In January, I reviewed a pair of high-tech shoes from KIZIK. The new shoe brand was created to showcase the F.A.S.T. (Foot Activated Shoe Technologies) hands-free shoe technology developed by HandsFree Labs. Believe it or not, that FAST tech is game-changer. I didn’t fully realize it at the time, but as cool and uber-convenient as I found KIZIK’s hands-free shoes, they are truly revolutionary for senior citizens. And with the current COVID-19 crisis in full effect, hands-free shoes suddenly have another reason for appeal.
KIZIK Shoes Refresher & Long-Term Review
It’s worth starting with a quick refresher of the KIZIK shoes I evaluated. These were the Boston Date style, which I loved for their smart casual style. They look great with jeans and seriously dress up track pants when I’m kicking around the house (which I do a lot, as someone who works from home on a full-time basis). The shoes feature F.A.S.T. technology, anchored by the F1 Titanium Arc that collapses when your foot is inserted in the shoe, then pops back into place. Putting on a KIZIK shoe is completely hands-free and effortless.
The video below illustrates just how well this works.
For me, the shoes have been fantastic, letting me pop in and out of the house — switching shoes each time — without effort. I was also looking forward to how much easier they were going to make going through airport screening, although under the current circumstances that is on hold for a bit…
I’ve now been wearing the shoes nearly full-time for over two months. They work just as well as they did on the first day (that titanium arc has been tested to 10,000 compressions so I’m not anticipating wearing it out any time soon), the leather still looks like new, and they remain incredibly comfortable.
In fact, that comfort caught me a bit off guard. The emphasis is on being hands-free, but these shoes have contoured footbeds, nicely padded outsoles, and are comfortable enough for all-day wear — including sessions walking on the treadmill.
The only real downside is cost. At $160 the Boston shoes are a little on the pricey side. However, a few weeks ago KIZIK addressed that issue with the release of an all-new, more affordable style. The men’s Madrid shoes with a stretch-knit upper are priced at $99.
Perfect for Seniors, Including Active Seniors
I liked the KIZIK shoes so much I decided to buy a pair each for my in-laws. My wife’s parents are in their 70s, but they are still very active. Her mom will go for five mile walks through the park with us, and her dad still climbs up on the roof of a two-storey house to check for loose shingles.
One area that’s become more of a pain for them is putting shoes on and taking them off. That’s a lot of bending, and fussing with laces. I did try out a pair of running stretch laces for a pair of my father-in-law’s shoes, but that still meant having to bend down and pull the shoes on. And at 6-foot eight-inches tall, he has a log way to bend… They had tried using slide-on footwear (sandals or slippers) for walking around the house, but these open-ended shoes flop and they can cause tripping — especially going up and down stairs.
The KIZIK shoes seemed ideal. I placed an order on the company’s website, but hit a snag with shipping. I’m based in Canada, and the online store isn’t currently set up to ship here. However, when I reached out to my contact from the initial review, they offered to have the shoes sent directly — a move I was very grateful for.
When the shoes arrived (Alpine Brown in size 14 for my father-in-law and Hilo Navy for my mother-in-law), they went over extremely well. As hoped for, they not only provide hands-free use — so no more having to bend to put shoes on — they are structured for a secure fit, and extremely comfortable. And they look identical to “regular” shoes.
Hands-Free Takes on New Importance
As my testing for the initial KIZIK shoes review wrapped up, the coronavirus was beginning to make headlines. Now, of course, it is the headline. And that suddenly brings a new advantage to being hands-free. Nothing official (at time of publication) has been confirmed about the potential for the coronavirus to live on shoes, but Huffington Post did recently publish a story where an infectious disease specialist claims the virus could potentially survive on shoe soles for up to five days.
Even without that possibility, it’s already been established that shoes are a bacterial zoo, often contaminated with coliform, E. coli and other nasties. That’s one reason why I keep separate indoor and outdoor shoes. If you’re concerned about the possibility of transmission of anything nasty from shoes to hand, that’s another reason to consider hands-free shoes…
If there’s anyone in your life who would benefit from hands-free shoes, KIZIK is a company you should check out. They offer men’s and women’s shoes, in a range of styles including sneakers, dress shoes and outdoor shoes.
Disclosure: KIZIK provided shoes for evaluation but had no input into this review.