Sports should be among the best practices that make us – or really, through which we make ourselves – more at home, as bodies, in environments, with good things.
That’s why running has come to play such a big role on these pages…
But of course, sports can also be distracting, making us go for just the greatest of excitement and to little depth, especially when we get adrift in the sea of things and trends clamoring for purchase and to be put to use.
As you can see from the recent expansion into advice on the Suunto Ambit’s best use and reviews of select technical menswear, I have decided to help navigate this sea of stuff even more than before and find the peaks of interesting products that I find recommendable, usually through longer-term personal use.
There will still be quite enough writing on the practices for making oneself at home in this world rather than on potential purchases, but also a bit more on new things. Like now, with another visit to the ISPO, the international sports products fair in Munich, now in its 2015 edition.
The ISPO is quite a different beast from the OutDoor Friedrichshafen which I have, by now, attended a few times; it shows a much wider selection of products and is more focused on the next winter’s new products and trends rather than the outdoors.
Thus, one could have visited booths of such brands as Emporio Armani, Bogner, or Sportalm Kitzbühel for their ski wear, and the various makers of skis and snowboards (and a large number of skateboard producers, as well) were all present – but not exactly my interest.
Still in the mountains and with skis, but rather more interesting, was Arc’teryx‘ upcoming gear for ski mountaineering, “their most European collection yet” according to one of the Germany managers.
If you’re serious about ski-mo and like to see the usual intense detail that goes into many of their products’ construction, just check out the Lithic Glove with its 333-denier Gore-Tex, full seam-taping, insulation laminated in so it does not move when you move your fingers trying to grip something, and extra welded-on TPU grips for durability.
Nothing I’ll need for my winter running (fortunately, given the $249 price tag), but quite a work of art.
New jackets, including the lighter and quieter Zeta LT jacket made with Gore C-Knit, are also coming up, but I remain most interested in the footwear line which should be hitting stores in just about a month.
Talking shoes, inov-8 has some interesting trail running shoes coming up this year with the TerraClaw (
more on those in a bit -> here), and Merrell also has a pretty interesting line-up, especially with the AllOut Terra Trail and AllOut Terra Ice.
When it comes to running on snow and ice, though, Icebug remain the ones to beat for grip – or so it seems, and so I’ll hopefully get a chance to see.
(First up in my testing, though, are La Sportiva’s Crossover 2.0 GTX, which I finally managed to get my hands on.)
This isn’t really anything new or helpful for US readers, but Altra is making its move into the European/German market now, too…
No mention of shoes and trail running would be complete without mentioning Salomon, but it’s become difficult to decide what to say about them.
To me, the stand-out product was their entry into the world of running/fastpacking packs at around 20 liters of volume with the Agile 20 AW, a waterproof pack with rolltop closure.
When it comes to shoes, the line-up is getting a bit hard to understand because it’s getting so wide, with Gore-Tex membranes coming back into use (though strangely not in the SnowCross, apparently), with the SpeedCross getting a new “Vario” model with a sole for various hard grounds, the Sense adding a “Sense Speed” for fellrunning, and so on.
(In the S-Lab lineup alone, the presentation showed: S-Lab Sense 4 Ultra, S-Lab Sense 4 Ultra SG, S-Lab Wings, S-Lab Wings SG, S-Lab X-Series, S-Lab Speed, as well as Spikecross 3 CS and Snowcross CS…)
In other, rather random, news and tidbits…
Salewa has started using wool in its jackets (as inner, with Schoeller 3xDry as outer – quite an interesting combination);
wool was just about anywhere, most of it Merino;
heated gloves are definitely taking an upswing (from OutDoor Research in its Lucent and Stormtracker models which are already out, in a prototype coming out next winter from Brunton as a liner, as well as others);
heated skiing socks will be around as well, from various makers, and usually app-enabled so one can control the heat from a smartphone;
Berg from Portugal is looking to expand and has an interesting line-up (from the performance-oriented to the urban-tech)…
… and Invicta from Italy (long known for fanny packs and backpacks) is back with some interesting packs and, mainly, performance clothing.
Lots of initiatives for sustainability, and mainly not for greenwashing but related to materials and production processes, are happening with outdoor brands, especially the Scandinavian ones such as Fjäll-Räven, Haglöfs and Houdini – which is good to see considering how little this aspect of ‘at-home-making’ often seems to matter in sports.
And on that note, one can go crazy with new radical designs from Oakley (here the Jawbreaker, fortunately not the “Mad Man”, but unfortunately not yet with the new Prizm lens that promises greater clarity and contrast in sports pursuits)…
… but even so, one better not forget this:
And with that, until soon, getting to be at home, better and better.