last two styles and are available in the Bora2 Mid with removable Gore-Tex liner and Bora Mid GTX with non-removable Gore-Tex liner. There’s also an insulated Gore-Tex liner available to replace the liner in the Bora2 if you need a little more warmth.
The Bora Mid GTX comes in both men’s and women’s versions, but like the Alpha2 FL, the Bora2 Mid are only available in a men’s version. As mentioned earlier, an insulated Gore-Tex bootie is available separately to upgrade the bootie in the Bora if you need added insulation, or want to add them to a pair of the approach shoes.
- $270 – Alpha2 FL (removable liner)
- $220 – Alpha FL GTX
- $190 – Alpha FL
- $320 – Bora2 Mid (removable liner)
- $270 – Bora Mid GTX
The Arc’teryx Technical Performance Footwear isn’t releasing until Spring of 2015, so keep an eye out on the Arc’teryx website for more details.
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I tried the Acrux FL GTX (the new name for the Alpha2 FL GTX shoes) and I didn't have the same impression as kijul.
It was kind of hard to get to feet in unless you unlaced the laces but as opposed to him, the shoes felt too BIG. I usually wear 9, 9.5 and the 8.5 was the right fit for me: my heel kept on raising with each step with the 9 and 9.5.
I thought the shoes were minimalist but it was more like a hiking shoes. Really stiff shoes that aren't made for running at all. The shoes seemed pretty well built, solid and durable, but seemed a bit too stiff for long treks or casual use.
They did add a little piece of cloth in the front but the shoe was definitely not over-flexible like I said previously.
I'm still wondering how come the version of shoes he tried was too flexible and the one I tried was too stiff. I tried them in an official Arc'teryx store in Canada so I'm 100% sure they were genuine.
Overall I liked the look of the shoes, They were a bit heavy but felt lighter than expected once on my feet. They look like good hiking shoes but poor running shoes because of the stiffness.
I can't wait to see more people comment on that.
TO AVOID!!! 2/10 stars ( for both BORA2 mid boots and APHA2 shoe )
I have been selling Outdoor shoes for 4 years now and tried them today! Result of an 23yr old that walked long terms treks (60days+ ) and guide various expeditions in addition of my technical selling knowledges..
1.Very hard to get the feet in, you have to remove the under-layer every single time, then its just getting harder, i really felt like i would break the back of the shoes if i didn't used a carton piece to help me get in. ( I tried the 11,5 (normally wearing 9,5 in shoes, 10,5 in boots, but was still a pain to get my feet in ... )
2.Then very poor feeling, the sole bend as a minimalist shoes but the shoes itself look as bulky as a space boots,
3. They are obviously made by Salomon ( both Hammersport franchises and the boxes uses the same size chart sticker.. ) If there point in getting in the shoe industry was to get further in technologies i dont understand why they didn't kept the Quick laces...
5. The laminated look can be quite cool, but the overweight of the shoe's shape while on the feet make it horrible. Plus its only glued, not fusionned like Eccos if they used the same glues as Salomon, people might have bad surprises overtime! And the over flexibility of the shoe will definitely make heavy deformation on the top of the shoes ( even our demo is already deformed.... )
4.Wore them for 40 minutes before removing them because it was just so uncomfortable that i wouldn't even dare walking back home with these...
5. When you look at the showed picture up the thread and you look at the real shoe you will also realize that they add a piece of cloth in the front of the laces opening at the very last minute.. why? Actually im pretty sure it was because rocks were getting in too easily, but even with this add, it not going hight enough to fully block unwanted objects from getting in... And the opening is not waterproof either.. the Inner liner might be fully waterproof with Gore-Tex membrane but the upper opening in the outer part is making the whole thing useless since water WILL get in between your two layers as soon as you step in a pool of mud deeper then 2 inches..
My final toughs is that they didn't make these because they taught they could add something to the shoe market, but more closely that they could sell shoe if their name were on them so they said why not, investors will be happy! All their features are only attempts to get different, not solutions to technical needs of problems that users lived... Very bad move Arc'.... I was afraid when i saw the traveling bags for cosmetics and cloths, but now ....
I used to love Arc'teryx products but this really make me feel like a Northface 2.0 Definitely overpriced too! If you are looking for a good hiking boot, stick with Lowa, Han wag , Mammut vasque or Scarpa!!
How minimalist are these shoes? Its hard to gauge the width of the toe box from the picture and I am not crazy about them having a heel (puts more weight on toes). They appear to be a decent balance between minimalist shoes and most modern shoes (whose design has NOTHING to do with human feet) so I am eager to check them out.
Can you guys at ITS Tactical beg and plead with Arcteyrx to make more products in normal colors (blue, white, brown) and less clown colors? Amazing quality products with stupid colors (which forces you to buy their products almost always in black).
Don't wear these outside of any 1st world industrialized nations. Wearing these brings immediately identification as someone that wants to be kidnapped and held for ransom.
There are two issues that I foresee with these shoes. First, will there be slippage between the inner layer and shell? Second is arch support. There doesn't appear to be the ability to add inserts to customize foot shape.