Our Summer 2009 OR Wishlist and Call for Questions

As you’ve probably caught on to by now, we’re gear geeks and keen observers of companies’ engagement of the trail running and ultrarunning communities. Traditionally, the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market (Summer OR) is where some of the biggest trail running gear and news announcements are made. With OR kicking off on Tuesday, July 21, we’re putting out a list of items and announcements that we’d love to see at this OR or in the near future. Please feel free to leave a comment with your own gear dreams.

In addition, at the bottom of this post we list of many of the companies with which we’ll be meeting. If you have a question for any of them or want us to keep an out for something regarding these companies or other OR attendees, please leave a comment.

Be sure to check in over the next few weeks for a run down of iRunFar’s favorite actual new products and announcements at this year’s summer OR. We’ll also be covering some of the many events that occur at OR, such as the Uphill Challenge. (iRF’s coverage of last year’s Erik vs. Kyle Skaggs Uphill Challenge showdown) This year, iRF’s Bryon Powell will be squaring off against Trail Runner Magazine editor Garett Graubins in an all-writer 15-minute battle.

Hydration Monitoring Bladder
HydraCoach hydration pack bladderLong ago, A Trail Runner’s Blog’s Scott Dunlap dreamt of a CamelBack fluid intake monitor and we think that the time of such a device is nigh. Since last OR, we’ve had a chance to use the HydraCoach Intelligent Water Bottle, a water bottle that monitors fluid intake via a small turbine built into the bottle’s straw. While the HydracCoach is a bit too difficult to suck fluid out of to make it a useful tool during trail running, the information it provides, such as the rate of fluid intake and total fluid intake would be quite useful while running. The HydraCoach will even calculate a goal fluid intake based on a number of factors.

Our research shows that HydraCoach has developed a hydration pack unit, now its just a matter of seeing when and where the unit is implemented. Given the breadth of Camelbak’s hydration pack line, we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the company be the first to implement the HydraCoach hydration pack unit.

Trail Running Shoes with Boa S-1 Technology
Specialized S-Works shoe with Boa S-1Just last week, we saw Tour de France rider David Millar showing off his Specialized S-Works shoe (pictured right) with a Boa lacing system in a TV interview [broken link removed]. During the interview, Nic Sims, the head of Specialized Global Marketing, debuted Specialized’s spring 2010 elite cycling shoe with a brand new Boa technology, the S1 reel system. Unlike the current Boa lacing system, which tightens incrementally but must be fully released to loosen the lacing, the S1 is a “lefty-loosy, righty-tighty” system, as Boa Technology’s Marketing Manager, Garett Graubins describes it.

We’d love to see the S-1 reel incorporated into a trail shoe! The ability to loosen the shoe in slight increments would be great as feet swell during long runs due to pounding, blisters, sprains and strains, bruising, high altitude, electrolyte and hydration issues, wet socks, and any number of other potential causes. It would be great to be able to quickly lock down a Boa-enabled shoe at the top of a technical climb, and then also to be able to loosen the upper if your feet start to swell after a few thousand feet of descent. We think the incorporation of the S-1 could be a big boon to the first trail shoe company to use it in an ultra-centric model.

Revised Montrail Ultra Cup
Montrail Ultra CupThere have been calls for Montrail to revise its Montrail Ultra Cup (MUC) for some time. For instance, we pointed out some of MUC’s faults back in July 2008. Well, after much discussion with its sponsored athletes and other stakeholders, Montrail will be announcing significant revisions to the Ultra Cup at a media event being held at 4:30 p.m. MDT on Thursday, July 23 at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City.

It appears that Montrail will address concerns regarding at least two aspects of the Montrail Ultra Cup. On the Friday before Western States, the Montrail booth displayed a MUC 2009-2010 sign with all but two races covered up. (pictured below) Those two races were Western States and the Where’s Waldo 100k. This suggests that Montrail may be including more races outside of the American River valley as well as longer races in the race series. Based on the Western States sign sighting, a runner only needs to compete in two races to be eligible for awards, only races longer than 50k will result in qualifying slots in the Western States 100, and the 2009-10 Montrail Ultra Cup will include 11 events, beginning and ending with the Where’s Waldo 100k and the Western States 100, respectively.

The 2009-10 MUC sign at the WS100
(click to enlarge)

Be sure to check back with iRunFar.com on Thursday night for more details.

Call for

As usual, we’ll be meeting with many of the companies with which trail runners are most familiar. If you have a question regarding any of them, please let us know. Companies on the iRunFar schudule include:

  • Ahnu
  • END
  • Inov-8
  • K-Swiss
  • La Sportiva
  • Merrell
  • Montrail
  • New Balance
  • oBoz
  • Patagonia Footwear
  • Saucony
  • Salomon
  • The North Face
  • Vasque


  • Bridgedale
  • eVent
  • Garmin
  • GoLite
  • Gu
  • Headsweats
  • Injinji
  • Julbo
  • Mountain Hardwear
  • Nathan
  • National Geographic Society
  • Osprey
  • OutDry
  • Petzl
  • Polartec
  • Rab
  • Smartwool
  • SOLE
  • Vibram
  • Zensah

There are 10 comments

  1. Brian Beckstead

    I want to see a TRUE low profile shoe, none of this 22mm heel and 10mm forefoot. A true 8mm heel and 8mm forefoot that is barefoot feeling but with a gnarly outsole and rock protection. New Balance comes close with the 100 which releases Oct 1st as far as light and rock protective but with an 18-8 spec, it still has a chunky heel and is not a true low profile. I wonder what Anton and Kyle really think of it?

  2. Anonymous

    Will the 11 MUC races include JFK, MMTR and possibly others which are already full? If so they have already screwed up by not announcing races before they are closed.

  3. Bryon Powell

    Brian, are you looking for something like a Vibram FiveFinger KSO with a rockplate and big lugs a la the Crosslite or Speed Cross 2? If the New Balance 100 doesn't meet your threshold, I can't imagine that you'll ever be satisfied by a trail running shoe. There can't be much of a market, if any, for something even less beefy. Ok, there may be for about 3 months in the wake of "Born to Run," but after the rash of metatarsal fractures and lower leg injuries pop up, that market will dry up. Anyway, I'll keep my eyes open for ya. :-) I'll also look to see if Anton is wearing shaved down NB100s during his Uphill Challenge race. Personally, I think the NB100 feel really good and can't wait to go out for a run in a pair.Anonymous, you make any excellent point… if that's the case.

  4. jeffrey wilbur

    Like to see a series of trail shirts much like some of the bike shirts – with pockets, pouches,etc. so as to avoid vests or packs. Oh, and maybe a true burbon gu.

  5. Bryon Powell

    Jeff, I know race ready makes at least a sleeveless shirt with a small back pocket. I prefer to keep my bourbon and gu separate during my runs. I find it helps me fine tune my dosage of each.

  6. Angela

    I would love to hear from shoe companies who are actually thinking about how distance hikers and runners have feet issues – after logging all those miles on trails feet swell and get wider. Why aren't there more companies making wider shoes for women with more space in the toebox and forefront of the shoe. It is driving me nuts in my attempt to find the perfect trail runner – my feet are too small for men's shoes, yet the wide women's shoes either don't grip my heel enough or fail to provide a roomy enough toebox. Give our toes some space! I'm tired of the lightweight, low profile cushy trail shoes all being constrictive around my toes. I'd also love to see way more heavy duty traction like the 1nov-8 mudclaw (which of course was too narrow for me).

  7. Anonymous

    Brian,I'd have to say that the New Balance 840 has two of the things you are looking for – fairly low profile and awesome tread. It was originally developed as a "fell running" shoe for the UK market. I learned to my chagrin that it does not offer anything close to adequate rock protection. I ran 85 miles on the C&O canal path (mucho broken shale) in late May – switching from my 08 Vasque Blurs (not even a blister)after 100k as both primary and alternate pairs were soaking wet. In the 840's, after 20+ miles, my feet practically "delaminated" from the bruising and wet conditions. I wonder if a carbon fiber insert in place of the sockliner would have offset the soft sole. Bob Holzhauer

  8. Bryon Powell

    Lee, I haven't seen anything that wasn't of the lanyard type. I can't see anyone making a handheld type carrier… mostly because I've never seen anyone using a metal bottle in an active setting. I sure as heck wouldn't want a metal bottle in my hand when I crashed into some rocks. When metal bottles explore they create some nasty rigid edges. But that's just me.

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