A large part of what has helped make Salomon a leader in the outdoor sports industry derives from a willingness to break the rules. When it comes to product development that can mean many things. It might be developers at the company’s Annecy Design Center (ADC) brainstorming new, groundbreaking footwear, apparel and gear through design exploration. Or it might be products that have been designed to meet the needs of athletes pushing the limits of outdoor sports. In the case of the prototype Shoe-Crampon System built by Salomon, it was the latter. It was fed by athletes like Kilian Jornet, Liv Sansoz and others on Salomon’s Outdoor Mountain Collective team looking to break new ground in alpinism.
Though the prototype Shoe-Crampon system will not be a commercialized product sold in stores due to its very limited demand and narrow focus, creations such as this feed Salomon’s technological, philosophical and inspirational programs; all of which lead to developments in the rest of the product range that benefit the everyday outdoor athlete.
Hiking products are, of course, the closest logical beneficiary. One growing trend in the outdoor area is that people are now mixing hiking with other chosen sports to craft their own outdoor adventure. Salomon’s own athlete team is proof of this trend. Women like Liv and Kalen Thorien are pursuing adventure in a variety of ways, from hiking and skiing in the case of Kalen to climbing and paragliding in the case of Liv.
Salomon research points to more of this multisport behavior continuing into the future. With the freedom to explore whatever their imaginations can conjure and fed by athlete feedback, the product development team at Salomon will be on the front foot of these trends, delivering the footwear, apparel and gear to meet the new needs of outdoor consumers. That’s what led to the development of the Shoe-Crampon System.
HOW IT WAS BUILT:
To develop the Shoe-Crampon System, Salomon’s Service-to-Athletes team (with help from the brand’s footwear developers), were pushed very much by the Salomon’s Outdoor Mountain Collective athletes. The first developments were done with Jordi Tosas and Kilian Jornet. From there, the shoe system was fine-tuned with additional athletes including Manu Pellissier, Philippe Batoux, Francois Lombard, Tony Lamiche and Liv Sansoz. Since then, two rather ambitious adventures have been undertaken with the Shoe Crampon System by Jornet (climbing Mt. Everest) and Sansoz (who is climbing the 82 peaks of the Alps that rise above 4,000 meters).
The process began because developers were looking to improve the compatibility between shoes and crampons, especially with more flexible shoes and boots. The goal was to make them safer, more convenient and more precise. While developers had the idea for an ‘overboot’, they recognized that the concept could solve another challenge, the need for modularity—having the right technical footwear solution for the appropriate section or conditions.
During a mountaineering adventure, an alpinist will cross through a variety of terrain and weather conditions, making it necessary to walk, scramble and climb. In some ways, each section requires a specific type of footwear. Inevitably, the individual uses the footwear that can best deal with the most technical parts of the route safely, even if it’s not suited for other parts. Now, with the modularity of the Shoe-Crampon System, Salomon athletes can easily switch configurations to have more or less rigidity and more or less insulation, with or without crampons. And, by working closely with Petzl, the Salomon development team was to integrate some of the company’s best crampons into the shoe system.
Jornet’s three-layer prototype Shoe-Crampon System was designed specifically for the conditions he would encounter on Mt. Everest. The boots were created around Kilian’s goal to run with a trail running shoe on the lower elevations of Everest, then move quickly through the higher areas of the mountains. After the running section at “lower” altitudes, Kilian added an insulated layer as he moved to higher elevations. Finally, as he moved even higher, he added a final insulated gaiter with crampons integrated into the boots.
While Jornet’s prototype Shoe-Crampon System featured a running shoe inside to meet his trail running needs, the prototype design of the XA Alp Shoe-Crampon System features the S/LAB X Alp Carbon GTX® shoes working together with a carbon plate and a gaiter that has integrated crampons. To combine the shoes and the crampon boots, the user just needs to de-zip the gaiter and slide the shoe inside. To add the rigidity, the alpinist might need on the top part of the mountain, the carbon plate can be added to the inside of the crampon boot, sitting along the sole between the shoe and the gator. From there, it’s simply a matter of sliding the shoe back inside and continuing to climb.
“What we really worked on was better integrating soft shoes and crampons,” says Francois Moncorge, Salomon’s Product Line Manager for Outdoor Footwear. “We built a soft shoe that is light, versatile and cushioned and added rigidity and insulation to use when you need it. The main challenges with a shoe like the X Alp Carbon 2 is going very high in the mountains, where you need insulation, rigidity and crampon compatibility.”
FEATURES and BENEFITS:
Salomon Shoe-Crampon System
The shoe inside the overboot is a Salomon S/LAB X Alp Carbon GTX®. The cover is a resistant gaiter that is water repellant and resistant to crampon scratches. It has two rear zips for easy entry, integrated crampons and a rubber outsole. Some versions have a removable carbon plate that can be placed inside the sole of the shoe, allowing it to be totally flexible or totally rigid. It works with different crampon options from Petzl include Irvis, Dart, Dartwin and D lynx.
Lightweight: Weighs just 960 grams (including the X ALP shoe and the cover with crampons).
Comfort & Insulation: Eliminates pressure point sometimes felt with the use of strap crampons.
Insulation: From -10°C (14° F) with the shoe only to -21°C (-5°F) with the cover (comfortable temperature in movement).
Modularity: Walk and scramble with the shoe; add insulation and crampons when needed (On some versions: there is a removable carbon plate to have a flexible crampon system).
Simplicity: Rear-entry with two zips for quick and easy step-in; no adjustments needed.
Safety: No external strap visible means no miss-adjusted straps, no risk to walk on a loose strap and less risk of losing the crampon. Also full anti snow outsole (snow does not get stuck under your crampons because the surface is mainly in rubber and not in metal).
There are no plans to commercialize the Salomon Shoe-Crampon, however, members of the Salomon athlete team will continue to use it in their adventures. You may see versions of the system on the feet of Kilian Jornet, Liz Sansoz in upcoming Salomon TV episodes and elsewhere.