What's Ahead for the Running Category
Heading into 2022, the running industry remains focused on innovation, and on reaching as many runners as possible, from elite athletes to beginner runners to those who don’t even define themselves as runners. Beyond that, continuing to deliver quality products continues to have added challenges — demand is high, but supply chain challenges remain. In our recent trip to The Running Event trade show, held in December, brands and retailers we spoke to were upbeat, and the show floor was buzzing with positive vibes. Here are a few new trends, products and technologies on our radar for the year ahead.
Carbon for the Masses
Every leading running brand now has a performance shoe featuring carbon plate technology. Lightweight and rigid, carbon plate shoes, with “propulsive” qualities were developed first with elite athletes in mind. However, in 2022 the use of carbon is evolving into (slightly) more affordable shoes. Think, $200 range rather than $275-$300+ price points. Also look to see more trail shoe offerings with carbon plates, such as the upcoming $200 HOKA Tecton X trail style. Innovation in varying the “flex” of the often rigid carbon plate shoes is also pushing the carbon category forward. The carbon fiber manufacturer Carbitex has its material in new 2022 shoes coming up from the likes of Altra, Saucony, Scott and Speedland.
Let’s Call Them Hybrids
Consumers have taken on new fitness routines over the past two years and products are following suit. This is evident in trends emerging in footwear — shoes targeting the “indoor” runner and shoes catering to the “gravel road or trail/road” runner. Brazilian brand Veja has new 2022 styles in the pipeline with the treadmill runner in mind. And Brooks has a capsule collection of apparel, called Run Within, set to drop that is designed with indoor runners’ more minimalistic design needs in mind. On the trail side, we’ve long seen hiking/trail running hybrid shoes flourish, but now more brands — including Saucony, HOKA and Altra — are keying in on runners looking for a less clunky trail shoe, with minimal lugs, for use on gravel roads or for running from road to trail.
Release Date Uncertainty
The best thing about our trip to The Running Event trade show in Austin this past December was seeing all of the innovative new performance shoes that running brands are readying for Fall 2022 launches. The only glitch? Many brands are unable to confidently say when the products will be available. While several brands told us that despite challenges their inventory was in good shape, cross your fingers and expect a window of 2-4 weeks-“ish” when it comes to the release date on the tech sheets and true availability.
Scott / Speed Carbon RC
Featuring Carbitex DFX carbon plate technology, the Speed Carbon RC is stiff in one direction, flexible in another to provide a balance of responsiveness and energy return for a lightweight, fast road racing shoe.
Craft / CTM Ultra Carbon Trail
This $260 shoe combines a durable yet lightweight, ultra-high rebound Ud Foam with a carbon plate precision split for torsion and variable energy return crafted especially for trail, and ultra-distance running for elite athletes ready to attack the elements.
Altra / Mont Blanc
This shoe is designed for running further and faster on the trails. By incorporating engineered weight reduction in the upper and midsole, the shoe offers protection and efficient energy transfer even in a minimalist design. The Vibram LiteBase outsole features micro and macro lugs for traction on any terrain and the Altra EGO MAX foam is luxe, light, and durable. The $185 Mont Blanc is ultra-lightweight and ultra-aggressive.
BROOKS / Run Within
When runners work out indoors, are they looking for different details in their garments than when they run outdoors? Brooks believes so. For Spring 2022, the brand is introducing the Run Within Collection of apparel. The tops, bottoms, and layers are built for the run, while also meeting the demands of a broader exercise regimen. The design team at Brooks paid special attention to the details, creating streamlined designs with minimal seaming, lightweight materials, and optimal breathability. Plus, each piece features sweat-wicking DriLayer fabric for comfort in any climate. Pieces range from tees ($38) and shorts ($48) to tights ($65) and sweatshirts ($98).
Under Armour / Flow Velociti Wind 2
Can you say lightweight design? The $160 UA Flow Velociti Wind 2 boasts lightweight Flow construction, eliminating the rubber outsole, removing a few ounce of weight. The foam has naturally sticky traction and energy return, along with consistency and durability. And the UA Warp upper adapts to the runner’s foot throughout their stride and has supporting tapes designed to act like seatbelts on the foot.
Dynafit / Ultra 50
The Spring 2022 Ultra 50, $129, is made for long runs on mixed alpine terrain. This lightweight 290g shoe provides cushioning for long runs, and it features an alpine rocker system and a Pomoca Gliding path sole for reactivity. The Ultra 50 has a max volume fit and comes in four colorways for men, and three for women.
HOKA / Tecton X
This new trail shoe’s design includes two parallel carbon fiber plates, helping the Tecton X ($200) provide a smooth stride even on uneven terrain. It is built for speed with a Vibram Megagrip Litebase outsole and a ProFlyX midsole that is light, responsive and ultra-soft. Set to launch in May.
HOKA / Carbon X 3
Hyper-supportive and hyper-propulsive, the Spring 2022 Carbon X 3 ($200) is engineered with a responsive, carbon fiber plate and aggressive Meta-Rocker. And the shoe has an energized new foam midsole and a performance knit upper. Slated to launch in April.