Hands-free shoes were in the headlines in a big way this spring with the release of Nike’s GO FlyEase sneakers. Demand far outstripped supply of the $120 sneakers, resulting in immediate sellouts and re-sellers charging $400 for a pair. This might be a good time to remind you about KIZIK, the Utah-based shoe brand that offers a wide range of hands-free shoes. KIZIK shoes are based on technology developed by owner HandsFree Labs — which also licensed the technology to Nike.
I’ve written about KIZIK’s shoes previously (most recently last March), but the company continues to refine its product and release new styles. It has reported a tenfold year-over-year sales increase, showing just how popular handsfree shoes are. KIZIK won me over with the combination of convenience and style incorporated in its shoes and its latest releases — the Vegas and Prague — show that they just keep getting better.
A Quick KIZIK Primer
Before getting to a look at the latest from KIZIK, it’s worth going back for a quick review about what all the fuss is about. HandsFree Labs developed what it calls F.A.S.T. technology. Built around a flexible F1 Titanium Arc that’s embedded in the shoe, the design allows you to slip on a shoe (and remove it) without having to loosen or untie it. Just slide your foot in. Despite the slide-on ease, the shoes aren’t loose-fitting and they don’t leave you heel exposed or unprotected.
They look and feel like regular shoes, right down to many styles coming complete with shoelaces so they can completely pass as everyday shoes — except those laces serve no functional purpose and you only tie them once.
While the Nike FlyEase are athletic shoes, KIZIK offers a wide selection including sneakers, casual shoes, and even dress shoes, for both men and women.
Why would you want hands-free shoes? For people with limited mobility, they are a game-changer. My in-laws now swear by them. I have no physical issue with bending down to tie up shoes, but I work from home and I am constantly in and out of the house. Letting the dogs out, watering plants, picking up mail, signing for courier packages — it never ends. So I have indoor shoes and outdoor shoes. For years, I was in the habit of removing the laces from regular shoes and replacing them with elastic no-tie lacing solutions to save time. With KIZIKs, it is even easier. With elastic laces, I still have to pull the shoes on and get them properly arranged on my foot. KIZIKs means slide them on and off, and don’t think about it.
If you are worried about the durability of that hidden inner mechanism, it seems to be made for the long term. KIZIK says its shoes ago through more than 100,000 compression tests. An original review sample I received in January 2020 is still going strong with no signs of failure or fatigue.
Prague and Cairo
The latest styles from KIZIK are the Prague and Vegas. As you can see from the photos, these are a traditional sneaker design, which is ideal for summer. These are available in men’s and women’s, leather and canvas, they have removable and washable insoles, and they feature “Rabbit Foam” outsoles for extra cushioning.
They are stylish, comfortable, convenient, and looking at them you would have no idea that they are such a high-tech product. KIZIKs canvas Prague shoes start at $99, while the leather Vegas has a $129 price tag.
I was able to test-drive a pair of men’s Vegas shoes on a weekend at a friend’s cottage. They proved to be ideal for the situation. I was in and out of the cottage frequently and didn’t want to track dirt or sand inside, so the ability to slip the KIZIK shoes on and off was very useful. I could also do so while bringing in a full armload of supplies. The Rabbit Foam made them comfortable despite hours of being worn, and the outsoles are equipped with rubber traction pods that provided grip when on the dock, which was wet with waves hitting it. And they look good.
The bottom line? If it’s time for new shoes and you’re tired of having to bend down and ties laces, FlyEase aren’t the only game in town. Make sure to check out KIZIK as well.
Disclosure: KIZIK provided shoes for evaluation but had no input into this review.