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True Impressions: The Origin, Tecnica’s First Custom-Fit Trail Shoe

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Tecnica has applied the technology used in its successful lines of ski and hiking boots to launch the first specifically-designed trail running shoe. The goal is to even out trail impact regardless of a runner’s weight or gait, giving an equivalent experience to all Tecnica Origin wearers.

To accomplish this, Tecnica begins with gender-specific shoes and then accounts for the runner’s weight, dividing the Origin into two women’s and men’s models, the LT MS (for women under 123 and men under 163) and Origin XT MS (over 123 for women and 163 for men). Once the shoe model is selected, Tecnica takes the customer through a 15 to 20-minute fitting process, applying its C.A.S. (Custom Adaptive Shape) technology that uses a similar set-up to its Forge hiking boot system to heat up and shape thermo-moldable arch, heel counter and forefoot components for comfort and fit.

The customization process involves heating up the insole and part of the upper and then putting it and your foot first in an insulated slipper and then into an air-pressurized cast that is a little like a low-cut version of a Normatec compression boot. Because the fitting must take place in a brick-and-mortar store, Tecnica dealers will benefit from this process driving traffic, giving them a one up in the competition with online retailers.

Even though Tecnica boasts that the Origin is “Beyond Gender” and built on female and male molding lasts to account for the differences, such as heel and arch volume, midsole hardness and a slightly different shape to the plastic toe reinforcement, that didn’t play out in the testing process.

In addition to the C.A.S. components, the Origin features specific nylon and thin TPU overlays to allow the customer more or less foot hold, depending on the LT and XT. The Spider-Man-like high-tenacity webbing overlays are sandwiched between the liner and outer fabric.

To even out the feeling of surface impact across different weighted runners, the midsole is thicker for the XT (the forefoot is 12mm v 9mm and the rear foot is 22mm v 19mm) and the density of the material is five percent greater. The Origin also features an integrated lace design that works well with Tecnica’s gussetless tongue to snug up comfortably while functionally shielding out gravel and other trail debris.

This is Tecnica’s most realistic adaptation of shoes to customers’ feet. The Italian company started making shoes in 1930 and the brand’s line includes the Moon Boot, which is sort of the opposite of the Origin.

Impressed?

$170 seems a fair price to pay for a shoe that comes with a custom-molded insole and the Origin is especially attractive to trail runners with narrow ankles, where C.A.S. works particularly well to lower the rear foot volume for a snug fit and secure ankle hold.

Assuming your feet aren’t too wide, the customized Origin is a tailored fit that translates to precision running and a confidence that your feet will land where you think they will. The moldable arch is also a welcome touch for those who would otherwise seek out a custom made insole to accommodate their particular feet.

The Origin is built on a relatively narrow last that didn’t allow for much in the way of foot splay so it won’t appeal to higher-volume footed runners. The fitting process works well enough that you’ll want to wear your favorite thickness of sock because that could make a real difference. The shoes tend to run big so think about sizing down a half or even a full size. The Origin upper doesn’t accommodate higher volume feet as well as it does those with narrow feet, especially in the rear foot, where they really shine.

Even though Tecnica boasts that the Origin is “Beyond Gender” and built on female and male molding lasts to account for the differences, such as heel and arch volume, midsole hardness and a slightly different shape to the plastic toe reinforcement, that didn’t play out in the testing process.

Rather, the Origin is beyond gender because it is person- and weight-specific, regardless of whether the runner has a uterus or penis. This tracks with biomechanical experts and studies that support person-specific rather than gender-specific running shoes, ones that better fit the runner’s unique foot.

As for the rest of the Origin, the Vibram Megagrip outsole serves well for a wide variety of surfaces and has moderate 5mm lugs. The rock plate in the forefoot uses a dense EVA that is protective but doesn’t cover the lateral part of the foot.

At 10.8 ounces for a men’s 9, they aren’t a lightweight shoe but the weight is evenly distributed so they don’t feel that hefty. A TPU arch shank serves for both support and torsion control. The midsole works well on softer surfaces but could use some added cushioning or energy return. There was plenty of flex in the Origin while they certainly didn’t feel floppy. The elastic polyester fabric of the uppers is plenty durable but not the most breathable, especially because they only come in black for both women’s and men’s models.