Collectively we spend a lot of time running: we’re Ironman finishers, ultramarathoners, trail runners, joggers and ad-hoc sprinters, police fleers (seldom to never) and woman chasers (only when we know her). 2013 was a good year for running shoes of all stripes and three of them stood out to us. These shoes are drastically different in design, but each is free of gimmicks and encourages a natural running stride.
Of all the companies to embrace minimalist running, none have done it with as much zeal as New Balance. The pillars of the Minimus line are lower drop and stack height, a wide toebox and extremely light weight overall. The Hi-Rez is more than just the next iteration of their most minimal design (and our favorite of the line until now), the Minimus Trail Zero (MT00). Like that shoe, it’s zero drop and silly light at under five ounces; where it departs is in the more advanced sole, built with 42 independent pods bonded to the base, which provide a more responsive feel and better off-road cushioning. The new FantomFit upper brings a bit more structure to the barefoot-style shoe, while also making it more comfortable to run sockless by joining the tongue and upper into one piece. This is the sports car of minimalist running shoes.
Hoka One One launched in 2010, raising what appeared to be a big middle finger to prevailing minimalist running trends: the midsoles on a pair of Hoka Mafate 3 shoes are roughly 2.5 times bigger than traditional running shoes. That midsole, made of super light and pillowy foam, is the brand’s core technology, and is paired with a rocker shape that’s meant to encourage a flowing stride. Even though the stack height is over 30 mm, the heel-to-toe drop is only 4 -- the same as a minimalist running shoe. The new Rapa Nui 2 is the company's scaled back shoe, one that combines the brand's famous cushioning with a racier package. Use them for a gentle recovery run or for thrashing a trail -- they come in on- and off-road versions, depending on your persuasion.
For trail running, there’s no shoe more fit for dusting the pack than the Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra. Designed in partnership with ultrarunning beast Kilian Jornet, it brings together all the elements you’d expect from an elite trail shoe: 7.4-ounce weight, seamless construction inside, Quicklace for easy and uniform tightening, 4mm of drop, a grippy outsole and plenty of support for navigating rocks and roots along the way -- not to mention a color scheme that could go head-to-head with even the most imposing power tie. We won’t be winning (or even finishing) the Western States 100 anytime soon, but, with these on our feet, we’re going to keep on daydreaming.
Excellence, innovation, craftsmanship, and an unwavering desire to challenge expectations -- these are the constants that have captivated our attention since Gear Patrol's inception in 2007. This year we're proud to announce the next step in our role as a champion of quality in product design and execution: welcome to the GP100. Our inaugural product awards are dedicated to honoring the 100 best consumer products released during the calendar year by companies of all sizes and scope.
The GP100 is not a ranking or a contest. These selections represent the collective expertise of our entire editorial staff, who have scoured every corner of the vast product universe -- from automotive and electronics, to men's style essentials, home goods, spirits and outdoors -- to find the inspiring and the practical, the ground-breaking and the traditional, the priceless and the accessible. In short: products that define or defy their respective categories to better the life of the modern man.
The GP100 is not a contest influenced by marketers or brands, nor is it a ranking by specifications as determined by uniform tests. Instead, it starts with a comprehensive list of nominees released in the calendar year, researched and compiled by our editorial team of obsessed experts across all of Gear Patrol's major areas of interest including Motoring, Technology, Style, Home, Spirits, Outdoor and Watches. Brands are not part of the selection process. Nominees are then debated in context of the past, present and future of their respective fields. Which selections stand as significant innovations, category busters or faithful monuments to the icons of history? Do they adhere to Gear Patrol's core tenets of excellence, design, utility and the spirit of adventure? Distilled to the following 100 items, the GP100 represents the best products on earth released in 2013 -- easily inspiring consumers and creators alike during their search for guideposts of excellence in a vast world of products.
Motoring Watches Style Technology Sports Outdoors Home Spirits
Jeremy BergerBen Bowers