A lightweight hiking shoe that will handle runs – or a trail running shoe that does the job just as well for slower sessions. An Adidas Terrex range shoe demonstrates how different needs can be successfully tackled. The GORE-TEX SURROUND® technology makes a significant contribution to the performance of the Terrex Fast Mid GTX Surround. But what does this technology do better than others? When are its strengths most noticeable? [productlist ids= 3549]
GORE-TEX footwear expert Uwe Bauer explains how GORE-TEX products work and what makes the SURROUND® technology so special:
“The GORE-TEX membrane has worked in exactly the same way for over 40 years. When the body is protected by clothing, there is always a difference between the partial pressures of the air surrounding the body and the partial pressures of the external environment. The greater the difference in temperature, in other words, the colder the external environment and the warmer the body, the greater the difference in the partial pressures will be. When it comes to your comfort and well-being, what we call breathability is extremely important. This means how much water vapour is able to get through the materials of a jacket or a pair of shoes." The difficulty with shoes is that, unlike a GORE-TEX jacket that you can unzip, or even take off, if you get too hot despite it being breathable, you can't always take off your shoes.
“SURROUND® shoes have more “breathing space” than a normal pair of sandals”
The other difficulty is that your feet sweat more than any other part of your body and, added to that, shoes also need to provide good support and stability. These are some of the reasons why it's so difficult to balance the microclimate inside your shoes. And yet, GORE-TEX technologies also perform well in footwear. Your feet can “breathe” through the ankle openings at the top of the uppers. That's good! But what about the soles of your feet? They account for roughly 30 percent of the surface area of your feet. It's also where the majority of your sweat glands are. For optimum temperature regulation, the soles of your feet have to be able to “breathe”. With GORE-TEX SURROUND® we've made this possible! In SURROUND® shoes your feet have more “breathing space” than in a normal pair of sandals! This makes the SURROUND® technology the ideal choice for almost all activities in moderate or warmer conditions - wherever you are in the world. The Adidas Terrex Fast Mid GTX Surround is a great example of the use of this technology in an athletic shoe. Thanks to the SURROUND® technology with its side ventilation outlets, footwear makers can use a stable outsole and define their own criteria when it comes to flexibility and upper aesthetic. As a mountain guide, rock climber and runner, Uwe Bauer is in a good position to evaluate the potential and performance of this model: “The Terrex is actually a lightweight hiking shoe, manufactured by Adidas, a company that knows all about making running shoes. This model closes the gap that has been separating hiking shoes from trail running shoes. It has already been worn for individual stages of the GORE-TEX Transalpine Run. On uphill stretches, runners typically walk about two thirds of the distance. The ideal terrain for this super-lightweight hiking shoe. And for the downhill sections it offers good cushioning and the necessary stability.”
“It's a hiking shoe with the genes of a sports shoe”
Its name, Adidas Terrex Fast Mid GTX Surround, is almost a full description of what the shoe is capable of. Or at least of what it should be able to do according to the Adidas product developers. “It's the combination of light weight, flexibility and the waterproofness of the GORE-TEX construction that makes the shoe so special – and so universal,” says Adidas product manager Henrique Nigro. “It's a hiking shoe with the genes of a sports shoe.” Actually, it's hardly surprising that it was Henrique rather than anyone else who paved the way for the Terrex. He has dual Brazilian and Italian nationality and it appears that he is able to blend his light-hearted Latin temperament with the technical mastery and perfection displayed in the development of shoes at Adidas in Herzogenaurach. The Terrex Fast Mid GTX Surround combines the best of both hiking and running. And the GORE-TEX SURROUND® technology makes sure that you don't get too hot, never mind how hot things may get.
What's so special about the Terrex Fast Mid GTX Surround and how important is the concept for Adidas?
It's both special and universal. In contrast to many of the hiking boots on the market, we've drawn on the expertise and experience we have in the field of trail running and channelled it into a hiking shoe. We wanted to combine the suppleness, flexibility and wearer comfort of a trail running shoe with the weather protection and solidity of a GORE-TEX hiking shoe, while attaching the same importance to the highest possible level of breathability. The SURROUND® construction was the ideal solution. Falling within the “fast hiking” category, this shoe brings the hiking and trail running constructions closer together.
This shoe is a no-brainer
Which target group is it geared towards? Who will reap the most benefits from the GORE-TEX SURROUND® technology?
We have a younger target audience in mind. The kind of people who spend a lot of time outdoors, always looking for new challenges, ways of getting higher, doing things faster, carrying and wearing lighter gear. We want to give them a shoe for rugged terrain that doesn't mean compromising on stability and protection, or perhaps even having to resort to wearing heavier and bulkier hiking boots. The huge benefit of this model is that it is lightweight and flexible, almost like a trail running shoe, yet still offers all the advantages of a hiking boot. The shoe is a no-brainer for outdoor athletes. It's so versatile and suitable for all terrains, in all weathers.
There are three different GORE-TEX SURROUND® technologies for 360° breathability. Why did you choose to use the newest version with visible side ventilation outlets?
It was the best construction for what we wanted to do. Our idea was to keep the upper as sleek and flexible as possible to ensure maximum tactility and grip when walking fast or running on technical trails or difficult, rocky terrain. The ventilation outlets at the side enable us to keep the upper construction low and narrow to produce a great fitting shoe.
What was the biggest challenge you faced during the development work on the Terrex FMGTXS?
The biomechanics. We had to tailor the ventilation outlets in the sole so that the wearer's feet could still bend and flex naturally, while also ensuring that the shoe offered adequate foot stability. We were one of the first brands to adopt the open SURROUND® ventilation outlets in an asymmetrical design while applying biomechanical principles.
Have you worn them yourself?
Yes. Of course. During the test phase, one of the designers and I wore them on a hike in the Wilder Kaiser region. We walked, also along some ridges, climbed over rocks and ran up and down trails. So, the full range of activities, on versatile and demanding terrain. The shoes did the job. We were happy.