Gear is our job. It streams into and out of our offices in an endless tide of boxes and couriers; it gets photographed and catalogued and crammed underneath desks until we have time to test it. We quantify it as best we can, to share its essence: good and bad, peccadilloes and superlatives. We even pick the 100 best pieces of gear every year. But to close things out this year, we asked each staff member to single out their favorite piece of gear that was new to 2015. We hope you enjoy our little love notes to the gear that made the biggest impact on our lives this year.
Like at least one other writer here, I hate running, but I do it, though the newest running gear isn’t usually the gear on my radar. But when Athletic Propulsion Labs released a new running sneaker, the TechLoom Pro, I paid attention. In 2010, the NBA banned their basketball sneakers — which utilized a proprietary Load ‘N Launch technology to increase players’ vertical jump — for providing “an undue competitive advantage.” The NBA couldn’t have done something better for the brand. Five years later, APL’s running sneakers were everywhere, and had inundated not only running culture, but the runway as well. They promised enhanced performance and comfort, and I need all the help I can get when it comes to running, so I got my hands on a pair to see for myself.
My pair arrived the day after I went on a particularly rigorous hike. Amid a full bout of next-day soreness, I ripped open the package and threw them on, then instantly resolved to never take them off. The design is minimalist, yet functional. The one-piece upper has the relaxed appearance of a sweatshirt knit, but actually consists of APL’s proprietary technology TechLoom, a blend of engineered mesh that keeps its form unlike other knit sneakers I’ve tried. The silhouette is sleek but curvy, inspired by the shape of a feather — and the 7.9-ounce weight aligns with this theme. Everyone has a different drop height sweet spot, but a low drop height (8mm on these) has been shown to aid in form and comfort and reduce stress fractures associated with high vertical impact peaks. The Propelium sole — another proprietary invention — replaces the traditional EVA foam sole and aims to increase cushioning, shock absorption and energy generation, while also adding onto the life to the sneaker.
If that technology doesn’t excite you, the bottom line is this: these sneakers make running less awful, and they look great.
Weight: 7.9 ounces
Upper: TechLoom engineered mesh
Cushioning: Propelium midsole/outsole