It’s tradeshow season again!
While we are currently stocking the Winter 2018-2019 collection, we are already well into planning what next Winter will look like. Crazy eh! Spending hours looking at catalogs and reading reviews becomes routine. There is one simple but important question: “Do I see someone using this thing in their running/skiing?” As retailers, we are constantly told about the new technologies, the next best thing and all the marketing lingo that comes with it. The difficult part here is not to try to carry everything, it is to curate products that we believe will make your days up in the mountains better and take you further. When we hear about colour stories and markups, what we ask is: “How does this product function? What is its added value?”. If something doesn’t genuinely excite the gear geek in us, why even carry it?
Gavin was recently down in Austin for The Running Event, a running-focused tradeshow that is held every Fall. The goal was simple: to find the latest, hard to find and innovative gear that we can’t wait to show you next year and to connect with some of the brands that we already know and love. While he was there, he also took a peek at some of the main brand’s offerings for next Fall and Winter. Here are, translated from marketing lingo to understandable language, some of the new trail running products for next year.
We’re huge fans of rabbit! From their bold cuts to their cool patterns, those guys are truly taking running fashion and function elsewhere. Get ready to show some skin with a collection filled with short shorts, track-and-field inspired crop tops and tank tops. But really, get ready for some of the most comfortable and well thought-out running apparel you’ve ever worn.
Jeremy from rabbit gave us a great overview of the new collection for this coming Spring. The young company from Santa Barbara is bringing a new women’s line called “Freedom”. If 2 inches inseams and tank tops are not your jam, the Freedom collection is aimed at offering a bit more room and leg length for a looser fit. Same comfort, same fabrics, just some beautiful pieces that you’ll want to rock on the trails as much as around town. On the trail running-specific side of things, get ready for some wicked fast neon green colours! rabbit is one of those brands that live to their ideals: to make great running pieces that are both super functional and visually appealing.
Hoka One One
Surfing on their already popular line-up, Hoka One One will be introducing a few subtle updates for next fall. For the trail running collection, now called the Sky line, some softer, dual-density midsoles are apprearing in the Mafate Evo 2 (not available in Canada) and the Torrent. The designers at Hoka are also reworking the forefoot overlays and fabrics to create a more «locked in » feel at the toebox and instep in the Speedgoat 3. We will also be seeing some hydrophobic materials on select models (Matryx as Hoka calls it).
You can count on Hoka One One’s to keep featuring the very popular Vibram Megagrip compound. in many of their trail shoes (Speedgoat and others). The Torrent, which doesn’t use Vibram rubber, is getting a new multidirectional lug pattern that should make it a bit more grippy. Interestingly, Hoka is gradually moving to lower stack-heights in their trail shoes, sign that super soft and cushy shoes are far from being universally enjoyed.
Topo will be a new brand for us next Spring. These guys caught our eye last year with their wide forefoot lasts paired with narrow heels that offers all the splay you’d want without the heel blisters and the sloppiness. Topo has this really fun lineup that is kept simple and streamlined. No need for dozens of models. A few key shoes, “standard” zero, three and five millimetre drops, and a couple stack heights matched to various fabrics for different uses and you have the Topo trail offering.
Topo’s shoes are using a lot of Vibram’s compounds in their outsoles. From Megagrip to XS Trek, Topo shoes won’t let you down when it gets slippery and precarious. Here are a few notable updates and new products for next Fall:
- The Mountain Racer Racer is Topo’s newest shoe. With a slightly firmer midsole, some Vibram Megagrip rubber and a rip-stop mesh upper reinforced with printed overlays, it will be aimed at performance and efficiency. 5 mm drop, 265 grams.
- The new Terraventure 2 is coming out in the Spring. Watch for this shoe which combines a all the protection, durability and traction you would want out of a trail shoe in a three-millimetre-drop package and a lightweight and breathable upper.
- Same as the Terraventure 2, the Ultraventure will soon be available. This shoe offers more cushioning and more stack height, two features specifically aimed at ultra-running. This shoe recently won Runner’s World Editor’s Choice award.
- The MT-2 is becoming the MT-3 next Summer. A great trail/road hybrid, the MT-3 will remain light and versatile and its new upper materials should offer more durability.
We were very lucky to explore the Ciele collection with Jeremy, the company’s creative genius. Jeremy has some pretty wild African-inspired patterns up his sleeve for next year, but the permanent collection will also expand with more solid colour options. You will also see the return of the big “Ciele” logo under the brims (think about all those Gram photos…). Reflective materials, Polartec-lined hats, Coolwick fabric and amazing durability make Ciele the must-have accessory for your adventures.
As usual, we will try to carry most of Ciele’s collection in small quantities. This way, you won’t see ten people with the same hat at run club. We may have a custom RunUphill hat next year, just saying…
Brooks is keeping its trail running lineup nice and simple. After updating the Caldera next Spring, it’s time for the Pure Grit and the good old Cascadia to get some attention. The new Pure Grit is mostly getting some new fabrics. Otherwise, count on the same shoe that offers a high arch support and a narrow heel. Joel’s choice for most races, and definitely a love or hate model. Meanwhile, the Cascadia is getting a new outsole and shedding a few grams without changing its very popular last and its awesome stability.
On the apparel side of things, Brooks is expanding its line for people who run at below-freezing temperatures. New waffle-patterned fleeces, some new winter tights and other thermal layers should keep you dry and warm and help you get through the toughest months of the year. Did you know that all their photos for next Winter were shot in Alberta?
How about running 50 miles with just a mesh belt and handhelds? That sounds like fun! Naked is this super small company that manufactures a mega-comfortable running band. With 12 different sizes to choose from, there is no way you won’t get the perfect bounce-free fit. This was one of our must-haves last Summer, and lots of people ditched the running vest for the freedom of the running band on a variety of trails and races.
Naked is attacking the vest market next year. Cold Blue tech material will keep you dry and cooler than you could ever imagine. The vests will offer 3 litres of storage in an ultralight and super-minimal design.
When your stomach says no to food on a long race, not many products match Tailwind. For next year, Tailwind is introducing a Recovery line in Vanilla and Chocolate flavours. These are vegan like all their other drink mixes. We tried one of the coffee recovery samples scheduled to come out next Summer and it had just enough flavour and strength. For you coffee lovers out there!
Ultimate Direction has been doing some great things with their packs recently. Their SCRAM pack is scheduled to be available this Spring and trust us when we say that everyone at the store wants one of those! Next Summer will see the Halo, a new super light vest that has a capacity of 10+ litres for 140 grams of fabric and thread.
Another fun idea from Ultimate Direction is the new collection of storage wearables. Imagine a running short with some built-in pockets for soft flasks and other accessories! Funky, isn’t it?
After having polished its Micro Trail Pro pole, Leki is now looking at ways to make adjustable-length Z-poles better. They will be adding a 4 section adjustable Z-pole this year (most brands have 5 sections when it comes to adjustable lengths). This will allow for more stiffness and bring its weight down to within 7 grams of the popular Micro Trail Pro (202g for Micro Trail Vario and 195g Micro Trail Pro).
Another small update is the new mesh strap for added breathability (they call it the Trigger Shark Frame Strap). In the weight-weenie category, note that the Trail Micro Race features bare carbon to cut down the weight of a coating of paint or lacquer…!