Graphene is the strongest known material, and Inov-8 have announced three shoes that use it – two of which look interesting for backpackers
Graphene is a sheet of carbon just one atom thick. It’s not only the thinnest material on the planet, it’s also the strongest known – around 200 times stronger than steel – and amazingly flexible.
Footwear company inov-8 have succeeded in infusing graphene into rubber to make the outsoles of their new G-Series sports shoes. Inov-8 claim that the rubber used is ‘scientifically proven to be 50% stronger, 50% more elastic and 50% harder wearing’. These are bold claims which, if supported by real-world testing, could have major benefits for hillrunners, backpackers and hillwalkers.
The G-Series range is made up of three different shoes, two of which look suitable for UK mountain enthusiasts. THE MUDCLAW G 260 is designed for running over muddy mountains and obstacle courses, while the TERRAULTRA G 260 is for running long distances on hard-packed trails. Each includes graphene-enhanced rubber outsoles and Kevlar – a material used in bulletproof vests – on the uppers. While the MUDCLAW has better grip, the TERRAULTRA looks better as a long-distance backpacking shoe.
Michael Price, inov-8 product and marketing director, said: “Over the last 18 months we have worked with the National Graphene Institute at The University of Manchester to bring the world’s toughest grip to the sports footwear market.
“Prior to this innovation, off-road runners and fitness athletes had to choose between a sticky rubber that works well in wet or sweaty conditions but wears down quicker and a harder rubber that is more durable but not quite as grippy. Through intensive research, hundreds of prototypes and thousands of hours of testing in both the field and laboratory, athletes now no longer need to compromise.”
The scientists who first isolated graphene from graphite were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2010. Building on their revolutionary work, a team of over 300 staff at The University of Manchester has pioneered projects into graphene-enhanced prototypes, from sports cars and medical devices to aeroplanes. Now the University can add graphene-enhanced sports footwear to its list of world-firsts.
Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan, Reader in Nanomaterials at The University of Manchester, said: “Using graphene we have developed G-SERIES outsole rubbers that are scientifically tested to be 50% stronger, 50% more elastic and 50% harder wearing.
“We are delighted to put graphene on the shelves of 250 retail stores all over the world and make it accessible to everyone. Graphene is a versatile material with limitless potential and in coming years we expect to deliver graphene technologies in composites, coatings and sensors, many of which will further revolutionise sports products.”
The G-Series shoes are available to pre-order now ahead of going on sale from 12 July.