Two Strong Partners: An Interview on Workwear with BASF and Timberland

Creating the Next Evolution of Safety Shoes with the Timberland Pro Reaxion

16.12.2020 - Who said work boots must be boring and uncomfortable? Bert Spiller, Vice President Product Creation at Timberland Pro and Dr. Mark Zhu, Market Segment Manager for Footwear, Sports and Leisure for BASF Performance Materials talk to us about the new Timberland Pro Reaxion safety shoe and help us understand how they are bringing comfort, durability and performance to safety footwear.

GIT SECURITY: What makes the Reaxion such an innovation in the safety shoe market?

Bert Spiller: Well the Reaxion safety shoe features Timberland Pro’s proprietary Aerocore Energy System which fuses together the comfort and flexibility of an athletic shoe with the performance and durability of a work boot. We wanted to give workers a new experience – a shoe as appealing as their favorite athletic that provides the energy return to keep them going all day. The Reaxion is offered in both athletic and hiker styles, available in waterproof and non-waterproof options, and comes with a composite safety toe for lightweight protection.  

Why did Timberland Pro work with BASF? Why did BASF work with Timberland Pro?

Bert Spiller: We’ve been working with BASF since 1995 when Timberland adopted BASF’s breathable polyurethane foam as a cost effective, higher-performing alternative to EVA for insoles.  BASF has over 40 years of experience with footwear materials and offers a unique and integrated toolbox of solutions. BASF and Timberland also share a strong sustainability mindset. BASF’s tagline is “We create chemistry for a sustainable future” and it’s nice to work with a company that you can challenge to innovate, and they rise to the challenge. BASF has already provided a bio-based polyurethane material to Timberland for insoles, for example, and we continue to work with them on other solutions.

Mark Zhu: Timberland is a leader and innovator in the footwear industry. And as Bert mentioned, sustainability is also an important link. By 2030, Timberland aims to design 100 percent of its products for circularity and source 100 percent of materials from regenerative agriculture, to push past net zero and have a net positive impact on nature. Why wouldn’t we want to work with them?

Most people probably don’t think about chemistry when it comes to shoe comfort. How did chemistry drive innovation in the design of the Reaxion? What’s so special about the PU and TPU that BASF creates?

Mark Zhu: The Aerocore Energy System is comprised of three layers: a TPU-wrapped midsole, the Anti-Fatigue Technology footbed, and a non-marking outsole. The layers work together to provide superior energy return, comfort, and grip. These features lead to an especially versatile work shoe, making the Timberland Pro Reaxion ideal for indoor work such as warehousing and manufacturing, as well as outdoor jobs in construction and other fields. BASF’s Elastollan TPU is featured in the outsole because of its excellent anti-abrasion and traction performance. Elastopan high-rebound PU foam is used in the midsole and insole to offer all-day support and comfort. BASF was able to tailor the formulation of the PU on the molecular level to give the Timberland Pro team the performance they needed for their new Reaxion safety shoe. The ability to understand the customer needs and translate that into a material solution is one expertise of BASF.

Will the Aerocore system be seen in future shoe models from Timberland Pro?

Bert Spiller: Definitely.

Where can people buy the Reaxion?

Bert Spiller: In EMEA, the men’s shoe is available now. The women’s shoe will be available in 2022. In North America, both men’s and women’s shoes are available online at, as well as at our retail partners across the country.

What was the biggest challenge with the Reaxion?

Bert Spiller: Finding a way to make a shoe that has traditionally been uncomfortable and not fun to wear into something that people want to wear all the time. BASF and their material expertise allowed us to make that a reality.

What has the feedback been from the wearers of the shoe?

Bert Spiller: The feedback we have received has been very positive. People are telling us that it’s the lightest Timberland Pro shoe they have ever tried and the most comfortable. I encourage you to try it and see for yourself.



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