Mold-able Tecnica Plasma S GTX Shoe Review

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Tecnica Plasma S GTX

Hiking shoes have come a long way. The technological advances, research, and testing are a big part of every shoe designers’ modus operandi. Tecnica Sports takes that approach to the next level and presents that up front as the consumer is shopping in the store. The Tecnica Plasma S GTX is chock full of ways to make a shoe perform, stand the test of time, and be comfortable all at once. I’m going to take this review and focus on two distinct facets. First, I will really hone in on all those complex technological advances and how they impact the shoe. And Secondly, I’ll take these boots out on the trails to see how all that technology fares in my mountain playground of Colorado.

First Thoughts On The Tecnica Plasma S GTX

The big deal or standout innovation for this shoe is the fact that you can mold these shoes to your foot. Now, this is not necessarily a new technology. Skiers, skaters, and bikers have certainly seen the benefits of this for many years. In the running world, the emphasize has always been on stability, support, and traction, but also how those balance with weight and breath-ability. Hence, you can’t go overboard on adding too much to a shoe. That said, in the trail world, more support does come in handy as one careens over more technical terrain.

As luck would have it, Tecnica does have experience with this molding technology in the ski industry. Their ski boots are top of the line and enjoy this mold and fit technology. I happen to have a pair of my own for my downhill pleasures.

Hiking is enjoyed by a wide variety of people of all ages, so connecting with this diverse demographic is a smart thing. If a perfect fit can be achieved, it could be a very beneficial step to bringing a lot of joy to the masses.

Shopping For A Hiking Boot

When I go into a store to look for hiking shoes, I usually have an idea of what brands I like. At a minimum, I’m looking for boots I’ve at least heard good things about. I then stare at the wall of shoes somewhat in wonder while also being a bit overwhelmed. I end up picking several that “look” the part, put them on, and walk around for a bit.  All the while, I’m pretending to really analyze the various aspects of the shoe and how it fits. In the end, it’s a crap shoot in my humble opinion.

It’s like walking into a car showroom and marveling at shiny new things that smell good. You really don’t know how that car will perform with a simple lap around the block. It takes years and thousands of miles. The same goes for trail hiking shoes. It takes hours upon hours of walking, hiking, and beating them up on a variety of trails in numerous conditions to know if they work or not.

That’s where Tecnica does have a ingenious and novel concept!  I can literally remove many fruitless hours of hiking in what you would call that “breaking-in” period.

Patiently sitting strapped in to work on my perfect fit.

Feet in the shoes in the boots getting squeezed and heated all at once.

The Soles are getting heated in a special wallet-like compartment.

Boots getting hot air blown into them

Warm shoes on, and going into the compression chamber.

Shaping The Tecnica Plasma S GTX

Here you have a 1 minute video explaining a little bit how this all works.  They say it takes about 20 minutes.

With that in mind, I went to my nearest Tecnica distributor to get “fitted” or “molded”. I live about a half hour from Neptune Mountaineering in Boulder, and any excuse to get to the Republic is always welcome. Nestled against the Flat Irons and Rocky Mountains, Boulder is a very unique city, college town, and a mecca for anything having to do with the outside industry.

If ever in town, please go take a stroll through Boulder’s famed Pearl Street or a hike in Chatauqua Park. Also, pay a visit to Neptune to get all your outdoor mountain gear. Boulder is especially known for it’s climbing and hiking, because one can go vertical real quick and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The staff at Nepture brought out the molding apparatus and equipment and diligently worked with me to get everything “just right”. They were very patient, knowledgeable, and really worked through the process.

I would give yourself a good half hour, because there are numerous steps that do take some time to get just right. It may even seem a bit intimidating at first. There are a lot of contraptions and equipment that seems very space age. I took my time with it to try and really experience the molding process, but I also wanted a perfect fit. We even went through the molding process twice to make sure these hikers fit like a glove. And that is the beauty of it! You can go back for a re-mold after having worn it in depending on your use and abuse.

I prefer the ankle height hiking shoe, but if you desire that extra bit of support, Tecnica also makes a full above the ankle version.

Technical Details

  • Sizes UK: 6 – 13,5 / US 7 – 14.5
  • Upper: Synthetic polyamide fabric with TPU laminated reinforcement
  • Lining: Gore-Tex® Extended Comfort Footwear
  • Outsole: Vibram® Plasma with Megagrip compound
  • Midsole: Agile system; Dual Density EVA plus TPU shank
  • Footbed: C.A.S. Customizable – Hiking

All The Fine Technologies That Encompass The Plasma

  • A.S. – Custom Adaptive Shape
  • A.S. – Custom Adaptive Upper
  • Flexible construction
  • Overlap Design
  • Protective Upper
  • Self Locking Laces
  • The Ultimate Anatomical Last
  • Traction Outsole

Taking the Tecnica Plasma S GTX Out On The Trails

After I got fitted, I did notice that the arch support did push up slightly into my flatter foot bed. I decided to wear my Tecnica Plasma S GTX around for a couple of days in a seminar I was attending. It proved to be the right thing to do as the shoe really conformed to my foot. As a result, the arch support ended up not being an issue. Two full days, and the Plasma’s were really comfortable when used in this casual manner.

On to the more critical stage of testing out on the trails. I plan on conquering some more serious mountains this summer with planned trips up numerous Colorado 14-ers as well as a trip to the Swiss Alps. The first few weeks after receiving these, I did not get any opportunities to take them out as the trails were pretty snow covered requiring a more winterproof boot. Then January came with weeks of fairly mild weather to provide for good Front Range hiking.

When hiking along the Denver Front Range, elevation pretty much goes from 5280 feet (Mile High) to 7000+ feet real quick. Hence, high heart rate is a given as I push my way up some fairly steep switchback terrain. It does allow me to see what kind of traction these Tecnica Plasma S GTX have in them. The shaded portions of the trails are ice covered, so keeping the balance is key to staying upright.

The Vibram Plasma with Mega Grip compound stepped up to be a formidable partner in me making it to the top. Initially, my heel slipped slightly, but with a renewed tightening of the laces, I continued on without a hitch. The bottoms manage to climb over rocks, loose gravel, roots, and ice without any problem which is fantastic.

The descent of these steeper trails are usually where the “rubber meets the road”, or in this case those same rocks, loose gravel, roots, and ice patches. I like to go fast on the downhills while taking caution to descend in total control. I do so by taking smaller quicker steps which I like to call a “Dance”. The Plasma S GTX is lightweight enough to be nimble for most terrain and trail conditions. The lining has a Gore-Tex extended comfort which allows the foot to breathe to keep the feet dry. In addition, the Plasma also keep out any water or snow one may encounter on a hike.

Final Thoughts On The Tecnica Plasma S GTX

I am a fan of this hiking boot. Based conclusively on the fact that you can pre-mold these shoes which takes out many hours and miles of trail time for that perfect fit. It’s a process that may takes about a half hour, but will be worth it by avoiding stiff boots with potential for hot spots and blisters.

These Tecnica Plasma S GTX are a superb option for the all around hiker. Short or long, these are a great lightweight hiking shoes to put in some serious miles if you aren’t carrying a super heavy load. From a value perspective, you can certainly buy cheaper as well as much more expensive, but I like the bang for your buck with these hiking shoes. I can’t quite speak to the longevity, but I plan on getting my money’s worth by pushing these to their limit.

For more information visit MSRP $180

Niels Oomkes: I am a multi-sport endurance athlete, and love to get out into the great outdoors to push the body to its limit. Most of my weekend expeditions, adventures, trips, or vacations are planned around running, biking, snowshoeing, camping, or anything else that will allow me to enjoy nature's exquisite beauty.
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