Self-lacing shoes might not be as indicative of the future as hoverboards or flying cars, but for those who grew up on the musings of Back to the Future, they’re certainly some indicator of what’s to come from wearable tech. Looking to live up to the future predicated back in the 1980s, Nike has been expanding its lineup of self-lacing Adapt shoes over the past couple of years with various styles. But after wearing the smart shoes for over a year, we’re answering whether they are actually the future-worthy footwear that Nike proclaims, or just a gimmick. Head below for all of the details and our thoughts.
Hands-on with the self-lacing Nike Adapt sneakers
Having launched back in 2016, the very first pair of Nike’s self-lacing shoes arrived following the more limited-edition styles inspired directly by the pair Marty McFly dons in Back to the Future. Back then the first publicly-available pair entered under the guise of the HyperAdapt branding, only to be eventually updated and refreshed into the Adapt series. It’s that newer iteration I’ve been wearing as of late, and specifically the Huarache style.
While the Nike Adapt kicks have come in quite a few styles over the years now, the underlying tech remains consistent throughout the collection. Of course the main feature is right in the name, with the sneakers being able to lace themselves onto your feet. The first time you go to put on the smart shoes will walk you through a process of them adapting to get the right fit on your feet, which is about as futuristic of an onboard inch experience as you’ll find from any wearable these days.
After that, each time you step into the shoes will have them automatically lace up just by sensing that you’ve put them on. There’s a pair of buttons on the button which allow you to manually adjust the fit as you’re wearing them, or just unlace when it’s time to take them off.
Alongside the self-lacing features, Nike sprinkles in some additional functionality to round out the Adapt package. There’s Bluetooth connectivity to allow for pairing with the companion app, which brings with it everything from tightness profiles to manual control over the lacing process. That’s alongside being able to customize the color of the shoes’ built-in LED lights, and also configure Siri Shortcuts for using your voice to lace up the kicks.
Does Nike Adapt deliver on the futuristic features?
The promise of self-lacing shoes is certainly a steep task to meet up to, so how do the Nike Adapt kicks actually stack up? Actually quite well! The self-lacing technology is quite fleshed out and delivers fully on the futuristic narrative of the brand. Stepping into the shoes has them start lacing up every time, and the smartphone control adds some additional customizations.
Alongside just being able to actually lace onto your feet, the other hurdle for Nike Adapt to overcome is the whole idea of having to charge your shoes. Thankfully battery life is pretty stellar, with the ability to go well over a week of everyday wear before having to refuel. When it does come time to charge, Nike forgoes actually having to plug in with what can really only be described as a massive dual coil Qi charging pad.
Then in terms of battery wear and tear over time, it’s actually quite impressive how well the shoes have stood up over time in the technology department. Even a year into being a staple of my wardrobe with pretty regular use, battery life is still holding steady. The shoes themselves will likely end of physically wearing out faster than the technology that’s packed inside of them.
Are they actually comfortable?
Now the tech meeting up to Nike’s claims is all well and good, but actually being comfortable shoes that you’ll enjoy wearing is an entirely different beast. While everyone’s experience will certainly vary to some degree, I’ve found the Nike Adapts to be quite comfortable. Sure they’re no UltraBoosts in the leisure footwear department, but considering all of the tech that Nike has managed to pack in its quite easy to make it through all-day wear.
The various levels that you can tighten the laces really helps with the comfort cause whether you’re looking to take the Nike Adapt kicks along on runs and other workouts, or just casual outings.
With unconventional footwear becoming more and more standard these days, the Nike Adapt series of shoes was not only the trailblazer in alternatives to typical kicks, but also the forerunner of the category. They certainly live up to the wow-ness factor and novelty that you’d expect from self-lacing shoes and then some.
If the more limited styles weren’t already going to make these more of a niche addition to your wardrobe, the $400 price tag certainly will. In a marketplace where the latest sneakers call for a pretty penny regardless of the Adapt tech or not, the price tag here isn’t that outlandish. Still for many, the cash is going to be a nonstarter. But if you happen to dig the designs and find bringing a pair of self-lacing shoes into your wardrobe would be worth the added cash, there’s plenty to enjoy with the Nike Adapt lineup.
I’m still digging them after all this time and even if they’re not the go-to for my daily wear, the novelty certainly hasn’t worn off. Even in a house filled with lights that I can control with my voice, earbuds that read out my text messages, and all of the other high-tech gear in my life there’s nothing quite as futuristic feeling as slipping on a pair of shoes and having them automatically lace up.
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