Why would anybody want a running or walking shoe with a hook-and-loop fastening system? Running shoes with laces work perfectly well, so why go to the trouble of finding Velcro-fitted footwear?
There could be several reasons.
People with disabilities may lack the dexterity or hand-eye coordination to tie laces. Even temporary hand injuries could restrict the use of fingers.
Age-related arthritis also makes tying laces difficult.
Lacing shoes with gloved hands is also hard. This happens during winters, and also in industrial environments where work-gloves are necessary. It is no surprise that the aerospace industry was one of the early customers of Velcro; it helped astronauts manage their bulky suits.
The reason could also be as simple as finding laces cumbersome to manage. Slip-on shoes usually lack the required levels of fit security, so a hook-and-loop closure is the next best thing.
So let’s go find some running and walking shoes with straps. How hard can that be?
As it turns out, there aren’t many options.
Generally speaking, strap-based closure systems add bulk to running shoe uppers – both from a visual and weight point of view.
The wide straps break the continuity of the upper design and make the shoe look bulky – no brand wants that. Velcro straps are usually affixed over a synthetic or leather base, and that adds weight. That, too, isn’t preferable when shoes are competing against each other to shed every micro-ounce.
There’s a functional impact too. Athletic footwear – especially the running kind – need flexible uppers that work dynamically with the foot. Putting a couple of hook-and-loop straps on the shoe affects the range of movement.
Also, clocking serious miles on a running shoe will stretch and loosen the straps over time. Throw in some dirt from the outdoor workouts, and the efficacy of the fastening system becomes compromised.
That is why running shoe brands prefer a BOA dial-lacing system over a strap-based fastening.
On the other hand, biking/cycling and weight-lifting shoes rely mostly on a hook-and-loop strapping system.
Biking and lifting shoes have a static behavior; the feet stay in one spot instead of covering distance. Under the circumstances, the Velcro panels are perfect for securing the foot. The laces can also come undone and get snagged in the chain assembly, so there’s that too.
Sure, lots of children’s footwear are sold without laces. But that design choice has everything to do with convenience. Apart from preventing kids from tripping on their laces, these closure systems allow an easy on and off.
Nike released its ‘Flyease’ assortment a few years ago, and they’ve tried to work around the limitations of a traditional hook-and-loop system with clever design thinking.
For example, the Pegasus 39 Flyease uses a combination of elastic bungee cords and hook-and-loop pull tab for an effective closure system. This novel design allows a complete range of movement while being wear-friendly. An optional extra-wide size provides more room if required.
Nike has its act down pat with easy-to-wear footwear; the FlyEase collection goes over and beyond the standard hook-and-loop form factor.
Running/training shoes with hook-and-loop straps.
1) Nike Revolution 6 FlyEase Next Nature
Our guide could leave all shoes out except for this one, and we’ll still be good. The Revolution 6 FlyEase is a functional running shoe with a user-friendly Velcro strap and a zip.
A hook-and-loop strap is connected directly to a long zip on the side. Pulling on the strap opens one side of the shoe and the heel. This creates an easy on-and-off experience for wearers with limited mobility.
The Revolution 6 FlyEase has been redesigned from the ground up. The midsole is softer for a higher level of everyday comfort, and a single-piece rubber outsole provides durable traction.
There are other subtle improvements as well. The pull tab of the Velcro strap is softer than the Revolution 5, and the upper now contains 20% recycled materials – hence the ‘Next Nature’ label.
So that you know, Nike sells several Flyease-themed models across different categories and genders.
2) Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39 FlyEase
The Pegasus 39 returns to its roots – the midsole now has two Zoom Air bags, one each for the heel and forefoot. If that sounds familiar, we’re back to the Pegasus 34 form factor.
Just like the last year’s model, the Pegasus 39 too, is offered in a ‘Flyease’ variant.
Instead of regular lacing, elasticated cords and a large midfoot Velcro make wearing the shoe easy. The tongue is unattached on one side, so unhooking the strap instantly creates a larger opening for the foot to get into.
On the top, the elasticated cords can be fastened quickly by tugging on the large tab that is a part of the hook-and-loop setup.
The Flyease modifications aside, this Pegasus 39 variant also has a molded toe-bumper for increased protection and support. The ride quality is the same as the standard P-39, meaning that the ride is softer than the 38. The tensile Zoom Air bag adds responsiveness in the front and rear.
Even with all the Flyease extras, there is no additional price mark-up over the regular Pegasus 39. The Peg Flyease also sells in an extra wide.
3) Nike Metcon 7 Flyease
Ok, this is neither a road-running or walking shoe, but it’s somewhat capable of short treadmill runs.
The Metcon has come evolved a long way since we reviewed the 5th version of this popular training shoe. Whereas the stiff midsole of the earlier Metcon models limit the versatility inside the gym, the V7 is suited towards a broader range of activities.
For example, the React foam insert makes the Metcon more comfortable for treadmill runs than the earlier versions.
There are additional features like a ‘handstand’ clip to minimize the wall drag. The midfoot remains climbing-friendly, with the rubber grip sections being wider than the before. The heel now has an inner plate for added stability.
However, the reason why this shoe is here is because it’s also available in a ‘Flyease’ version. Instead of the regular lacing of the standard Metcon 7, the Flyease model has large hook-and-loop straps along with a collapsible heel.
This makes the upper easy to take on and off – and without compromising the secure fit and ride stability. Our detailed review of the Metcon 7 Flyease is available here.
Walking shoes without laces
1) adidas Stansmith Hook and Loop
The Stansmith needs no introduction, but here’s a brief one. First introduced in the mid-sixties for the Tennis player Robert Haillet, the Stansmith burst into the mainstream after its endorsement by the eponymous Tennis star in the 70s.
Over the years, this shoe has gone on to become a fashion staple. Its clean design lines and everyday comfort make it an excellent lifestyle sneaker.
The rubber cupsole has a great grip over the roads while adding miles to the shoe’s life. This shoe retails at $85, so it’s pretty good value as well.
This style icon is now available in a triple hook-and-loop closure and synthetic leather upper that’s made partly of recycled materials (adidas Primegreen).
The wide Velcro straps make this particular Stansmith a very easy shoe to wear. Just be mindful of the fit, though – the insides run snug.
2) Brooks Addiction Walker V Strap 2
Brooks sells the Addiction Walker in two flavors; we’ve covered the laced edition in one of our other guides.
The featured variant has an upper with dual fastening straps for ease of entry and egress. The rest of the shoe is the same as the laced version – the V Strap’s upper is made of leather that adds comfort and durability. The interiors are made comfortable by the soft-touch lining materials and foam quilting on the heel and tongue.
The high-volume midsole has a wide geometry for cushioned support. The V Walker 2 comes standard with a slip-resistant outsole that is certified to SATRA TM144:2011 standards.
All in all, this Velcro-fitted shoe is good value for its price.
3) Skechers GoWalk 5 Wistful
The GoWalk 5 Wistful is the quintessential Skechers shoe. It’s affordable, lightweight, and comfortable enough for most low-impact activities. That includes walking too – the name GoWalk 5 gives it away.
The ride comfort is derived from the combination of the single-density EVA midsole, drop-in footbed, and foam outsole pods.
Two rows of wide hook-and-loop straps keep the foot locked in; no lacing is required here. The mesh and synthetic leather upper is pretty basic but fits well and gets the job done.
4) Skechers Max Cushioning Elite
The Skechers Max Cushioning Elite adds value to this list by being the only max-cushion shoe with a strap-based fastening system.
The comfortable EVA foam midsole is ideal for everyday activities that involve walking or standing. This is an affordable alternative that dispenses with the need for regular laces.
A triple hook-and-loop closure system secures the fit inside the synthetic leather and mesh upper. While the upper materials aren’t stretchable, the fit has a wide profile to accommodate a variety of foot types.
5) New Balance Men’s 577 Hook and Loop
This is an excellent lace-free walking shoe within the sub-$100 price segment. The all-leather and comfortably-fitting upper can be fastened through the two straps and is also available in four widths, three colors, and a women’s version.
A full-length Polyurethane midsole delivers firm, resilient cushioning, and all-day support. The full-contact outsole geometry is specifically designed for walking.
Certain variants of the 577 are assembled in the United States.
6) New Balance hook and loop leather 928v3
Available in both Men’s and Women’s versions, the strapped version of the 928 is a robust – yet heavy and extra firm – walking shoe.
With its standard-fitting upper comes the option of five widths, ranging from a narrow to extra-extra-large.
Two Velcro straps loop through a wide receptacle for a quick yet secure fastening experience.
The 928’s outsole rubber is non-marking, meaning it leaves no streak/marks on the smooth floors.
7) New Balance hook and loop 813
The 813 is a basic yet dependable walking shoe with a firm cushioning and stable midsole. The 813 is a good buy considering its $90 MSRP.
Though the leather upper runs warm, it is protective; the plump tongue and collar make the interiors comfortable and filters any top-down pressure.
The 813 is also available for women.
8) Vans Old Skool V
The Vans Old Skool V could be that one shoe to do it all. This is a skateboarding product, so it’s got performance shoe levels of build quality and comfort. Depending on the color, the upper is available in multiple material combinations.
The featured variant combines leather and ballistic Nylon in an all-black combination; it’s almost dressy. The other colors use suede and canvas. The triple strap closure is a nod to Old Skool’s performance skate roots. Three straps do an excellent job of securing the foot while spreading the cinching pressure evenly.
Powering the cushioning is the insole and multiple layers of foam. The Old Skool has a full-length gum rubber outsole for great traction.
Also see: Vans Kyle Pro 2.