By Brian Metzler—I just spent three days in Salt Lake City, attending the semi-annual Outdoor Retailer tradeshow. It’s where next year’s running, climbing, paddling, hiking and camping gear gets displayed for retail store buyers and various media outlets. It’s not open to the public, but with a press pass hanging around my neck, I was like a kid in a candy store for eight hours a day.
Here are a few highlights, trends and observations about next year’s shoes:
- New models of minimal road running shoes are coming out next year, but the uber-minimalist models are becoming less of a focus. Both retailers and manufacturers agreed that that the hot story will be in lightweight neutral everyday trainers with a reasonable amount of cushioning and protection. As such, most new models have heel-toe drops that fall in the zero to 8mm range, but many of the shoes have stack heights (the total height of all materials from the outsole to the footbed) in the 15 to 25mm range. “Zero drop doesn’t have to be on-the-ground minimal,” one manufacturer said. That’s not to say the minimalism trend is dead, but it does suggest it was never going to be as big as the white-hot buzz suggested it might be.
- Hot colors are coming back in 2013, and might be even more prevalent than this year. Almost every brand was showing off models with bright neon/fluorescent colors. (Yes, there are more traditional/conservative colors, too.)
- The price of shoes is on the rise. Many brands are upping prices $5 to $10 on certain models to accommodate for the increased cost of materials, manufacturing and shipping. (However, many models have remained consistent for the past two years.)
- Among the most unique shoe for 2013 is the New Balance Hi Rez ($120, zero drop, 4.3 oz.), which includes a unique midsole/outsole configuration of 42 pods bonded to a thin synthetic fabric (see second photo at left).
- A few of the other notable road models for 2013 include the Brooks Pure Drift ($100, zero drop, 5.6 oz.), Saucony Virrata ($90, zero drop, 6.5 oz.), Skechers GoRun 2 ($80, 4mm drop, 6.6 oz.), K-Swiss Blade Run Light 2 ($95, 8mm drop, 9.0 oz.).
- There are more lightweight trail shoes due out next year with low to moderate heel-to-toe drops. Among the more interesting models are the Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra ($180, 4mm drop, 7.4 oz.), a consumer version of the pro model shoe Kilian Jornet has been wearing, plus La Sportiva’s Helios ($120, 4mm, 8.1 oz.) and Treksta’s Sync ($125, 4mm drop, 9.8 oz.).