serious running: trail running, races, shoe reviews

Posts Tagged ‘Outdoor Retailer’

Outdoor Retailer: Trail Running Gear from Pearl Izumi

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Ok, so trail running isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Pearl Izumi but at Outdoor Retailer I got a chance to check out their latest running gear and came away suitably impressed. With products ranging from footwear to outerwear and tights, Pearl Izumi offers a full line to outfit trail runners for extreme conditions.



Pearl Izumi is offering several trail-specific shoes in 2012 but the one that caught my eye was the Peak II. The shoe felt incredibly light in my hand while featuring a decent amount of cushioning. The Peak II promises great protection against rock strike, both in the toe and forefoot, yet I found the sole to be fairly flexible. The inside sock liner felt extremely luxurious and I really appreciate the subtle nod to the state of Colorado on the tongue ribbon. Pearl Izumi calls this a “minimalist trail running shoe” but fortunately the Peak II doesn’t use the minimalist concept to sacrifice quality or comfort like other shoes on the market.

Pearl Izumi also offers shoes oriented toward road running and I could definitely see myself wearing something like the Syncro Fuel RD on urban runs that incorporate off-road detours along the way.



The Ultra Barrier WxB Jacket from Pearl Izumi features Cocona fabric technology, a waterproof-breathable treatment that many companies from the North Face to Isis are using in their clothing these days. The upshot: you’ll stay warm and dry without soaking yourself from the inside with sweat on your next trail run. Of course if you’re like me you’ll probably need to reserve this jacket for only the coldest and wettest trail runs of the season.

The Ultra Barrier WxB can be completely folded and stored in its integrated pouch and features a hood as well. This jacket should retail for around $180 MSRP.

Running tights


Apparently we’re not the only ones who think fuel belts look ridiculous on runners (the fanny pack of this generation!). Pearl Izumi has integrated mesh bottle holders into tights like the ones pictured above to position bottles for maximum comfort and agility on the trail.

Pearl Izumi’s US operations are based outside Boulder, CO, a hotbed for trail running and outdoor activities and the company’s understanding of runners’ needs is clear in the 2012 line. We can’t wait to see how these products perform on the trail!

Merrell’s Tough Glove Minimalist Trail Running Shoe Reveiw

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

merrell-mens-tough-glove-minimalist-trail-running-shoesThis past year I went to Outdoor Retailer and got a sneak peek at Merrell’s new minimalist trail running collection from one of their representatives.  If you like what you read here about the Tough Glove then you may want to check out what I found out about the other new minimalist trail running shoes in Merrell’s collection:  Trail Glove and True Glove for Men; and Pace Glove, Power Glove, and Pure Glove for Women.  Find which one best fits you your running style…like a glove!

Merrell’s Tough Glove is somewhat similar to the other minimalist trail running shoes in the collection.  It is made so your feet and legs can follow their natural instincts, giving them the room to flow.  The Tough Glove is the heaviest shoe in the collection.  It does have an uber-lightweight upper with a stabilizing rubber foot sling from Vibram which protects your underfoot from pointy rocks; however, it doesn’t have the toe protection that Merrell’s other minimalist trail running shoes do.  Maybe that’s why they call it Tough Glove…

The upper is made of a synthetic leather and air mesh which gives a looser feel than the other shoes in the collection.  This shoe is for runners who absolutely want to give their feet the freedom of movement when trail running.  The Omni-Fit lacing system that Merrell owns still makes the shoe fit snug enough to be considered a “glove.”  It does have a toe bumper for some durability, but it’s not as heavy duty as the other Merrell minimalist shoes.  There is rubber in the rear of the shoe too, but this is more for easily slipping them on, while giving your heel a tight feeling, rather than for protection.  The Tough Glove supposedly also has a footbed treated with Merrell’s antimicrobial solution which I was told resists odor but that’s hard to believe in a minimalist trail running shoe; one that usually is run in without socks through water, mud, and everything else.

The Vibram midsole and outsole are the same on all of Merrell’s minimalist trail running shoe collection but in case this is your first read:

The midsole and outsole has a 4 mm cushioning in it, just enough for a semi-soft landing while still allowing for the minimalist trail running feel.  The part I like most about the sole is the 1 mm forefoot shock absorption plant which helps maintain forefoot flexibility and protects the foot by distributing pressure.  The Trail Glove is the first minimalist trail running shoe I’ve seen that has taken into account that minimalist runners run on their toes.  In fact, Merrell also told me that they would be providing instructions on minimalist running techniques with every pair they sell of their minimalist trail running shoe collection; like a manual for a car.  I think this is a great idea because I’ve heard of too many injured runners throwing on minimalist running shoes without changing their technique and further injuring themselves.  The sole is made of a rubber compound TC-1.  What does that mean exactly?  I don’t know, but I trust any sole made by Vibram.

Yeah, I do feel weird quoting myself but you never know who your audience is on the Internet.  The Tough Glove is perfect for runners who want the closest thing to the barefoot running feel without baring it all.  It is also a great shoe for minimalist runners who run 90% road and 10% trail and want a hybrid shoe.  So for the Glove of God, check out Merrell’s new collection which comes out in February 2011, we’d love to hear what everyone else thinks of them!

Keen A86 Trail Running Minimalist Running Shoe Review

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

I went to Outdoor Retailer a couple of months ago and still haven’t been able to share everything I learned yet.  Come on, I know you would rather go trail running than read about trail running.  The reason I know this is because you’re reading the blog while forced to be in front of a computer at work.  I’ve seen the web statistics, no one visits after 5 pm or on the weekends.

keen-a86-minamilist-trail-running-reviewWhile at Outdoor Retailer I kept passing by the Keen booth not quite sure what to make of them.  They offer a lot of products, predominately bulky hiking shoes with a lot of support and durability and started with a closed toe sandal.  Well just like everyone else, Keen is trying their hand (or foot) at the minimalist trail running shoe movement with the A86 due out in January 2011.

Instead of an over-sized toe guard like most of Keen’s heavy duty products this shoe is like a racing flat.  Don’t worry, the A86 trail shoe does have a small toe bumper in the front.  The lack of bulk still doesn’t compromise the support and comfort needed in a trail running shoe.  The Keen A86 is 9 ounces and Keen boasts, “has a glove-like fit and a feather-light feel.”  The asymmetric lacing allows trail runners to make the shoe as tight or as loose as they want for that lightweight minimalist feel.  The tight fit still breaths too with a consistent mesh upper allowing air to flow through the feet.  The light PU mid-sole provides ample shock absorption and the high rebound foot-bed gives that extra cushioning you may need, but it is removable if you want a more minimalist feel.  The dot matrix, multidirectional 3 mm traction lugs make it fit not slip on the trail.

Keen says they stand to, “create, play, and care…for us it’s a way of life, we call it the Hybridlife.”  We’ll see if they can create a hybrid minimalist and trail running shoe that we care to play in.  The design looks great and the feel is promising.  This could be a great minimalist trail running shoe or perhaps like the famous band Keane (not Keen) says, maybe they are, “Trying to make a move just to stay in the game.”

Note:  Trail Running and Minimalist Running are not games to us.

Kigo Footwear CURV and EDGE minimalist running shoe reviews

Monday, October 18th, 2010

kigo-minimalist-running-shoes-reviewI checked out Kigo Footwear at Outdoor Retailer this past year and love what this new start-up company is doing, developing green, minimalist shoes that are not only functional, but also stylish.  They say, “Kigo footwear is committed to making shoes that are stylish enough for everyday wear, sturdy enough for athletics, and constructed to be good for the Earth and body.”  Kigos are good for barefoot (well, minimalist) athletics and everyday wear.  They produce the Kigo CURV for women which can be used for commuting, fitness, or general wear, similar to a Mary Jane style.  No, not the eyes closed, eating Cheetos, and listening to Pink Floyd Mary Jane style.  The Kigo EDGE is for active men and women and has complete foot coverage for a fully protected barefoot stride.  Although they are strong enough for a man, Kigos are really PH balanced for women.  As they should be, the staff at Kigo are all women who know about endurance athletics and being stylish at the same time.

Kigos are constructed of lightweight durable materials with a beathable, stain/water resistant upper.  The outsoles are kigo-minimalist-running-shoesflexible because they are made with a high density rubber which is 1.5 mm thick.  You can bend these shoes in half with just your hands.  Kigos have a higher vamp for increased toe room which gives a better barefoot running experience.  I also like that they have a deeper ankle opening than most shoes which prevents rubbing when running.  Kigos are built around the body health benefits that come from going barefoot or wearing minimalist shoes and allows your foot to move more naturally.  This strengthens the muscles in the foot, promotes better posture, and creates a more effortless stride while running or walking in Kigos.  Not only were Kigos designed for minimalist benefits but also with the idea of having a comfortable shoe that is portable.  The idea for Kigos came when the founder couldn’t enjoy a night out with friends because the only shoes she had were ski boots after a day on the mountain.  I wish I had some Kigos about 10 years ago when I donned on ski boots prior to boarding a plane because I couldn’t wear running shoes in first class (free upgrade for being in the military).  Someday we’ll live in a classless society where non-runners and runners alike are treated equal.  Until then, bring your Kigos!  The shoes are about 4 to 5 ounces and can be easily bent for the easy storage.  They also come with a hookless toe cap and fixed webbing loop for easy pull on and off.  They have orange, green, black, or white styles and MSRP for $69.99 USD.

Currently Kigo is participating in British Airways competition for small businesses.  Click here and vote for Kigo to help this small start-up business!  There are only 2 days left to vote!  The Kigo staff are magnificent people with a positive outlook on barefoot running and staying stylish.  Support small businesses and try some Kigos yourself!

Salomon XR Crossmax Guidance and Neutral Trail Running Shoes Review

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

salamon-xr-crossmax-trail-shoesSalomon had some pretty sweet new trail running shoes on display at outdoor retailer this year.  I got the sneak peak at the new XR Crossmax Guidance (Women’s) and XR Crossmax Neutral (Women’s) trail running shoes which haven’t been release yet.  I got to play around with them and had the Salomon experts tell my why these shoes are so close to spectacular.

Salomon boasts the XR Crossmax Trail Running shoes as being built for door to trail running; strong enough for the road, but PH balanced just for the trail.  I personally love to run to the trail so I am glad that a running shoe company is realizing the need for a hybrid shoe that works for both road running and trail running.  Salomon is making this their focus for 2011 because they think it’s the next big thing.  It makes sense, every trail runner probably runs on roads and buying two pairs of shoes sucks.  We’ll see what the public thinks when these are released.  I also like that Salomon has broken down these trail running shoes into motion control/stability (XR Crossmax Guidance) and neutral/cushioned (XR Crossmax Neutral).  Until recently trail running shoes were merely categorized as “trail” with no denotation of what type of pronation they are built for.  It seems Salomon is listening to their trail running customers.

The grip on the sole of the Salomon XR Crossmax Trail Running shoes are built for traction.  The grip under the toes is an aggressive shaped grip that is a new product Salomon calls contragrip LT, which stands for lightweight.  The front is made up of hang glider shapes, which point to the toe of the shoe for that extra traction when pushing off of loose sand or dirt.  These shoes were definitely made for runners who run on their toes.  The heel grip is totally different, Salomon calls it contagrip HA for high abrasion.  This heel grip is focused more on support and durability rather than traction and runability like the front.  One the bottom of the shoe the Salomon XR Crossmax has an over-sized tendon that looks like a glow in the dark tube running from the toe to the heel of the sole.  This is to give stretch and balance from the heel to the toe in transition.  It is made to absorb the flexibility when your foot makes its transition, like the tendon in your foot.

The upper fits snug for a couple of reasons.  First, it is an all welded upper with very little stitches so you don’t get blisters in different parts of your foot from running.  It is made out of sensifit which is a stretchy mesh that goes all the way across the top of the instep.  This is made for a tight fit around your toes but loose enough so it won’t irritate them if you have injuries or are susceptible to blisters.  Also, the inside is a one-piece liner so the interface of your foot is seamless with the shoe.  Snuggy.

Check out a pair of the Salomon XR Crossmax Guidance and Neutrals when they are released.  Start saving your running shoe money, these trail running shoes are going to be retailed for about $130.

Outdoor Retailer 2010 and the Minimalist Trail Running Movement

Friday, August 13th, 2010

outdoor-retailerI went to the Outdoor Retailer conference last week and had a blast checking out all the new trail running  gear and shoes companies were boasting for their Spring 2011 product lines.  I’ll be sharing the cool new products I checked out with you during the next couple of weeks so stay tuned if you’re into that sort of thing.  The bounce back in business from 2009 could be felt across the show with huge displays and excited retailers.  There were a lot of great new innovations.  I was amazed to see how much outdoor retailers are constantly changing their product lines to fit consumers needs.   I also didn’t know companies started selling  and promoting their new products so soon will many set to be released in the Spring of 2011.  I guess that’s why the big trail running news from the conference is the minimalist movement.  A bit late to the party I would say, but every company from New Balance to Terra Plana were presenting their new minimalist trail running shoes.  And so the movement moves on.

I learned a lot about minimalist running while I was there.  A quick recap of what the minimalist running movement is all about.  It really took off after Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run where he followed the Tarahumara Indians to learn how they are able to run for such long distances without injury.  The theory is that human beings are made to run long distances in order to outlast the prey they hunt.  Now we just drive to the store.  Humans are made to run landing on their toes first and absorbing their weight in the ankles and foot.  Overtime running shoes have been developed with extra cushioning in the heel which has lead runners to begin running by striking our heels first.  This heel strike leads to a longer stride which results in more lateral movement of the legs throughout the stride, much of which is absorbed by the knees.  Running shoe companies have been taking notice and are now releasing more minimalist trail running shoes to keep up with the demand for minimalist trail running shoes.

However, no one really knows what the long-term effects of this young movement will be.  Are we just trading absorbing impact from one area of the body to another?  When running in minimalist shoes runners must shorten their stride which could be the reason for the decrease in injuries and not necessarily the shoes.  The shorter stride also may decrease your speed.  As one prominent ultra runner told me at the conference, “I’ve never seen anyone win an ultra wearing minimalist shoes.  I don’t buy it.”  Yeah, because you don’t buy any of your trail running shoes, you have a sponsor.

I have had a severe knee injury for the past year and have held off of surgery in hopes of a less intrusive cure.  So I’m going to put minimalist running to the test.  I am going to train for a half marathon, because it incorporates both speed and distance running, to see if I can run the same time as my last half marathon, 1:24, but in minimalist shoes.

Next I’ll share what I learned from Lee Saxby of Terra Plana vivobarefoot who also helped Chris McDougall run injury free.