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You'll Never Guess What Inspired APL's Newest Running Shoe, the Zipline

We'll give you a hint: it's all in the name.

apl zipline sneakers

The preponderance of technical running shoes that exist today can have one engaging in mental judo to keep everything straight — do I need Altra's new carbon racer, or should I try out Nike's new marathon-specific option? The sheer volume of highly-advanced, highly-comfortable running shoes has never been greater, which means when a pair stands out from the crowd, I pay attention.

Case in point: Athletic Propulsion Labs has just released its newest running shoe, the Techloom Zipline. Unlike most other products released in the past two years of alternating lockdowns, the Techloom Zipline was inspired by global travel — specifically, a ziplining trip taken by the founders in Dubai.

Apparently, hanging semi-precariously in the air, attached only by harnesses and cables, was inspiration for a decidedly more grounded concept: a brand-new running shoe that harnesses the power of APL's signature FutureFoam midsole compound, along with an all new seamless TechLoom construction and “ziplines” surrounding the upper to provide both lateral and longitudinal support.

I spoke with co-founders Adam and Ryan Goldston about the shoe's inception, design challenges and inspiration, and how an unexpected moment can result in a product.

Gear Patrol: The new Techloom Zipline was inspired by a ziplining experience in Dubai. Beyond the literal webbing cage of the shoe and its similarities to being harnessed into a zipline, what about the experience influenced the shoe?

Adam + Ryan: The thing about ziplining that's so exciting is that you feel free, but know that you’re secure. As we were developing the TechLoom Zipline, that was the feeling we were trying to recreate. For us, inspiration typically comes from an unexpected moment, and that’s exactly what happened with the TechLoom Zipline. After the experience, we found ourselves constantly reflecting on the feeling, and that’s what’s drove us to create this silhouette.

apl techloom zipline running shoes
apl techloom zipline running shoes

GP: What was Dubai like?

A+R: Dubai is an incredible place. The architecture there is unlike any other destination that we’ve visited, and the activities you can do there are almost limitless. In addition to the incredible architecture, the car culture is also amazing — you never know what car [will be] coming around the corner; from a McLaren Speedtail to a Rolls-Royce Cullinan.

Dubai is globally known as a hub for luxury, but there is also a focus on health and wellness that many people don’t know about. Dubai has some of the world’s most state-of-the-art training facilities, such as the NAS Sport Complex, so we really enjoyed our time there.

GP: APL’s Streamline was inspired by a trip to Japan — do many of your shoe designs come from international travel? What about seeing new places inspires the design process for you?

A+R: A lot of our designs have been inspired by traveling internationally. We love exploration and movement; those are two of the things that inspire and motivate us the most. When you step out of your comfort zone you have to allow yourself to experience things as they come, and try things that you wouldn’t usually do when you are home.

The best part about inspiration is that anything can spark it, and novelty is typically in abundance when you are far from home, so the chances of experiencing or seeing something that you haven’t before is very high. Traveling has definitely opened up our minds, and some of our greatest innovations were inspired by trips to Dubai, Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo.

apl techloom zipline running shoes

GP: The Zipline is APL’s most purpose-built running shoe to date, and was developed over two years. Did you encounter any design hurdles in the process of bringing this shoe to life? What were some highs and lows regarding the process?

A+R: We absolutely encountered design and engineering hurdles while creating this shoe. The greatest difficulty was developing the material of the Techloom Zipline, and then creating a manufacturing process to ensure the uniformity of the application at scale. However, the difficulties are also what make the whole process worth it. Typically, the more difficult it is to create, the more special it is.

The high point was definitely when we received the final samples and were able to put them on for the first time. Shoe development is a process that takes so much time, and while the culmination for the consumer is when the product is released, for us it’s when we have a confirmation sample that we can wear. That is when we are able to truly experience the shoe in its entire glory, which is incredibly rewarding.

GP: Do you have another trip on the books?

A+R: We do! We will be in the U.K. and France soon, but most of our trips are last-minute decisions. Many great opportunities have come to us because, if the moment is right, we will go nearly anywhere in the world at any time. We try to allow for spontaneity in our schedule, which enables us to travel across the world with hardly any notice, and some of our greatest partnerships have happened as a result of that.

The Techloom Zipline is available starting today online and at select retailers.


Athletic Propulsion Labs TechLoom Zipline
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