After being tapped to manufacture the US Ski Team’s official Apres Ski boot, the folks at outdoor specialist Khombu were driven to become more involved than previous, corporate sponsors. So off they went, to the 2014 US Alpine National Championships in Squaw Valley, CA, hoping to gain insight into what makes the perfect boot -- from the people who know best.
“We spoke one-on-one with the team about skiing, and learned about life as an elite US Ski Team athlete and Olympian,” says Brandy McCarty, Khombu’s Divisional Vice President, Global Brand Strategy. “We brainstormed with them -- fitting and gaining feedback on the current boots and what functionality could make them better.”
And at 8.5 ounces, the final product is now the lightest boot on the market, making them simple to pack and carry when the team does extensive travel. They are also fully waterproof, skid resistant and weather-proof up to minus 20 degrees. “It’s amazing, the athletes were wearing sneakers to train outside,” McCarty explains. “So having boots that keep their feet warm and dry made sense.” Heavy support around the ankle and a soft lining also helps with outdoor workouts.
In addition to supporting the team monetarily, Khombu also decided to push for U.S. job creation and sustainability -- making this an all-around patriotic project. After setting up a factory in Hot Springs, AR -- becoming the only company to manufacture athletic footwear by hand in the United States -- a pilot program was then established to train its workers. The hope is to bring more of their manufacturing to the U.S. in the coming years.
The boots, which made their debut at the opening of the team’s Fall Training Season in Copper Mountain, CO, have also been rejiggered in an all-black, “street version” for interested consumers. If you want to be in the know, you can pre-order the current version of the US Team’s Ski Boot for 2015 at Khombu.com.