We are somehow in September. Many runners are feeling simultaneously relieved about the reappearance of crisp air yet already nostalgic for twilight run-swims. This summer seemed to roll through at a frightening clip for a time when things have never been more uncertain. However, late summer melancholy aside, as runners we are coming up on prime time. Autumn in New England. Here’s a look at new shoe updates and trends in running this fall.
The ASICS Cumulus has had some growing pains but the new model is a different story in the best way. ASICS' main criticism is that it has been historically quite narrow. The Cumulus 21 was applauded for fixing this width issue, however the shoe still felt a little hard underfoot compared to its competitors the Brooks Ghost, Saucony Ride and Mizuno Wave Rider. This is not the case with the plush new Cumulus 22. It has been redesigned to feature:
- One piece mesh upper with seamless 3D print construction for extra support.
- Softer midsole than previous version.
- Heel cushioning has be re-engineered to isolate heel impact while the deeper forefoot flex grooves + softer midsole = a smoother ride.
- A durable rubber outsole has been included in key areas to increase the shoe’s lifetime.
All in all it gives you a cushioned neutral trainer that is closer in feel to its higher priced point ASICS cousin, the Nimbus. It also looks good.
Hoka made serious waves when they entered the running industry in 2009, doing maximal cushion in a way no one else was. Following their success, other companies have been following suit and introducing softer, higher stack heights into their line ups. This has been especially interesting to see in the trail world where extra cushion on a softer surface might seem counter intuitive at first. Enter the Brooks Caldera 4. This shoe is considerably beefed up compared to the 3, and it makes it feel you have memory foam underfoot. The toe-box is also noticeably wider which is great for wider feet and yet doesn’t feel excessive for narrow feet either. One of the biggest improvements with this shoe is how confidently it goes downhill even on slippery rock. I think this is due to the marriage of a snugger fitting upper and the reconfigured traction pattern on the outsole. Other highlights:
- Brand new engineered mesh for strategic breathability.
- Reconfigured midsole and outsole allow the shoe adapt to the ground underneath and provide stability over changing terrain
- Increased protection with a new Mudguard and TPU toe cap.
In the end it’s a better performing update on the Caldera 3 for the runner who wants a softer landing with a Brooks fit.
So lastly, maybe you don’t want all that cushion. There are still plenty of runners who prioritize lightness and ground feel over a soft landing. Salomon remains a head innovator in Trail that specializes in high performance. The Sense 4/Pro fits nicely into this category. The cool thing about the Sense 4/Pro is that while it shines on quick repeats it can also keep your feet happy on 10+ milers without foot fatigue. If you rarely drop below double digits on trail you might look at the more supportive Sense Ride 3, but the Sense Pro 4 has emerged as a shoe that can kind of do everything. Here are some specifics:
- Water repellant single-layer mesh upper.
- Salomon’s proprietary Optivibe midsole is a combination of two compounds, one that reduces vibration upon foot strike and one to propel the runner forward while decreasing muscle fatigue.
- Contigrip MA offers award winning wet-surface traction and durability.
- Salomon’s Sensifit cradles the foot from the midsole to the lacing system for a secure and adjustable fit.
This is a shoe for any trail runner who wants a featherweight high performance option with that glove-like Salomon fit.
4. Patagonia Capilene Collection
If you grew up like I did, mostly associating Patagonia with brightly colored fleeces, you might not know about their technical running lines. When looking for a sweat wicking kit Patagonia’s capilene cool products ace the test for both performance and durability. They make a few different variations of this synthetic knit that are specifically designed for different outputs and temperatures. I have found that three of these pieces can get you through the whole running year and the best part is you can wear them more than once before washing thanks to HeiQ, an odor control agent that Patagonia has added to this whole line. A final plus of the Capilene line is the introduction of a percentage of recycled materials in their products.
- Cap Cool Lightweight: You can legitimately wear this when it is 90 degrees or for those fall mornings when you start off chilly but know you’re going to heat up. It comes in tank, tee and long sleeved versions and it is designed for high out-put conditions where staying warm is not the issue.
- Cap Cool Daily: This synthetic is a little bit thicker, but still extremely good at keeping you dry. The daily comes in tee and long sleeved (also available as a hoody) and is best for the shoulder seasons or warmer winter days. If you are looking for a three piece kit I would recommend the long sleeve version as an intermediary between the lightweight and the last warmest option: the Cap Air Crew.
- Cap Air Crew: I have found this top to be a unicorn for winter running. It looks like a sweater. You will feel business casual running in this but it became my long run uniform last winter. You can even wear it in a light rain without disastrous results. It is wild. This piece is made from 51% RWS-certified merino wool and 49% recycled polyester, which makes it somehow warm, wicking and breathable all at the same time. If you are looking for something to wear for a hard effort when it’s 15 degrees out this is it. It also doubles as a cozy alpine base-layer which can help justify the higher price point if you ski or snowboard.
5. Saucony Winter Running Apparel
Saucony new apparel line will not only last through the toughest workouts, but it is made of nearly 100% sustainable materials so we can keep taking care of our home. Each item is designed to stand the test of time.
- Women's Collection: Includes the Overlook Long Sleeve, Sunday Funnel Neck, Fortify Tight and Boston 2.0 Pant.
- Men's Collection: Includes the Stopwatch Long Sleeve, Challenge 1/4 Zip and Boston 2.0 Pant.
There are many hydration vests on the market and it’s best to try on several brands to see what fits your body best. One that has a great design is the 7L VaporAir / VaporAiress from Nathan. One thing to keep in mind for hydration vests is that this is not something that you want to fit a little loose. If a vest is comfortable but not snug this is not going to be fun 2 miles in. You should look for a vest that doesn’t is not uncomfortably tight but fits your body as seamlessly as possible. Nathan has engineered their line to be highly customizable. Here are some specs: both vests are made with breathable materials to prevent chafing. They have a 2L bladder with a quick release valve included. There are many pockets including a transparent zippered one, back kangaroo pocket, and large zippered back storage pocket. The front pockets fit bottles and flask up to 22 oz. Both vests also feature reflective hits for 360 degree visibility. The female specific Vapor Airess is designed to be anatomically adjustable for many different body types and allows you to adjust the bust and waist fit separately.