Josh Fairchilds, Oboz Footwear: At Oboz, it starts here, with the outsole. One of the things that's truly unique about Oboz is that we design all of our outsoles and we engineer all of our outsoles and we oversee the manufacture of all of our outsoles in-house. We don't farm any of that out, we don't use third party, we don't buy pre-made outsoles from anybody we do it ourselves. That gives us such control over not just the design, but the process, the materials, the quality, the tooling, and how that bottom package works and engineers into the last we've previously identified as the right last for that.
Our tagline at Oboz is "True to the trail," and that's a filter or a lens through which we look at everything we do at Oboz, from product design to development to manufacturing to marketing everything we do, we want that "true to the trail" element to be part of it. That's where our outsoles come into play directly, because they're designed specifically for trail use whether it's propulsion lugs in the forefoot and braking lugs in the rear, or the idea of eliminating all unnecessary rubber so we reduce the weight of the outsole while still having incredibly luggy outsoles with tons of traction.
There are a few different things that an outsole does for you: there's traction, and there's friction, and they're actually two different elements of an outsole. Traction is a function of lugs and lug design and outsole design; friction is a function of rubber compounding and surface area of lugs. So, on the one hand, you want as much surface area as possible, because that's going to give you the highest friction. But on the other hand, you need to have the lugs broken up in such a way that you've got traction. Those two somewhat competing interests have to be balanced in an outsole perfectly in order to get great performance on the trail, so the outsole is where our design starts.
This is where every Oboz shoe starts with our outsole design.