An image depicting Columbia Sportswear’s Omni-MAX footwear system.
TECHNOLOGY

Meet Columbia Sportswear’s New Omni-MAX™ Footwear System

The innovative cushioning and traction system combines mid- and outsole elements for stellar comfort
BY RACHEL CAVANAUGH
Columbia Sportswear has been a leader in footwear innovation for decades, pioneering groundbreaking technologies such as Omni-Grip™, OutDry™, and Techlite™—not to mention game changers in apparel like OutDry™ Extreme and the NASA-inspired Omni-Heat™ Infinity.

But never before has the sportswear giant created a modular footwear system that can be mixed and matched to such a customizable degree, offering exceptional comfort and top-grade performance qualities.

Until now. Meet Omni-MAX™.
At left, an Omni-MAX hiking shoe is pictured on a sunny dirt trail; At right, an Omni-MAX PFG fishing shoe is pictured on a boat in the water. 
The newly launched innovation is a bottom unit that combines midsole and outsole components to create a supremely comfortable, dependable footwear system that delivers high-quality cushioning and traction.

“Omni-MAX™ is our first-ever systems innovation in footwear,” says Dr. Haskell Beckham, Columbia’s vice president of innovation. “This is the most stable and most comfortable footwear system that Columbia has ever produced for the intended outdoor environment.”

There are two core components that every Omni-MAX™ system will have: deflection domes and flex grooves.

Deflection domes

Deflection domes are little rubber cushions underneath the shoe at strategic points where the foot strikes the ground.

“The bone structure of the foot basically provides a tripod,” Beckham explains. “You’ve got the heel bone, and then you’ve got the first and the fifth metatarsal bones. These three bones are the first to make contact with the ground when you put your foot down. That’s where the deflection domes are located.

“They are biomechanically consistent with the primary pressure points under the foot for more stability. This allows the cushioning to adapt to the pressure applied, enhancing what the foam alone delivers.”
A close-up image of an outsole featuring Columbia Sportswear’s new Omni-MAX footwear system. 

Flex grooves

Flex grooves are small notches that help Omni-MAX shoes bend more naturally with your foot as it moves.

“When you’re walking, your foot bends, right?” Beckham explains. “But when you put your foot into a shoe, now you’re placing it on top of a platform that may or may not bend as easily. These grooves make it easier for it to bend with your foot.

“They create enhanced flexibility and smooth transitioning from heel strike to push off. The resulting underfoot experience delivers protection and comfort for varied surfaces and terrain.”

The combination of the deflection domes and flex grooves leads to greater comfort and stability.

In addition to these two elements, all Omni-MAX shoes—which began launching in January 2024—will feature an intriguing, and identifying new sidewall texture that resembles the surface of a pine cone. This feature makes Omni-MAX shoes distinct from other footwear and thus more easily recognizable.

A modular system

Another thing that makes Omni-MAX stand out is that it’s a modular system, which means you can combine existing technologies depending on the intended use of the shoe. For example, one Omni-MAX shoe might feature Omni-Grip™ rubber while another might rely on Adapt Trax™.

The system can incorporate different lug patterns for hiking shoes versus fishing shoes, or various types of foam, for instance. The thing that’s consistent is the combination of functional design elements that gives it the extra cushioning and traction
“I believe they're the most comfortable shoes Columbia has ever made.”
Dr. Haskell Beckham, Vice President of Innovation
At the moment, Omni-MAX appears in a handful of Columbia shoes including the Konos TRS (a lightweight hiking shoe), the Konos TRS OutDry (a waterproof trail shoe), the PFG Castback (a performance fishing shoe), and the Benson and Bethany (all-around adventure shoes).

In March, Omni-MAX will be added to a wide variety of other hiking shoes as well.

“If you haven't put these shoes on, you should,” encourages Beckham. “I believe they're the most comfortable shoes Columbia has ever made. The system is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Want to give Omni-MAX™ a try yourself? Check out our full collection.