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The History of Hiking Boots

The first hiking boots were made entirely of leather, including the outsole. They needed to be hobnailed or cleated to maintain traction on slippery or rocky terrain. One of the first major advancements in hiking boot technology was the rubber outsole, which was first developed by Red Wing. While the rubber outsoles were longer-lasting, they still lacked grip. Vitale Bramani’s company, Vibram, was founded in 1937. Bramani set out to create better hiking boots and gear after the tragic death of his hiking companions, which he believed could have been avoided if they had better equipment. Vibram’s first sole was the Carrarmato (the world’s first rubber lug sole), which remains in use today. Over time, other hiking boot innovations continued to replace the leather elements of hiking footwear with more technically proficient materials. In the 1960s, many new lightweight, synthetic materials were created and began to be applied to hiking gear, including hiking boots. Danner began offering hiking boots made with Gore-Tex (a waterproof, breathable, and lightweight material still in use today) around 1979. Other improvements were made as well. For example, the Norwegian welt and Littleway construction were introduced, offering a stronger option than the traditional Goodyear welting. In the 1980s, sneakers began to make their way into the hiking footwear market. However, hiking boots remain a trail necessity for many hikers today (although some do opt for modern trail sneakers as an alternative).

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