Trail runners for every taste

Lightweight footwear covers range from minimalist junkies to cushion addicts. Check out our coverage of the new trail running footwear at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2012 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Aug. 2-5. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

This SNEWS Outdoor Retailer Summer Market recap is brought to you by Cordura:

The Term “Minimalist 2.0” has been thrown around quite a bit at the last few shows, and the trail running offerings for Spring 2013, with their beefed up cushioning, certainly are a fresh take on what’s come before.

This Summer Market offered trail running selections to appeal to both minimalist junkies and consumers who desire more cushion, wary of the uneven ground and sharp rocks they encounter on trail runs.

For Spring ’13, footwear companies are catering to both groups with a slew of minimal-inspired products infused with added protective features that attempt to woo the non-minimalists.

“We’re seeing that the movement toward minimal will continue,” said Brian Moor, vice president of global footwear for The North Face. “People are seeing the evolution of thought that a product can be made more simply: lighter weight, closer to the ground and with more flexibility.”

The offerings designed to appeal to extreme minimalists all seem to have one thing in common: the magic heel-to-toe drop number of 4 millimeters.

Merrell’sM Connect Series includes four collections (including a running collection) designed to keep athletes connected with the ground beneath them. The one most applicable to trail runners are in the Mix Master line, which has five new products including the Mix Master Move and the Mix Master Glide Move, both featuring a 4-millimeter drop and 12-8 millimeters of cushion.

La Sportivaoffers up a super-light (6.9-ounce), 4-millimeter drop product in its Vertical K (MSRP $115), a lightweight, flexible shoe with a breathable one-piece upper eliminating the need for a tongue. The injection-molded MorphoDynamic midsole provides high cushioning while maintaining flexibility and sensitivity to the ground. 



TrekSta USAwill introduce its Sync and Sync GTX trail runners, which feature lightweight yet structured uppers and 4-millimeter heel-to-toe drops. The shoes have a new lightweight dual-density phylon midsole cushioning system designed to encourage proper running form and a HyperGrip outsole. Both models are built on the company’s nestFIT design (a last that resembles a human foot).



Salomon brings its minimal Sense Ultra (MSRP $180), with a 4-millimeter drop, and Sense Mantra (MSRP $120), with a 6-millimeter drop, to the trail running space. Both products, which transfer easily from road to trail, have the company’s new Endofit technology for precision fit and Profeel feel film for forefront rock protection, allowing the shoe to be lightweight while protecting consumers from the sharp stuff.



Another company offering a range of lightweight products to appeal to both schools of thought is Patagonia Footwear. From its minimal selections, called the Evermore and Fore Runner Evo, to its Tsali 2.0 and Gamut, there’s something for everyone. The Evermore (MSRP $110), a 4-millimeter drop shoe, is flexible and designed for long-distance training runs while the lightweight (8.8-ounce), low-profile Fore Runner Evo (MSRP $120) is designed with that close-to-the-ground feel.



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We really can’t talk minimal without mentioning Vibram, which brings its revamped SeeYa LS (MSRP $100), a beefier Vibram lace-up that comes in at about 5 ounces and has a 2-millimeter EVA insole, Drilex sock liner plus a TC-1 rubber outsole to provide grip on rough terrain.

Vasque’s “minimally minded” Pendulum (MSRP $110) has protective features, like an EVA midsole and protection plate, but is designed to encourage a natural forefoot strike. Its 6-millimeter drop keeps the heel closer to the ground, but still has that extra protection in case of a heel strike.



Scarpais bringing its “Mountain Minimal” concept to the trade show floor with its newest edition of the Spark: the Spark GTX (MSRP N/A). Scarpa claims this 9.5-ounce shoe offers the perfect protection for rugged mountain running with its low-profile midsole, reduced foam thickness in the tongue and ankle collar and a lightweight high-tensile fabric forefoot strike plate.

It’s all about the heel technology with Teva’snew TevaSphere design, which offers a spherical heel instead of the flat, bulky heel of the past. The design offers support to the 90 percent of the running population that still heel strikes, said product line manager Chris Hillyer. There are a few trail options in the TevaSphere line, including the Trail eVent (MSRP $140), the Trail Mid eVent (MSRP N/A) and the women’s-only Trail (MSRP $120).

Hi-Tecis debuting a slew of new styles with its more prominent logo (think Nike Swoosh prominence), designed to make its shoes stand out. Standing out won’t be a problem with the men’s lightweight V-Lite Infinity Trail shoe (MSRP $130), which comes in flashy colors like Clementine (though that Clementine is covered with a black mesh). The lightweight shoe radiates a retro vibe but is all modern inside with its seamless molded upper, multidensity trail-specific midsole and its shank support with rock protection plate.

Brooksbeefs up its protection with the Cascadia 8 (MSRP $120), which has a midsole made from BioMoGo, Brooks’ eco-friendly material. The midsole is blended with the company’s smart cushioning technology, designed to create a springy return. The product has Ballistic Rock Shield, a sheath between the outsole and midsole that protects the forefoot from sharp objects.

The newest 9.6-ounce trail runner from The North Faceexpands on its popular Ultra line. The new Ultra Guide (MSRP $110) is described as being “rugged yet lightweight” with its dual compression, EVA Cradle Guide technology designed to enhance natural foot strike and the company’s metatarsal support and TPU Snake Plate for enhanced forefoot protection. This piece will appeal more to those at the less minimalist end of the spectrum, with its 8-millimeter heel-to-toe drop.

--Ana Trujillo

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