The next best thing to being barefoot might be wearing the Brooks PureDrift. Weighing in at just 5.6 ounces (men’s), these hyper-light kicks tout a sock-like fit and flexibility through three functional units, thanks to the anatomical last, whisper-thin upper, and wraparound Nav Band. The sock liner can be removed for a zero-drop experience, adding to the natural feel. Taking advantage of Brook’s BioMoGo DNA, the PureDrift’s soft platform adds a welcome spring to your step in an otherwise minimalist shoe.
The Equinox is a standout among ZEAL's sport line, a lightweight performance model with super sharp, polarized lenses. But there's more to these shades than meets the eye. This spring, they'll feature the company's new plant-based E-llume lens, which eliminates the need for some of the environmentally unfriendly, petroleum-based materials that are common in sunglasses production. Add to that bio-based Z Resin™ frames, and these are some high-performance, earth-friendly specs.
With Vibram’s former CEO at the helm, it’s no surprise that the new Topo Athletic brand takes a unique approach to running footwear. Featuring a split-toe design, the RT model is built for everyday running, while the RR model is for shorter and faster training. Categorized as a lightweight shoe rather than minimalist, the RT encourages the feet to move naturally, but still guarantees some guard against the ruts and rocks of the road. Featuring an anatomical last and a Japanese Tabi-inspired design, these feather-light shoes will feel one with your feet.
For the increasingly health-conscious athlete, PROBAR is set to unveil the new Bolt Energy Chews this spring. Unlike most other nutritionals on the market, these chews are 100% vegan, organic and packed with electrolytes, B vitamins, antioxidants and complex carbs to boost performance on the run. If you aren’t a fan of the ingredients in traditional gels, chews and beans available, consider Bolt a healthier alternative. Even better, these chews don’t taste like they’re good for you. The Berry Blast, Strawberry, Orange and Raspberry options are all flavorsome and easy to take down mid-run.
$2.69 (2.1 oz pouch); theprobar.com
New from Saucony this spring is the Virrata, which is set to lead the charge towards a new approach to running footwear. By balancing ample cushioning with minimalist elements, the Virrata is a light, flexible and protective running shoe. Built on a zero-drop platform, these shoes are meant to encourage a more natural running motion than traditional shoes will allow. With 24 ultra-springy pods lining the outsole of each shoe, along with strategically placed flex grooves, the Virrata is marked by innovation, comfort and high performance.
Patagonia has redoubled its efforts to appeal to trail runners with its spring 2013 line of running apparel, three-quarters of which is either new or redesigned. The company's understanding of the off-road set is especially apparent in the new Traverse Jacket, which is Patagonia’s lightest, most breathable softshell jacket to date. Comprised of a durable recycled polyester blend with a water-repellent finish, it's versatile enough to be worn from late winter well into the spring months. Not only will it keep you warm and dry on cool mornings, it’ll still breathe as the days get warmer and longer.
Finally, adidas has introduced its new, hotly anticipated BOOST™ cushioning technology. Said to have the highest energy return of any competing foam, gel or air, this approach to cushioning involves blowing up thousands of small energy capsules within the solid granular material (TPU). The result is a more efficient energy release and supreme durability. Upon first wear, the soft, bouncy feel is apparent, contributing to both comfort and performance. Testing to date seems to indicate that the new technology will stand the tests of time and extreme weather conditions.
If you're into gadgetry, PEAR’s souped-up system is the next high-tech electronic you need to add to your arsenal. Combining a wireless heart rate monitor, foot pod, customized training plans, real-time coaching and workout data, its goal is to help you reach your goals. From 16-week half marathon training plans to 40-minute treadmill threshold workouts, it offers a reasoned approach to training, backed up by plenty of data to aid you in figuring out what does and doesn’t work. A simplified approach to a lot of complicated statistics, PEAR’s system lays out charts and graphs in easily understandable formats that can help a runner improve on the go. With iPod shuffle compatibility and an iPhone app, you may even be able to pair your current gizmos with this high-performance training system.
Combining the benefits of compression and ice, 110% is a leader in recovery options for runners. Strategically placed icing pockets, along with reusable ice inserts and a thermal carrying bag, allow for a seamless transition from a pair of compression tights to a fully-fledged active recovery system. Designed to target the hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings and knees, the gradient zoned compression and icing pockets take the hassle out of long-held recovery tactics. No longer do you need to immerse yourself in a tub of icy water, just throw on the Juggler Knickers and go.
Featuring the Cradle Guide system, this new trail shoe is designed to naturally guide your foot to a correct toe-off, regardless of how you strike the ground. But the Hyper-Track's first priority is to protect you from the roots and rocks of the trail, which the amply-cushioned, supportive midsole does without the added bulk of traditional trail shoes. Marked by a 4mm heel-toe drop and weighing just 9 ounces, these are a fresh approach to racing shoes in the off-road category, which explains why most of TNF’s sponsored athletes are wearing them for their big races this year.