ALL THE REASONS TO CONSIDER WINTERIZED TRAINERS
Remember the sneakerboot from a few years ago? Its higher shaft and runner-like looks felt like a strange fusion that didn’t gel quite right – just like those knee-high Chucks and heeled Timberlands that faded fast in the early 2000s. Only, unlike those style monstrosities, the sneakerboot has come into its own. One, brands have shed this ridiculous moniker. Instead, “winterized sneaker” or “winterised trainer” – depending on which side of the Atlantic you reside – makes a more professional, practical impression. You’re more likely to think, “Hey, maybe I’ll try that this season.”
Aside from shedding its gimmicky, hypebeast-y reputation, the winterised trainer got over its gawky stage. Instead, recognisable silhouettes are insulated and given weatherproof properties, or are blended with a mix of military- or work boot-inspired attributes. In turn, a pair tends to give you trainer style with cold-weather protection. Because those canvas high-tops you sported through autumn will no longer cut it (even with wool socks underneath), here’s why you should try out a pair of winterised trainers:
Waterproof or Water-Repellent Uppers
That cold, damp feeling, after you’ve just stepped into a puddle and the water seeps through your trainers and into your socks, lasts the entire day. It’s gross, and you can’t shake it off until you return home. Combatting – or, at least lessening – this sensation, a water-repellent or waterproof upper, perhaps with a supporting membrane inside, acts as your first line of defence. Brands all have their different takes, and it’s up to you to see what works. Nike’s Lunar Force 1 Flyknit, for instance, weaves thermoplastic rubber into its breathable textile upper. The result lessens the damp sensation without locking in heat and sweat. Converse took this up a notch with its Chuck Taylor All Star Tekoa Waterproof Boot, which reconstructed the familiar high-top silhouette with leather and rubber, and added a grippier gum outsole, insulated interior bootie, and neoprene tongue for all-around weatherproofing. Then, there’s Gore-Tex, long the superior standard for waterproof work and hiking boots. You’ll find this waterproof/breathable membrane across New Balance (910v3 Gore-Tex), Adidas (the new Stan Smith GORE-TEX), and Nike (Air Force 1 High Gore-Tex). Usage, though, isn’t uniform. Adidas, for instance, incorporates it through Infinium™ Thermium™ technology, built specifically for footwear, while Nike accompanies this feature with tough ballistic nylon and a duck boot-like toe box.
Vans has one-upped most brands in terms of cold-weather features. Introduced a couple of years ago, its Mountain Edition (MTE) line retools its classic silhouettes with winter-ready features. As such, a Sk8-Hi or Old Skool often starts off with a Scotchguard-treated leather upper to block out rain and snow and is supported by a gusseted tongue. Dual-layer insulation plays a role: Styles frequently sport fleece lining plus a heat-retention layer below the sockliner. Then, for weather-appropriate traction, outsoles mix the brand’s signature gum rubber and vulcanized construction with snow boot-style lugs that release snow and dirt. Attesting to the line’s success, The North Face has already collaborated with Vans on a limited-edition MTE shoe. On a similar note, Converse released its Mountain Club capsule collection that builds on the same principle. Here, though, you’ll find military influences – the rubberised MC18, based on a silhouette Converse created in the 1950s – and the Bosey Chuck 70, which adds hiker features, a reinforced toe guard, and water-repellent materials to the classic high-top.
As a direct result of the tech-fashion trend, everyday items – trainers included – now sport military and hiking features, which, in turn, offer a greater degree of durability and protection. Adidas’ Pulseboost HD exemplifies this construction on multiple levels. One, water-repellent ballistic nylon maintains some amount of breathability while improving tear resistance and blocking out the elements. Windproofing further adds to this, factoring in blustery early January weather. Yet, Boost technology remains at its core, delivering the cushioned, responsive fit you expect from an athletic shoe. Back to Nike’s Lunar Force 1 Flyknit: It’s constructed like a work boot, with a thicker, lugged rubber outsole, leather overlays, and a gusseted tongue beef up the usually lightweight runner with features traditionally angled toward the worksite and trails. Wool lining along portions of the interior further adds warmth to key areas without weighing down the design. Puma’s Trailfox Overland resembles a black and white dad shoe at a glance but incorporates a handful of hiking features. Namely, a lugged outsole with thicker treads keeps you steady on slippery, snow-covered surfaces.
The Wool Trainer
As more and more running shoes feature a textile-based design, save for the outsole, it only makes sense to adapt this concept for winter. The result, then, is the wool trainer, which adds wool knit or a flannel-like textile to the exterior. The Adidas EQT Winter Wool, for one example, takes a double-layered approach – wool on the outside and reinforced with wool lining – and enhances the strength with leather overlays and a grippy lugged outsole. Allbirds’ Wool Runner Mizzles, meanwhile, looks like that all-textile trainer, except once you slip it on, it feels like a sweater and offers a degree of water repellency. On the higher-priced end, the Visvim Skagway adapts your go-to flannel to a high-top silhouette.
There’s no single way to stay warm. Some of us prefer to traipse around town in an oversized puffer, while others go a more technical – and layered – route with fleece and a waterproof hard shell. Trainer brands seem to have gotten the message, and in turn, the selection out there embraces these possibilities. Not part of the MTE lineup but still cosy, the Vans Sk8 Hi Sherpa adds the fluffy, textured material commonly used for lining a boot to the exterior. The end result looks just as toasty as it feels. Taking a different approach, Acne Studios’ Jimmy goes old school with a thick textured corduroy upper that, frankly, wouldn’t seem out of place on a ‘90s skate shoe. Glossy panels give it some structure and toss in a few contrasts. Then, taking cues from surfing and diving gear, Prada’s neoprene sock trainer applies the thick, insulating wetsuit material to a one-piece, slip-on style supported by a thicker, running-style outsole.