Summer Outdoor Retailer 2013 trade show in Salt Lake City just finished and most shoe companies have announced their Spring 2014 models. Some of these models won’t be available until December or January at the earliest with some as late as March. However, some will be available in a few weeks. We will get a definite product launch date from the vendors at The Running Event in Austin in December. So stay tuned for my on-the-floor report at that show. Here’s a summary of the offerings from Outdoor Retailer. More cushioning seems to be the latest trend for several brands.– Nick Pang, NRC Shoe Review Editor
Altra Zero Drop
Olympus is the Hoka killer from Altra. Looks nicer than Hoka…
And the Everyday is an every day casual shoe based on the Instinct platform…
Called Sensori and Sensori Cloud, both products are a modern upgrade of the tire sandals worn by the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico. While the Sensori is a performance-friendly product, the designs — including Core Colors with colored accents, Marbled Madness with camo and other “patchwork” colors, and translucent rubber — are attractive enough for fashion wear. The Sensori Cloud adds a thin layer of cushioning in the forefoot area, for those who want an extra-comfortable sandal that allows for total natural, barefoot-style, movement. Both products are slated for release shortly.
Product designer, and former head of global product design for Crocs, Dennis Driscoll says, “We were able to analyze over 4,000 foot tracings from our customers to create the perfect ergonomic shape for our new products.” Analysis revealed that most sandal companies place the toe post in wrong location.
Taking learnings from minimalism, Merrell designs light and fast hiking and trail running shoes for Spring 2014. The new AllOut Collection features a flexible underfoot wrap that mobilizes the arch. This unique design activates the body’s most natural form by creating continuous ground contact for increased mobility and efficiency. Core performance hiking and backpacking shoes are athletic in build but packed with Merrell’s tried and true performance technologies to meet the needs of modern day trail blazers.
The Sazzi Una Sport is an all purpose, performance sport sandal designed to fit and function specifically for women. The unique four toe post upper construction naturally connects your foot to the foot bed with no need to clinch your toes. The upper is lightweight and fast drying, featuring an adjustable ankle strap, all built on a women’s specific last. The Una Sport is truly amphibious, great for use on land or in the water. The Una Sport also comes in a men’s specific version (the Uno Sport) with more masculine tooling & built on a men’s last.
Skora is unveiling the Skora Fit, a lightweight, zero-drop training shoe with 16mm stack height, a curved outsole that mimics the shape of the foot and allows for natural movement and stride with protection and cushioning. A 3D-printed upper provides structural support while asymmetrical lacing relieves pressure across the top of the foot for a customizable fit. The Fit is built on the same platform as the original Form and Base, but has added a couple millimeters of cushion, for a better balance of comfort and performance.
Topo is introducing two new shoes that is somewhat of a departure from split toe design – they feature a more traditional athletic shoe look. These shoes have an internal split toe to appeal to athletes who like the function, but not the look.
The ST (Speed Trainer) is zero drop, has a protective cover to keep you drier and shielded from debris while creating the appearance that it is a mild-mannered closed-toe shoe. The MT (Mountain Trainer) is zero drop, has an anatomical last, combined with a rugged outsole trail shoe.
New Balance is introducing what it is calling ‘a breakthrough design’ for runners with the Fresh Foam 980. New Balance believes that the Fresh Foam 980 will offer a revolutionary approach to neutral running by combining ultra-plush cushioning with a 4mm drop to offer a super soft, bouncy ride that protects runners without sacrificing speed.
Brooks is updating their Pure Project collection with some new features in the Pure Cadence 3, Pure Connect 3 and Pure Flow 3.
- sculpted medial midfoot and integrated new, wider Nav Band for a streamlined fit
- repositioned Toe Flex to empower the first two toes as a unit
- reversed the direction of the tongue wrap to flow across the foot naturally
- beveled IDEAL Heel on the lateral side to better your forward foot strike
Brooks also announced the Transcend, delivering what they call the ultimate smooth ride: cushioned, effortless, plush and completely tuned to your foot. The Transcend is a traditional ‘support’ shoe and complements the Brooks Adrenaline GTS. I’m not a big fan but there seem to be a large following for lightweight cushioned shoes…