Our editorial team was enormously happy to be back at The Running Event (TRE), an annual industry showcase that was cancelled last year due to the pandemic. The event’s return was a gathering of running brands from all parts of the country, allowing our team to interact with companies face to face once again and get a preview of the items we’ll be testing in 2022. We’ve narrowed our focus to shoes in this recap, and Part 2 will showcase other gear and accessories.
(As always, please note that any of the spec information listed below, especially availability dates and MSRP, are subject to change. Release dates in particular have been significantly impacted by the pandemic and supply chain challenges.)
Visiting the HOKA (who has officially dropped the “One One” from the brand name) booth never fails to get us eager to hit the trails. The new year will bring updates of two outstanding lines plus an innovative new model. The Speedgoat 5 will get its performance leveled up while simultaneously losing weight. A vegan upper uses a detailed jacquard engineered mesh that has increased flexibility and holds its position without need for excessive overlays. Midsole geometry is identical to the Speedgoat 4, but now uses the lighter-weight CMEVA compound originally found on the EVO Speedgoat. The outsole consists of the traditional Vibram Megagrip compound, but the 5mm lugs are enhanced by very small microtextured nubs for improved grip in gravelly conditions. As with the SG4, wide options of the Speedgoat 5 will be available. The men’s shoe weighs 10.3oz with stack heights of 33/29mm, and the women’s weighs 8.5oz with 31/27mm. Both will have an MSRP of $155 and will be available in March.
Reflecting the biggest trend in next year’s footwear market, the HOKA Tecton X features carbon plate technology in the midsole (“X” is HOKA’s naming convention for road or trail shoes containing carbon plates). The innovation here is that the Tecton X actually has two longitudinal plates which run parallel to each other and are completely disarticulated, to allow for dynamic lateral movement on uneven terrain. Supporting these plates is the dynamic ProFly dual density midsole, and Vibram Megagrip Litebase is used underfoot to maintain superior grip while conserving weight. The Tecton X has identical stack heights as the Speedgoat 5 and Mafate Speed 4 – 33/29mm for men and 31/27mm for women – but is significantly lighter at 8.5oz (men) and 6.9oz (women), making it the race day shoe of choice among the HOKA trail lineup. It is scheduled for a May release with an MSRP of $200.
Later in 2022, HOKA will launch the Mafate Speed 4, a distillation of elements from the EVO Mafate and Mafate Speed lines. This update also receives the new jacquard upper, but larger improvements are focused in the midsole and outsole. An updated ProFly dual layer midsole increases cushioning on impact and responsiveness with toe off, and the same Vibram Megagrip Litebase outsole with microlugs found on the Tecton X is applied to the Mafate Speed 4. This shoe loses some weight with specs of 10.4oz (men) or 8.5oz (women), with stack heights of 31/27mm, and will have an MSRP of $185.
Saucony makes a strong push into the trail space in 2022, with a full lineup of new releases and a partnership with ultrarunner rising star Adam Merry, who was involved in wear testing and feedback of the new line. First is an update to an old favorite, as the Peregrine 12 moves back toward its minimalist roots, losing a full ounce of weight while improving its protection and performance elements. The upper has a thinner tongue and reduced overlays, and a new sock liner uses Saucony’s premium PWRRUN+ compound for responsiveness. Redesigned 5mm lugs make it easier to shed mud, and an improved forefoot plate provides impact resistance while pushing the pace. The Peregrine 12 releases in February, weighs 9.7oz (men) or 8.3oz (women) with stack heights of 26/22mm and will retail for $130.
Another Saucony model that sees significant weight loss is the Xodus Ultra, a June release that modifies the previous Xodus line to be specifically suited for long distance efforts. Extensive changes include a wider last, roomier forefoot, and steeper heel-toe drop (6mm compared to 4mm), plus a redesigned PWRTRAC outsole with 4mm lugs and durability for mountain terrain. A full length PWRRUN PB high density midsole compound provides increased energy return, and is surrounded by a layer of standard PWRRUN EVA to create a dynamic support frame for stability on irregular terrain. Stack heights are 32/26mm, weight is 10.3oz (men) and 9.1oz (women), with an MSRP of $150.
Saucony’s entry in the carbon plate race is the Endorphin Edge, which utilizes a wishbone-shaped Carbitex plate that remains stiff in the uphill direction, but flexible when going downhill for better ground control. The plate isn’t quite full length, leaving the heel area to have full cushioning from PWRRUN PB foam. However, the shoe does have a full-length rock plate in addition to the carbon plate to provide outstanding impact resistance on rocky terrain. A trail last provides room to accommodate your foot during higher mileage, and Ghillie loops help the laces wrap the midfoot for a secure fit. The Endorphin Edge has max stack heights of 35/29mm, and given the massive midsole volume and dual plates, comes in at a surprisingly low weight of 9.0oz (men) or 8.0oz (women). It launches in August at an MSRP of $200, and the bright pink colorway is available for both genders.
Advanced midsole technology is at the heart of Salomon’s new trail offerings for Spring ‘22, as the Pulsar Trail and Pulsar Trail Pro both benefit from the adoption of Energy Blade construction pulled from the company’s road shoe design. Energy Blade combines three elements: dense Energy Surge EVA foam, a TPU composite plate and geometric rocker technology. The Trail Pro version has a stiffer plate and sleeker construction for speed, while the regular Pulsar Trail has a slightly more flexible plate and a bit more padding in the upper for comfort. Both models have a 6mm heel-toe drop, and identical Contragrip outsoles with angled lugs for strong traction. Specs for the Pulsar Trail Pro are 33/27mm stack height, 9.5oz (men) and 8.1oz (women), with an MSRP of $160. The Pulsar Trail is 32/26mm, 9.8oz (men) and 7.5oz (women), retailing for $130.
The shoe company that generated the most buzz in 2021 is preparing another launch for next year, and will continue its unorthodox approach to market strategy. Each shoe they launch will have a connection to one of their sponsored athletes, beginning with the SL:HSV inspired and tested by Huntsville, AL, ultrarunner Liz Canty. Modifications to the upper and outsole make this model especially well-suited for the relentlessly rocky and wet terrain of the American South. Anodized aluminum dials on the dual BOA lacing system provide more durability and are easier to manipulate in wet conditions; they have also been tweaked to pull more symmetrically than on the first Speedland shoe. A new Michelin OCX3 rubber compound is super grippy, and the Carbitex rock plate has been slightly modified for greater protection on rocky trails. Stack heights will be the same as their first shoe, the SL:PDX, at 28/23mm, and the official weight is TBD but probably similar to the 10.3oz of the PDX. The price point remains $375. One interesting note is when the HSV is released in spring 2022, the PDX model will go away – so if you liked that model and want another one, you better act quick.
Altra’s impressive lineup of trail shoes sees a couple of noteworthy additions in 2022 – one for the new trail runner and one for those looking for maximal performance. The Outroad is a new release in June, designed for hybrid road to trail use and road runners who want to veer off the pavement every now and then. It’s ideal for urban areas that have a centralized exercise corridor like a riverfront or a city park, but have to run through civilization to get there. The Outroad has an EGO midsole and a 27mm stack height on a zero drop platform like all Altra models. Moderate outsole lugs are designed to roll smoothly on asphalt but grip the dirt when necessary, similar to a gravel bike tire. Weights are 10.7oz (men) and 8.8oz (women), and MSRP will be $140.
Although it’s not a new model, the Timp 4 gets a complete overhaul from top to bottom in 2022, with a focus on making this the rugged workhorse of the lineup. A big change happened in the midsole, which now features high-performance EGO Max foam that combines a soft feel with strong energy return and high durability. The midsole is also built with innovative drainage ports in the midsole of the forefoot area, rather than being positioned on top of the midsole like many other models do; this makes your foot work effectively as a pump to push excess water from the shoe with each step. The outsole is still made of grippy MaxTrac rubber, but the multi-directional lugs have been redistributed based on wear testing for more efficient propulsion and braking. The Timp 4 releases in March, keeps a 29/29mm stack height, weighs 10.9oz (men) or 9.2oz (women) and will retail for $150.
One gap in Altra’s trail lineup in the past has been a high performance ultramarathon shoe, but no longer, thanks to the Mont Blanc release in March. This shoe has undergone extensive testing with Altra’s elite athlete corps, specifically with its namesake race in mind. A very minimalist upper has a thin, ripstop nylon mesh and great flexibility, and the outsole consists of Vibram Megagrip Litebase to keep weight down while providing outstanding grip. In between is a thick layer of premium EGO Max midsole material, creating a thick stack height of 30/30mm. Later in the spring, the Mont Blanc will also be offered in a BOA version, featuring a dual dial system that allows customized lockdown in the forefoot and midfoot regions. The regular version has spec weights of 9.9oz (men) or 6.9oz (women) and will retail for $180, and the BOA version weighs 11.2oz (men) or 9.3oz (women) and will retail for $210.
In recent years, Brooks has gone big on cushioning and they continue in that direction in 2022 with a February release of the Caldera 6. This is the first Brooks trail shoe to feature the company’s new DNA LOFT V3 midsole compound, developed through a nitrogen infusion process that adds volume and softness without sacrificing weight or responsiveness. Its overall footprint is wider in the heel and forefoot, and the midsole compound is higher on the sidewalls of the heel; both of these elements add stability, which is important given the tall stack heights of this shoe. The Caldera 6 weighs 11.0oz (men) or 9.8oz (women), with stack heights of 31/25mm, and will retail for $150.
After a minor brand refresh, Scott is focusing its efforts towards sky and mountain running in 2022, as exemplified by the spring release of the Supertrac 3, an update to their most popular mountain performance shoe. A new ripstop nylon upper has increased durability, with a TPU support cage and prominent front toe guard. A rockered eRide midsole is designed for increased efficiency over long distances. Scott has four different profiles of trail outsoles; the All Terrain version on this shoe has angled chevrons for climbing and braking on a wide variety of surfaces. Stack heights are 29/21mm, weight is 11.2oz (men) and 10.2oz (women) and the shoe has an MSRP of $160.
One of the shoes we’re most looking forward to testing aren’t for running at all – rather, it’s a new recovery shoe called the OOcandoo that will be released in April. It combines the super lightweight and comfortable OOfoam platform with a slip-on upper that has tons of holes for ventilation and won’t slip off your foot. At less than 8oz, they are barely noticeable on your feet aside from the plush footbed underfoot. The last is wide enough to accommodate swollen feet or thick socks as needed, but the structure of the upper stays secure on irregular ground. They make an ideal post-run comfort shoe, and the large holes in the upper are easy to clip a carabiner through for attachment to a backpack. The OOcandoo will retail for $99.