This past week, the running industry congregated in Austin, Texas for The Running Event, an annual conference and trade show where retailers, media and the public can rub shoulders with pros like Desi Linden and Jim Walmsley and dance awkwardly in jeans and running shoes at the week’s after parties.
Each year, the industry gathers to showcase the latest, greatest and yet-to-be released gear debuting in 2019, and we were there in search of the coolest advances. Despite the lack of an earth-shattering and/or technology breakthrough, we saw many smartly-designed products that seek to solve common runner pain points such as jiggly water bottles, plantar fasciitis and bike-commuter neons.
This year’s event saw a lot of focus on being seen, specifically via reflective features stealthily incorporated as interwoven and/or imprints in apparel and shoes (keep an eye out for our running shoe sneak peek video this week). Other trends we saw included versatile hybrid pieces that serve multiple functions and an increasing integration of technology into what we wear on the run, whether through a gait-assessing shoe chip from Under Armour or accommodating, chafe-free phone pockets from most garment-makers.
Here are some of the forthcoming head-to-toe products that caught our eye at the expo:
Buff Multifunctional Headwear
With a major overhaul, the essential Buff might just become even more indispensable. A fabric upgrade features four-way stretch, 100-percent recycled microfiber, UPF 50+ and improved wicking and cooling. All the better for both weather protection and snot-wiping. Buff’s headwear is priced at $24 and will be available January 2019.
Rabbit Freedom Top
A new fabric construction from the Santa Barbara apparel upstart Rabbit fosters airflow and breathability with perforations in the brand’s race singlets. Found in both the women’s Freedom and men’s Welcome To The Gun Show sleeveless tops, the fabric is whisper soft and made in the U.S. The tops are priced at $40 each and will be available February 2019.
Under Armour Intelliknit Phantom
Under Armour’s knit performance layer is warm, sweat-wicking and fashionable. Made with a high-end Japanese polyester, it has a nice drape, 3M reflective beads integrated into the weave and anti-stink properties. The UA Intelliknit Phantom is priced at $100 and will be available October 2019.
Salomon S/Lab MotionFit 360 Jacket
This paper-thin, one-layer Gore-Tex Shakedry material defies its weight in this high-end, bomber shell from Salomon. Constructed with as few seams as possible and an expandable baffle that accommodates a pack, this jacket allows free range of motion, plus can disappear into its own soft waistband when weather clears. The jacket is priced at $375 and will be available August 2019.
Skratch Anytime Energy Bar
Made with real food (ingredients you can pronounce), these nut-butter based bars from Skratch Labs debuted this fall but will soon offer new sweet, slightly sweet and savory flavors. The latter? A tasty antidote to sticky-sweet gels and drinks we so often slurp. Plus they’re gluten free. These energy bars are priced at $2.65 and new flavors will be available Fall 2019.
Ultimate Direction Hydrolight Shorts
New for 2019, UD integrates a hydration and storage solution seamlessly into tops and bottoms so you don’t have to buy and/or find a belt or pack to stash what you need on the run. The Hydrolight shorts hold two 300 ml flasks, a phone, gels and more. They are priced at $85 and will be available February 2019.
LEKI Micro Trail Pro
Leaning on lessons from its mountain heritage, LEKI has revamped these foldable carbon trail-running poles with a breathable glove-like strap that clamps into its handle (so you don’t have to think or try too hard when traversing gnarly terrain or fatigue) and added a new trail tip. A foam grip also allows you to choke up as needed. The running poles are priced at $200 and will be available spring 2019.
CEP Compression Socks
German company CEP set standards high for graduated compression socks with a medical-grade design method for managing fluid awhile back. These revamped over-the-calf silhouettes measure up. The flat-knit, 16-yarn construction feels comfortable and new tech encourages a high evaporation rate to keep skin degrees cooler than a sockless lower leg. These socks are priced at $60 and will be available February 2019.
Altra Vanish XC Shoes
This cross country flat was worn by pro Zach Bitter while setting the current American 100-mile trail record in 11:40.55. At 5.5 ounces, this race-ready waffle features an open-mesh upper that, in lieu of eyelets, allows you to lace up however and wherever you want. These running shoes are priced at $80 and will be available May 2019.