Maximizing Comfort While Prioritizing Bio Content in Recovery Shoes

by | May 29, 2024 | Case Study, Science and Technology

Customizing insoles for the Arc’Teryx Kragg shoe

Originally designed to offer athletes, specifically rock climbers, optimal recovery, the Kragg approach and recovery shoe by Arc’Teryx has now reached a much wider audience. Hailed by one reviewer as being “simple in its design, but pack[ing] a punch on the trail (or trolley),” the Kragg is now bringing comfort and support to everyone from travelers to trail runners, and the INSITE team is thrilled to have played a part in its development.

Support, performance, sustainability, and comfort are core to our ethos, and brands seeking customized insole solutions turn to us for shared priorities. Arc’Teryx aligns with our values around sustainable insoles, and our shared perspectives made for an ideal collaboration on the insole for their Kragg recovery shoes. This surprising shoe’s capabilities and uncompromising comfort make it perfect for everything from approaching the crag to catching the train, and that all stems from its comprehensive design.

The Challenge

Marrying the Need for Optimal Comfort with Maximized Sustainability

When crafting their Kragg recovery shoes, Arc’Teryx came to us primarily for our alignment on the importance of certain features, materials, and processes. At INSITE, we focus on enhancing footwear performance, comfort, and sustainability. Whether a footwear brand is creating a tactical performance shoe or an ultra-comfortable recovery shoe like the Kragg, they know we have the expertise, experience, and passion to design the right insole for their needs.

For the Arc’Teryx team, sustainability is always top of mind, but striking a strong balance between bio content and durability was paramount. As important as those features are for performance gear, they’re equally important for recovery gear, especially following rigorous activity. And that’s where comfort comes into play, too. The Kragg was originally conceptualized as a recovery shoe for rock climbers; climbing shoes are designed for precision and grip and often have a downturned or cambered shape. The Kragg provides optimized, cloud-like comfort for the approach, descent, and drive back home – with a design that supports other post-climbing activities, as well.

Kragg on a crag

The Solution

How Durability Proliferates Sustainability

When conceptualizing the design for the Kragg recovery shoes, the Arc’Teryx team originally looked to EVA foam because of its reputation as a lightweight, flexible material. While EVA has come a long way, the INSITE team knew that our bio-poured PU foam would give them the long-term durability that contributes to genuine sustainability in the way they wanted. It’s one thing to opt for more environmentally friendly materials, a core component of sustainability. But unless you ensure the product will last, customers will have to toss their gear every few years because it wears out, creating unnecessary waste.

INSITE’s EcoComfort® poured PU foams are comprised of up to 70% Susterra propanediol, a truly sustainable insole material alternative. Derived through the fermentation of glucose extracted from U.S. dent corn, Susterra’s molecules boast elongated hydrogen bonds, in contrast to the petroleum-derived 1,4-butanediol prevalent in classic PU foams. These elongated bonds give the foam enhanced flexibility and resilience, aligning perfectly with our two companies’ shared pursuit of durable and eco-conscious solutions.

ECOCOMFORT in nature

“It was thrilling to bring this product to market and is even more thrilling to see it take off. I was excited that Arc’Teryx was committed to the high bio content as this was consistent with our sustainability values here at INSITE. I think this product makes a statement to other brands that you can be successful while doing the right thing.”

Dave Smith

INSITE Director of Business Development, North America

The Result and Key Takeaways

Increased Bio Content Comfort for Kragg Recovery Shoes

As our two teams collaborated, it became ever clearer how truly committed Arc’Teryx is to sustainability. Amid the process, they asked us to increase the bio content — music to our ears. Next, the decision was made to drop the midsole, which would increase the plushness and overall comfort of these recovery shoes. Plus, from a cosmetic standpoint, removing the cumbersome midsole and having just the outsole and upper is more consistent with the look of a traditional climbing shoe.

In the end, we landed on a slightly dialed-down Contoura® shape, meaning we lowered the arch profile and heel cup of this dynamic insole design. Customization is key when working to bring a client’s vision to life, and thanks to Contoura’s versatility, it was an easy adjustment to make the Kragg recovery shoes even more comfortable than originally imagined. With a 50% bio-poured PU base and a 25% bio open-cell top layer, complimented by a premium suede top cover made by our fellow Matmarket company, AX® Materials, the final result checked every box.


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Kragg case study

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