While fashion royalty stepped out in their best ’fits at Paris Fashion Week, a sneaker game of a different kind flexed hard in an unlikely place.
At this year’s Outdoor Retailer Summer Market sports expo in Denver, Colorado, North America’s biggest event of its kind, performance innovations were showcased across categories from yoga to fly fishing, while brands such as Salomon, Nike, and Italian bootmaker Scarpa showed off their finest hard-wearing new footwear.
Lately, trail-inspired sneakers have become a bigger part of the footwear conversation, from high fashion labels Balenciaga and 1017 ALYX 9SM to the outdoor lines of sportswear giants such as Nike ACG and adidas Terrex. In search of the coolest under-the-radar shoes built for the outdoors, Highsnobiety went straight to the source.
Here are the 10 best technical sneakers seen at this year’s Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.
From the brand that gave us Kanye West’s favorite tech boot comes the Hopara, HOKA ONE ONE’s first adventure sandal. The Hopara channels classic camp shoe vibes via HOKA’s performance DNA, adding a chunky midsole and neoprene collar for ultimate comfort outdoors. The Hopara will be available for Spring/Summer 2020, costing an affordable $120.
Last season, the Three Stripes’ Terrex outdoor division released the Free Hiker, a high-top hybrid of a Boost runner and a performance boot. For Spring 2020, the silhouette has been given a sustainable makeover with the help of long-time adidas collaborator Parley, an organization committed to ridding our oceans of plastic waste. The Primeknit upper gets given the Parley ocean plastic treatment, with chunky Continental rubber offering extraordinary grip. The shoe will retail for $200.
Salomon runners already dominate techwear, and now the French brand is pushing further with the new Cross /Pro. Essentially a knit version of the cult Speedcross silhouette, this ultra-light trail runner features a signature Salomon Contragrip outsole attached to a custom ME:sh upper ripped straight from the brand’s athlete-exclusive design program. This year gave us TAKAHIROMIYASHITATheSoloist. collabs and an expanded S/Lab line. Next year will give us the $160 Cross /Pro.
One of the biggest names in leather brings its expertise to trail footwear with the new Biom C Trail. Cut from a yak leather chosen for its lightness and durability, this GORE-equipped shoe is built for performance and 100 percent waterproof. A twisting, biomorphic sole system completes the look. ECCO’s answer to the tech sneaker launches next spring and will set you back a cool $250.
Sportswear goes techwear with Hi-Tec’s new Ox-Trail Racer, an outdoor runner built with the brand’s V-Lite design system. This lightweight, impact-absorbing shoe has more than just hyphens; it’s also a capable off-road (hyphens!) performer, with a fork shank for stability and a lugged outsole for traction. This high-tech Hi-Tec will be available in spring, price to be confirmed.
KITH collaborator Vasque updates its high-performance Breeze LT GTX boot with a series of tonal colorways for Spring 2020. This lightweight version of the Breeze silhouette features Vibram Litebase and Megagrip tech, reducing weight while keeping maximum grip, as well as a GORE-TEX bootie. Available in tan, green, gray, and black, Vasque’s fashion-focused refresh of a modern classic will be available at select retailers from February 2020.
Hardcore running brand Altra designs shoes for the world’s most extreme athletes. If those shoes happen to look fresh with ACRONYM cargos, that’s just a bonus. The brand’s mid-top version of its popular Lone Peak trail runner features a waterproof eVent upper and weighs just 12.9 ounces. New colorways launch next season, but the black-on-black version is available now for $160.
While not really a sneaker, Italy-based Scarpa’s hybrid boot will break necks all the same. Combining running shoe elements with the construction of a hardcore mountaineering boot, this grippy slip-on high-top features the brand’s Sock Fit technology for maximum comfort. A cool gradient colorway rounds out the package. The Ribelle Tech OD will set you back an imposing $540, but should that Paris Fashion Week after-party end up in the French Alps, you’ll be prepared.
Swiss climbing brand Mammut probably has no business in the shoe game, and yet here’s the Saentis Knit Low. A multipurpose performance runner, the Saentis features a knit 3D sock upper riding on top of a Michelin rubber outsole. It’s a streamlined, speed-laced tech sneaker that could have come from a Y-3 show. It’s also yours to cop now for $200.
Last but not least, in a long-awaited return, the Swoosh is back on the trail. Launched this spring, the Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail marks the brand’s re-entry into outdoor runners. A perforated mesh upper and some imposing rubber sole lugs differentiate the Trail from its track-focused cousin. The real highlight, however, is the shoe’s throwback colorway. While a premium triple-black GORE-TEX version is due out this fall, the standard Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail is available now for $130 at Nike.
For more sneaker insights, check out what industry insiders are rocking in their rotations this summer.
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