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Outdoor Footwear: Multifunctionality and light weight are setting the pace

05.07.2013
The 20th OutDoor in Friedrichshafen: Leading trade show sets footwear trends for the 2014 outdoor season

Friedrichshafen - The classic domain of outdoor footwear has been expanding for some time - from its origins in hill and dale into pedestrian zones and even offices. So it’s no surprise that the footwear segment has profited the most from the public’s love of outdoor sport. For the 2014 season, international outdoor footwear producers are making their products even more attractive through even greater functionality, generous comfort and ever-decreasing weight. Their latest innovations will presented from 11 to 14 July 2013 at the world’s largest presentation of outdoor footwear, the 20th edition of the OutDoor in Friedrichshafen.

For many outdoor enthusiasts, there may be no such thing as bad weather, but there is such a thing as a bad economy. Still, it is often said that the industry is more dependent on the weather than it is on the stock market. But what is considered good and bad weather is not always as simple as you might think. "Although the rainy start of the year certainly didn’t lift sales of sandals, the cold and wet spring definitely gave our partner’s Gore-Tex collections a strong boost”, explains Jürgen Kurapkat, press spokesman at Gore Footwear.

But the outdoor industry’s success and confidence are not just due to the weather. Stefan Müller, head of sales at Mainl, the tradition-rich footwear maker from the Bavarian alpine town of Kirchanschöring, points to another strength. "The outdoor sector employs a large number of specialists who bring with them a lot of innovative strength. These experts are constantly working on developing thoughtful new improvements. This has made the difference in our industry in the past and will continue to do so in the future.”

Fit plays a more and more important role in classical hiking shoes and is currently area where a lot of work is being done to "smooth out the rough spots”, in the truest sense of the word. The German producer Hanwag has dedicated itself to correcting the painfully incorrect position of the big toe’s Hallux Valgus joint. "We are expanding the focus on this topic”, announced Hanwag CEO Jürgen Siegwarth. "At the OutDoor in Friedrichshafen we will present two new models that employ a ‘bunion strip’ which we specially developed ourselves.”

Lighter weight is also always seen as a significant comfort factor, especially if it does not negatively affect performance and durability. The product developers at La Sportiva thought that it should be possible to reduce the weight of sturdy mountaineering boots in particular. That’s why the Italians are introducing an "ultralight mountaineering boot” which only weighs 1350 grams (3 lbs.) a pair, but still guarantees complete stability for crampons. Some functional footwear is going to be much lighter next year. The English specialists Inov8 will be presenting the lightest running shoe at the OutDoor, the Trailroc 150, a new innovation which, at only 150 grams (5.3 oz) per shoe, barely weighs as much as a chocolate bar. Plus, the correct use of the shoe can also lead to additional weight loss - by the wearer.

Marc Fisher, Head of Adidas Outdoor, puts the focus on a few additional areas. "Light weight plays a very important role. In addition, slip resistance is and will remain to be a crucial topic. Adidas Outdoor is presenting shoes with its ‘stealth’ outsole, the non plus ultra of steady footing from the rock climbing scene.” There, the material has made sure climbers always have the best footing possible out on the rocks for years. With some slight adjustments to reduce wear, the new shoes also ensure a solid hold on rocks and debris even when wet.

And last but not least, the barefoot shoes theme continues to develop in Friedrichshafen. The North Face is coming to Lake Constance with a new minimalistic shoe concept which the Americans hope will bring the trend to the next level. But the American market leaders Merrell and Keen will also be pulling some new arrows - or rather shoes - out of their quiver.

The OutDoor 2013 will be open from Thursday, 11 July until Sunday, 14 July, to trade visitors only (Thursday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). More information is available at www.outdoor-show.com.

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