While testing the Tecnica Mach1HV ski boot during our boot test this season, the first thing I noticed was how responsive the boot liner was. The brand's proprietary Custom Adaptive Shape (C.A.S.) system provided cushy comfort, yet was more dense than almost any other boot liner tested in the All-Mountain Utility ski boot category. This meant that the Mach1 HV's comfort score—as well as its marks for on-hill energy transfer—was maxed out. Combined with Tecnica's C.A.S. shell, the boot was ranked in the top five of the category for 2019.
When I found out Tecnica was launching a trail running shoe that uses a similar C.A.S. system to their ski boots, I was anxious to check it out. The Tecnica Origin trail shoe features both a high-quality heat-moldable footbed as well as C.A.S. heat-moldable arch and heel support, two critical areas where support is needed most for trail running. Thanks to this Tecnica's innovative technology, the Origin is the first customizable trail running shoe on the market.
“Manufacturers have been attempting to produce custom-fit running shoes for many years,” said Federico Sbrissa, Tecnica footwear Business Unit Manager, in a press release. “But the solutions delivered thus far have been complicated, expensive, and eliminate the value that a quality retailer provides. We feel that by combining our technologies with the knowledge and personalized service of the world’s most respected outdoor and running retailers, we can truly provide the best experience for the outdoor community.”
The Tecnica Origin follows on the success of both their modifiable ski boot line as well as their customizable hiking shoes. The Tecnica Forge GTX hiking boot, which uses the C.A.S. system as well, earned the prestigious Editor's Choice Award from our sister publication, Backpacker Magazine, in 2018. The Origin is customized via the same thermo-molding machine as the Forge GTX and the low-cut Plasma hiking shoe, and the entire process takes about twenty minutes.
In addition to the customization features, the Origin comes in two different builds for each gender that are specific to the weight of the user. “When a runner enters a shop today and likes one shoe or a particular technology, the only option is to buy a model that is designed for an ‘average person,’” says Sbrissa. “If you weigh 100 pounds or 200 pounds you’re forced into the same shoe, but clearly it will be too stiff and supportive for one, or too soft and flexible for the other.”
For male runners under 165 lb. and female runners under 120 lb., the Origin LT uses fewer materials, while those over the specified weight levels, or those seeking greater comfort, can opt for the Origin XT. Despite the noticeable difference in support in the sole and the upper, the XT versions are only 5 grams heaver than the LT models.
Testing the Tecnica Origin
I previewed both the fitting process and took the Origin XT on a 10 kilometer trail run prior to the Summer Outdoor Retailer trade show in Colorado. After having countless ski boots fitted to my feet, it was a breeze to get custom fitted for trail running shoes. In addition to heat, Tecnica's machine uses air pressure rather than gravity to mold both the footbed and shoe to a user's foot, so I remained sitting for the the entire customization process.
Besides the simplicity of the C.A.S. system, I was especially appreciative of the included custom footbed. My normal trail shoe (and ski boot) process is to rip out the normally flimsy footbed and put in a high-end custom footbed from SOLE or Superfeet, so to have a great footbed included with the Origin shoe is a huge advantage—and less of a penalty on my wallet.
Tecnica has seen enough success with their included, high-performance custom footbed from the Forge GTX and Plasma hiker footwear that they plan to sell stand-alone footbeds that will work with any trail running or hiking shoe starting in spring 2020. One can only hope they will do the same with ski boots in the future as well.
On the trail, the Origin shoe felt nearly broken-in from the first step. The non-customizable aspects in the forefoot still needed a bit of work to make the shoe fit like a glove, but the heel and arch support were phenomenal. It was exactly like the first day of having a custom-fitted ski boot on snow: the fit was perfect, which made the rest of the breaking-in process a breeze.
Want more? Gear for Mountain Running
The top-of-the-line Vibram MegaGrip sole took on hardpack, loose dirt, and rock hopping without issue, and, as a relatively large person compared to the stick-figure trail runners that populate Boulder, I found the ergonomic shank plate built into the sole of the shoe to provide stabilization during tricky maneuvers around other trail users on Boulder's Mt. Sanitas.
While I still have many more miles to run in the Tecnica Origin before I can give it an overall grade, I was very impressed on the first run, and will likely use the shoe during this summer's Discrete Cirque Series and beyond. I would love to see a wider option in the future, and lighter testers who prefer very flexible soles might not be so stoked on the sole's shank for more technical trail runs.
The shoe will be available in over two-dozen specialty retailers starting July 2019, and will have a full launch next spring. Retailing at $170 with the fitting process included, it's aggressively priced to match most other high-end trail running models and an after-market footbed.
Learn more about the C.A.S. system, and where the footwear is available, on Tecnica's website.