Lightweight on the calendar, but once onsite, those empty slots get filled pretty quickly as more goodies captured my attention. My appointments today took me to the following manufacturers: Smith Optics, New Balance, Primaloft, Polartec, Gore, Inov-8, Asolo, Lowe Alpine, Deuter and Arc’teryx. It’s amazing how much buzz the outdoor industry is generating in our difficult economic climate. The people gotta recreate, so lets talk about the new gear.

Smith Optics: Pivlock V90 and V90 Max Sunglasses

An all-new minimalist shield design from Smith offers a super-lightweight design with solid wraparound protection. The V90 and V90 Max differ only in the size of the lens, otherwise all other features and interchangeable lens designs are the same. Trying them on, they are extremely lightweight and comfortable–I can’t wait to try them on the trail as I imagine I’ll forget I’ve got them on. The lens design not only eliminated frame interference in your line-of-sight, but it also reduces material usage. Throughout the entire Smith line, you can expect solid optics, polarization options and Eco-friendly materials with the Evolve lineup.

The V90 and V90 Max will be available soon with an MSRP of $119 for a single lens and $139 for 3 lenses.

Smith Pivlock V90 and V90 Max Sunglasses

New Balance: 876 and 100 Trail Running Shoes

As one of the staples of the trail running market, New Balance will offer two updated styles: The 876 (replacing the current 875) comes out in Jan/Feb 2010 and the race flat 100 comes out in Oct 2009.

The New Balance 876 features an all-new design from top-to-bottom featuring a debris-free tongue design, Absorb cushioning, N-lock heel and an entirely new, lower-profile tread pattern. As you can see in the 2nd picture, the tread pattern has been drastically changed for the better (top is new 876 and bottom is current 875). Tipping the scales around 20 oz./pair, the new 876 looks to be a solid everyday trainer for warm weather. MSRP will be $99.95.

2010 New Balance 876 Trail Running Shoes

New Balance 876 Trail Runner - 2009 vs. 2010 soles

The New Balance 100 is a race flat with a few really cool innovations. While it’s not as low-profile as some race flats, it appears to provide just enough cushioning and support for longer races (hence the 100 name for 100-mile endurance races). It does feature a Rockstop Plate and is built to wear with or without socks–all in a svelte 7.7 oz (each) package. MSRP will be $74.95.

New Balance 100 Race Flat Trail Running Shoe

New Balance 100 Race Flat Trail Running Shoe

Lowe Alpine: Zepton and Nanon Backpacks

Minimalist, yet bomber… that’s the mantra of the new Lowe Alpine Zepton and Nanon top-loading mininalist backpacks. Sporting the ultralight, yet bomber Dyneema Fabric, these packs weigh next-to-nothing. As with most packs in the line, they also feature Adaptive Fit waistbelts but the back panel is a unique honeycomb material for breathibility. The Nanon comes in a 50-60L size and weighs about 1 lb. with more pockets and a quick-access side zipper. ! The smaller Zepton comes in a womens-specific 50L and unisex 50L size. MSRP for the Nanon will be $220 and Zepton will be $180 with Spring 2010 availability.

Lowe Alpine Zepton and Nanon Ultralight Backpacks

Lowe Alpine Nanon Backpack - Adjustable Back Panel Design

Asolo: Predator  and Dominator Trail Running shoes

The entire trail running lineup from Asolo underwent a complete re-design for the Spring 2010 release. Expect a much more competitive product with both the Asolo Predator and Asolo Dominator trail runners giving the more established trail running brands a run for their money. The new Propulsion Plus design is very similar to the Salomon XT Wings (an excellent trail shoe) in that it’s built with a single-piece EVA midsole that’s then supported in the heel by a TPU cage and finished off with an EVA heel cushion before the rubbery goodness is applied. The new design looks much better than the previous designs. MSRP looks to be $120 for both shoes.

Asolo Predator Trail Running Shoe

Asolo Predator Sole

Asolo Dominator Trail Running Shoe

Arc’teryx: Aerios Hydration Packs

While Arc’teryx has made an excellent name in outerwear and backpacks, hydration packs are a new offering. Coming Spring 2010, the Aerios hydration pack lineup will launch consisting of 7, 10 and 14 Liter designs. The 7 L and 10 L designs look to be the most promising for highly-aerobic adventures like mountain biking or long-distance trail running. As with all Arc’teryx products, the key is the laminating process with sleek lines and smooth transitions between seams and fabrics. The semi-rigid back panel is a unique, porous design for breathability and stability under use.

The waistbelts are removable or re-positionable for a variety of activities and the interior sports a variety of stash pockets for pumps, tools, keys, phones, etc. It doesn’t come with a bladder–that way you can select your favorite one. Expect the Aerios hydration packs to arrive in Spring 2010 with $89-$119 price-points.

Arc'teryx Aerios 10 Hydration Pack

Arc'teryx Aerios 10 Hydration Pack

Inov-8: Roclite 312 GTX and 305 Trail Runners

These shoes caught my eye while at the Gore booth. There was the women’s version of the Innovate Roclite 312, front-and-center. The shoe stood out from the crowd with its minamilist design that actually looked performant, not just minimalistic. The 312 and 305 are essentially the same shoe… differing only in that the 312 features a full Gore-Tex liner for waterproof/breathable performance. The sole technology built into these shoes is really interesting as they try to mimic and augment the natural movement of the foot. With the patent-pending Fascia Board and other supportive features, running efficiency is maximized. Product weights are both in the 11 oz. range each. I’m looking forward to testing these shoes come Fall trail running season. Both the Roclite 312 and 305 are available now at $135 and $100 pricepoints, respectively.

Inov-8 Roclite 312 Gore-Tex Trail Running Shoe

Inov-8 Roclite 305 Trail Running Shoes

Overall a very productive first day at Outdoor Retailer. Look for more updates on Thursday.

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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