Well, crap. I managed to turn around an encyclopedic review of the best shoes of the Summer 2012 Outdoor Retail Show in a matter of days… and had intended to do the same on the gear side. Didn’t happen. The good news is that all of the following gear is that much closer to being available if it hasn’t already snuck onto store shelves. Here’s what caught my eye.
Packs and Hydration
Ultimate Direction Signature Series Pack (November 2012)
The cat is out of the bag on these. The range of three packs in the Ultimate Direction Signature Series line – Anton Krupicka Race Vest, Scott Jurek Ultra Vest, and Peter Bakwin Adventure Vest – were the wow-me non-shoe product of Summer OR. (Okay, so it was a the wow-me product of Hardrock, but I digress.) These are lightweight packs designed to meet Krupicka’s, Jurek’s, and Bakwin’s specific needs. In a word, they’re awesome. For more on each pack, check them out in the iRunFar Store… and reserve a vest from our next shipment before they sell out.
Petzl Ultra Rush and Ultra Rush Belt ($430 and $500, respectively – January 2013)
The Petzl Ultra Rush is an update to the already blinding Petzl Ultra. The two versions will provide for a head-mounted battery (probably not the best running option) or a tethered battery pack. Pushing up to 700 lumens (from a previous max of 350 lumens), you will NOT want to shine this in an aid station volunteer’s face! Check out Petzl’s 2013 lighting page for more info.
Petzl Ultra Vario and Ultra Vario Belt ($430 and $500, respectively – January 2013)
The Petzl Ultra Vario replaces the Ultra Wide. The beam settings are more variable than the Ultra Wide while also providing a longer straight beam that extends to 70 meters. Maximum brightness was increased from 300 to 450 lumens. Check out Petzl’s 2013 lighting page for more info.
Black Diamond Revolt ($60 – January 2013)
With the Revolt, Black Diamond enters the hybrid-lighting category with a headlamp that works with both traditional alkaline batteries or a USB-rechargable battery.
Montbell Tachyon Jacket ($109 – March 1, 2013)
I’m a sucker for a light windshirt and greatly prefer a full-zip running jacket over a half-zip anorak even at the cost of a few grams. This hood-less jacket weighs in at a svelte 1.6 ounces including a DWR application. Mesh underarm inserts are a nice touch.
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded Jacket ($165 – February 2013)
Mountain Hardwear is also adding a more versatile option to go along with its minimally light Ghost Whisperer Anorak. The Ghost Whisperer Hooded Jacket gives you both a full zip and a hood. That combination adds range at both the warm and cold ends of the spectrum at the cost of only a few grams. The only thing I’d like to see added to this running jacket (which is my go-to dry-weather jacket these days) is a minimal addition to secure my hood inside my jacket when I’m not using it.
[For our current favorite wind jackets, check out our best running wind jackets guide.]
Smartwool Running Apparel (Early 2013)
Although folks have long worn Smartwool’s running socks and baselayers for running, Smartwool is devoting a line entirely to running with a full range of tops (tanks, crew, long-sleeve zip) and bottoms (shorts and, for the ladies, a skort and carpis).
Injinji Run Performance 2.0 ($12-17 – February 1, 2013 at REI, February 15 elsewhere)
The leading toesock gets a significant tech upgrade this winter with the Performance 2.0 line. Performance 2.0 adds an elastic archband, selected mesh areas for greater breathability, and a performance cuff with increased elasticity. That might not sound like much, but I liken it to the shift that Smartwool made years ago when it went from its original running socks to the PhD line. Put another way, the leading toesocks just became high performance running socks, as well. Be on the lookout for a full review in the coming weeks.
Bonus: Injinji is adding its first ever dedicated trail sock to its lineup with midweight fabric in the heel and metarsals, a look that stands up to dirt better, a much thicker cuff that won’t fall down, and a tenser mesh on top than the non-trail socks.
Born2Run Training System ($80 – Currently available)
If you’ve read iRunFar for a while, you know that we don’t focus on barefoot running, natural running, or whatever you want to call that branch of running. Heck, I never made it past chapter 2 of Born to Run. That said, from time-to-time I do mix in footwear products from whatever we’ call that category today to build strength, range of motion, etc. At summer OR, I met with a company called Born2Run, which gave me a Level 1 Strength Training System in addition to a pair of shoes. While I’ve never made it so far as the included DVD (uh, I’m writing this round-up four months later ’cause I’ve been busy), I do have the small wooden B2R Slant Board in my bedroom and jump on it from time to time to wake up my lower legs and find some balance. I’ll also applaud the company for providing a comprehensive program for developing strength, flexibility, balance, and associated traits to compliment or prepare on for natural running.
Call for Comments
You stoked for any of this gear?