We hit up monster trade show The Running Event in Austin, Texas looking for the latest trends in the running world. Presenting the six trends poised to dominate 2018 and beyond.
The impact running brands—and runners themselves—are leaving on the planet was a popular topic. Several companies mentioned sustainability as a priority for products going forward. We were impressed by the creativity behind the initiatives. Up-and-coming brand Cotopaxi uses remnant materials from its products to create backpacks and day bags, and as a result, no two are alike. They also designate 2% of their revenue to help alleviate poverty. Nathan has partnered with Ocean Conservancy to promote ocean health by donating 2% of all profits from its new HammerHead bottles to the organization. They’re also organizing beach cleanup days throughout 2018 to promote ocean health.
Perhaps the product with the most potential to create a lasting environmental impact is HydraPak’s new Speed Cups (available in a 4 pack for $20 at Rei.com). They’re hoping these will be the ticket to doing away with disposable cups at races and events. The tiny cups are easy to drink from and their flexible material makes them extremely portable. You could easily stick it in a pocket or tuck it in your waste band.
The number of companies and products solely focused on post-training and racing recovery is astounding. The booths dedicated to recovery on The Running Event floor far outnumbered running shoe brands. A few of our favorite products: the Ice/Heat Massage Ball from KT Tape (available for pre-order $44.99, Amazon.com), the OOmg Low Shoe from Oofos (available now for $120, Oofos.com), the Performance GRID Vibe Vibrating Foam Roller from TriggerPoint (available now for $100 at Amazon.com), and the Sleep HR from iFit (available now for $120, Ifit.com). The bottom line: There are hundreds of products on the market to help you rest and recover better. Identify what your particular needs are, and have fun perusing the options.
More and more gear features reflective properties—our favorites were The North Face Isotherm Jacket for its unique woven pattern and weather-resistant protection (available now for $170 at Thenorthface.com), the 2XU Reflect collection for its innovative aluminum coated glass beads (available in 2018 at 2xu.com), the Safety Skin Reflective Skin Spread which is applied directly to your skin—making it a low cost and portable option (available now for $19 at Amazon.com), and the New Balance FuelCore Sonic Viz Pack running shoes which feature the Boa no-tie technology (available now for $120 at Newbalance.com). If your safety concerns expand beyond lack of daylight, the Taser Bold and Taser Pulse (available now for $400 each at Taser.com) were touted as good options for runners. They’re lightweight, easy to carry, and can be used from 15 feet away. (Be aware some states require a license to carry tasers.) Finally, music lovers will appreciate the bone conduction technology in the Aftershokz Trekz Air headphones (available now for $150 at Aftershokz.com) that let you keep your ears open while enjoying the music.
Going Long (and Getting Dirty)
The ultra-run community is not the niche group it once was—everyday runners are giving the long, tough races a go. The result? More and more gear created to fit the needs of these athletes. Darn Tough Vermont was one company that impressed us. All their socks are made in the U.S. (the family-owned company is based out of Vermont, and the mill is just steps away from the headquarters) and they feature a lifetime unconditional guarantee. Wear a hole in them on your 50-miler? No problem, they’ll send you a replacement pair. Try the Beast Crew Light Cushion socks, designed to keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter (available now for $20 at Darntough.com). Other fun finds include the all-new Hoka One One Torrent trail shoes which are lightweight, agile, and built for maximum traction (available in summer 2018 at Hokaoneone.com), Nathan’s Vapormag 2.5L Race Vest which was designed with the help of ultra runner Maggie Guterl (available in 2018 for $125 at Nathansports.com), and Leki’s Micro Trail Vario Trail Running Poles which are foldable and made of carbon fiber (available now for $220 at Leki.com).
Gear Truly Made for Women
Sayanora pink it and shrink it! Several companies are treating women as individuals rather than tiny men. The most impressive example of this came from Altra Running. With every product that is made, the women’s shoe is made on a last that meets the specific needs of a woman’s fit. This “Fit4Her” philosophy costs the brand a lot of money, but Altra founder Golden Harper says its worth it to give women proper-fitting shoes. Nathan Sports has also made properly fitting gear for women a priority. Their race VaporAiress Women’s Hydration Backpack is body-mapped to fit the female form (available now for $150 at Nathansports.com).
The next biggest trend in running? Shoes made just for you. For example, Brooks Running has partnered with HP and Superfeet to create “personalized” footwear that takes into account your biomechanics. Here’s how it works: First, you’ll find a local running shop that has a Fitstation powered by HP for 3D foot scanning, dynamic gait analysis, and foot pressure measurements. Based on all of that analysis and feedback from the runner (including goals and preferences), a personalized shoe is created at Superfeet’s world headquarters in Ferndale, Wash. and then shipped to your home. Brooks hopes that the technology will eventually advance to a point that runners will be able to be analyzed in-store and take a new pair of custom running shoes home that day. We’re still a bit skeptical about how this technology will be executed and received, but it’s exciting to think that obtaining one-of-a-kind running shoes will be realistic in the near future. The technology will roll out in June 2018 (locate the retailer closest to you at Superfeet.com/fitstation) and pricing is still to be determined.