How Walk On aims to beat blisters with merino wool

by Joanna Wane / 17 September, 2017
Lucas Smith (front)  on the Kepler Track.

Lucas Smith (front) on the Kepler Track.

Sometimes a real stroke of genius isn’t coming up with a new idea but reinventing an old one.

When Lucas Smith worked as a guide on the Milford Track, he saw tourists crippled with blisters being choppered out because they couldn’t walk any further. “You’re in this absolutely incredible landscape and by the end of the first day, all people can think about is their feet,” he says.

Smith, who also spent time as a shepherd in the Mackenzie Country, had heard about savvy farmers, soldiers and adventurers stuffing their boots with wool. The trick, he decided, was being sure to use high-quality fleece.

Last year, the young entrepreneur went into business with his Walk On blister protection packs, made from ethically farmed (ZQ accredited) hyperfine merino wool. Available online (www.walkon.co.nz) and through Torpedo7 stores, they’ve been trialled by dancers in the Royal New Zealand Ballet, members of the SAS, and competitors in Alaska’s brutal Iditarod sled-dog race.

Smith, who’s 22, first went into business as a fifth-former at boarding school, importing oversized hoodies from China – a fashion trend that was briefly all the rage. “About 150 of them were sent to my pigeon box at Christ’s College,” he laughs. He sold all of them.

And while he still has to top up his income working nights in web development, Smith describes himself as a young bloke on a mission. “If you put yourself out there and show a bit of persistence, people will give you a hand.”

 

This was published in the August 2017 issue of North & South.

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