Ski boot company Tecnica expands into mountain running with a thermo-moldable trail-running shoe. We got a first look review of the Origin.
Tecnica unveiled the brand’s debut trail-running shoe last week to an international crew of gear testers. The Origin is customizable, lightweight, and meant to attract everyone from weekend warriors to professional ultrarunners.
These trail shoes are custom-molded to a runner’s feet in-store using a vacuum-heat process, a technique that was honed for the brand’s 2017 Forge hiking boot. The Origin will officially launch this month at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Denver. It will be the inaugural style in a trail run series (details undisclosed) that is currently in the works.
In short: The Origin ($170) is a custom-molded, streamlined trail shoe for technical mountain trails laden with rocks, roots, and vegetation. The shoe is lightweight — ranging from 9 to 10.9 ounces (260-310 g) — with a 9mm heel-to-toe drop. The aggressive Vibram rubber outsole transfers stability for variable conditions.
Review: Tecnica Origin Trail-Running Shoe
I took a test run of the Origin along the Amalfi Coast in southwest Italy this past week. Overall, the shoe is precise-fitting for responsive, nimble step work on trails. The customization allows runners to dial the fit. In my case, it was perfect after 16 minutes on the shop floor. For some runners, significant ground-feel means 10 stars. Others might want more cushion, especially for ultradistances.
The shoe feels durable and sturdy. Tecnica used a mix of stretchy material near the ankle and cuff and tough nylon webbing with TPU overlays. The result is a moldable upper that still breathes.
Before a fitter heat-molds the Origin, they first pair runners with the correct model for their body weight. Men that weigh more 165 pounds have a particular design. Women that weigh more than 123 pounds have a different design as well.
“We want to deliver the same experience for different people,” Federico Sbrissa, Tecnica’s footwear business unit manager, said at the launch.
Tecnica celebrates the Origin as the first trail-running shoe with a customizable upper and footbed created on the spot for runners in stores. But it’s not exactly the first customizable shoe.
Solomon, by comparison, offers the S/LAB ME:sh with a fully customized upper, though the other features, such as the drop and outsole, are hand-selected. The ME:sh is also pricier ($327) and requires up to a 3-week turnaround. The Origin could be the best solution right now for trail runners who are looking for a prompt, form-fitting, economic, and customized shoe.
Trail Test Run: Tecnica Origin
I ran about 8.5 miles in the shoes over oscillating singletrack on the coastline. The rugged, mellow-to-steep trail was full of chunky, sharp rubble. I crossed segments of stony path, grass-matted dirt, paved road, cement walkway, and lofty stairs. A group of gear testers and Tecnica designers and ambassadors rambled over the uneven ground, up climbs, and down an extensive descent to the seaside.
The shoes delivered as expected with gripping lugs on the rubber outsole, which offer a bite on the majority of slabs and soil. But it’s worth noting the grip wasn’t excellent on super-slick, wet limestone. The flexible (though secure) upper gave me a perceptive touch as we ran through dynamic elements. A rock protection plate in the forefoot and a plastic shank — which creates torsional rigidity — beneath the arch stabilized my feet on a flashy, cobblestone-tossed descent.
Before running, I was concerned that the upper would be too lightweight, as it looked feathery. But once the heated plastic cooled, the shoe cupped my foot so well that I experienced no hotspots, zero heel lift, and no toe bang. The shoe grants an all-around hug-like fit sans suffocation.
A pair of Origins made for the average female runner — more than 123 pounds — weighs 9.3 ounces (265 g) in a women’s size 9, which is on the upper end of the weight spectrum for women’s trail-running shoes. The shoe is best for mid-length to short runs. However, elite runners with faster foot turnover and lighter body weights might also find this an excellent shoe for ultrarunning.
Origin: Who It’s For
The Origin offers a fast, personal fit solution for runners who prefer a medium- to narrow-fitting shoe.
In Crested Butte, I ski in the winter and trail run in the summer — into ultradistances. I would probably use this shoe for runs up to about 15 miles. After a few months of consistent training, I would wear these shoes in a marathon or ultrarace. I like the hyper-sensation of decisive-fitting shoes. The moldable footbed holds my narrow heel super well, and the long, skinny last happens to match the shape of my foot. This might be too narrow of a shoe for folks who want a super-roomy toe box or an extra-wide width.
For podium-tier runners who crave a fairly light shoe that operates well on the lion’s share of mountain terrain, the Origin could be an option.
With the Origin, Tecnica has successfully reentered the trail-running community while also spearheading a fresh solution for the notorious Achilles heel of all runners: finding the perfect fit.
The Tecnica Origin will have a limited release at 25 retail stores nationwide in July 2019, and a complete U.S. launch in February 2020.