Deckers X Lab K-ST 21 – Hypersneakers From the Future
Deckers X Lab is a forward-thinking research department that cooks up some really innovative (and crazy looking) sneakers. A case in point is these K-ST 21 “hypersnearker” as they call them. They look like Batman’s shoe, but pleasantly surprised me and the testers here at Engearment.
Deckers X Lab
Deckers X Lab is the innovation department of Deckers – the brand that is home to Hoka One One, UGG, Teva, and Sanuk. I had an opportunity to sit in on a discussion with the legendary Jean-Luc Diard and go over all the fascinating details that make these shoes so revolutionary. A lot of thought went into this unique design, and several of these features will trickle into Hoka shoes very soon.
That huge pointy heel is called a SwallowTail. Much like a powder snowboard, it is meant to ease transitions when leaning back, or running downhill. Pretty interesting in theory, and tricky to navigate on steps! LOL. The first time I put these on, my foot got stuck on our steps. It was pretty entertaining. Taking a few minutes to get used to, they became much more convenient and comfortable.
I am not a good runner, but my friend Travis Hightower is and I asked him to take these for a run. After a few minutes of getting used to the massive SwallowTail heel, he was digging them. He said, “it feels like they want you to keep moving”. That is the goal of the system. To keep the user moving.
Carbon Bow Technology
Another feature that helps with this is Carbon Bow Technology. Basically, it is a specific shaped band of carbon that transforms vertical landing energy into forwarding motion. Crazy to think that is possible, but it feels like it working. If only so slightly.
Ballistic Nylon and Kevlar
The shoe is light and airy thanks to a lattice of super durable and light materials. CORDURA ballistic nylon and Kevlar Matrix make up a breathable webbing that hugs the foot. The ankle is surrounded by a double heel hold situation (I can’t think of a better term LOL). The whole shoe is then suspended above the sole, creating a floating sensation.
What the heck is going on here?!
To be completely honest, when the opportunity to review these crazy looking shoes came up, I was not sure what to make of it. I have never seen a shoe that looks like this. I was already a fan of Hoka (just look at the dozen reviews we have up!) and appreciate early adopting of new ideas and products. I had to table my reaction to the aesthetics, put the shoes on, and give it a fair test.
After getting a feel for the massive heel, and not letting my ego get in the way, I was pleasantly surprised how comfortable they were. I took them to the gym for a full day of training and coaching. From plyometrics, HIRT (High-Intensity Repeat Training), and kettlebell training, to hours on my feet coaching my clients. They felt really good.
I did get A LOT of looks wearing these shoes. Some sneaker freaks were really interested in them. My wife was not a fan of the look, but that is nothing new in my gear testing world LOL. I loved having my friends and colleagues try them out for a run around the block, doing my best to gather as many authentic opinions as possible. Fortunately, many of my friends are the same size shoe as me – 11.5.
Review of the Deckers X Lab K-ST 21 Hypersneaker
Looks aside, these are really great shoes. If you can dig the looks, then you are going to be rewarded with a very comfortable and even efficient experience. It is kind of hard to put into words, but most everyone that used the shoes felt like moving forward was easier. Perhaps the combination of technology really works. I can see several of these features being implemented in other shoes in the near future. Maybe not as dramatic of a look, but more subtle and refined.