When looking for new shoes, you may have asked yourself the question "What is more important, durability or weight?". You might think that lightweight and flexible boots won't last for several seasons in our Nordic climate, where shoes are exposed to the most among forests and mountains. However, we believe that durability can be combined with low weight. That's why we've developed the innovative AlfaAir™ system, which consists of two laminated layers, with the outer material being a maintenance-free and durable perforated microfiber. The inner layer can be varied to provide different application properties, such as extra breathability, elasticity or insulation. In this way we can adapt AlfaAir™ to a range of products and applications. Combined with GORE-TEX technology, you get dry and comfortable feet all day long, without the weight or maintenance requirements of footwear.
AlfaAir™ has many advantages, but perhaps one of the smartest is its maintenance-free nature. There's no need to brush with creams and waxes, or spray the shoe with waterproofing. A shoe made of AlfaAir™ material only needs to be washed and dried in the same way as simple everyday shoes.
Please note that the outer material of AlfaAir™ does not like to get a lot of sun. The matte surface of the material means that they absorb a lot of heat from the sun. Therefore, leave them in the shade and avoid storing them in high temperatures such as in a closed car on a hot summer day or on the stairs when the sun is shining brightly. This can cause heat damage and deformation.
ALFA AIR™ AND MAINTENANCE
The maintenance-free AlfaAir™ material is easy to care for. How to take care of your shoes with AlfaAir™:
- Go for a walk.
- Rinse your shoes.
- Use a soft brush to remove dirt that can't be rinsed off.
- Dry your shoes.
- Ready for another walk.
For a more complete description, see maintenance information here
Did you know that there are big differences in leather qualities? There are many factors that determine how durable and stylish the leather remains and how much stability it gives a shoe. Thicker leather will be more stable and withstand greater stresses and is therefore excellent on mountain boots, hunting boots and ski boots that will be used on mountains and plateaus. Softer, thinner leather is more flexible and comfortable and can be used on the top of a shoe. This provides a comfortable feel for the leg, while looking great and being highly functional.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF LEATHER
There are many ways to produce leather. Full grain leather is the very best quality of leather, with good breathability and a smooth surface that makes it durable and water-resistant. This is due to the very dense fibre pattern on the outermost layer of the hide just below the animal's fur. Full grain leather looks better and more pleasant when used, as long as you take care of it with maintenance products and proper storage.
Correcting/sanding away some of the outer layer will remove small imperfections and make the leather look more uniform. This leather is still very good, but the durability is a bit lower than the original leather.
The next level is nubuck leather, where the outer layer has been completely removed. This creates a brushed, velvety finish. This leather can be oiled to provide extra waterproofing. Nubuck leather loses its characteristic finish if you use ordinary oil and cream products, but there are separate products for nubuck maintenance that both protect the leather and take care of its appearance.
Suede is found in the layer below the full grain layer. Here you can either keep it natural, where breathability is very good, or you can treat it to give a stronger material that can withstand greater stress.
Depending on whether the leather is coated or not, different maintenance products are suitable. For untreated suede, we recommend the same products as nubuck leather, while finished suede can often withstand slightly more oily products.
ORIGIN AND PRODUCTION
Leather can come from many different animals. ALFA mainly uses leather from cattle, and common to all types of leather used by ALFA is that the leather is a by-product of food production. This means that no animal has suffered to become an ALFA shoe, and instead helps to ensure that the leftovers from food production are put to good use. When developing leather for shoe production, there are several steps that are carried out. After preparations such as hair removal and tanning, the leather must be treated, dyed and possibly surface treated with e.g. wax.
LEATHER AND ENVIRONMENT
The environmental impact of leather is mainly related to the breeding of animals and the chemicals used in tanning and finishing. The ecological footprint can vary from tannery to tannery and depending on the treatment of the leather. The tanneries used by ALFA have clear requirements for both farming and transport and good practices for neutralisation of chemicals used in the processes. We work with tanneries that care about animal welfare. This is a priority we put ahead of price and means, among other things, that animals are not fed for the purpose of growing faster and should have a short route to the slaughterhouse.
LEATHER AND MAINTENANCE
Leather is a natural material where the natural fibres break down over time. It can also be damaged by, for example, excessive heat, improper use of treatment products, chemical spills and very dry or damp storage areas. Therefore, to ensure that shoes last as long as possible, it is very important to take care of them with proper storage and good maintenance products.
Leather can remain functional and attractive for a very long time, but needs good maintenance to maintain its quality. When cleaning your boots, it is important to remove any visible dirt before washing the shoes with a soft brush. Here you can use cleaning products designed for leather products. It is important to let the boots dry before further treatment with impregnating spray and wax.
Remember that "less is more" when it comes to waxing. Take a small amount of product and work it into the leather with a special brush. Then polish the surface with a cloth to get a nice finish.
For nubuck and suede, the process is the same, but use products specifically designed for this type of leather to maintain the surface texture. If you want the brushed finish, don't buff with a cloth at the end.
Textile is a broad concept. The major advantages of textiles are their low weight combined with good breathability. This results in shoes that are light and airy for use on lighter journeys and on days that are not too cold.
ALFA mainly uses Ripstop textiles in the shoes, where a thick reinforcement thread is woven in at regular intervals. This prevents small tears from developing into larger holes and makes the shoe more durable.
However, it is important not to confuse the durability of textiles and leather, as textiles generally have a shorter lifespan and wear more than leather. Leather boots are good for longer trips or travel in more demanding terrain, but textile shoes are well suited for easier use, shorter trips and gentler terrain. Repeated impact with sharp stones, twigs and the like will cause the fabric to wear more quickly than a leather shoe. This means that for demanding terrain we recommend a leather shoe rather than textile shoes, but for lighter use textile is a good choice in terms of light weight and very good breathability.
For use in wetter conditions, such as on rainy days, in swampy terrain or in areas with tall, wet grass, the risk of water creeping up over the top and into the shoe will be much greater with a textile shoe than a leather shoe. This means that even if the GORE-TEX membrane is intact, there is a risk of wet feet in these conditions.
To experience the benefits of textile shoes, we therefore recommend that you think carefully about the type of terrain and travel you will be using the shoes for.
TEXTILES AND ENVIRONMENT
The environmental impact of textiles varies widely. Organic and certified materials have lower footprints than many others. ALFA works closely with its suppliers to ensure that textiles are solid and environmentally friendly. We invest heavily in the development of safe products, both for a sustainable future and for you to experience the shoes as good and reliable.
TEXTILES AND MAINTENANCE
Textiles also need maintenance to maintain quality and functionality. We recommend the use of impregnating spray as it reduces the rate at which the upper absorbs both water and dirt and helps keep the shoe dry for longer.
It is also important to clean a textile boot. Remove dirt before washing them thoroughly and allow the shoes to dry completely before using impregnation spray. Also, let the waterproofing spray soak in and dry thoroughly next time.
Galoshing is reinforcement around the upper leather. This can be applied to the heel and toe, for example, or not at all depending on the shoe type and application.
The purpose of this is to protect the shoe from sharp stones, ice and twigs in the most exposed areas. This increases the potential life of the shoe.
ALFA uses a few different materials in its galoshes:
- Leather reinforcement: for use in less demanding terrain and in cases where wear from external stresses is low to medium, a leather reinforcement will provide sufficient wear protection. This reinforcement has good breathability and provides some stability while giving the shoe a clean and simple design.
- Rubber reinforcement: Rubber is a very functional material for galoshes and is used where more wear is expected due to more demanding terrain, greater risk of wear from external stresses or greater temperature differences. It is important to remember that this is a natural product and the oil in the rubber will reduce over time. Exposure to sunlight or high temperatures will accelerate this process and the rubber may crack. In other words, it is very important that you do not dry your shoes near a fire, or sit with your legs completely "inside" the fire. The shoes should preferably be stored at room temperature, but not in the box. This is because it speeds up dehydration. Sooner or later, rubber will lose its elasticity and form cracks, but the galoshes will protect the shoe even if they have cracks of an aesthetic nature.
GALOSHING AND MAINTENANCE
The two different reinforcements require different maintenance.
Leather reinforcements will in most cases have the same leather quality as the rest of the shoe, and you will then treat the whole shoe in the same way with the same products.
To reinforce rubber, to reduce the risk and repair minor damage, you can use "rubber renewers" from car shops. It comes in two varieties, water-based and oil-based. From an environmental point of view, we recommend the use of water-based rubber renewer.
Good maintenance is essential to keep your shoes looking good and working well. In this case, neither the rubber galoshes nor the leather have been well cared for and minor damage has occurred.
Some shoes are suitable for certain adventures and other shoes are more suitable for others. Find out more about which model would be best for you and your challenges here.