November 2018 Update: Tecnica’s Plasma was awarded the Outdoor Retailer Innovation Award at the 2018 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. The custom boots were selected out of over 160 entries, and we’re not surprised that the innovative concept won them acclaim from industry professionals. (We happen to love these boots, too.)
You can find just about anything when you’re shopping for outdoor gear online. Except for real people. And the opportunity to try something before you buy it. Wait. Aren’t those things really important when it comes to shopping for all of the stuff that keeps you safe and comfortable in the outdoors?
Tecnica, a decades-old Italian innovator of outdoor footwear, says yes.
Sure, if you lose a headlamp (I’ve lost two this summer) and you know what kind you want, it’s awfully convenient to click a button and have a new one arrive on your doorstep.
But shoes are another story — hiking boots in particular. As anyone who has broken in a pair of new boots on the trail is bound to discover, a subtle pressure point or minor misfit can turn into a debilitating blister, or worse. Fit is crucial. That’s why Tecnica’s custom boots for hikers have us pretty excited.
Tecnica’s Custom Boots Bring Customers Back to Stores
Tecnica has specialized in custom boots for skiiers since 1969, which means they aren’t new to the importance of a more personal shopping experience.
Earlier this year, they released their first custom fit outdoor boot, the FORGE, available only in specialized retailers which have been outfitted with the necessary equipment for the fitting process. A representative from Tecnica has visited every retailer that offers the custom boots to train employees on the fitting process.
“We’ve never had so many customers reach out about a specific product.”
Last year, we got a a sneak peak at the Tecnica FORGE. After about a twenty-minute fitting process, our lucky boot tester spent three days of conference walking, obsessed with his custom boots. “I walked close to 15 or 20 miles in these boots at the conference, mostly on concrete floor covered with a thin carpet. And I’m still blown away by how comfortable they are.”
The Tecnica FORGE custom boots have only been available for a few months, but already, small shops are loving the opportunity to connect with their customers through the fitting process. With online retailers like Amazon making most outdoor brands available at the click of a button, many small shops are struggling to get customers through the doors. A custom boot fitting process provides that motivation to shoppers who might otherwise pick the pair that looks coolest online, without knowing how it fits their foot.
Representatives of Next Adventure (our favorite outdoor store in Portland, Oregon) met with us during our Tecnica fitting on the floor of the 2018 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, and explained what a difference it makes when you can sit down with a customer and give them a truly personalized experience — and then a truly personalized boot.
“We’ve never had so many customers reach out about a specific product,” said Next Adventure founder, Deek on Tecnica’s custom boots.
Introducing the Tecnica Plasma S
This year, The Dyrt co-founder Kevin Long was fitted for Tecnica’s upcoming release, the Tecnica PLASMA S, which will not be available until Spring of 2019. This low-rise custom moldable hiking shoe is shaped to each individual customer with the same technology as the FORGE.
Besides the unique fitting process, The PLASMA S and the FORGE custom boots feature details that make them impressively comfortable, even straight out of the box. Some of those features include:
- A fully anatomical “last.” (We found out that a “last” is the wooden foot mold they use to shape shoes. Most look vaguely foot-shaped, but Tecnica uses a last that is shaped with much more detail to provide a much better fit, right out of the box.)
- An overlapping collar design which minimizes pressure points
- Self-locking laces
- VIBRAM® MEGAGRIP sole for extra traction
After a 20-minute fitting process that feels a little bit like a warm foot massage, Kevin was ready to rock the Outdoor Retailer floor with custom-fitting boots. While the rest of our team slept in the next day, he even took them on a trail run.
The verdict? Tecnica has convinced us that:
1. You should never (ever) purchase hiking boots without at least trying them on first.
2. These custom-fit hiking boots are a game-changer that our feet are very into.Shop Tecnica