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Gore-Tex SURROUND at the IMS in Italy : An Introduction to SURROUND Technology

You may have noticed if you’re following Simply Hike on Facebook or Twitter, that last week, Shaun and myself were invited to attend the International Mountain Summit in Italy by Gore-Tex Footwear. Gore-Tex took the opportunity to tell us and some other bloggers from around Europe, all about their new technology Gore-Tex SURROUND which is being launched in the spring. We’re really excited to be taking this new technology in Mammut and Meindl footwear in few months’ time. So as you can imagine it was a real treat to get our hands on these boots before anyone else and test them out for ourselves. When we arrived in Brixen, we dropped our bags of at the hotel (or at least Shaun did, as Austrian airlines did me the favour of losing mine. Long story but let’s just say my bag travelled further than me that weekend!) Once we’d had a chance to freshen up after travelling since 2am, we ventured into the beautiful town of Brixen (or Bressanone) and made our way to ‘The Forum’ where the International Mountain Summit was taking place. image-66 We listened to a talk by Marc Peikert who is a Global Product Specialist for Gore-Tex and he talked about Gore-Tex and this new technology in detail. Showing us how it is constructed and why it works. This may be the first time you’ve heard about Gore-Tex or their Surround Technology, so before I tell you about the rest of the afternoon, here’s a little about Gore-Tex and Gore-Tex Surround Footwear: Gore-Tex are a fabric manufacturer who specialise in fully waterproof, windproof and breathable products that are fit for use. Whether that use be for hiking, skiing, cycling, running or climbing a mountain. Their fabric can be found in Jackets, Trousers, Footwear, Gloves, Gaiters and Headwear – and to be honest, probably a lot more than that. But let’s stick with what hikers are interested in! Gore-Tex SURROUND is pretty big news if you’re into hiking and the outdoors, it’s been quite a while since they announced anything this revolutionary so we’re super interested in what it can do. image-172 Surround technology has all of the properties you’d expect from Gore-Tex. It’s waterproof and breathable, but here they’ve taken breathability to the next level in footwear and have created something that keeps water out but also lets it out as well, well enough that you remain cool, comfortable and sweat free inside your shoe. In other hiking boots that contain Gore fabric, water vapour escapes from the top of the shoe, through the gore membrane and whatever the outer is made from (though sometimes this can dampen the efforts of the Gore). In SURROUND boots, the membrane actually encases the whole foot to keep it dry and allow vapour to escape from underneath also! This requires an open sole construction (basically vents/holes in the sole and right above the rand) working together to create a very breathable shoe that is also completely waterproof – even if you step in a puddle! image-2 image-60 image-78 Some really great hiking shoe brands have bought into this technology and it was great to get a first look at some of the products we’ll be taking instore in the spring in detail. Including some cross sections of shoes where we could see the internal construction – it’s quite fascinating to see the inside of a hiking boot. It makes you realise the expertise and dedication that goes into their production and reminds you of why they sometimes cost as much as they do – it’s all about quality and real technology design that works! After we listened to the presentation and asked Marc plenty of questions about SURROUND, we were able to try some for ourselves. As you can see from the photographs I’ve taken, these are some great looking shoes. I had been wearing my Brasher Supalites (also containing Gore) since 2am that morning and it was now about 5pm so they hadn’t been off my feet in over 15 hours (eek!) so as you can imagine, they were really testing the standard Gore by this point, even with my Smartwool breathable merino socks. It felt amazing to remove my Brashers, my feet only experienced 5 seconds of fresh air before being pushed into a brand new pair of Meindl’s with Gore-Tex Surround technology and boy did they feel good! image-21 image-48 image-73 image-134 image-121 We wore them for about twenty minutes, making sure we had the correct fit. In this time my feet did feel very comfortable and a good temperature, but it was difficult to tell in a short space of time whether my feet felt good because I’d just removed the Brashers after 15 hours or because of the SURROUND. Plus my socks were still 15 hours old… Some of the other bloggers had Mammut and La Sportiva shoes which also looked really great. When we were told to keep them to test the next day during the IMS Walk Day on Plose Mountain, we were really excited to really see for ourselves the difference this technology would make. Fine weather was forecast which is perfect for these shoes, being aimed for use in warmer climes, all we’d have to do next was find a puddle… image-122 Thanks for reading, make sure you check out my next blog post, where I will be personally reviewing Gore-Tex Surround Technology after hiking in the Dolomites wearing my new Meindls.