The Tecnica Forge will be the first thermo-moldable hiking boot when it hits the market Spring 2018. But its innovations don’t stop there.
Moldable boots are nothing new. Ski boots have used foams and plastics with moldable properties to help create a custom fit for many years. But the technology was never applied to hiking boots until now.
This week Tecnica unveiled a new line of hiking boots called the Forge. Boot fitters use a specially designed machine to heat and mold the boot to each customer’s individual foot.
I met with the brand in Boulder to go through the fitting process and give these boots a test hike.
Update: Oct. 24, 2017: These boots became my go-to boot for elk hunting this fall. I put some extremely rough miles on them over about 15 days in the rocky mountains, off trail, and they held up great. At this point they’ve earned a spot as my favorite hiking boot yet. The review holds true, but if anything I like these more now than when I first tested them.
Tecnica Forge: Customizable Boot
The Tecnica Forge GTX ($250 for men and women) is a mid-size, mid-weight trekking boot. The men’s size nine weighs 1lb, 5oz. Built over a burly Vibram sole, the Forge comes in either a leather or synthetic version. The synthetic is named the Forge GTX S ($270 for men and women). Both hit the market Spring 2018.
I tested a pre-release version of the leather boot. Both models have Gore-Tex waterproof liners.
The Forge has five unique attributes: Thermo-moldable upper, moldable insole, overlap collar design, self-locking laces, and an adaptive sole. I know these sound like marketing jargon, but they’re all interesting design points. I’ll expand below.
But first, a quick look at how the boot feels.
In short: The Tecnica Forge is a rugged boot for rough trails and off-trail hiking. It has several unique elements that improve fit, and those with hard-to-fit feet will be well served to buy the customization options.
Tecnica Forge: Quick Test
In Boulder, reps from Tecnica molded the insole and upper of a pair of Forge GTX boots to my foot. The process took about 20 minutes from start to finish.
The process includes heating the boot, then putting your foot inside while the boot is pressed against by balloon-like devices around your feet. It feels sort of like getting your blood pressure taken on your feet — not great, but not awful.
Once complete, the boots fit extremely well.
I went for a quick hike in the nearby foothills to get a feel for the boot. My initial impression was of a very grippy sole, but one that still has some decent flex and softness to adhere to odd angles.
The boot is kind of chunky compared with lighter hikers. The burly footwear is ready for serious bushwhacking. It’s a lot of boot, and those who prefer trail running shoes will scoff.
But for a serious boot, it’s comfortable and not too heavy given the significant support.
Unique Design Elements
As noted above, I’ll expand on some of the design elements that set this boot apart.
This is the biggie. Like ski boots, the upper molds to each user’s foot. It takes some time and a well-educated boot fitter to do this. Thus, these boots don’t aim at a mass market. You’ll find them in specialty shops only.
The molding seems to work great. After my fitting, the boots didn’t have hot-spots and won’t need to break in. I’m hiking in them this weekend and will update the review with more thorough info.
The Forge line comes with a moldable insole as standard. The retailer molds the insole at the time of sale. This differs from other boots that tend to push an upgraded insole as an add-on purchase.
After molding the insoles for the test pair of boots I tried, I noted a much-improved fit to my low arches. It’s worth noting the insoles come with the boots and help justify the high price. Custom insoles usually add about $50 to the price of boots.
Overlap Collar Design
There isn’t a typical tongue on this boot. Instead, the boot opens with a collar. This limits pressure points, the brand claims. I attest that it makes it easy to step into the boots.
This might seem superfluous, but this is a nice feature. Self-locking laces mean when you snug the lower half of the boot, the laces hold themselves in place so you can release your grip on the laces before looping them over the hooks above the ankle of the boot.
It makes tying boots easier. While subtle, it’s a nice touch.
It’s very obvious when wearing these boots that the outer rubber of the sole flexes easily, even though the boot itself is fairly stiff. This is due to the adaptive sole.
Tecnica explained that the sole has a soft foam layer between the outsole and midsole. It seems to work in brief testing, letting the sole flex over rocks and irregularities.
Tecnica Forge: Who It’s For
This is a pricey boot, but for those who want a full-on trekking boot, it’s a nice choice. Those with hard-to-fit feet will find a wonderful solution in the customizable boot.
The Forge is a strong entry into the U.S. market for Tecnica. It stands apart with several unique features. Look for it in specialty outdoors shops in spring 2018.