Here are the coolest things we saw—and did—at this year's show.
Altra's Latest Shoes1 of 18
Altra continued to make waves in the running world, debuting three new shoes at the show: a mid-high trail shoe, a racing flat and a casual wear shoe. The company maintains their "natural movement" theory across the offerings, allowing runners to take advantage of zero drop technology no matter what they're doing. All products will be available in the summer of 2016.
Balega Running Socks2 of 18
If you've seen one sock, you've seen them all... right? Wrong. South Africa's Balega goes above and beyond to provide a high-quality sock for runners across the world. The hand-linked, seamless toes are made for the ultimate comfort on runs of any distance. The company has such pride in their product that each package features a picture of the individual who hand-linked that particular pair, adding a personal touch in a mass-produced industry.
BUFF CoolMax Extreme Fabric Running Hat3 of 18
Already popular among outdoorsmen and women (me included), BUFF is making its way into the running world with a variety of sun and weather protection products. Made of microfiber polyester, the CoolMax Extreme fabric wicks moisture from the skin to the outer layer of the hat, keeping your body temperature regulated on chilly runs. Polygiene Odor Control Technology neutralizes odor so you can say goodbye to the stinks.
GU Energy Gel4 of 18
The latest products from GU are part of their initiative to create a more eco-friendly product, offering a larger, resealable package for bulk consumption and a reusable single-serving container to eliminate waste. A simple concept with a huge impact. Mother Nature thanks you, GU.
HOKA ONE ONE Clayton5 of 18
For those who want a faster racing shoe without sacrificing the cushioning that HOKA is so well known for, behold the Clayton, arriving in April 2016. Truer to the look and style of a more traditional running shoe, the Clayton is a lighter and quicker shoe with a deep foot frame that allows your foot to sit lower for better ground feel. The molded EVA midsole is softer in the heel and firmer in the forefoot for a cushioned landing and responsive toe-off.
HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 36 of 18
As a superfan of the Clifton 2, I was super excited to see an update in the pipeline for this popular maximalist shoe. Available in July, the third iteration offers more room in the forefoot and a few upper tweaks for enhanced comfort. Overall, the changes were minimal, but those with wider feet will surely welcome the larger toe box.
Merrell All Out Crush7 of 18
Merrell's new partnership with Tough Mudder is just one part of the company's commitment to the sport of obstacle course races. Their All Out Crush shoe was built to tackle the muddy, slippery, technical obstacles of a Tough Mudder—or any OCR, for that matter. Their M Select GRIP outsoles provide traction on both wet and dry ground, and side drainage ports lets water out during the wettest and messiest parts of the race. And because getting them wet and muddy is unavoidable, Merrell added M Select FRESH to prevent sweat and moisture from affecting the freshness of your shoes.
Mizuno Breath Thermo8 of 18
Mizuno's Breath Thermo line is designed to warm you using your own sweat. The Breath Thermo fiber is woven into tops, pants and accessories to take moisture from your body and turn it into heat, allowing you to wear less while still staying warm. The body mapping vents let air move efficiently across your body, and are strategically placed on men's and women's apparel based on how each gender's bodies are built.
Nathan Headlamp9 of 18
Nathan claims to have built the first headlamp designed specifically for runners, with Run-Right Light technology to both spotlight and floodlight the path in front of you, reducing surface shadows. The ability to rotate the angle of the lamp ensures the light is shining in the direction you want. What to change the lamp setting from steady light to strobe? Just wave your hand in front of the light and you're good to go. Auto-strobe technology activates the strobe feature when it senses the headlights of an oncoming car to alert the driver of your presence.
nuun Hydration Tabs10 of 18
Many runners already know and trust nuun as an electrolyte sports drink for fueling before, during and after runs. New for 2016, their Active and Energy lines have been improved using all plant-based sweeteners—monk fruit and stevia leaf extract—making it certified vegan, gluten free, non-GMO and an Informed Choice for Smart Sport. The latest flavor in the energy line, Mango Orange, debuted at the show.
Pearl Izumi Trail N311 of 18
While Pearl Izumi has made major strides on the cycling scene, their running apparel shouldn't be overlooked. Their N3 trail shoe has a seamless upper for the ultimate comfort and fit, and an anatomical forefoot shape allows for natural toe splay and unavoidable foot swelling. A forefoot rock plate protects from stone bruising and multi-directional carbon rubber outsole provides traction and abrasion resistance.
Reebok All Terrain Super12 of 18
Made to tackle obstacle races and mud runs, the All Terrain Super features drainage ports, square lugs for 360-degree traction, an underfoot rock guard and midfoot teeth for grip while climbing up walls and ropes. A Duragrip upper prevents wear in areas that take the most beating (think toes and instep on walls and ropes).
Soleus Signature Series13 of 18
Want to run like Kara Goucher, Nick Symmonds or Alysia Montano? Well, now you can. At least, as far as their watches go.
Soleus worked with the three professional runners to design their own personal watches based on what was important to each of them during training and competing. The color scheme celebrates the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, and each athlete's watch is stamped with their signature for a truly personal touch.
SPIbelt H2O Venture Series14 of 18
If you haven't tried SPIbelt yet, you're seriously missing out. Far from its (very) distant cousin, the fanny pack, the belt offers a super stretchy pouch for carrying phones, keys, nutrition and more. The best thing about this product is its ability to stay put even with the pouch full of run necessities. You could probably fill it with solid concrete and it wouldn't bounce once.
For the latest product in the SPIbelt line, the company basically addressed all my product gripes without ever asking me—which leads me to a sneaking suspicion that they might employ a mind-reader. The first thing I noticed, of course, was the addition of two 8-ounce water bottles that can be easily clipped onto the belt wherever desired (front, back or side). I also loved the wider elastic of the belt itself. The two-inch width made for a more comfortable fit around the waist, as compared to their traditional version at one inch. Yes, the folks at SPIbelt seem to have thought of everything—even a set of race number toggles to let you attach a race bib to the belt.
The SPIbelt team also served margaritas out of the hydration bottles at the show, making their booth a favorite among TRE attendees.
For all of these reasons (and for reading my mind), I've given the SPIbelt ACTIVE's Best of Show for The Running Event 2015.
Stryd Power Meter15 of 18
As the world's first power meter for running, Stryd is taking the concept of power output—used often in cycling—and converting it into an easy to understand number. The small device can be snapped onto a heart rate monitor strap and reads your body metrics to help you understand how hard you are working at each point of a run. Stryd is compatible with a number of running watches and apps, displaying your power statistics right on your device.
TRX Suspension Trainer16 of 18
I joined TRX trainer Chris Frankel and professional runner David Torrence (sub-four minute mile, NBD) for a workout designed for runners. They showed me TRX exercises to strengthen the muscles runners use most, which included a squat row, hamstring runner (a killer for me), lunge to i-fly, lateral lunge and balance lunge. Stay tuned to ACTIVE.com for a full TRX For Runners article in the coming weeks.
Zoot Wind Swell + Jacket17 of 18
Well known in the triathlon world, San Diego-based Zoot is charging onto the running scene full steam ahead. Their 2016 lines are inspired by the laid-back vibes of a Southern California lifestyle, incorporating lots of blues and greens, stripes and surfer styles to their running attire. A favorite of mine was the Wind Swell Jacket, a lightweight water- and wind-repellent piece that not only looks cool as hell, but also offers defense against all weather conditions. Whether out in the baking sun (UPF 50+ protection) or dark of night (multiple reflective details), this jacket's got you covered.