Patagonia Footwear continue the open dialogue about their participation in Backpacker magazine's Zero Impact Challenge: to make a backpacking boot for a hiker hoisting a 13.5 kg (30 lb) pack and to do it with the least impact.
Click the link for Patagonia's previous communication on the challenge, (which Hi-Tec, Oboz, La Sportiva, and Wolverine are also undertaking.) But read on to learn how Patagonia are progressing in their product development.Research
The company hit the trail to do their research. The Appalachian Trail (AT) to be more precise, and Mountain Crossings, Georgia, to exact. This is where the AT itself passes through the building, marking the only covered portion of the trail's 3,380 km (2100 miles.)
The staff at Mountain Crossings have, apparently, clocked up more than 100,000 miles experience of the Appalachian Trail between them, and they're in contact with over 2000 hikers. "We sit in the aorta, of the hiking world and see much more clearly what simply works and what doesn't." says owner Winton Porter.
Here's a lil' youtube vid they put together with some of the suggestions that were proffered:
Patagonia Footwear Zero Impact development team report:
"Thinking through our research and development it is hard not to ask "what is zero impact?" At Patagonia Footwear, we know there is no such thing. True zero impact of a footwear product or any product for that matter is impossible.
For this reason, we are focusing our designs to fit our own environmental guidelines, "Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis."
Such caveats aside they note, "After gathering this [Mountain Crossing] research, we set off quickly on the design and development process, working to design a boot and choose materials that address what we heard hikers and retailers "in the know" are looking for when it comes to performance on the trail while being mindful of our challenge to do it with the least environmental impact."
(The text on the design sketch is possibly too small to read, so we'll excerpt some of the notes: Top grain leather. pigskin tongue/collar. recycled rubber toe bumper, recycled rand, zinc hooks, triple-stitch eye stays (for lace system). EVA midsole. Achilles notch.)
(Notes from the top sketch include: 20% recycled EVA dual density footbed. 5mm webbing loops. Gusseted mesh tongue.)
The development team thoughts continue: "We looked for materials that are going to last, be the most durable through time, as well as those with recycled content and naturally derived materials to stay true to the Patagonia brand heritage. Materials we are considering include: leather, wool, recycled fleece, recycled rubber, EVA, natural latex, recycled foam, mesh and hemp.
"We think we're on the path to something...how about you? We'd love your comment and feedback."
:: Patagonia Footwear
Images: Patagonia Footwear
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