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Outdoor Highlights: Lightweight Designs for the Trail and the City

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Folks are hitting the trails. That’s the message from footwear companies at the 2016 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market (Jan. 7-10) in Salt Lake City, Utah. For Fall ’16, brands are meeting the demand with lightweight, supportive trail shoes and hikers.

Chris Lindgren, VP of outdoor and training footwear at Under Armour, said that the brand is investing in a broader offering of hiking styles for both this spring and fall. Brian Hall, Vasque director of product development, similarly said that the company has seen a steady increase in demand for hiking footwear in the last year. For fall, Vasque is premiering the Coldspark UltraDry, a lightly insulated, versatile trail boot for activities in cooler temperatures.

Greg Thomsen, managing director, Adidas Outdoor U.S., identified a similar interest in trail sports, saying, “We think the biggest growth trend in outdoor is trail running, with an overall underlying direction towards longer and faster with a mixed terrain and altitude gains.”

Adidas trail boot
Adidas trail boot

Adidas Outdoor is introducing four new Fall ’16 styles for off-trail and backcountry running, with a focus on stability and comfort. The shoes use Boost cushioning and Continental rubber outsoles for grip, energy return and comfort. The brand is also working to incorporate new technologies for laminating abrasion-resistant layers, which add little weight, to put on trail running shoes. Thomsen explained that backcountry and mountain trail running are relatively new sports that require better grip and cushioning and more stabilization.

Keen is zeroing in on structure and comfort with its new Aphlex hiker, a shoe with a lightweight mesh upper combined with PhlexoSkeleton armor and S3 technology that enhances structure, stability, suspension and comfort.

The Under Armour Infil Hike GTX offers support from molded Anafoam—the brand’s foam and stretch textiles, tuned medial and lateral support wings and a Gore-Tex bootie construction.

Under Armour Infil Hike GTX
Under Armour Infil Hike GTX

On hiking trends, Thomsen said, “Heavier hiking boots are slowing down as new, lighter weight models have come into the line.” He added that leather styles are also being phased out as lighter, more abrasion resistant, waterproof and breathable fabrics are take their place.

The outdoor market continues to pick up design influences from the athletic and fashion sectors. Keen Director of Outdoor Marketing Nol Gerritse said, “Right now, the outdoors are coming into the city, and likewise fresh generations of urbanites are developing a strong urge to get outside.” He continued, “The result is a clear movement towards elevated levels of style and urban relevance.” Keen is working on shoes with artisan textures, beautiful stitching and intricate detailing in their new line.

Keen Aphlex
Keen Aphlex

Vibram is similarly working on the concept of urban environments and casual cold weather activities. Its showpiece for this category is the Vibram Furoshiki, a flexible shoe with a stretch material on the upper. The design was inspired by a Furoshiki, a Japanese concept that refers to the tradition of wrapping, holding and carrying objects with a cloth. The style is available in a sneaker, a mid-cut boot and a high boot.

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