The Best New Gear for 2008
Yak AttackEcco Sayan Lo GTX Vibram shoes
I am definitely an animal lover. Not in the extreme throw-paint-on-Anna-Wintour's-fur-coat way. But I grew up with cats and dogs and I can't walk by a pet store without pressing my nose up against the glass to look at the puppies inside. So when I first heard that Ecco (a shoe company I'm pretty obsessed with) was going to start making shoes with yak leather, I was kinda weirded out. Yaks! Aren't they the cute (well, ugly-cute), shaggy pack animals? Do I really want them to be killed so that I can have the newest hiking shoes? But the more I found out about Ecco's yak-leather program, the more I loved it. Here's what I learned:
- Ecco only uses hides from domestic yaks, not the hides of endangered wild yaks (thank god!) and only hides from animals that were already killed for meat. So if anything, they are using more of the animal and causing less waste.
- Ecco has teamed up with local farmers in Tibet and China to supply the yak leather. So buying the shoes ultimately helps out the local economies in those regions.
- Yak leather is three times stronger than normal cow leather -- must be all that Himalayan living that does it.
Enough about the yaks, lets talk about the shoes! Since yak leather is so strong and durable, they can use a much thinner piece of leather, making the shoes nice and light. They have the usual hiking shoe necessities: Vibram soles for traction and Gore-Tex so that they're waterproof. They also have some special Ecco-only features: Something called Direct Inject midsole, which means the parts of the shoe are fused together instead of relying on cement. And something else called Receptor Technology, which handles your foot differently depending on whether it's taking off, standing, or pushing off.
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