A Swiss Shoe Brand Treads New Terrain With a Tiny Alpine Hut
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A Swiss Shoe Brand Treads New Terrain With a Tiny Alpine Hut

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By Erin V. Mahoney
Swiss performance brand On unveils a minimalist micro cabin to honor their Alpine roots.

Nestled high above Switzerland’s breathtaking Engadin Valley, the On Mountain Hut is a nod to the brand's origins and a celebration of their latest collection. Over the course of a year—in a certain departure from their usual purview—the company's in-house design team conceived a sustainable hut to be installed 8,200 feet above sea level.

The elemental structure measures just 204 square feet, and it features a living area with a wood-burning stove, a communal table, and a wet room supplied by a rainwater filtration system. Additional creature comforts include a solar-powered lamp and a dry toilet. A mini deck overlooks a glacial lake, while the lofted sleeping area serves up some of the most awe-inspiring vistas. 

The hut combines "our love of mountains with our love of design. It fuses tradition with innovation," the brand explains.

The hut combines "our love of mountains with our love of design. It fuses tradition with innovation," the brand explains.

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The temporary mountain dwelling stands in the very place where it all began. While hiking in the region in 2010, co-founders Olivier Bernhard, Caspar Coppetti, and David Allemann pieced together a business plan that would become the cult-favorite athletic brand. 

The startup has experienced a spectacular rise since then, transforming the running shoe with CloudTec, their innovative, cloud-like cushioning. Now available in more than 6,000 specialty running stores across 50 countries, On has expanded to apparel, accessories, and now a three-piece outdoor collection dropping today.

Accessible only by foot, the On Mountain Hut is sited on Piz Lunghin, or "the roof of Europe," the continent’s only triple watershed. Water here flows into the Danube, Rhine, and Po rivers.

Accessible only by foot, the On Mountain Hut is sited on Piz Lunghin, or "the roof of Europe," the continent’s only triple watershed. Water here flows into the Danube, Rhine, and Po rivers.

A modest material palette allows the landscape to take center stage.

A modest material palette allows the landscape to take center stage.

Thilo Alex Brunner, On’s head of design and founder of design studio BMCO, served as chief architect for the net-zero micro cabin. "Part of the ‘Back to the Source’ idea is to demonstrate just how few things are needed to have, hopefully, the stay of a lifetime," he says. It's an exercise in "Reduction as the ultimate luxury."

An interior view of the hut. Locally produced cheese and wine await overnight guests.

An interior view of the hut. Locally produced cheese and wine await overnight guests.

Guests enjoy an unobstructed view of the Engadin Valley from the lofted sleeping area.

Guests enjoy an unobstructed view of the Engadin Valley from the lofted sleeping area.

This reductive approach is evident in the hut’s simple design and material palette. "It’s mainly a modular, wooden construction," Thilo explains. "Window frames and facade elements are made from metal. Easy to be put together and easy to take apart again. Cozy on the inside, protective on the outside. That’s about it."

Geometric in form, the cabin mirrors the jagged peaks in the distance.

Geometric in form, the cabin mirrors the jagged peaks in the distance.

At nightfall, the remote cabin is ideal for stargazing.

At nightfall, the remote cabin is ideal for stargazing.

Anyone willing to make the trek can visit the On Mountain Hut, but only a select few can stay overnight. In alignment with On’s commitment to sustainability, the hut will leave no trace when it's dismantled in September.

Launching today, On's new outdoor collection includes a super-light boot, the Cloudrock Waterproof, a speed trail running shoe, the Cloudventure Peak, and the all-weather Waterproof Anorak.

On Cloudrock Waterproof Shoe
On Cloudrock Waterproof Shoe
The speed-hiking shoe built for traction, pace and protection in tough terrain and any conditions. Missiongrip™ enhanced.
On Cloudventure Peak Shoe
On Cloudventure Peak Shoe
The ultralight shoe for trail racing. Stay sure-footed over as you speed over varied terrain with Missiongrip™. Land soft on even steep descents with CloudTec®.
On Waterproof Anorak
On Waterproof Anorak
This fully waterproof and windproof anorak is ultralight and breathable for staying active in all weathers. Made with sustainability in mind, it features a recyclable membrane and a PFC-free water-repellant coating.