Our problem of not-quite-real, at-home, in-this-world, living is illuminated like it’s under a spotlight when going through a big trade show like the ISPO:
We have a fascination with new things and their promise, and they may make for more comfort and more opportunities in our pursuits – yet it’s all just stuff of a somewhat similar kind, so what will really turn out to be good gear will only be seen in its use, over time… when other things will beckon.
This year’s ISPO 2016, I also made things a bit more complicated for myself because I went looking not only for products meant for outdoors use, especially trail running and mountain adventures, but also for technical/performance men’s wear, with a touch of ‘connecting tech’ thrown in for good measure (literally, one could say…).
After all, it takes all that to really live in this world – style and function, adventures and recovery.
So, Part 1: Running and outdoors gear…
Winter Snow Running
One noticeable trend (if you go looking for it) is that towards winter running shoes.
Icebug needs mentioning here, even if they haven’t been following the trend I really noticed; their Zeal (which I reviewed last winter) is coming in a Zeal2 version with a newer upper but basically the same great traits…
…the Acceleritas is becoming more flexible sole-wise (at least in its normal, now Acceleritas5, version – there’s also a dedicated OCR, i.e. obstacle course racing, version), even while keeping its “tractor tread” sole…
…and while on these kinds of shoes, I should also mention the Mist, which will be quite the shoe for summer mud: great treads and an upper that’s basically pure mesh.
We’ll even return to Icebug, talking ‘fashion’, for their sneakers…
Many brands don’t quite have the traction systems of Icebug, but are moving strongly into winter running, even to shoes with integrated gaiters.
So far, just about the only sensible choices here were either Salomon’s Snowcross or La Sportiva’s Crossover 2.0 GTX.
Salomon’s lineup here is expanding/changing with the Salomon S-Lab XA Alpine, which looks to be a platform like a Sense or Speedcross (or, judging by the name, XA Pro, though it feels lighter than those), but with a (water-resistant?) shell that extends into a gaiter wrapped around it.
(In one presentation right at the entrance, it was nicely coupled with the S-Lab Peak 20 running vest/pack, but like that, not much else was new in this area of active pursuits.)
Made of Gore-Tex (like the La Sportiva Crossover), with a lower integrated gaiter that looks made to attach to a style of their pants (if its loops aren’t just for putting the shoes on more easily), but with an outside Boa closure system very interesting for a shoe like this, there will be the Alpine Pro Gore-Tex from Dynafit.
No fiddling with shoe bands, easy adjustments to how tight or loose you want the shoe to be – sounds great. Just remains to be seen how that lower gaiter works out…
Without gaiters, Inov-8 is expanding their lineup.
We have moved from the TrailRoc to the TerraClaw, and now move on to TrailTalon, ArcticTalon and ArcticClaw shoes.
While the former of those new ones are just more trail-running models from Inov-8, the latter two are made for winter running, with studs.
Interesting, especially in the beefy “Thermo” version of the ArcticClaw 300, but apparently those won’t be carbide studs and they are only fixed ones. So, most interesting if you really like Inov-8, but probably not able to hold water to the offerings from Icebug.
The standout in this winter running shoe trend, though, may well be the two alpine running offerings to come from Scarpa (which I would not even have considered going to, had I not seen one of these models at an OutDry booth…), the Neutron G and the Atom S.
The Neutron G will be more of a running shoe plus integrated gaiter like the above models (with waterproofing provided by OutDry).
The Atom S, which the Scarpa rep I spoke with was the most excited about, takes the opposite approach from all other winter running shoes.
Here, the gaiter isn’t a gaiter wrapping around the outside of the shoes and up the leg, but the OutDry waterproofing is provided by/in the “Sock-Fit Plus” inner.
So, basically the whole inside of the shoes (definitely “tongue, Flex-Point and integrated gaiter” are made of a single piece of (Schoeller) material, then the rest of the shoe is built to surround that.
(It’s an idea rather similar to the one Arc’teryx employed in making the Acrux and Bora approach/hiking shoes, actually.)
The look that results is quite strange, but the functionality has a chance of turning out great.
Time (or rather, use) will tell.
Thinking about doing a mountain ultra which Scott is sponsoring, I also swung by their booth, and the Scott Kinabalu collection of shoes looks to be still going strong, and getting a new Kinabalu RC added to it.
Information on intended use was scarce (trail running still being something of an afterthought for them), but it has one of the more interesting sole profiles…
Things that runners wonder about ;)
In other running news, there hasn’t been much, of course.
The North Face
The North Face not only has the (already available) Hyper Air jacket made with Gore-Tex Active (which has the strangest, very light and supple but also somehow sticky feel to it) but will also bring out a new Flight Series Fuse jacket…
Otherwise, the ISPO is just too focused on winter sports to have much for active but not entirely alpine pursuits (and for that, most things had already been shown at last year’s OutDoor show – or will be shown at this year’s).
For products closer to mountaineering, there were a few noticeable things, though:
Arc’teryx showed off the Procline ski mountaineering boots and Voltair avalanche airbag pack…
… and their Alpha SV jacket is coming out in yet another new iteration with a lighter but simultaneously more durable fabric.
Interesting to see such a case of a pinnacle product that has been in the lineup of a brand’s offering for years, is established under its name – and then also changes constantly. This time, Arc’teryx has managed to even increase the durability while making the whole jacket lighter, thanks to the latest material they are now going for…
Berghaus’ new “Extrem 8000 Pro” alpine jacket looks very well thought-out, too, for those who really need that level of protection.
Also worth a mention here, while definitely moving closer to the stylish side of performance clothing, is Haglöfs re-introduction of its Spitz jacket…
… the Serac jacket (a fleece shell which I’m including mainly because I liked its looks ;) )…
… and the Essens Mimic which, though it looks and acts like it, is not a down jacket but a synthetic. (Hydrophobic down, replacements for down, ethical down… These have all become hot issues.)
There’s more to be said about performance clothing, but let’s stop here and continue that in another entry, after a look at the fitness tech that was noteworthy, in my opinion…