Outdoor Spirit


This season footwear takes a walk on the wild side as brands explore new materials for active outdoorists. A spirited attitude about performance footwear is emerging that is ushering in technical advances, eco-innovation, color selection and overall shoe aesthetic. Brands are introducing styles with new foams and fibers; recycled plastics and recycled cottons; and creative design.  

Good examples of this adventurous outlook toward textiles include innovations like graphene-infused rubber used  in the sole of the newest Roclite style from inov-8, Norda’s introduction of a trail runner with bio-based Dyneema, an eco alternative that rivals virgin Dyneema’s extreme strength to weight ratio, and La Sportiva’s women’s Levante shoe that has  a supportive exoskeleton harness to provide comfort and a precise foothold on the toughest of trails.

Functionality with an eye on eco-responsibility continues to gain ground. A new Timberland x Icebreaker partnership unveils a collection with several sustainably-minded materials including waterproof uppers constructed of both premium leather and a branded fabric called ReBOTL that is made with at least 50 percent recycled plastic. Top performance and planet-friendly options are at the core of a line of footwear recently introduced into the U.S. market by the Italian company UYN (Unleash Your Nature). Seeking solutions from nature for footwear functionality is evident in its Urban Trail Sole inspired by the hoof of the Ibex!

Lifestyle footwear also steps up with a fresh take fabric that features all-day comfort and eco-friendly fibers without sacrificing functionality. Renewably-resourced, bio-based  Sorona fiber debuts in an all purpose, modern-looking commuter shoe from Deckers X Lab.

Roclite 345 GTX V2 inov-8

A highlight of this light and fast hiking boot is that it features graphene, a multi-purpose functional product slightly under the radar within active outdoor, although seen as having potential. Branded as G-GRIP, the graphene-enhanced compound is used in the sole and draws on fiber’s strength and abrasion resistance properties to give a highly durable grip. According to the company, this is the first use of graphene technology in a hiking boot.

Trailquest / Timberland X Icebreaker

The GreenStride comfort midsole in this women’s low hiker is made from 75 percent renewable bio-based EVA derived from sugarcane and responsibly grown rubber. The quarter panel features Icebreaker’s signature merino wool. Uppers are waterproof nubuck leather, Refibra technology containing 49 percent upcycled cotton from garment scraps, and ReBOTL (recycled plastic) fabric.

Levante / La Sportiva

Built to meet the needs of the female athlete, this well-cushioned trail runner, slated for a Spring 2024 release, utilizes XFlow, the brand’s newest midsole technology described as a super critical foam providing exceptional cushioning and energy return. The material was developed to help navigate a wide variety of terrain – from jagged ridgelines to the concrete city sidewalks.

Nature Tune / UYN

Recycled synthetics (nylon and polyester) along with Merino wool are used throughout the shoe, including its upper, the Protective Shield design detail and the EVA. The sole design features an outer layer made of hard rubber to ensure optimal traction and a secure hold, while the inner part is made of softer rubber. This offers optimal grip on wet surfaces and at the same time it absorbs impact forces.

Norda 001 / Norda

A responsive trail running shoe for technical terrain that uses bluesign-approved, bio-based Dyneema to its advantage. The fiber is woven in the shoe’s upper for high performance, abrasion resistance and the lightest carbon footprint. Laces feature a diamond design pattern using bio-based Dyneema and recycled polyester.