“When you’re walking through long, wet grass, or with the horses in the field, you’ll stay protected and get through the day just fine. That makes me really happy.”
This season, Xsensible is adding a complete new hiking line to its existing Stretchwalker collection. We asked CEO Max Krol about his reason for moving in this direction, and correspondingly, about what inspires him to get active.
Max, what prompted you to decide on a hiking line?
“Stretchwalkers are hugely popular. Here we call them ‘city sneakers’. A lot of people say they’re their favourite shoes, and they wear them everywhere, such as on holiday or on long walks. And they do this despite the fact that there are already suitable hiking and mountain shoes on the market for these purposes.”
Those are often not the most stylish shoes
“Absolutely. That’s why people really like the Stretchwalkers. They combine comfort, balance technology and great looks in one shoe that provides hours of walking enjoyment. And that’s another reason we wanted to take these shoes that are a favourite for so many people, and make them suitable for things like walking on uneven terrain or in the rain or snow. Then you get the best of many worlds!”
So that meant going back to the drawing board? “That’s right. We got together with the production team and identified the most important outdoor uses and conditions. Or in other words, what you encounter when you take the dog for a walk in the woods, walk through a wet field, wander along gravel roads or explore seriously hilly terrain. People want shoes that keep their feet dry in the rain, protect them against splashes, give them good grip, and keep dust and dirt out. And that’s all very logical of course. But it does mean that we have to ensure that these new features don’t come at the expense of comfort, which is what the Stretchwalkers are best known for.”
So that sounds like a pretty intensive process.
“Yes it was, but we managed it. We’re introducing Dry-X technology, which we developed ourselves. Among other things, this is a waterproof polyester membrane that keeps your feet dry in all weather conditions. We looked at each model to find the best place in the lining to use the membrane, to deliver the greatest added value. We also added a durable elastic plastic fabric to the top layer, which is just as stretchable as our stretch leather. Both properties work very well together.”
Have you used Dry-X in this whole new line? “Yes, Dry-X is incorporated into all of our hiking shoes. Even our fashionable ladies’ boot, which is very stylish and functional at the same time. Whether you’re walking through long, wet grass or with your horses out in the field, you’ll stay protected and get through your day just fine. That makes me really happy.”
How has the Xsensible balance concept been continued in this line?
“In principle, our balance technology works best in an urban setting on a paved surface. However, when you’re walking in the forest your natural mobility mechanisms are seeking ways of staying in balance. The way your foot settles on the ground is different, and the balance block has a different kind of contact with the ground too. That’s why creating extra grip and a good anti-slip sole was a priority for us. And we succeeded in that. We’ve found a technically effective profile for the sole while maintaining the good balance properties. Each model has been tested individually and complies with strict European guidelines. We’re talking about thousands of hours of testing for durability, anti-slip properties and precision with respect to wear and tear.”
Did you encounter any unexpected insights as a result of all this? “During the development process, we noticed how special our balance technology really is, and how responsive it is. Playing with materials, units and different profiles showed us that they have a significant influence on walking. By experimenting with adding, omitting or enhancing various properties, we have made some really great improvements to our balance soles.”
So that’s good news too for people who prefer to stay in the city?
“Yes, absolutely. Your walking experience during a day of shopping or while taking part in the Four Day March will definitely be improved! I believe we’re unique in this. Walking and hiking really can be so much more fun.”
“Yes I am, I love walking in natural surroundings! The mountains – the Tyrol or the Dolomites – appeal to me enormously. And the Wadden Islands – I like being there too, for a walk along the beach and just to relax. I just have to get out there more. Luckily, I travel a lot for my work, so I enjoy visiting and discovering new places.”
Are you an outdoorsy type yourself, actually?
View the new Stretchwalker Hiking Collection. Created to respond to your boundless desire for discovering new places.