Nick Pang, our shoe review editor and co-founder of Natural Running Center, recently attended The Running Event trade expo in Austin, TX. There, for three consecutive days, he happily stalked the carpeted exhibit hall where he checked out the new crop of 2014 running shoes. Many footwear companies were only showing demo models, so Nick couldn’t wear-test them. But he was able to get a good look and feel for what runners will be experiencing in the coming months: a dazzling array of color combinations (remember, at least some of us can, when running shoes were pretty much only available in white, red, or blue?); an expansion of Hoka-influenced thicker, cushiony soles though still mated to zero-drop; more trail running models; a continuation of minimalism (it ain’t going away anytime soon), and the-to-be-expected annual design tweaking of popular models. Here then, are Nick’s review highlights of 10 new shoes that will put the kick into your training and racing. For in-depth coverage of these shoes and other footwear brands he checked out at The Running Expo, go to Nick’s own site MinimalistRunningShoes.org. –Bill Katovsky
Merrell is updating only one of its Barefoot collection models, the Bare Access 3.A completely new outdoor collection that might appeal to a majority of runners who desire more cushioning and a higher heel-to-toe drop (6mm) is the AllOut collection.
SKORA offers a new category, Training. The SKORA FIT is a versatile and flexible shoe ideal for the gym or road. Uppers is 3D printed and include a seamless but stretchy air mesh for comfort and an internal arch-band for structural support…The other models will enjoy an awesome choice of colorways not seen anywhere – I can’t wait to get my hands on some of them!
Newton Running: A complete refresh of the majority of the Newton collection except with Gravity III, Motion III, Distance III, and Distance S III. They will all have the new 5 Lug technology which offers a broader and more stable platform.
New Balance: The new Fresh Foam 980 is New Balance’s entry into the maximalist category by combining ultra-plush cushioning with a reduced drop from heel to forefoot to offer a super soft, bouncy ride that protects runners without sacrificing speed.
Altra Zero Drop is adding cushioning big time to their collection with the launch of Olympus and Repetition. Olympus is the only trail shoe with a foot-shaped toe box and max-cushioned Zero Drop platform – a Hoka One One killer.
Vibram: It is expanding in areas like stand-up paddle boarding, kite boarding and wakeboarding. In the running category, they’re looking at the popularity of adventure races like Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, Muddy Buddy, Zombie Race and Warrior Dash. The Spyridon MR (short for mud runner) is an off-road runner with attitude….A 360 degree lug pattern provides grip in every direction and a speed lacing system offers a secure fit.
Skechers is expanding the GOrun and GObionic collection with lots of new upgrades and new models. The new GOrun Ultra is a 4mm drop shoe for runners from long distance to novice looking for maximum cushioning and flexibility. It also has 65% more Resalyte cushioning than the GOrun Ride plus dual density layers offering stability and support.
Topo Athletic Speed Trainer (ST) and Mountain Trainer (MT), lightweight and versatile, are designed for athletes. The ST features a breathable mesh upper and a detachable ethylene vinyl acetate antimicrobial footbed. The MT has a rugged high-traction outsole, 2 density ethylene vinyl acetate footbed and breathable mesh.
Under Armour’s three new models in the SpeedForm collection: the SpeedForm Apollo, SpeedForm XC, and SpeedForm XC Mid. The 8mm drop UA SpeedForm Apollo is built to withstand the longer miles for a more cushioned, supportive ride. It’s outsole is also much wider than the original SpeedForm.
Patagonia EVERlong was launched in November and we were fortunate enough to get early access and wear tested this trail minimalist running shoe. No other low profile trail shoes in the Patagonia pipeline but what also caught our eye is the ROVER. The ROVER combines the best qualities of a minimalist trail runner with a lightweight approach shoe.