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This Marine Put Everything He Knows About Foot Comfort Into Timberland PRO Anti-Fatigue Technology

Timberland PRO Design Director Steve Ammon is dedicated to making footwear more comfortable, safe, and supportive for hard-working tradespeople everywhere.
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“If you take care of your feet, your feet take care of you,” the drill instructor screamed. It was 1982, and Steve Ammon was on the first of many forced marches as part of his training to become a Marine. True to that sentiment, for over 20 years the Timberland PRO AFT Design Director has been making feet more comfortable with the brand’s marquee cushioning technology.

“Surprisingly, those words never left me,” he remembered. 

As the head of design at the workwear powerhouse, Ammon has been instrumental in many of the brand’s innovations and product launches. Underlying them all, Steve adheres to a design philosophy that’s extremely invested in Timberland PRO’s customers — tradespeople. 

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Ammon believes in hard work — and hard play; (photo/Steve Ammon)

Building the Perfect Shoe for Tradespeople 

“Before putting pencil to paper,” he explained, “designers need to wholly understand and consider the end user, their profession, their work environment, their safety requirements, and then anticipate their needs, both recognized and unrecognized.”

But why is it so hard to make comfortable footwear for tradespeople? At issue, as Steve explained, is the fundamental challenge of what’s known as Standing Tolerance — a person’s ability to maintain a certain position, usually unsupported sitting or standing with postural stability, for an extended period of time.

Footwear midsoles can cause chronic pain when they’re too hard or soft. To offset this dynamic, people who are on their feet all day need the right material in an anatomically correct design. That’s why Anti-Fatigue Technology was designed to provide all-day support, comfort, and energy return for the active tradesperson. 

Ammon (center left) and his team often visit job sites to better understand the needs of their customers; (photo/Steve Ammon)

Born of a real-world manufacturing context, Anti-Fatigue Technology was initially deployed in Timberland PRO footwear after a meeting with a safety manager at a motorcycle manufacturing facility. His workers, focused on tasks above them, were continually tripping over the anti-fatigue mats covering the warehouse floor.  

“Ultimately,” Ammon recalled, “the mats started causing trip/fall hazards as the workers moved with their assembly line. The safety manager somewhat offhandedly said, ‘If you could take those mats and put them inside their boots, you’d solve one of the biggest workplace safety concerns we have.’”  

That simple statement — along with some polyurethane and a little geometry — eventually led Ammon’s team to launch Timberland PRO’s Anti-Fatigue Technology. Along the way during AFT’s development, Timberland PRO commissioned extensive third-party field testing with a range of workers to refine the material and geometry into its current form.

Timberland PRO Anti-Fatigue Technology: Comfort for the Workday

Over more than 20 years, Ammon has grown deeply committed to Timberland PRO. Before joining the brand, he also had robust tenures at other apparel companies like Fila, Tommy Hilfiger, and Reebok. 

His timing was good. He joined Timberland PRO right at Anti-Fatigue Technology’s inception and has been able to work on its evolution through multiple decades with the company. On a personal level, Ammon is inspired by his work because he believes that Anti-Fatigue Technology enhances the lives of hard-working people. Having that impact motivates Ammon to produce excellence. 

Designing Comfort Into the Timberland PRO Endurance EV and Powertrain EV

Ammon has always defined “comfort” as the “absence of notice.” 

But when it comes to actually making footwear more comfortable, Ammon takes numerous factors into consideration, namely shape, construction type, materials, weight, breathability/temperature regulation, and flexibility.  

“I’ve asked complete strangers (wearing my design) how they like their boots,” Ammon said. “I often get a full sales pitch in return, usually highlighting many of the details I focused on during the design and development process. On one occasion which I’ll never forget, a nurse exclaimed, ‘These shoes changed my life!’”

And that’s by design. Many years ago, Ammon’s team adopted a product bullseye they now refer to as Insightful Purpose. This target was established so that every product created was considered with an appropriate level of comfort, performance, and durability.  

Recently, Timberland PRO introduced the Tri-Hex icon, now visible on every new product, ensuring the end user that their new safety shoes or boots were designed with Timberland PRO’s Insightful Purpose in mind.

The Timberland PRO Endurance EV: tough enough for any job — cozy enough to wear all day; (photo/Timberland PRO)

Timberland PRO Endurance EV: A Comfortable Workhorse 

Both the Endurance EV and the Powertrain EV are evolutionary designs of their respective, higher-volume originals. 

The Timberland PRO Endurance EV continues the use of Timberland PRO’s Internal Anti-Fatigue Midsole, though the brand has reduced the boot’s weight and increased its flexibility.  

“To this day,” Ammon explained, “the Timberland PRO Endurance family of boots — originally designed for deconstruction, demolition, and waste management — continues to be one of Timberland PRO’s most comfortable and highly rated boots for comfort, performance, and durability.”

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The Powertrain EV keeps you stepping all day in comfort; (photo/Timberland PRO)

Powertrain EV: Punching Above Its Weight

The Powertrain EV uses a modified Internal Anti-Fatigue Midsole geometry, where the Anti-Fatigue Technology is visible from its sides and bottom. It aims to be a lighter option for workers putting in tons of steps and continuously walking for hours at a time.  

“The major difference with the EV version is that the midsole compound has changed from a ground-contact polyurethane to weight-reducing EVA,” he said. “It now includes a formula-based rubber outsole for additional comfort, performance, and durability.”

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This post is sponsored by Timberland PRO.

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