Friday, June 19, 2020

Deckers X Lab KO-Z Sport Low Wedge Review: Hoka Performance with the Feel of a UGG!

Article by Dominique Winebaum



Deckers X Lab footwear might not be obvious for typical runners as the shoes are built for ultimate performance, yet are designed with optimum comfort - slipper style - and to boot, are distinctly fashionable and trendy looking.  

Fairly novel, Deckers X Lab is an offspring of  Deckers Brands, whose portfolio of brands includes: HOKA ONE ONE, Teva, Sanuk, UGG and KOOLABURA by UGG.  An innovative type of footwear engineered within the venue of a “Lab” where all the HOKA innovations are also cooked up, for multiple “X” types of activities such as free-running, break dancing, acrobatics, gymnastics, yet at the same time also tailored for less riveting activities, such as walking and daily wear around town..  

With the best characteristics of some of the Deckers brands integrated and combined in the Deckers X Lab make-up, I am essentially enjoying a luxurious UGG’s interior with the plush ride of a HOKA.  In short, we have crossover lifestyle footwear assembling performance, comfort, and fashion, all into one shoe, available in an array of designs, from low to mid, and with some models more technical than others.  

For example Sam is also enjoying the truly slipper like KO-Z SNPR Mid slip on “boot”.

My first introduction to Deckers X Lab was back in April when I tested the X-Scape NBK Low; a performance shoe designed to keep your feet securely in place with a wide heel for safe landing; fit for free-runners and acrobatics.  

I made the best use of my X-Scape as my go-to walking shoes.  After logging more than 150 miles of pavement in them - 3 miles at a time - they haven’t lost their bounce and still look fresh with minimum wear and tear beyond mostly cosmetic wear to the outsole. (RTR Review)

The W KO-Z Sport Low Wedge is more fashion and recovery oriented and less technical than the X-Scape NBK Low; yet it has all the makings of an amazingly well-built shoe to keep you moving comfortably, whether for a smooth ride in town or for a plush recovery experience. 

Hang in there as there is so much to talk about the W KO-X Sport Low Wedge!


The Upper 

The upper is made with EcoTan cow suede that has been treated with a PFC-free durable water repellent. In short, it’s OK to get caught in the rain. However, on rainy days, I would opt for waterproof footwear to keep my KO-Z Sport Low Wedge looking brand new as long as possible.  Available in 4 different color combinations: Green Tea - Chalk Violet / Light Gray - Snow White / Black - Dark Gray / Satellite - Light Taupe.  

I selected a vibrant color for my KO-Z Sport Low Wedge: Green Tea - Chalk Violet.  

From the upper to the multilayered midsole, the look is colorful, organic, tasteful, and trendy, with plenty of attention to details that give a big nod to craftsmanship. The upper is made of EcoTan cow suede of different colors tied together with a decorative zig zag top stitch to create an elegant and comfortable outer layer.  

Adding a bit of glitz to this colorful option is the reinforced material around the heel and at the base of the shoelaces in the form of faux silver square sequins. 

The interior of the upper is made of 10mm thick Looped Wool (80% natural wool, 20% recycled polyester) which feels incredibly soft, warm, and luxurious.

 As per the specs, the EcoTan cow suede leather and the Looped Wool are natural thermoregulators creating the perfect environment for your feet “in both hot and cold weather.” 

To enhance breathability, 35 tiny holes are evenly spread along the sides of the upper and on the top of the toe box.  In spite of the thermoregulating and breathability factors combined in the KO-Z Sport Low Wedge, I feel it is ideally a shoe for cool weather when one can really appreciate the wooly warmth of the interior. 

The shoelace system keeps the feet securely in place.  A double loop on the tongue, midway and at the top, ensures that the shoelaces are firmly secure.  However, adjusting and untying the shoelaces can be a bit tedious due the double loop system.  Long and flat cotton shoelaces color are coordinated for each shoe color.  

The Midsole & Outsole

An “Xponent” midsole made of a multilayer CM EVA Foam with gradient density results in super soft cushioning.  It is the same type of midsole that you would find in HOKA performance running shoes, but tuned for leisurely moving.  Even compared to my X-Scape which was already incredibly cushy and comfortable, the feel of the cushion of the KO-Z Sport is deeper and softer.  The wedge, which is sandwiched in between two layers, creates an extremely comfortable and dynamic ride.  As an integral part of the multilayer midsole, the wedge is more than just a stylistic element and a welcome addition to a high performance walking shoe.  

Adding another layer of thermoregulating comfort is the 8 mm 3D Anatomical EVA Max Cushion Memory Foam with Looped Wool insole.  

As with all the Deckers X-Lab footwear, a nice feature is the underfoot geometry: 110-80-85 and the stack height: 20-40mm stamped on the exterior of the midsole, in similar fashion to skis!  That’s more than a degree of separation between your feet and the ground -- 40mm for the heel and 20mm for the toes.  In short, a 20 mm drop! 

The Fit

With the X-Scape I had not realized that the sizing was a bit roomy in the toe box as the shoe is built to keep your feet securely in place via the internal H- brace support and the shoe lacing system.  My feet were not budging, however, with the KO-Z Sport I noticed from the start that the sizing was a bit generous.  I checked the size chart to find out that a US size 9 corresponds to EU size 41 ⅓ , which explains why both the X-Scape and the KO-Z Sport, are a bit too roomy for me.   I feel a size US size 8.5 which corresponds to a EU size 40 ⅔ would be just the perfect size for me. 

The Ride 

As a runner who is walking more during Covid 19, I can credit my Deckers X Lab, especially the X-Scape as I have now logged more than 150 miles in them, for thoroughly enjoying my walks and for staying injury free as it is often my second workout of the day after a run or bike ride.  

With the KO-Z Sport, I discovered that I like walking in a wedge shoe, albeit one molded in the fashion of a HOKA.  The ride is exceedingly pleasant and comfortable as well as dynamic.  It is a very stable shoe when walking while I have not attempted to run in them.  

Best Uses

The KO-Z Sport Low Wedge is a great walking shoe, especially when one is looking for a bit of lift.  Noticeably trendy and ever so comfortable, the footwear is perfectly adapted and tailored for an urban setting and city walking to be worn preferably when the weather is cool as opposed to hot summer days.  As a wedge walking shoe it is both comfortable and stylish, and depending on the color selection, can look either very trendy or quite classy.   It can be also used as a recovery shoe when you are looking for comfort, warmth, and support.  


For someone who loves running in HOKA but has never owned a pair of UGG, I am grateful for this introduction to the KO-Z Sport Low Wedge as I am loving the combination of the wooly interior and the super cushiony midsole.  As with a HOKA, the KO-Z Sport features a rubber outsole with Meta-Rocker geometry, generating a propulsive ride when walking. This is more of a dressy walking shoe than the X-Scape, and it will not go into overuse mode until the Fall when the weather is cooler.  It’s price point at $130 reflects the high quality materials, the craftsmanship, as well as  the innovative platform of the shoe.  

Dominique has run for over 40 years, consistently about 25 miles per week at paces between 10 and 11 minute miles. She races rarely, but always surprises more hard core runners in her age group when she does. She has a 1985 marathon PR of 3:16 in her second marathon which at the time put her on the top 10.Swiss women’s lists. She is the mother of two grown children, both runners post college, and enjoys nordic and alpine skiing, hiking and trekking, and gardening. 


Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was a provided at no charge. The opinions herein are the authors'.
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