Footwear is a perennial hotbed for innovation and design in the outdoor world. This summer, dozens of shoe and boot brands debut new designs for the 2014 sales season at the Outdoor Retailer trade show, held next week in Salt Lake City. We got a preview from a few brands, with these models standing out as the most notable new kicks. —Stephen Regenold
Flip-Flop with Sticky Sole — Five Ten adds a slab of its famous Stealth sticky rubber to this slip-on sandal, called the Flip Off. A new variety of the rubber, Stealth MI6, is grippy as well as shock-absorbing. The sole can be thinner but still provide cush and support, Five Ten cites. They cost $40 and will be sold as “Apres-wear for adventure athletes.”
Mega-Plush — HOKA One One rules the maximalist market space. A design for 2014, the CONQUEST, has a new kind of midsole material providing what the brand calls a better “weight to resilience ratio” (light but still cushy?). It’s made with a no-sew upper for a purported foot-hugging fit. Maximum price tag included at $170 for the pair.
Machine-Washable Climbing Shoes — Cut the stank out fast with a spin cycle. A new climbing shoe from La Sportiva can be tossed in with the sheets and a scoop of Tide. The company touts increased product longevity and hygiene with the washable upper fabric. Your buds will appreciate the fresh-foot smell at the crag, too.
Classic Teva — As seen in 1984… Sandal stalwart Teva celebrates its 30th anniversary by releasing its Original Collection. The line gives flip-flops and ankle-cuff-equipped models in a load of colors and retro designs, all just $30 or $40.
Water Kicks — Bridging a gap between water shoes and trail runners, Danish brand ECCO will soon ship its LAGOON. Mesh uppers and drain ports let water flow right through when you tromp along a beach or through puddles on a trail. The outsole is made of polyurethane with “gripping rubber pads” to keep you upright even if the terrain get slippery underfoot.
Spikes Underfoot — Nordic footwear purveyor Icebug unveils its ARDOR olx, $145.95, a spike-equipped trail runner. A total of 17 fixed carbide-steel studs give traction unseen from common rubber. “Grip to slippery roots, rocks and hardpack,” the brand promises.
Low Hiker — Made for hiking, running, and “wet-rock scrambling” the Grand Traverse from Vasque has a grippy sole and a mesh/suede upper. It will cost $129.99 and is made to be a replacement for people hoping to shed weight by ditching hiking boots for something lighter on the trail.
Outdoor Speed — Running brand New Balance has a trail-oriented model, the 99 Outdoor, that looks to balance speed with grip on the ground. The shoe has a running-oriented design, but the outsole and overall shape is built for a range of activities, from trail running to hiking to light climbing/scrambling.
Salomon Goes ‘Urban’ — The X-Scream is a part of Salomon’s city-oriented line, made to run from your urban doorstep and on streets to a park trail nearby. As such, the shoe has light tread but can handle running on pavement, too. Includes the brand’s signature Quicklace system in lieu of shoelaces.
Light Foot — Light and flexible, but with a 6mm drop, the AllOut Fuse from Merrell balances support with a let-the-foot-flex “natural” design. They weigh about 8 ounces a shoe. Tech touch: A new type of midsole is touted to disperse impact with each stride and then stabilize for a solid takeoff into the next step.
Nature Boot — Classic hiking boots from Lowa will be rebirthed in 2014 in more sustainable incarnations. The Trekker Nature Line includes a men’s and women’s model with leather made in Germany and processed with natural tanning agents and no chemicals, Lowa cites.
Cushioning foam in the Lowa boots uses a portion of palm oil to offset petroleum over-use. And the insoles, outsoles, ankle cuffs, and laces have recycled components to make the “green” boot complete.
—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of GearJunkie.