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Behind the Shoe: Salming OT Comp

Behind the Shoe focuses on the background, story and inspiration of how a running shoe came to life from its inception to its release.

We love our running shoes; they are a part of us. They make us fast, hold us to our fitness goals and their wear and tear a form of pride among runners. Every year we put thousands of miles into our favorite kicks, exploring the outside world and testing our own limits. If you want to know about our most trusted brands, we’ll tell you (and in detail), what it is that makes them so amazing.

But even before we slipped our feet into them, prior to feeling out their uppers, testing their cushioning or discovering their energy returns–someone, somewhere concepted them. Shoemakers, designers, product engineers and the best minds in the industry worked to create these pieces of art that find the balance between comfort and performance; look and feel.

This is Behind the Shoe.

Ask athletes around the U.S. about Salming running shoes and you may find them quizzically tilting their heads, unsure of the shoemaker and its products. Although the Swedish sports brand has been around since 1991, with the shoe side of things debuting in 2014, it wasn’t until recently that it began to really make its way into the U.S. market. Yet, even now, it still has a way to go to become a standout in an already saturated market.

And if you want to be competitive here, you have to come out swinging from Day One. “No nonsense,” the brand proudly claims on its homepage, a tagline that signifies Salming’s attitude toward creating products that don’t f**k around.

“It originates from our brand core value Willpower (Jävlaranamma in Swedish), the one word and character commonly used to describe our founding fathers’ mindset. It is the relentless pursuit of attention to detail and customer benefit,” said Salming’s head of design and creative director Thomas Nord. “No nonsense stands for inget skitsnack in Swedish, directly translated to English would be ‘No BS,’ meaning we don’t put anything into our performance products that doesn’t belong there, neither do we communicate that this shoe or product will do the work for you.”

Nord’s relationship with the brand dates back almost to the beginning of the company itself, back in 1998. Founded by Börje Salming, NHL Hall of Famer who played professionally for 17 years, the founder had wanted to create a new product segment in its early years—hockey. At the time, Nord was already a consultant for the brand, and quickly began working to conceptualize and market this new division.

Two years later, he was approached by Tomas Solin (who would go on to become his partner and managing director of Salming Sports) to help create a global performance sports brand. Thus, Salming Sports was birthed. “Being able to fully focus on one mission—from conceiving an idea, a concept, developing a product—all the way to receiving feedback from the market, that is a true aphrodisiac process and the best job there is,” Nord shared.

Photo Credit: Salming
Photo Credit: Salming

Now a veteran shoemaker and designer, Nord has seen plenty of shoes come and go through his office; each year, evolving previous models to enhance their performance and providing runners with the best options while also introducing new concepts into the market. This past March, the brand launched its very first OCR shoe.

“The background story of the Salming OT Comp starts with what, at the time, seemed like an impossible equation,” said Nord. “To make a shoe that catered to the needs of the most discriminating OCR connoisseur but at the same time create a performance trail, orienteering and swimrun favorite.”

With the success and overwhelmingly positive feedback on the Salming Elements and Trail5 shoes, Nord and his team’s focus was on creating a shoe that utilized the best parts of those models while creating something totally new and unique. “We get a lot of quality feedback from our professional ambassadors. Some of them are world-class triathlon athletes, some swimrun athletes, some orienteering athletes, not to mention road runners,” Nord said.

This feedback meant going back to the drawing board many, many times. “The field test period with our professional ambassadors was quite extensive, in all regards (upper, midsole and outsole). The latter making sure we got the rubber compound right together with the Michelin Soles R&D Team,” Nord shared.

Among the things the team learned during these phases was that the shoe’s grip was one of the most important aspects of getting the OT Comp right. Because the shoe is meant to work for orienteering, swimrunners and OCR athletes, Salming looked to Michelin for creating the best grip. “That’s where we together with Michelin and spent the most time developing and testing,” Nord said. “On the upper we came very well prepared with the already existing models and the feedback we received on them. However, we wanted to decrease weight and increase water drainage properties, which we did.”

Photo Credit: Salming
Photo Credit: Salming

After months of work and field tests, the OT Comp found its stride and was released in the world. Pro athletes such as Orienteering World Champions Daniel Hubman of Switzerland and Fredrik Bakkman of Sweden as well as Swedish pro triathlete and three-time ÖTILLÖ winner Jonas Colting have all signed off on the product.

Salming OT Comp Specs

  • 9 oz (US size 10)
  • 16mm center of heel
  • 12mm ball of foot
  • 7mm Lug
  • 4mm Drop
  • Runlite Midsole
  • Michelin Technical Soles Outsole
  • Mesh Lining

When it comes to the shoe’s technology and features, the shoes boast a lug design that is constructed for maximum penetration in mud when searching for harder ground and grip. Built into the lug itself, the small difference in height (4mm drop), allows for better penetration. There’s also a tread design for stability, control and traction on obstacles.

“The base structure that connects the outsole to the midsole adopts the Michelin Fiber Lite Technology construction that enables extreme lightness through a very thin but very durable textile layer,” Nord shared. “The rubber used in the OT Comp outsole is Michelins OCX (Extreme Outdoor Compound), which features an extreme adherence on wet, slippery surfaces due to its special sticky compound.”

Making up the upper is a lightweight mesh body, which promotes better breathability and water drainage. On the midsole, the Salming DNA of the Torsion Guidance System 62/75° has been incorporated to offer an optimized rear foot stability. It’s thin enough to enable the mind to read the ground without sacrificing comfort.

Basically, it’s a shoe that isn’t for the weak. You’re going to want to get your hands (and feet) dirty, testing them on all kinds of challenging surfaces in varying weather. But if that’s already how you play, you’re probably already familiar with the brand and the OT Comp. No nonsense.

“We are the athletes’ brand, constantly looking for new ways to play, new demands and new needs. Old truths often need to be reconsidered, and we are not afraid to break a rule or two if necessary,” Salming says about itself, even leaving us with one question to see if we’re up to the challenge. “Do you play with us or do you dare the risk?” Your move, runners.