Vulcanization, as it applies to making shoes, is a process of chemically bonding materials together using high heat. If done right, this creates very strong bonds. Skateboarders prize vulcanized sneakers not only for their inherent strength, but also for their unique “board feel”. At Ridgemont, we wanted to tap in to these characteristics and improve upon them for use in the outdoors, so we utilize a harder 70 A rubber along with 3mm thick foxing to improve lateral and torsional stiffness. We believe that feeling the earth beneath your feet is a benefit, and something that has been all but eliminated from most hiking boots.
WAXED AND OILED
FULL GRAIN LEATHER
We use only the best full grain cow leather from European hides dyed in tanneries that are gold rated for their environmentally responsible processes. We use 1.8-2.0mm thick leather which provides just the right balance between durability and comfort. We treat our leather with various oils and waxes to ensure that the leather itself is water proof as verified by the shoe authorities at SATRA. Of course, we stitch our shoes together (poke holes in them) so we don’t claim our shoes are 100% water proof, but they are more water resistant than most light hikers on the market.
Much like our full grain leather, our suede is hand selected from only the best European cow hides in similar thicknesses. Suede is naturally very abrasion resistant, but it’s not very water resistant, so we treat ours with oil to make it ready for whatever you throw at it.
There’s something about canvas shoes that we just love. Maybe it’s the texture or the way they feel. What it isn’t is their ability to stand up to the elements. We want our canvas shoes to perform better so we take our raw material and impregnate it with a 14% dry wax layer. This gives a natural canvas look but creates a water resistant barrier to prevent moisture coming through the fabric. Finally we add a water repellent coating for a final top moisture barrier.
All Ridgemont shoes are stitched together with non-wicking thread in order to prevent the cotton from pulling moisture through the upper into the lining. As the natural fibre thread gets moist it expands slightly to ‘block’ the stitch hole and seal the moisture out. Clever, huh!
VARI-FLEX LASTING BOARD
Where most vulcanized shoes use a Texon lasting board, Ridgemont uses a custom composite lasting board to provide variable flex characteristics along the length of the shoe. We wanted a shoe that would be very flexible at the ball of the foot (since that’s pretty important for walking..!) but more rigid from the arch to the heel so the shoe is more rugged over uneven terrain. This is also one of the main reasons our shoes are super comfortable right out of the box.
While we like to feel the earth beneath our feet, we don’t want to feel rocks penetrating our shoes. We worked hard to find the ideal outsole thickness which allows us maintain our connection to the terrain, while still providing protection from rocks, or the dreaded Lego block your kid left on the wood floors! In addition to paying close attention to our outsoles thickness, we were very mindful of providing as much grip as possible in a variety of terrains. The softness of the rubber (70 asker) combined with the thickness and slightly lugged tread pattern provides a comfortable and confidence inspiring experience.
We worked directly with the factory to formulate an Open Cell Foam for our insole that would be extremely comfortable, yet not completely isolate you from your environment. Additionally, and we feel super importantly, we designed real arch support to help abate fatigue and keep your arches well formed and not flat as a board. The foam in our insoles is anti-microbial, non-absorbing, and it will never compress more than 5%.
Gusseted tongues are designed to keep dust and debris from getting into your shoe through the throat opening. We didn’t invent them, but we’re one of the few outdoor lifestyle brands that use them, and the next time you walk through a field without getting a briar, thorn or annoying little stone in your shoe, you’ll be glad we do.