Going into this year’s Outdoor Retailer show, I knew there would continue to be stories of green products and green companies.  Though that drumbeat has been a little more subdued this year, it’s still present and will be a large part of the show and the industry moving forward.

A few months back, I heard about END (Environmentally Neutral Design), a small Portland, Oregon startup with big ambitions. I was intrigued enough by the secrecy of the company’s products (no products are currently displayed on their Web site) and their mission that I had to stop by the END booth for a visit.  I’m glad I did as I was able to chat with END co-founder, Andrew Estey and find out just what END is up to.

END Outdoor Footwear

About END Outdoor Footwear

Not satisfied with building a “green” end product and ignoring the actual manufacturing process, END has re-engineered both the shoe designs and the production lifecycle from the ground-up. Their shoe designs may look like many other shoes from afar, but a closer look revelals the little details that allows END to reduce waste and manufacturing steps while still producing functional, stylish and durable products.

Other “green” products have been slow to sell because they lacked style and/or function. END is aiming to change the game by producing sustainable products that not only reduce their environmental impact, but will also nail the tastes of their target market of outdoorsy youth.

I’m told that a typical trail running shoe will take upwards of 300 hands to produce each pair of shoes, but END has cut that in half through product simplification and removal of unnecessary steps. All in all, this reduces materials usage, ensures a healthier production process (no toxic chemicals are used) and even a reduction in consumer pricing… something that has beleagured previous “green” products.

END is making huge efforts to get their products into the hands of world-class athletes who are flogging them in adverse situations. Feedback has been positive thus far and the product launch is poised to begin in September at REI, then in November on Zappos.com with a full-blown launch January 2009 at retailers nationwide.

The product line consists of both trail and road running shoes, versatile water shoes and sandals.  Here are a couple of highlights.

END Stumptown 12 oz Trail Running Shoes

END Stumptown 12 oz Trail Running Shoe

A hot-looking trail runner that utilizes a mixture of recycled and new materials to produce the right mix of sustainability, durability and good looks.  These softshell shoes are built with simplicity in mind, but they are by no means a step back in function. I was very impressed with the overall design of these shoes and look forward to trying them out in person.

The women’s-specific version of the Stumptown 12 oz. is built specifically for a woman’s foot, which I don’t have, but I’m sure a woman will appreciate the improved fit and thought-out design.

A few more highlights:

  • Single-mold, 25% recycled carbon rubber outsole
  • 10% recycled EVA midsole
  • Reduced amount of foam by 50%
  • 25% bamboo infused linings in collar and tongue
  • 100% recycled PET laces and webbing
  • MSRP: $85

END Trail Thong Sandals

END Trail Thong Sandals

Functional and stylish flip-flops are hard to come by these days. With so many people wearing them day-in and day-out, it’s about time manufacturers (let alone green manufacturers like END) started building comfortable and anatomical flip-flops. The END Trail Thongs look great and sport a supportive footbed with super-grippy rubber outsoles. Cool flips for the flip-flopper in all of us.

A few more highlights:

  • Available in whole sizes
  • Single-mold 25% recycled carbon rubber outsole
  • EVA/Cork footbed
  • Leather strap

More Info: Visit ENDoutdoor.com

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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