Reaching down to tie shoelaces might soon be a thing of the past for some hikers. Treksta, a South Korean–based shoe company, just announced a new hands-free low-cut hiking shoe that you slip into and tighten by simply sweeping your heel backwards across the ground to engage a roller that pulls the laces tight. To loosen the laces, wearers use their other foot to step on a small lever that protrudes from the heel.
The shoe, which Treksta calls the Hands Free 103, just won two ISPO awards, which recognize the best products in the sporting industry, including the 2015 ISPO Gold Award for Hiking and Trekking Footwear and the 2015 ISPO Gold Product of the Year Award for Asian Products.
Peter Downing, a spokesperson for Treksta, says the Hands Free 103 will be sold at general outdoor retailers, but it’s aimed at users who struggle with regular laces because of ailments like arthritis. Kids will also benefit, and Downing says Treksta is currently working on a children’s model.
We recently got our hands on a pair and found them to work as advertised. Once you get used to the heel motion, it’s easy to make micro-adjustments so they snug up just right. If you make the laces too tight, a quick tap on the heel lever loosens them incrementally. A full press lets you slide your foot out.
We were concerned the wheel might get in the way, but it sits high enough on the heel to allow for a normal stride. We were also concerned the shoes might come loose if you bumped the heel lever. This never happened in the short time we were able to play around, but it might be an issue on scree fields or other technical terrain.
Like other Treksta shoes, the 103 is designed with the company’s proprietary last, which we’ve always found to be ultracomfy and blister-free. The shoes also come with the HyperGrip Ice Lock outsole, which helps with traction on wet surfaces. Treksta plans to sell a men and women’s version of the shoe later this summer, retailing for $160.