If you’ve read even one article here on ye olde Field Mag, you’re likely well aware of our obsession with things that strike a balance between form and function. Whether that be an A-frame cabin, ultralight backpack, or an origami-inspired kayak. Or in this case, a pair of rugged trail shoes.
Since 2017 Tarvas has quietly been making one of the more handsome silhouettes in the trail/town crossover category, drawing inspiration from the Nordic country’s vast natural terrain and notoriously unpredictable weather. Though we’ve seen them pop up here and there at various boutiquey shops over the years, it wasn’t until a mutual friend recently connected us with Tarvas Co-Founder Jukka Lehtinen that we made a point to look closer. And in doing so immediately noticed the error in our ways. Tarvas is not to be slept on.
With a characteristic mud guard, grippy natural rubber outsole, recycled nylon laces, and overall well-refined design, the brand’s flagship Explorer shoe is as at home on rain soaked cobblestone streets as it is on dirt trails and among grassy meadows in Lapland. And you know this because it’s the only style they make, honed over nearly five years of R&D. If a restaurant has only one item on the menu, you know it’s going to be good. Same goes for a footwear brand.
Enabling this extreme attention to detail and purpose-driven design is the brand’s independent approach to manufacturing—it’s all done in Finland. Skilled craftspeople make each shoe in a modest factory a few hours outside Helsinki. And all materials are sourced exclusively within Europe by the Tarvas team directly (most brands employ sourcing & development agencies to acquire raw materials).
This dedication to overseeing every step of the process ensures a product of the highest quality, and the opportunity to manufacture in small quantities—and do limited editions with little lift. Which brings us to the Explorer in Metallic Red, a new colorway introduced this past week using a deadstock German fabric found while traveling in Finland. With just 15 pairs made, each is special (and nearly sold out already).
The hunt for good, old stuff is in the brands DNA. “We have been hunting vintage stuff for ages—usually vintage shoes, bicycles, military stuff, cameras, and vinyl records,” Lehtinen tells us. “That still exists, but for Tarvas we are more interested in finding interesting raw materials that are laying around somewhere, because of the environmental impact.” So if you miss out on this limited release, rest easy knowing more limited releases are sure to come.
Depending on upper material, the Tarvas Explorer sells for between €249 and €279 (roughly $299 and $239 USD). Paying for quality never comes cheap. With Tarvas, it’s well worth the investment.