What good are waterproof shoes when your feet are sitting in a puddle of sweat? Following the trend in outerwear, brands such as Columbia Montrail and Altra Running are ditching the fabric upper in favor of placing the waterproof membrane on the outside of the shoe where it will fight off water and ultimately render your footwear lighter and more breathable in the end.
Traditional waterproof footwear construction involves a waterproof bootie sandwiched between the top and bottom layer of the upper. While this works to keep water out of the inside of your shoe, the top layer of the upper is still able to soak up water and dirt causing your shoe to gain weight over time and break down faster.
Columbia solved part of this problem with OutDry–where the membrane is laminated directly to the top layer of the upper so nothing can get caught in between, but the top layer can still soak up water. Now Columbia has gone a step further and eliminated the top layer all together. Much like the OutDry Extreme jackets, the new OutDry Extreme footwear puts the waterproof membrane directly on the outside.
Columbia is in the process of rolling up the Montrail brand into Columbia Montrail and with that a great new line of footwear for Spring ’17. OutDry Extreme will be featured in quite a few models, including the Caldorado II OutDry Extreme ($155), Terrebone OutDry Extreme Mid ($150), Daska Pass III Titanium OutDry Extreme ($200), Trient OutDry Extreme ($175-pictured top), and Force 12 OutDry Extreme PFG ($150).
And coming soon, Altra Running releases a mid-version of their popular Lone Peak NeoShell with the membrane on the outside. If you recall, NeoShell is the waterproof breathable technology from Polartec.
As the Lone Peak is already the number one shoe of choice for thru-hikers, I expect the Lone Peak NeoShell Mid ($160) to follow suit. This mid-high trail shoe has all the features everyone already loves about the current model–namely Altra’s signature FootShape toe box that lets your toes splay naturally for added stability and comfort, as well as the Zero Drop platform. A flexible StoneGuard rests above the midsole to deflect sharp, jagged rocks from digging into your feet.
Not one to be left behind, I expect to see footwear with Gore-Tex Active on the outside sometime soon….