Monday, November 17, 2008



Words, Images Judith Ecochard

EX OFFICIO is a Latin term meaning "by virtue of office or position.”

We are sure there is some connection between said definition and this Washington State based Technical, Outdoor, Hiking and Adventure clothing line. But we don’t get it.

What we do ‘get’ is that the durable, easy clean Ex Officio BUZZ OFF Insect Shield Repellent apparel - that we lived in during a long stay in Africa…actually worked as billed. Mercifully.

No surprise then- that we were eager to preview their new line of kickers for guys and gals…set to hit retail shelves in November ‘08 and March ’09 - respectively. We figured the new gear emerged from the same philosophy as Ex Officio’s technical travel clothing - that each item has to “be wearable for three occasions.”

Because really, wouldn’t it be great to just need to pack one or two pairs of shoes in our carry-ons.

To get off on the good foot- in a manner of speaking…with shoes effortlessly ‘taking’ us from day hikes to a “nice” dinner if we’re flashing some leg.

Ex Officio spent months (years?) sweating the functional and fashionable ped details.

It shows.

And the scoop from Ex Officio’s David Adler makes total sense. “We looked at our customer first.”

“It’s COMFORT CUBED,” he noted…. meaning “physical comfort and emotional comfort, and comfort of value.”


According to Adler, “…guys are very particular about their shoes…we took to our customer the question…how are your clothes and shoes going to perform for you?”

Well dudes, here’s the answer. Think handsome, comfortable and versatile- wear with everything- neutral tones…that multi-task.

For the water bound, the quick drying, odor/water resistant Reef Runner functions with a waterproof leather upper, removable 4X4 support footbed, and an EVA midsole with traction siped outsole. ($110 in Black, Trail, Sand).

The Destination Caravan shoe serves double duty, as a moisture-wicking, water/odor/stain resistant durable easy trail”er” that wouldn’t look out of place in a casual office setting. Waterproof leather uppers with breathable vents, a TPU heel stabilizer and shank, an EVA midsole, and a siped rubber, wet traction outsole are the keys to this super lightweight shoe. ($150-in Black, Brown).

For more rugged jaunts, the Trip’r Cruz’r and Shade selections hold up on mountain trails as well as ancient cobblestone byways.

The lace up Cruz’r comes with waterproof leather or eco friendly natural hemp uppers, a removable 4X4 support footbed, internal EVA midsole, and a wet traction, siped rubber outsole…plus in demand moisture-wicking, odor, stain, and water resistant properties. ($135 in Trail, Bavarian, Sand, Light Pebble Hemp, Black Hemp).

We see the slip on- Shade style becoming a weekend fixture in many men’s wardrobe.

And they’re loaded up with the same features as the Cruz’r. ($135 Leather, $90 Hemp- in Black, Trail, Sand, Black Hemp, Coffee Hemp. Mushroom Hemp).


As nature girls we are impressed with the technical factors that the ladies shoes serve up. But with our fashionista caps on, we are even more wowed by the subtle design details that set Ex Officio women’s apart from other lifestyle brands…details that some customers might not even notice.

In the Destination line, we particularly like the Traveler slip on ($110). Yup-the shoes (in Black, Deep Red, Toast, Honey and Chateau Blue) have supple leather uppers, breathable (pretty pink) bamboo fabric linings, Ex Officio Ortholite removable comfort footbeds, internal EVA midsoles, and sport 20% recycled rubber outsoles.

But the contrast stitching on the uppers- on the black pair we saw... really caught our eyes and make the Traveler a wearable urban savvy shoe choice too.

Ex Officio also has two Mary Jane style shoes: the lightweight Savvy ($110) and the striking Notus with a graphic two tone diagonal strap (Leather $110, Hemp $80) in assorted colors and loaded with performance tough bells and whistles.

But being a slide on and go type, we are looking forward to trying out the Zeph’r sandal with nubuck leather upper, high rebound EVA footbed, and a 20% recycled outsole. We feel this will be our wear everywhere foot covering during the warmer weather…or during the cold climes right after a pedicure.

Guess we can suffer/freeze for beauty a (very) little bit. At least our feet will be properly supported.


ADDED PLUS: Meeting the lively visionary, well traveled and Ex Officio attired Richard Bangs, author of Adventures With Purpose…. Dispatches From The Front lines Of Earth and Quest For The Sublime…Finding Nature’s Secret In Switzerland (both featured in PBS’ series)

---AND co- founder of the amazing travel company Sobek Expeditions, now Mountain Travel Sobek---that organizes, and leads extraordinary adventures for the physically active and intellectually curious.

Mountain Travel Sobek’s insider access to far flung destinations is a major PLUS, adventure travel-wise…so hands on wanderers, let alone other tour companies, would have a hard, if not impossible time trying to duplicate the almost out of this world itineraries.

Seriously, we got the hefty catalogue to peruse at our leisure…and that we eagerly zipped through on the subway ride home.

Said tome was completely dog eared by the time we got to our stop…we want to Pass Go and get out of town on every journey. Tomorrow.


Book Cover Images From Richard Bangs’ website.