Four days of scouring the Outdoor Retailer trade show turned up some exciting and unique outdoor products. Here are the highlights in Footwear.
With so many different shoes being released every few months in the outdoor industry, it’s sometimes difficult to find one that stands out among the rest, but the Ecco O2 did just that. This sporty, breathable and fully waterproof shoe has a perforated upper made of the soft, buttery yak leather that offers athletic flexibility. The Gore-Tex Surround waterproof construction helps with the increased breathability around the whole shoe—including underfoot—so your feet feel dry and cozy in these shoes. The midsole is direct-injected PU foam, and the foot-fitted last provides cushioning which just makes your walking comfort all the more better. The Ecco O2 is what 360-degree comfort is all about.
By utilizing preformed outsole designs, Salewa seeks to add uphill speed to trail runners, and reduce lower leg stress those same athletes. The Salewa Speed Ascent GTX integrates the ‘Take-Off’ construction, which creates a pre-fixed slightly raised position of the big toe, and the RGS (Rolling Gait System) sole by Vibram that incorporates the special rocker profile throughout its length. The rolling action of this shoe design guides runners through a natural heel-strike stride with less effort. With more of a pleasant foot strike your joints will thank you as this will reduce impact during ascents and descents, and with reduced impact comes less fatigue. 13.7 ounces (men’s size 9).
Forget the earth tones and say hello to the begging to be looked at—and worn—OutCross Evo lines. The all-purpose OutCross Evo 2 provides outstanding drainage moving in and out of water, with soft outsoles that smear and stick to river rocks for a solid footing when wading. Out of the water, the webbing upper snugs around feet securely, providing a comfort yet fit suitable for trekking out to remote stretches of water, scrambling around rapids or simply enjoying short hikes out of camp. The Evo 1 and 2 ($110) are relatively open styles with a mix of mesh and webbing uppers that are ideal for water use. The Evo 3 ($115) is a fully enclosed shoe—with mesh side panels for good ventilation—designed for more active, rugged use. A women’s version—the Mary Jane—is also available.
Trimming weight is king in mountaineering and Salomon’s new super-light X Alp Carbon GTX will, undoubtedly, be on any speed-oriented, professional mountaineer’s wish list next spring. This 17.64-ounce shoe (500 grams) boasts a low cut and ultra-light Carbon Edging Chassis built with speed, stability, and agility in mind. Crafted of highly resistant and waterproof synthetic material, the crampon-compatible X Alp Carbon GTX also has an integrated gaiter, anti-debris mesh, waterproof lining construction, a zip gaiter, and offers insulation to +20 Fahrenheit. This mountaineering shoe also offers serious protection from the elements, including a 2.5mm protective rubber toecap, a 1.5mm protective rubber heel cap, protective ankle pads, and a TPU mudguard.
Well, they got the name right. This sandal is more Bugatti Veyron than Toyota Camry: cool to look at and drive around on occasion, but it’s not the everyday lightweight trekker to which Keen fans have become accustomed. The two-cord design does upset convention, but we wonder: for what purpose? One cord is embedded into the midsole and tied to it is another cord to form the sandal’s upper, a design we’re told allows for flexibility and foot-fitting comfort. Minimalists will be drawn to the Uneek’s fast and light metrics and it’s good to see a sandal go back to the category’s roots of beach combing and dockside happy hours. We just hope no one ever violates the “no socks with sandals” rule in a pair of these.
These hiking boots are loaded with innovation, the most obvious being the exoskeleton-wrapped soft shell upper. A supply softshell material creates a snug, precise fit around the foot and to increase stability, the upper is latticed in thin strips of TPU, a hard plastic. In addition the midsole wraps up and around the lower part of the upper, positioning the foot low in the boot. Less obvious is Gore-Tex Surround, which improves breathability under the sole of the foot for greater comfort. La Sportiva backs the Gore-Tex Surround with ventilation tunnels sandwiched between the midsole and upper. Every step pushes air out from under the foot out of the shoe. The Core High GTX is a mid-height hiker while a similar low cut version is called the Primer Low GTX.