25 May 2018
+ Tecnica is an Italian brand, well known in the winter sports industry for pioneering custom-moulded ski boots. For the first time, this technology has now been applied to hiking boots, resulting in the Forge – a robust trekking boot with ‘custom adaptive shape’, a thermo-moulding process that allows the heel, arch and ankle areas to be heated and moulded to your individual foot for a unique custom fit. In the UK, the service is now offered by a limited number of specialist retailers. The process is unusual, but relatively simple: an in-store technician heats the insole and the boots, into which you place your feet. You then put feet and boots into an inflatable pair of booties, which are then pressurised to mould the boot to the shape of your feet.
The results are impressive. The boots feel snug and comfortable from the outset, requiring no ‘break-in’ period, with excellent support around the ankle and heel. We felt no pressure points or pinching. Similarly, the custom-moulded insole provides arch support that is as good as an expensive specialist aftermarket insole.
The rest of the boot has a premium feel to match. Nubuck leather uppers are lined with a Gore-Tex membrane for reliable waterproofing. The ankle cuff has been designed with a padded wrap-around collar rather than a conventional tongue, so that the boots open wide for easy on and off, while also eliminating the possibility of tongue slippage. The midsole is made of a triple density compound for extra stability, shock absorption and cushioning. The outsole uses Vibram megagrip rubber, with a unique oversized reversed lug design for increased surface area and therefore better grip. At the toe, the fit is fairly roomy without feeling baggy.
- The Forge system requires an in-store technician to heat and mould the boots to your feet, which means making an appointment with an appointed Tecnica dealer. Currently, there are only five outdoor shops in Britain that carry the Forge – Taunton Leisure in Somerset; Pro Feet in Fulham, South London; and the three Tiso stores in Perth, Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland.
The custom adaptive fit accommodates a variety of foot shapes, but don’t expect miracles. As only the heel, arch and ankle areas can be moulded, it’s not best suited to those with bunions or other specialist foot problems.
The only other issue with the design that we encountered is that the thermo-moulding system relies on heat punched holes around the ankle and heel. These improve breathability, but tend to clog with mud and make cleaning the boots a bit of a pain.
Although fairly stiff, note that this is a three-season hiking boot. It is not meant for climbing or winter use with crampons.
VERDICT: An innovative boot that uses cutting-edge processes to create a very comfortable custom fit. If you’ve suffered from heel, arch or ankle problems, this could be the solution to your walking woes. And even aside from the clever thermo-moulding technology, it’s a well-made and very capable boot for hiking, hillwalking and even mountain scrambles. We hope that more brands and retailers embrace the tech to bring it to more British walkers.