Running apparel gets safer, warmer, more functional

Help keep your running customers safe and warm by stocking up on next season's winter running apparel, which offers more functional features.

Throughout the month of February, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2012 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Jan. 19-22. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

Actress Reese Witherspoon was hit by a car while jogging back in September, landing her in the hospital and bringing to light a problem runners face daily — staying visible. There’s less chance a runner will be get into an accident if he or she picks up the apparel hitting shelves next season.

With built-in flashing lights, bright colors and sticky patches to keep packs in place during extra-long runs, winter running apparel is getting safer, warmer and more functional, all while maintaining moisture-wicking properties. And for badass runner chicks, embossed feminine touches are gaining traction.

Saucony has added more features to its ViziPro nighttime running line, including integrated flashing lights along some of the seams, in addition to the one blinking light it had already.

“When headlights hit you and it’s dark, the jacket is going to reflect back from the fabric color itself as well as the reflective details,” said Leigh-Anne Zavalick, Saucony’s apparel product line manager. The lights are USB-rechargeable so users can simply plug the pieces into their computers to recharge the lights. There is both a vest and a jacket with the integrated lighting.

Brooks had visibility in mind with the reflective panels that fold down on the front and side of the leg from the inside of its updated Infiniti jacket. Because cars often don’t come straight at runners, night-time reflectivity needs to go the sides of the body, said Lauren Wall, product line manager for Brooks. The Infiniti Jacket, which comes in both men’s and women’s, has stretch-woven side panels for comfortable movement and increased breathability.

Other new running products feature a variety of useful additions. Loleput the zippers on the side of its Energy tight (MSRP $85) so as not to irritate the backs of runners’ ankles. The pants can be zipped over ski boots and the inner lining is a brushed fleece for next-to-skin softness.

Salomon will bring a slew of running designs with breathability in key places on the body is a major push this year. The Swift midlayer hoody has thumbholes with a mitten that could come over the fingers, plus a ponytail hole on the hood.

Pearl Izumi took a cue from its ultra running athletes with its high-end Ultra line, said Cassie King, marketing manager. “They’re out in all kinds of climates, hours upon hours doing their training, and they have different needs,” King said. One result is the Ultra Barrier WXV Jacket (MSRP $180, photo, right) with TPO abrasion panels on the shoulders, which promote secure hydration pack placement to provide chafing from pack movement. The inside of the jacket is Pearl Izumi’s Minerale waterproof/breathable fabric, made with volcanic rock molecules for greater moisture transfer. The jacket also compresses down to sandwich size to stuff in a pack when athletes get hot.

–Ana Trujillo