The Boot Book: Trail Blazers

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Boots are ready to meet the moment in the new year. Amidst a challenging 2020, the work and outdoor categories kept their heads above water due to consumer demand. And for 2021, new boot styles across the board are hitting on all cylinders.

“Throughout the pandemic, our work and work boot categories have been strong and continue to grow stronger,” says Prasad Reddy, CEO, Twisted X, noting that he believes brick-and-mortar stores will make a comeback in 2021, “specifically specialty stores like the work and outdoor categories. The customer is looking for expertise, someone who can provide specific answers and personal service.”  

Among the top trends to watch, according to brands, are a demand for lightweight tech and for women’s-specific designs.

“We are seeing a continuing trend toward lightweight boots that are also great for the outdoors and all-weather environments, but fit like a casual lightweight hiker,” explains Brent Jennings, VP of marketing for Warson Brands, which has the license for Reebok and Rockport Works among others.

In the work category, women from the boardroom to the plant floor are looking for collections that are not a takedown of their male counterparts. “Women’s footwear may share some DNA or general concept, but it is best to start with a women’s specific design and look at their individual needs in the application – work, hunting or hiking,” notes Mike Roundhouse, VP and general brand manager of Rocky Boots. Soyala Breen, Ariat’s Senior Director of Footwear Merchandising for Work adds, “By putting the same research, development and design attention into the women’s category, women can feel equally professional and comfortable on and off the worksite.”

Footwear Insight chatted with outdoor and work boot brands to unveil what else will be trend-worthy this year.

Outdoor Boots

Khombu / Abby Outdoor

Like your favorite winter knit sweater, the collar on the women’s Abby keeps the wearer warm and comfortable. The soft grey boot also features a suede upper, K-Comfort footbed and K-Grip outsole for rugged terrain. K-Guard Weather Resistant Technology assures a cozy ride. Available Fall ’21. MSRP $80.

Salewa / Ortles Couloir

A lightweight mountaineering boot for alpinists and ice climbers, this high-end performer uses an Ankle Protector System (APS) built from a pivoting carbon fiber exoskeleton.  A waterproof nylon outer boot with YKK zipper protects from the elements and a Vibram Litebase outsole provides optimal grip. Available Fall ’21. MSRP $999.95.

Tecnica / Argos GTX

This new apres boot takes inspiration from the ski slopes and the trail. Its Gore-Tex insulated fleece lining offers waterproof/breathable warmth and a grippy outsole and TPU laminated toe delivers traction and durability. The cuff design allows for easy on/off. Available September ’21. MSRP $180.

AKU / Riserva GTX

Featuring AKU’s patented Elica Stride Technology and a soft rear cuff collar, the Riserva is a backcountry hunting boot built for long distance walks in different terrain conditions. The boot has Vibram soles for comfort and a Gore-Tex liner for breathability and moisture control. Available June 2021. MSRP $299-389.

Thorogood / Infinity FD Outdoor Boots

This lightweight, durable boot features a multi-traction, self-cleaning, Infinity FD Flex-drive midsole/outsole. 3M Thinsulate insulation makes for toasty toes. The anti-fatigue energy return system absorbs shock while propelling you forward in outdoor pursuits. Available Now. MSRP $139.95.

Twisted X / Women's 4" Waterproof Work Boot

This handcrafted leather work boot has a waterproof lining to keep feet dry. It also has a compression-molded sugar cane molasses EVA midsole integrated with Twisted X CellStretch comfort tech and a nylon/glass fiber shank. An oil and slip resistant outsole provides durability and traction. Available Spring ’21. MSRP $139.95.

Scarpa / Rush Trk GTX

This lightweight and versatile boot dials up the support and protection with a suede leather upper and a rubber toe rand, and features Gore-Tex for protection from the elements. The upper balances the agility of a trail-running shoe with the support and protection of a hiking boot. Available Fall ’21. MSRP $199.

Danner / Free Spirit  

A retro-inspired hiker with modern tech, the Free Spirit has a suede and textile upper with a Gore-Tex waterproof breathable lining and a dual density midsole for support. A softer compound underfoot delivers comfort and cushion. The Vibram Overlook outsole with Megagrip has adaptive lugs for versatile traction. Available Fall ’21. MSRP $200.

Propet / Veymont

This men’s waterproof hiking boot features Vibram’s Arctic Grip A.T. for All Terrain winter traction. It also has waterproof bootie construction inside a suede Nubuck and mesh upper. An EVA midsole with a high traction rubber outsole and toe guard delivers durable outdoor wear. Available Now. MSRP $149.95.

Salomon / Predict Hike Mid GTX

A plush hiker that conforms to the wearer’s stride and adapts to the terrain underfoot, the Predict Hike features cushy Energy Surge Foam and a Gore-Tex membrane to keep the weather out. The mid-cut collar hugs the foot and outsole lugs grip the ground the foot. Available Fall ’21. MSRP $180.

Baffin / Borealis

Part of Baffin’s Cold-Climate collection, this performance outdoor boot delivers warmth and comfort. Its dual-density midsole combines an AirGrip Midsole with a stabilizing upper-midsole and a Polar Rubber outsole. It also has a body-heat moldable Ultralite System. Available Now. MSRP $233.

Bearpaw / Puffy Boot

Mixing fun, casual style with warmth and comfort, the Puffy Boot is treated with NeverWet technology, has a nylon, PU and elastic upper, a wool blend lining and a removable wool blend covered PORON comfort footbed. It also has a molded EVA and rubber outsole. Available Now. MSRP $69.99.

Ecco / Solice Mid GTX

Insulated with PrimaLoft Bio, the Ecco Solice Mid GTX is a premium women’s winter boot that is warm and stylish, with Gore-Tex waterproof protection. The boot’s thick rubber outsole can handle snow and ice, and the upper is fashioned from a blend of durable full-grain yak and nubuck leather. Available Fall ’21. MSRP $200.

Keen / Ridge Flex

A performance hiking boot with style and a unique design. Featuring Keen’s Bellows Flex technology — a flexible TPU piece inserted into the forefoot — the boot uses an accordion-style TPU that gets placed near the back end of the toe box. The boot requires less energy to bend. Available Fall ’21.

Merrell / Thermo Rogue 3 Mid GTX

Designed to deliver sure-footedness and warmth in tough winter conditions, the Thermo Rogue has a Float Pro Foam midsole, a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane, PrimaLoft Gold Eco insulation and a Primaloft Aerogel insole. Its outsole offers grip on wet ice and mixed winter conditions. Available Fall ’21. MSRP $240.

Wolverine / Torrent

Part of a women’s specific push for Fall, the all-weather Torrent offers both style and function, with a rubber lug outsole, vulcanized construction and a removable EPX anti-fatigue footbed. A premium waterproof full grain leather and fleece lining pair comfort and durability. Available Fall ’21. MSRP $100.

Bogs / Spruce Hiker

This men’s hiker has a 100 percent waterproof gold certified leather upper and a BLOOM eco-friendly, algae-based EVA footbed. Rebound cushioning in the midsole provides comfort and energy return. Rubber pods on the outsole provide slip resistance. Available Fall ’21. MSRP $145.

Kodiak / Kindersley

Part of the brand’s new Sniker Collection, the Kindersley is a waterproof leather, alpine-style hiker with 200-gram PrimaLoft P.U.R.E. insulation and a lightweight, compression-molded EVA midsole. The Kindersley also has a slip-resistant rubber outsole and recycled plastic shoelaces. Available Fall ’21. MSRP $170.

Work Boots

Wolverine / Raider DuraShocks

The workhorse Raider boot now has DuraShocks Flex to absorb shock and offer flexibility on all terrain thanks to compression pads throughout the outsole. The boot also has a CarbonMax composite toe and the upper is crafted of leather that can be cleaned or polished for a refined look. Available Fall ’21. MSRP $140.

Hytest / FootRests 2.0 Charge 6”

Proving that a work boot  can be comfortable, this athletic-styled, lightweight, racecar red option features a Xergy anti-fatigue foam midsole and CoreTemp temperature control lining for comfort. It also has abrasion-resistant leather and a non-metallic Nano Toe. Available Spring ’21. MSRP $219.

Reebok Work / Women’s Trailgrip Work

Dialing in on the trend of lightweight boots for all-weather environments that fit more like a casual hiker, this work style also has a MicroWeb lacing system for lateral stability and a MemoryTech Massage footbed. And it has an alloy toe and CushGuard internal metatarsal guard. Available January 2021. MSRP $137.

Skechers Work / Argum-Alcova

A soft lining, waterproof seam-sealed design and padded collar make this lace up casual comfort steel toe work ankle height boot comfortable and protective. The Argum-Alcova features an Electrical Hazard Safe design and Skechers Air-Cooled Memory Foam footbed. A translucent outsole provides a unique, stylish look. Available Now. MSRP $114.

Rocky Boots / Rocky XRB

Smart fabrics continue to trend, whether for cooling or warming, as well as for antimicrobial effects. The Rocky XRRB employs Dri-Blaze thermal insulation, an 800-1000 gram equivalent, for moisture management. This waterproof boot also features a Vibram outsole. Available Fall ’21. MSRP $180.

Rockport Works / Women’s Carly Work

The new Carly Works collection from Rockport Works offers dressy-yet-functional shoes. This safety toe bootie’s moisture-wicking microsuede lining is breathable and a slip-resistant bottom provides stability. Its alloy toe is protective. Available Now. MSRP $117.

Georgia Boot/AMP LT Edge

The AMP LT Edge has a workhorse heat, chemical, abrasion and slip-resisting dual density EVA and Carbo-Tec rubber outsole, alongside Goodyear welt construction. Full-grain SPR leather (which resists caustic alkali, sulfuric acid, calcium hydroxide, potassium phosphate and caustic potash) is protective. Available Fall ’21. MSRP $178.

Ariat / Women’s Casey 6” MetGuard Composite Toe Work Boot

Built for comfort and support, along with durable, multi-surface traction, the lightweight, cushioned Casey uses Ariat’s thin and flexible XRD Extreme Impact Protection Metatarsal Guards for impact protection without added weight. Available Now. MSRP $159.95.

Nevados / XT Worksite Warrior ST

The Nevados XT line combines outdoor materials and aesthetic with the functionality needed to meet work boot requirements. Alongside steel toe safety and a nubuck welded upper, lies speed lacing and a dual density flex grip outsole. Available Fall ‘21. MSRP $90.

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