Climbing Revolution: Athos’ 3D Printed Shoes for Happy Feet
In the heart of Barcelona, a group of adventurous minds embarked on a mission to redefine the world of climbing shoes. Athos, a startup born from the Elisava School of Design and Engineering, is set to revolutionize climbing footwear with their groundbreaking 3D-printed shoes. No more squeezing into shoes two sizes too small; Athos promises a bespoke fit that ensures your climbing experience is both comfortable and thrilling.
It all started as a Master’s project, but soon, Emili S. Taixés, Romina Milesi, Carla Barrientos, and Mar Amengual realized they were onto something big. Their motivation came from a simple observation of a seasoned climber’s feet, which bore the unmistakable marks of years of wearing ill-fitting climbing shoes.
“We saw that his feet were deformed, and we were like, ‘What is that?’” Amengual told Climbing over a video chat. The students were awakened to the problems climbers face due to downsizing. They discovered a study, published in 2013 in the World Journal of Orthopedics, which revealed that 80 to 90 percent of climbers experienced pain while wearing climbing shoes. This discomfort often led to nail-bed infections, overstrain injuries, and the dreaded “hallux valgus deformity,” commonly known as bunions.
Their sentiment was clear: they loved climbing but didn’t want their feet to suffer.
The Need for Change
Despite advancements in climbing shoe technology, most climbers still opt for smaller sizes for a snug fit and improved performance. The pain that accompanies this choice is considered by many as a necessary sacrifice. However, Athos poses a thought-provoking question: Is there a better way to make climbing shoes?
Athos’ Innovative Approach
Athos, currently operating locally in Barcelona, begins by taking precise digital scans of the customer’s feet. These measurements are then applied to their standard pattern, which has undergone numerous refinements to optimize the fit and reduce manufacturing processes. The result? Climbing shoes that are designed to be next-to-skin, eliminating the need for downsizing.
What sets Athos apart is their commitment to using vegan materials, including thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), polyester for the laces, and Vibram rubber. TPU is known for its abrasion resistance and 100 percent recyclable and biodegradable properties. According to Amengual, it doesn’t stretch, ensuring your shoes maintain their perfect fit over time.
The TPU thickness varies across the shoe to create tension where traditional shoes rely on slingshot rands. Athos shoes are notably soft, with a slight downturn, making them ideal for beginner-level climbers. While customization options for the shoe pattern or stiffness are limited, climbers can choose their preferred external design and even have their name inscribed on their personalized climbing companions.
A Sustainable Future
Athos prides itself on sustainability, using 100 percent vegan and recyclable materials for their revolutionary climbing shoes. This commitment to the environment aligns with the values of the climbing community, which often cherishes the natural beauty of the landscapes they explore.
What Lies Ahead
Currently in a beta testing phase, Athos is preparing to release its first batch of climbing shoes to Barcelona climbers. As for pricing, it’s still to be determined, but what’s certain is that Athos has big plans for the future. They aim to expand internationally, and climbing enthusiasts around the world are eagerly awaiting the day when they can experience the comfort and performance of Athos shoes.
In a world where comfort and performance are often at odds, Athos is here to bridge the gap. By combining cutting-edge technology, sustainability, and a passion for climbing, Athos promises to change the way we think about our feet while scaling the heights. As Mar Amengual puts it, “Every foot is unique. Our purpose is to give every climber the perfect climbing shoe so they can enjoy the climbing experience a little more.”
- Are Athos climbing shoes suitable for experienced climbers? Athos climbing shoes are designed to provide a comfortable fit without the need for downsizing, making them a great choice for both beginners and experienced climbers.
- How do I get my feet scanned for Athos shoes? Athos takes digital scans of your feet to create a customized fit. Visit their local facility for this process.
- Are Athos climbing shoes environmentally friendly? Yes, Athos uses vegan and recyclable materials, including TPU and Vibram rubber, to minimize their environmental impact.
- Can I customize the appearance of my Athos climbing shoes? Yes, you can choose the design shown on the outside of the shoe and even get your name inscribed for a personalized touch.
- When will Athos climbing shoes be available internationally? While the exact date is yet to be announced, Athos has plans to expand internationally, so climbers worldwide can enjoy their unique footwear.