At 7 a.m., I walked into a blind date with my latest fling: EARL, and no, we didn't meet on Bumble. EARL, Electro Adaptive Reactive Lacing, is the groundbreaking technology used on the brand-new Nike HyperAdapt 1.0, the self-lacing shoes released Dec. 1. I was lucky enough to try out the futuristic shoes for a workout and it was easily one of the coolest things I've experienced. Did I mention they took 11 years to come to fruition?
Aside from the innovation behind the kicks, the most surprising part was how comfortable the shoes are. I put them on, knowing that there was a battery-operated system on the bottom of the shoe and could not feel a thing, they were comfortably cushioned like any other workout shoe.
I stood up and that's when the magic happened — my shoes were automatically tightened based on the sneaker sensing my foot width, perfectly snug. There are two blue buttons on the side to loosen or tighten the shoes based on the activity you're doing.
You don't have to be tech-savvy or a serious athlete for these kicks, but you do need some deep pockets. Retailing at $720, the Nike HyperAdapt 1.0 shoes are not cheap, but they're efficient and can be worn for all different kinds of exercise. I played basketball, ran on the treadmill, and did training exercises, while adjusting the tightness based on the different levels of intensity, making this the most exciting sneaker experience since 1989, when Marty McFly laced up during Back to the Future II.
Well, if you're going to drop $720 on a pair of sneakers, you need know how they they felt during a workout!
Typically, jump squats are not my forte. I tend to wobble and be thrown off balance, but this was definitely not the case with the HyperAdapts. I pushed the top button to tighten the fit of the shoes, leaving no space for wobbling! During lateral shuffles, ladder drills, and more sharp moves, I found myself moving faster than usual because of the snug comfort of the sneaker. Every part of my foot was secured evenly, preventing wobbly, uneasy movements.
For the basketball portion of the trial, we focused on footwork and some shooting. I adjusted my shoes to be even tighter than during training because I was worried about ankle support. I saw the most noticeable effect of the HyperAdapts after coming down from a layup (that likely did not make it into the basket), and landing smoothly on the ground. Considering I was standing on a battery that keeps the shoes juiced up for a month, I did not expect to land so comfortably. High-top basketball shoes will be a thing of the past once players get their hands on these kicks.
For the running portion of the trial, I loosened up the shoes and started jogging. As someone who fears looking like Phoebe Buffay with swinging legs, I was relieved to take the treadmill last. But rest assured, running was no problem. The loosened-up shoes made it easier on my knees and lighter on the feet.
Overall, I was blown away by the shoes. They may be a little out of my price range, but they're just as comfortable as any Nike shoe and are at a level of versatility that the sneaker industry has never seen before. If you're interested in trying out or purchasing the new Nike HyperAdapt shoes, they're available in New York at the Nike+ Clubhouse and Nike Soho.
Let's all go back to the future!