Saturday morning, 6 o'clock, let's go to the mountain. What used to lure only diehard hiking fans out of their beds is now a mass phenomenon. Get out into nature, up the mountain, into adventure: Hiking is the sport that's getting everyone excited right now. No wonder: The pandemic as well as world events like the Ukraine war accelerate the hiking trend. In nature, you not only find distance from people, but also peace and inner satisfaction when the news and social media are too stressful. For the (hiking) shoe industry, this means: follow suit! The more people discover hiking for themselves, the more innovations and transformations are needed - in terms of shoes, equipment and clothing. Because unlike the grandfather who climbed the mountain with mountaineering boots and a stick, the new hiking fans want to shine perfectly equipped at the summit.
The new hiking awareness pleases the hiking shoe manufacturers.
"For some it's the price, for others the issue of sustainability: more and more people are considering whether to fly to Mallorca for two weeks or prefer to discover the beauties of their region while hiking. Hiking has completely lost its old-fashioned touch," says Albrecht Volz in an interview with ISPO.com.
Volz is Country Manager Germany at mountain shoe specialist Hanwag. And for his shoe industry, this development is just as much a blessing as it is for the outdoor scene. "You see whole families or a lot of young people backpacking," Volz says. The new hiking trend is a blessing for Hanwag and consorts.
That fits a Survey by Bergzeit: In it, 56% of respondents say hiking has a positive effect on their mental health. The figures are significantly higher among the younger generation (81 percent among those under 18) than among the elderly (30 percent among those over 65).
The dusty image of hiking is passe, but this also brings new challenges for the shoe trade, especially in times of supply shortages (Ukraine is one of the largest contract shoe manufacturers in the world). The new, younger audience also wants other offerings.
Fashionable footwear even when hiking is, for example, a topic. But also lighter hiking shoes than previously usual for the many "first timers" who are just rediscovering hiking for themselves. Even individually adaptable hiking boots - after the model in the ski boot area - there are on the market.
Generally, lightweight, from the trail running/running-inspired hiking shoes, often in bright colors, are in high demand. For example, to meet the high demand from beginners for lighter shoes for hiking in the mid-price segment, Hanwag is offering shoes with injected soles for the first time. Until now, the mountain shoe specialist from Bavaria created all models in the pinched type - so that you can resole the shoes again.
"There are two trends in the mountain boot sector: On the one hand, the lighter shoes, where a new market is opening up for us with our new offerings. But then there is also the reverse trend: younger people are also saying that they would rather have a classic, robust and durable product. Because then that's really sustainable," says Volz.
Sustainability is thus also in the shoe sector a big trend. The also on the OutDoor by ISPO present company Keen, for example, has developed for sneakers the first shoe soles made from agricultural waste and without chemical additives. La Sportiva has just opened a new monobrand store in the climbing region Frankenjura to be even closer to the customer.
Hanwag uses the the issue of sustainability especially on the company statement, also emphasized in the extra advertising campaign, that all components of its mountain boots are purchased 100 percent in Europe. Where "Made in Europe" stands on it, is thus actually also exclusively "Made in Europe"
This is not only in the shoe industry by no means always so. To be able to equip his product with the valuable label "Made in Europe", it is namely enough, according to Volz, if "45 percent of the value chain actually take place in Europe".
In shoes, that means that the upper, for example, can be made in Asia and still say "Made in Europe" at the end. "This shows that the issue of transparency is worth more than any labels or the mere word sustainability," says Volz.
His company therefore discloses all production sites and all suppliers: "And the end consumers will hopefully make so much pressure that this is so everywhere in the end."
An important forum for this discussion in the footwear industry should also be the OutDoor by ISPO from 12. To 14. June be. Many well-known shoe companies such as LOWA, Aku Italia, Meindl, La Sportiva, Hanwag, Mammut, Keen or ECCO Germany will finally be able to present their versatile innovations face to face again. Whether grandfather or Generation Z: The latest trends and innovations in hiking for hiking fans is definitely at the OutDoor by ISPO.