END Footwear: The Beginning of Sustainable Footwear (Part 2)
Back in July, iRunFar featured Part 1 of its profile of End Footwear nee Outdoor. At the time we thought we’d post Part 2 a mere week later…. but that didn’t happen. The upside to the delay is that we’ve since had a chance to meet with the key players at END in person, got to try two forthcoming Spring ’09 END models, and can point you to END’s fancy, dancy new website and the products it features. So here we are with Part 2 of iRunFar’s END Footwear company profile. Below we give you the skinny on END’s website, running outreach, current shoes, and future products.
The consideration that END puts into its shoe design and manufacturing extends to its marketing efforts. First off, over at END’s flashy new website you won’t read anything about END “greening” this or being the “greenest” that. Nope. END simply and succinctly states what the company’s principles are (i.e., Our Commitment, Design Ethos, The Four Rs, and Corporate Responsibility) and how they implement those principles in particular shoe models (i.e., the Stumptown 12 oz page).
Despite being an affordable brand that could limit its early activities to trendy environmentally conscientious folk, END is reaching out to the trail running community. For one, they’ve contacted numerout top ultrarunners with opportunities to try END’s shoes. They’ve also brought on ambassador’s like Canadian tough man, Bruce Grant, who ran the 2008 Hardrock 100 in the Stumptown 8.5 oz. Recently, END Footwear also began its involvement in the racing scene with a bang when it sponsored the NW Mountain Running Championships on Mount Hood in September. (Read the Mountain Running blog’s race recap.)
Here at iRunFar we’re interested to where END will go with its involvement with the trail running and ultrarunning scenes. It’s no secret (or at least it’s not any more) that we’d love to see a group of environmentally-focused outdoor retailer companies (we’re looking at you END and Atayne) sponsor a trail running team.
At the moment, END Footwear is a running shoe company. While they do make a pair of sandals and a pair of light hikers, their strength and focus is clearly on running. END’s inaugural Fall 2008 running shoe lineup consists of three models of trail running shoes:
Stumptown 12 oz
The Stumptown 12 oz is a great every day trail runner. While advertised at 12 ounces, the women’s size 7 weighs in at 9.25 ounces and iRunFar measured the men’s size 9 at a not much heavier 10 ounces. This version includes a co-molded protection plate for foot protection and a generous amount of toe protection. Read iRunFar’s review of the Stumptown 12 oz for more info. Both the men’s and women’s version are currently available.
Stumptown 10 oz
The Stumptown 10 oz is a slightly racier shoe from what we can tell. Unlike the Stumptown 12 oz, it’s got no post and less upper to slow you down. While it still features a co-molded protection plate, the toe protection is significantly reduced. Tread lightly. END lists the women’s size 7 at 8.75 ounces and men’s size 9 at 9.8 ounces. As of the time of posting, only the women’s version of the Stumptown 10 ounce was available.
Stumptown 8.5 oz
The Stumptown 8.5 oz is a bag that you put on your feet. How else can you describe a trail shoe that only weighs 7.5 ounces in a women’s size 7 and yet retains a protection plate and some toe protection. This shoe should be less cushy that the other Stumptown running shoes as there’s less midsole (foam) in this model. The upper is simple one piece construction and not much more. (Though the women’s version does have a cutesy print on it.) The men’s version weighs in at a mere 8.5 ounces. Both men’s and women’s versions are currently available.
Of course, END’s shoes don’t provide broader sustainability gains (like those discussed in Part 1) unless folks buy these shoes. With that in mind, the three Stumptown trail running models pri
ced from $60 to $80 with the entire END Fall 2008 lineup priced at less than a $100. END shoes are currently available at REI.com and beginning in mid-November they will be available more broadly, including at backcountry.com and Zappos.com, as well as in an expanding set of outdoor retailers and running stores. END’s entire lineup of trail shoes will carry over into 2009.
The Future of END Footwear
In Spring 2009, END Footwear will launch road running and water running shoe lines. I’ve tried the men’s YYMV (Your Mileage May Very) road shoe and the WOW (Walk on Water) water shoe. Both are solid shoes. You’ll regularly find me wearing the WOW on my recovery runs while I tend to wear the YMMV all over town. (I also wore the YMMV for Trail Runner Magazine’s Uphill Challenge.) Ultra speedster Sean Meissner recently wore the YMMV in setting a 2:42 road marathon PR. We’re sure that Sean or someone else will drop the END marathon record even lower given that the YMMV and WOW both weigh in at less than 10 ounces.
Now that END’s shoes have been out there for awhile have any of you tried them? If so, what did you think?