Even though hunting requires a lot of patient downtime, be it in a duck blind or a tree stand, hunters are often on the move. Whether scouting locations, tracking animals, or hauling around heavy gear and hiking through wet, muddy conditions, hunting is very much an athletic activity.
So when Field & Stream set out to create its Men’s Vortex 400g and 800g Field Hunting Boots that met the real needs of active hunters, it had to ensure new design details didn’t compromise the superior quality that the brand is known for. The boot had to be lightweight and comfortable, yet still rugged enough to stand up to all kinds of terrain. Plus, it had to keep feet warm and dry.
To fill this tall order, Field & Stream decided to partner with MESH01. This design firm takes a crowdsourcing approach to working with different brands, tapping into a community of more than 9,500 trained, industrial-based designers. Crowdsourcing in general is a fairly new concept, and MESH01 rises above the competition when it comes to offering design services.
“The cool thing about our community is the diversity; it’s not just a community of footwear designers,” says Nick Huber, Director of Design at MESH01. “They come from other design backgrounds, such as furniture, apparel, medical, consumer, electronics, just to name a few. These designers bring their unique backgrounds to every project, which might mean they’re utilizing materials or construction methods that I wouldn’t have thought of myself, being a footwear designer,” he says.
Field & Stream began its partnership with MESH01 by creating a design brief, which was then made available to designers who signed a nondisclosure agreement in advance. The design brief served as the instructions to the designer community for what the brand needed. “In addition to the boot being lightweight and comfortable, the brand wanted to incorporate some premium features like GORE-TEX® waterproofing and PrimaLoft® insulation,” says Huber.
Community designers interested in participating then submitted ideas, generally in the form of rough sketches. While footwear design tends to be the most popular project type, Huber says that multiple ideas are received from about 30 different designers. MESH01 reviewed the designs with Field & Stream and selected the top three designers whose work best aligned with the brand’s style.
Partnering for the first time, MESH01 and Field & Stream had only planned to develop one boot style. “Instead we ended up with two boots,” says Huber remarking on the variety of quality designs received. “Both styles have gone on to be top sellers in the line.”
Hunting and outdoor enthusiasts have a lot to be excited about with the 400g and 800g boots, which contain Primaloft® Insulation. Keeping feet comfortable and warm means keeping them dry, so Field & Stream inserted GORE-TEX® booties into the shoes to benefit from Gore’s state-of-the-art waterproofing materials and construction.
“Through nearly 40 years of experience, Gore has learned what it takes to make high-quality footwear that is not only durably waterproof but also breathes,” says Mark Hepler, account manager at W.L.Gore & Associates, Inc. “In the case of the Vortex boot, this means the sweat produced by the foot can escape at a faster rate, thus keeping the insulation from overloading with moisture. If a boot’s insulation gets wet, this reduces the insulation capacity of the boot and can lead to cold feet.”
The features that preserve warmth and dryness are ideal, but they often cause boots to feel clunky and uncomfortable. To avoid this with the Vortex model, designers incorporated an athletic silhouette for speed when tracking prey. The outsole won’t slow you down either; instead it provides traction on a variety of surfaces and is designed to shed off mud and dirt that might otherwise clog the treads and cause the boot to become heavy.
“One of the things that sets Field & Stream apart from other brands is their willingness to embrace new methodologies and technologies,” says Huber. “For a brand to go outside their own walls is a big step. But then to also utilize a newer model shows that they’re really embracing innovation and working to provide the best possible product for their consumer.”
There are a lot of boots out on the marketplace that are warm and waterproof, but the Filed & Stream Vortex boots stand out among the rest. “To be able to offer Vortex’s premium features at a price that’s still affordable to consumers is something that’s hard to find,” says Huber.