Even as puffy coats were the outfit du jour and you couldn’t swing a string of prayer flags without hitting a set of powder skis, there was running gear galore at the 2018 Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show winter trade show. And what fun to see winter-month icons like mohawk-sporting Glen Plake strolling the same aisles as running luminaries like Anton Krupicka!
Here were some of the stand-out running products we spotted at the show – mostly new bells and whistles, but also a few goodies that have managed to avoid the spotlight … up until now.
While today’s headlamps are lighter, longer-lasting and more powerful than ever, they can still be awkward in fit or tough to focus exactly right. Night Trek aims to do a better job lighting the runner’s way during those nighttime jaunts by putting the beams down at your feet. Their signature running product, the Night Trek 270, consists of two ultra-light (1.5 oz each) LED light units protected by weatherproof, high-impact casing that secure snugly via shoelace clips. The LEDs glow with a robust 100 lumens and will last up to five hours. There’s even flashing signal lights on the backside of the curved units to make you more visible from behind. The 270 takes a little getting used to, but Night Trek is onto something with this innovation (Sidenote: Even Robert Herjavec from Shark Tank thinks so – he bought in!).
Altra’s Lone Peak Line
Any shoulder season runner knows that mud, snow and rain can add several ounces to every stride. Some materials absorb moisture and in other cases shoes lack an escape route for “undesirables” (some membranes may breathe well, but they don’t shed moisture quickly enough). Altra’s Lone Peak line features RSM construction (“RSM” stands for “Rain, Snow, Mud”). Altra turned to eVent® to waterproof their shoes – while also identifying opportunities to let it breathe better. “We placed waterproof fabric on the exterior, so water beads on the outside,” explains Altra founder Golden Harper. They also welded (instead of stitched) the material to guarantee waterproof-ness.” The result is what Altra claims is a running shoe that protects the foot, eliminates the old-fashioned booty construction that puts waterproof material inside the shoe (making it hotter and heavier on runs) and gains no water weight.
Double-Layered Construction for Better Performance
When two guys are in a booth chatting about the Hardrock 100 Mile Endurance Run, you know that things must be serious. So I stopped in my tracks to learn about Wrightsock, a 60-year-old company that makes one thing. You guessed it: socks. Priced affordably, Wrightsock socks are double-layered, which reduces friction between your feet and the inside of the shoe. Over the long haul, that means fewer blisters. The innermost layer effectively wicked moisture on an unseasonably warm run the next day, too. Finally, two layers are better than one when it comes to durability. Everybody who has paid $20 for a trail-running sock that barely lasted two months of training repeat after me: “Hip, Hip, Hooray!”
The Boa System Dial-Based Closures
Innovations Help the Dial-based Closure Crack the Running Category
The Boa System, which is commonplace in snowsports, golf and cycling, is now making headway in running, with UnderArmour, New Balance and Merrell Boa-powered shoes. UnderArmour featured multiple shoes with the Boa system, which consists of a dial, specially-formulated low-friction guides and a new soft cloth lace to replace its traditional stainless steel interwoven laces in some cases. UA worked in close collaboration with Boa Technology designers to land on the best position for the Boa dial and identify the optimal sequencing of lace for fit and performance. The Boa System will appear in spring on the UnderArmour Fat Tire 3 (pictured), a burly go-anywhere shoe that makes the most of a Michelin outsole. With the Boa System’s runner-friendly changes, look for more Boa-powered shoes in the future, too.
Runners will also appreciate the ease of the Boa System on icy terrain with the Korkers Ice Runner, a quick-on/quick-off TPU frame that fits easily over the shoe, tightens quickly and provides traction with underside carbide tips. This is the perfect, micro-adjustable solution to traditional ice-traction devices that have relied on stretching rubber uncomfortable over a shoe or boot.
Salomon Ultra Pro
Many of the world’s greatest trail runners have been turning to Salomon for their running shoe and gear needs as they tackle grueling mountain runs that would make mortals curl up and suck their thumbs. But here’s the hushed truth: many of those top-tier runners are professional, feather-boned mutants with flawless running form who could probably run in cardboard outsoles if push came to shove. That’s definitely not taking anything from Salomon – they are at the forefront of technical design. But the regular Joe’s and Jennifer’s in the middle and back of the pack have different needs. The new Salomon Ultra Pro is touted as a “race shoe for a guy who’s not Killian” (Killian Jornet is the gold standard for elite mountain runners. The Spaniard has won the toughest races in the world and made it up Mount Everest in a record 26 hours). The UltraPro features a highly compression-resistant EVA midsole, which makes it friendlier for runners who are not waif-like. The fit is generous as well, to accommodate a broader galaxy of striders. The shoe is also waterproof, with a Gore-Tex® bootie that is welded to the inside, a process that eliminates a lot of stitching and makes it less bulky. The technology, called “Invisible Fit” claims to be 50 percent more breathable. Look for the shoe in the Fall of ’18 – on the feet of elites, sandbaggers and first-timers all at once.