Highlights from the Active.com Consumer Shoe Experience

Saucony ProGrid Guide 5

Recently, Active.com held its first Consumer Shoe Experience event in New York City. Representatives from the ASICS, Brooks, K-Swiss, Pearl Izumi, and Saucony shoe brands all attended, showing off their new 2012 running shoes. 

Here are some of the highlights:

ASICS

ASICS has refreshed a number of its models, notably the GT-2170 and the GEL-Kayano, but there didn’t seem to be any major changes to the designs. At least one 2012 model has a waterproof Gore-Tex upper.

Two new shoes have recently been added to the ASICS line, the GEL-Neo 33 and the GEL-Excel 33.  The GEL-Neo 33 is a lightweight stability shoes and the GEL-Excel 33 is a lightweight neutral shoes.

Brooks

The Brooks PureProject, which was launched in October, added four new shoes to the Brooks line: Brooks PureConnect (lightweight neutral), PureFlow (neutral), PureCadence (stability), and PureGrit (trail).  They all share a 4 mm heel-to-toe drop, a split toe design which allows the big toe to move independently and push off, an elastic Nav Band to provide a snug fit, and an Ideal Heel to promote mid-foot striking. 

The Brooks PureGrit trail shoe, designed with the help of ultra-marathoner Scott Jurek, has a unique concave sole that flexes when your foot hits the ground to maximize ground contact.

In 2012, Brooks will release its lightweight Brooks Cascadia 7 trail shoe, redesigned with the help of Scott Jurek and comments from runners on the Brooks website, in response to their posting photos of various shoe prototypes during the design process.

K-Swiss

Most people don’t think of K-Swiss as a running shoe brand, but they are working hard to try to change that.

The K-Swiss Kwicky Blade-Light features ION-MASK hydrophobic nanotechnology coating that repels water. If your pour water on this shoe, it beads up and rolls off. The coating is molecularly bonded to the surface of the shoe’s upper, so it can’t wear off or lose its water-repellent properties.

If you do get water inside your shoe, several of the K-Swiss models, including the Kwicky Blade-Light, the K-Ona C, and the K-Ruuz, provide a perforated sock liner and drainage holes to help shed any water (or sweat) from inside the shoe. This is one of the reasons by K-Swiss has become very popular with triathletes.

Pearl Izumi

At the Active.com show, Pearl Izumi was touting its 360° lacing, which anatomically conforms to the foot for a tailored fit regardless of foot shape, and the more durable, high carbon outsole on its Synchro Fuel Trail II shoe.

The Pearl Izumi Infinity Softshell Jacket features a lightweight breathable, waterproof, and windproof softshell fabric. It also has a full length internal draft flap and and and internal hand mitt for warmth. Very nice if you forgot your gloves.

Saucony

Saucony has redesigned three of their most popular shoes, the Guide, the Triumph, and the Hurricane, reducing the heel-to-toe drop from 12 mm to 8 mm.  The idea behind the lower heel-to-toe drop is to promote more of a mid-foot strike and to help runners transition towards minimalist footwear, with even lower heel-to-toe drops. For some runners, the lower heel can result in Achilles tendonitis and calf strains.

The Saucony ProGrid Guide 5 and the PowerGrid Triumph 9 are on sale now. The PowerGrid Hurricane 14 will be available in Feburary 2012. Watch for my review of the Saucony ProGrid Triumph 9 in an upcoming post.

My thanks to Active.com for the invitation to attend the Consumer Shoe Experience. Here’s hoping that they put on many more events like this in the future.

What new shoes are you looking forward to the most? What are you looking for in a shoe that you haven’t found yet. Tell me in the comments.

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