Written by Bruce R. Copeland on May 07, 2008
As a long time trailrunner, one of my pet peeves is equipment companies that just don’t seem to get it! I know it’s difficult for manufacturers to produce equipment which suits everyone’s exact needs. I don’t expect that. But sometimes I wonder who the equipment manufacturers ARE getting their ideas from.
Take the case of trailrunning socks. For years I’ve used trail socks made by a certain well known outdoor sock company. Those socks were comfortable, well-cushioned, tough, and ahem…not white! Recently that company discontinued their trail sock line in favor of white road running socks. We trailrunners run in mud, gravel, peat, dust, sand, snow, and occasionally even ash. No matter how good your shoes or how high your gaiters, the trail is going to get into your socks. White doesn’t make much sense! Sure the number of road racers dwarfs the number of trail racers; however a lot of those road racers train on trails. And yes I know there are other companies that make trail socks in colors besides white.
But this article isn’t really about trail running socks. It’s about gear companies that never seem to bother getting feedback from those of us who are truly in a position to evaluate their products. Most trailrunners I know—some highly successful—have never once been asked about the design/suitability of ANY trail running product. Many of us have some pretty well-tested opinions. For example: Fanny packs are nice, but they don’t work for every runner. Trail shorts need lots of pockets—preferably two in front and two in back. Some people like longer trail shorts, but NOT EVERY pair needs to have an 8+ inch inseam—some of us smaller runners actually dislike having to push our knees past the bottom of our shorts every step for 100 miles! Trail socks should come in colors besides white…
Equipment companies sell most of their gear to people who aren’t serious trail runners. Those customers buy because they see real trail runners using a product, even if it’s only a picture in an advertisement. What better way to get advertising than to have serious trail runners actually use a product? And what better way to get serious trail runners to use a product than to get our input on the product before it reaches the market?