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CUSTOM WALKING BOOTS - Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Friday May 17, 2019 - Email this article to a friend

Ski boots can be moulded to fit. Now the technology is being used for walking boots. PlanetSKI tries them for size.

With winter over you may be turning your attention to summer pursuits.

Maybe you'll be doing some hiking in the mountains.

You'll want some decent walking boots, then?

If you're in the market for some new ones, you could just nip to your local shop and try them on.


Tecnica walking boot fittingBuying walking boots (but not as we know it)
















The Italian ski boot manufacturer, Tecnica, developed what it calls Custom Adaptive Shape (CAS) for its ski boots five years ago.

The company says it's been so successful that it's now using the technology for walking boots and shoes.

It launched in Europe last year and has just been introduced to the UK.

The PlanetSKI partner Ellis Brigham is one of the few retailers whose staff have been trained to fit and sell the footwear.

I've come along to its flagship Covent Garden store in London to get fitted, under the guidance of Tecnica's UK National Sales Manager, Andy Parish.

Tecnica mouldable walking bootTecnica's Andy Parish shows the mouldable walking boot
















He says they're using Ellis Brigham because they already have expertise in fitting custom-mouldable ski boots.

First up, just as I do when I'm buying new ski boots, I try on the boots for size.

Tecnica Forge bootsTrying them for size
















Then, the insoles are heated before I put them in thin slip-ons and onto my feet.

I step into this contraption into which air is pumped.

Fitting for Tecnica Forge walking bootsMoulding the insoles


















It feels just like having your blood pressure taken but on your legs rather than your arms.

Tecnica Forge walking boot fittingPumped up

















Meanwhile, the boots are also being heated.

Tecnica Forge walking boots being heatedCooking nicely
















Once the boots are cooked, the insoles go in, and the process is repeated, this time with the boots on.

Tecnica Forge walking boot fittingThe final stage



















It's very similar to having ski boots fitted but it's a quicker business.

It's all over in about 20 minutes.

The immediate impression is that the boots fit snugly and comfortably around the instep and the ankle, which is not surprising as these are the parts of the boot that are heat-mouldable.

It's also exactly where I want the most support.

Ellis Brigham has a mini-mountain to replicate the feeling of climbing up and going down rough terrain.

Testing walking bootsTesting the boots on the mini-mountain
















So far, so good.

"We first started selling them four weeks ago," Tom Smith, one of the Ellis Brigham fitters tells me.

"They've been very popular.

"Someone heard about them and travelled all the way from Cardiff and seemed very happy with them."

Andy Parish of Tecnica says the boots and shoes will not suit every hiker.

"We can't make the forefoot customisable so they're not for everyone," he says.

"If you have a super wide foot or a really slim one it might not work for you."

It seems I don't have either as they're OK for me.

Tom Smith, Jane Peel & Andy ParishMe with the Forge boots, Tom Smith of Ellis Brigham and Andy Parish of Tecnica 


















The good news is that they are re-mouldable so if I need to, I can have them adjusted.

The bad news is that they're not cheap.

The suggested retail price for the walking boot - the Tecnica Forge - is £240 (with fitting included).

The walking shoe - the Tecnica Plasma - is £180.

Both are Goretex-lined and are available in leather or vegan-friendly synthetic material.

Tecnica walking boots & shoesThe Tecnica range

















I've opted for the synthetic version of the Forge.

Now to test them where they're meant to be used - outdoors.

A three-mile walk in the Chiltern Hills on a spring evening.

Walking in the ChilternsPutting the Forge boots through their paces in the Chilterns
















It's too short a walk to give a final verdict.

My initial thoughts...

They're nice and light.

They feel like they have great grip, though the ground was dry and not at all rough, so I'll have to reserve judgment on that.

They are quite stiff and need wearing in, but this is the case with all new walking boots.

A few more short walks will probably do it before I put them to a tougher test in the mountains.


If you're interested in trying them, they are available at Ellis Brigham's Covent Garden, Kensington and Manchester stores, and Profeet in London (boots only, not shoes).

Also at five Tiso stores in Scotland, and at Craigdon Mountain Sports in Edinburgh.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news

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