At the recent ATEC expo, Roxii managed to pick up a few products to test, including the slightly alternative HICKIES laces.
First seen on the block as a KickStarter campaign in 2012, HICKIES are touted as a “responsive lacing system” – a no-tie shoelace replacement, designed for an active lifestyle. The KickStarter campaign used phrases such as “turn your kicks into slip-ons” and “ditch the bows and customise your kicks”. At $20 a pair, they aren’t cheap – but if you like them, you could get 3 pairs of shoes out of 2 sets, as each set comes with 14 pieces (all the same length).
True to those catch-phrases, they are definitely unique. Once fitted, the HICKIES should turn your shoes into slip-ons. They come in a bunch of colours, so you could lace yourself up like a rainbow if you bought enough sets. Unlike traditional elastic laces that you set and forget, or adjust with a slidey thing once on, HICKIES are a series of individual pieces of a memory-fit elastomer with 3 different ways to “tie” them - meaning you can set different levels of tension across different eyelets. You hook them up once and never touch them again (in theory).
What's in the box.
This appealed to me as I am a bit of a fussy bugger with my laces. They need to lock my feet in well enough that my feet don’t slip forward, have enough give over the top of my foot when I plant my foot and not be too tight. I’ve tried elastic laces before and found that when tight enough to lock my foot in, they are too tight in some places, difficult to get on and squish my foot by having to be so tight.
So Roxii kindly pinged them to me for a test – being the fluro yellow with green eyes variety.
First impressions? Interesting. I could see the possibilities and started relacing my Hokas with the HICKIES.
Long story short final impressions? (for those wishing to skip to the end) Interesting, but not great for running. Ok for everyday shoes.
Long story long…… Even on the loosest lacing method, I still found it really difficult to “slip” my shoe on. Once on, I headed out for a run. They felt tight and comfortable to start with, but within about 10 minutes I noticed that my foot had inched forward and my toes were bumping the end of my shoe. Unlike other loose shoes when this happens though, my heel wasn’t lifting. I stopped and re-laced to a tighter fit. Off again, and they felt very tight at the highest eyelet, and secure down the rest. But again, my foot slid forward after a short period of running. I stopped several times and tried different lacing methods, all with the same result. By the time I finished I had tried all possible ways – any tighter and they would have been painful, but my foot was still shifting. I wrestled my shoe off at that point, and there was no way in hell I would be able to “slip my shoe on” again. By having to hook them up after your foot is in, you defeat the purpose of these particular laces. As for running in them, I’d say they are not great. Even at the tightest setting my foot was still slipping forward. Maybe if all you did was run uphill you’d be fine – but that’s hardly likely is it?
So I moved them on to my ordinary day-to-day shoes (Altras) that see some walking, a lot of sitting, and copious amounts of surfing (Trannies that is…..). Again, 3 attempts at re- lacing and they felt comfortable when sitting, but secure enough for a stroll to the coffee shop. I like just pulling my work shoes on and off without dealing with laces, so I’m on-board with this use. The colour might not be the best choice for work, but I’ll keep them in until I get “told”.
Altras with a Hickie.
After a longer look at their website, it seems these laces are aimed at folks doing gym workouts and walking more than long runs. With the variety in lacing eyelets, distances and patterns in different shoes, it will take some time to fine-tune the system to each pair of shoes you want them in. Plus, if you like your shoes done up to the same tension across different shoes, you may be in for a fiddly time trying to get them all right.
The little booklet that comes with the laces says that if you want a looser fit, pre-stretch the laces before you fit them – which makes me wonder how well they will hold their re-bound factor with use. I definitely found that they felt they loosened off over the course of use.
So in conclusion, a unique angle on elastic laces. Probably best kept for day to day “kicks” rather than running. Although I reckon you could get a few Chrissy presents for the kids sorted!