A true mountain boot is a highly specialized tool for traversing deep canyons and climbing the highest peaks - while keeping your feet safe and sound so they can carry you all the way to the top. And back. Among the many conflicting parameters in constructing a good mountain boot we have weight versus stability, breathing versus waterproofing, durability versus comfort. On top of that you want boots that lasts, and can be repaired indefinitely. In order to achieve our lofty ambitions we worked together with a family-run company that have made mountain boots for over 300 years – we are now proud to present two new models. Meet your new best friends, Lille Bjørn and Store Bjørn.
One of our main goals when we started Dundas Footwear 10 years ago was to make proper mountain boots using the norwegian welt construction.
Not for the name itself, but for the obvious benefits regarding strength, waterproofing, longevity and maintenance. Commonly known in Norway as Beksømsko, generations of norwegians have sworn to their indestructible beksømsko for skiing, trekking and mountaineering. Sadly none of the norwegian factories exist anymore, the machinery and expertise are long gone, and the market flooded with disposables. Yet, the beksømsko is still mentioned with hushed reverence, like a mythological creature their fathers or grandfathers once encountered on a stormy winter’s night.
Luckily the norwegian welt is far more pragmatic and real than your average unicorn. The basic explanation is that you take the upper, bend it outwards and make several seams downwards through the sole, and inwards through the insole. Structural integrity and waterproofing are the main benefits, and Oh! so important in a mountain boot. The fact that it can be repaired by any cobbler worth his salt makes for a very long-lived item, as long as it is done properly and with quality materials. We use a triple sole: a leather top layer, a rubber middle layer and a thick and grippy Vibram® rubber sole. The first two layers are part of the welt, while the Vibram® is glued.
The insole is interchangeable, and the tongue and ankle support are padded for comfort and protection.
If you are to choose a leather without any cost restraints, the most important parameters are weight, durability, sustainability and breathing characteristics. Naturally we skipped the cost restraints and choose the best leathers we could find. For Store Bjørn, weight played second fiddle to durability, so we sourced the finest juchten leather from swiss tannery Gallusser. Thick, waxy and extremely durable, this Gallo Juchten™ is wholecut to keep the seams to a minimum, thus keeping water from entering. In our view this is the ultimate construction, regardless of price. For Lille Bjørn we needed something lighter that still met the above mentioned criteria.
We have used leathers from italian tannery Badalassi in our Type 01 boots with excellent results for years, and in addition to being strong it is also absolutely gorgeous to look at. Vegetable tanned, they ensure great breathing characteristics and will only look better as the years go by.
Why two models, you might ask. The short answer is different strokes for different folks. The long answer is that while both models share the same last and basic construction, we wanted to offer two alternatives to let customers find the perfect tool for the job in hand. Or leg.
What Store Bjørn carries in weight penalty it makes up for in stability. It also has a sewn tongue which keeps water out all the way to the shaft of the boot.
Combined with a one piece leather, it can handle everything nature throws at you.
Store Bjørn is your choice if you go for extended trips with heavy loads in demanding conditions, and crampons are part of your standard equipment.
Lille Bjørn has a lower shaft and overlapping shutters of leather protecting the tongue, which combined with lower weight makes for a much easier companion on weekend trips and daily excursions. The overlapping leather has several advantages: better breathing, easier access and faster drying. I also keeps snow and wet shrubbery out.
Lille Bjørn is, in our humble opinion, the best allround mountain boot there is.
In the age of Anthropocene we all need to reduce our consumption and repair the stuff we own. During the construction of Lille and Store Bjørn we aimed, as we always do, to make shoes that can last a lifetime or more. Using vegetable tanned leather is a bleeding obvious choice, to make a shoe that is infinitely repairable even more so. And the best part is: these choices not only add longevity and sustainability of the boots, they make them better. Better breathing, better waterproofing, better structural stability. If something breaks it can be repaired by any good cobbler around the world.
These choices doesn’t come cheap, but as Henry Royce once said: the quality will remain long after the price is forgotten.
Due to our limited opening hours, we encourage our customers to get in touch with us to check if we have your model in stock to try out.