We’ve got somewhat of a motto here at Believe in the Run. It’s as simple as “run hard, recover harder.” I haven’t run it by Robbe yet, but it feels like a good idea to live by. Luckily, we’re not alone in our love of recovery. Deckers X Lab is all about comfort, and it’s not shy on style, either. It shouldn’t be a surprise — the venture was founded by Hoka co-founder Jean-Luc Diard, after all — and we’re into yet another season of living in the plush world of Deckers recovery shoes.
We spent all winter in a cozy pair of high tops, but they won’t do us much good in the summer months. Sure, the SPSK is still comfortable, but we’re after something a little more breathable. Luckily, Deckers X Lab has a full buffet of options, including sandals, knit sneakers, and the future of flip-flops (their words… and ours).
As always, our picks come from our own experiences. A few of these models we wore allllll last summer, and we’re doubling down for round two in 2022. In fact, we probably spend more time in Deckers than our actual running shoes. The materials and build quality are primo, and because Deckers still flies a bit under the radar, you get to sport a look that is fresh and certain to turn heads. (Seriously, we can’t tell you how many times people ask: “What are those?”). It also helps that the American Podiatric Medical Association has given some of these models its seal of approval, so if you’re in a job where you’re standing all day long, you know you’ll be wearing the gold standard.
Last thing– a lot of these options have shearling wool lining (i.e. the most comfortable of all linings), which seems counterintuitive to the summer months. But it actually regulates temperatures way better than any other footwear, leaving your feet surprisingly cool and dry (and odor-free).
Anyway, here are the shoes we’ll be recovering in all summer long.
» X-Scape Knit Low
Use: All-day wear with the comfort of a slipper | Price: $100
The best kind of recovery shoe is one that you can just keep wearing. Sometimes flip-flops and sandals don’t fit the bill, but it’s easy to wear the Deckers X Lab X-Scape Knit Low every day of the week. It’s made with eco-conscious Sorona fabric, which is snug around the foot but offers just the right amount of stretch in the collar, tongue, and toes. As always, the X-Scape Knit Low features Deckers’ X-Ponent HD midsole — a thick stack of EVA foam — remixed with some natural sugarcane.
Technically, you could probably run in the X-Scape Knit Low. It has a swallowtail heel flare and meta rocker geometry to roll you through each stride. However, we find that it’s way easier to keep our Deckers on the shelf until we’re ready for recovery. Right now, the X-Scape Knit Low comes in six colorways, some with unisex sizing and others with women-specific sizes.
It also helps that this is the most affordable of all the Deckers models, but without sacrificing any of the comfort.Shop X-Scape Knit Low – Men Shop X-Scape Knit Low – Women
» KO-Z EVRST
Use: Achieving “peak” comfort | Price: $120
Bet you can’t guess what EVRST is short for, can you? Oh, Everest, right, that could have been tougher. Anyway, this slide is inspired by the world’s tallest peak, or at least the goal is to reach the peak of comfort. Maybe it’s a cheesy line, but you can’t blame Deckers X Lab. They got pretty damn close. The EVRST is blanketed in a Wampa’s worth of shearling and looped wool with a premium panel of Nubuck leather for another touch of class.
Underfoot, the EVRST packs not one layer of foam, but five. Five layers of foam. Of course, the softest memory foam layer is at the top, as it should be. Below that, you’ll find some Xponent+ EVA foam and a sponge rubber outsole to keep you off the ground. Deckers kept its meta rocker technology front and center, so you should be able to keep moving along even when your joints are begging to stop.Shop Ko-Z EVRST – Men Shop Ko-Z EVRST – Women
» Deckers X Lab Ko-Z Slide
Use: Comfort where it matters most | Price: $130
Think of the KO-Z Slide as EVRST’s summer cousin. It’s part of the same KO-Z family, but it’s a little bit lighter on the cozy wool to keep your foot breathing a little easier. As the name suggests, you can slip your foot right into the Slide, but it won’t fall off when you get up to move. It carries the same five-layer midsole as other K0-Z models, which means there’s plenty of comfy memory foam right there to greet your foot each day.
One place that Deckers X Lab made sure to keep plush wool comfort is in the arch support. It’s an extra soft patch of natural cushion and moisture management, and the digitally printed webbing makes this one of Deckers’ most adjustable slides yet. I don’t know if we need to mention the meta rocker shape at this point, but you better believe it’s there. Right now, the KO-Z Slide comes in four colors — one for every outfit you’ve got.Shop KO-Z Slide – Men Shop KO-Z Slide – Women
» KO-Z Ventura Wedge
Use: Summer heel struttin’ | Price: $140
The newest release from Deckers, just in time for summer, is the women’s Ventura Wedge, merging sneaker and slipper to provide a “classier” option of sandal. The midfoot and heel straps are made from 100% recycled materials and are padded with memory foam, so you can be sure to have a full lockdown in the event that you do spring into a sustained run.
The shoe also uses the KO-Z gradient foam wedge midsole and offers a 5mm looped wool lining bove the foot and under the arch. Of course, the footbed is as comfortable as you can get in a pair of faux heels, featuring an ergonomic PU layered with memory foam and a perforated leather top sole.
Long story short – you get the maximum comfort level of any Deckers footwear, but you’ll be able to see over the crowd at Coachella.Shop Ventura Wedge – Women
» X-Scape Sport Low
Use: Ultimate comfort in a sporty package | Price: $140
Sure, the X-Scape Knit above is affordable and still looks great. But if you’re looking for the ultimate comfort sneaker/tennis shoe, then this is the one to rule them all. Seriously, we wear this shoe a lot and it never ceases to amaze us how good it feels.
A perforated EcoTan nubuck leather upper allows for more circulation than a traditional shoe, while the stretch mesh tongue and toe box conform to your foot shape while enhancing airflow and flexibility. These even work to protect you during those pop-up summer storms, as the upper receives a PFC-free durable water repellent treatment.
Oh, and of course, we can’t forget the midsole which provides the ultimate bed of comfort– it’s made from an ultralight PU foam wrapped in protective TPU. As shoe nerds, we can tell you that this is a very good thing. It’s also topped with a soft textile top sole in case you wanted even more luxury underneath.
Lastly, we love that this shoe was made in a factory that supports women in the supply chain with the help of HERproject, a collaborative initiative that creates partnerships with brands like ours to empower and educate women in the workplace.Shop Sport Low – Women Shop Sport Low – Men
» X-Scape 100F
Use: All-terrain breathability | Price: $120
What do you do when the mercury is rising, but you want to go for a hike? You could grab a pair of sandals, but Deckers has a better idea. The X-Scape 100F is equal parts sandal and sneaker, with plenty of extra protection around your toes. It both ties like a sneaker and offers a Velcro enclosure on the heel for easy access. Deckers even teamed up with Vibram for an N-Oil Litebase outsole, which blends grip and sustainability in equal parts.
The upper of the X-Scape 100F is made with perforated mesh and EcoTan Nubuck leather with careful cutouts for airflow and water drainage. Underfoot, you’re looking at a lightweight HX-Impulse foam core set inside an Xponent HD midsole with a stable swallowtail heel. There’s even a TPU toe cap in case anyone tells you to go kick rocks — not that something like that would ever happen. It’s just nice to know that you could if you had to.Shop X-Scape 100F – Men Shop X-Scape 100F – Women
» KO-Z Ventura
Use: Slipper comfort, sneaker security | Price: $140
If KO-Z is in the name, you can already tell it’s gonna fit like a slipper. The Ventura might not turn you into a pet detective, but you could probably figure out that Finkel is Einhorn since you’re not worried about foot pain anymore. Deckers adopted a design similar to that of the KO-Z Slide, but the Ventura features a strap across the back to put a little more adventure in your life. Basically, if you’re worried about the Slide popping off, opt for the Ventura instead.
Sticking with the KO-Z theme, the Ventura rides on a familiar layered midsole that’s all about comfort. It has memory foam and perforated leather on top that should age nicely and mold to your foot over time. The 3mm sponge rubber adds even more cushion at pavement level, and the dual straps are almost infinitely adjustable. Right now, the Deckers X Lab KO-Z Ventura is available in four different colors, but some sizes have sold out.Shop Ko-Z Ventura
» KO-Z Ba Da Da 25
Use: The future of flip-flops | Price: $40
Here it is — the future of flip-flops. Ladies and gentlemen, the future is chunky. Not that your feet are chunky, but Deckers has worked out that a larger footbed is better for overall security and protection. However, the Ba Da Da 25 isn’t layered to the same extent as its KO-Z siblings. Instead, it sits on a thick layer of EVA foam with a brushed memory foam top sole for some added comfort. The squared-off midsole is back, and the hemp straps are about as sustainable (and comfortable) as you’ll find.
We can’t say we’ve worn any other flip-flops with meta rocker technology, but Deckers X Lab is as good a starting place as any. Who knows how a rocker will feel on sand, but there has to be a reason for Deckers to keep going back to the midsole that made it famous. We’re also not sure where the name comes from, but at least we’ve worked out that the 25 comes from the forefoot stack height.Shop KO-Z Ba Da Da 25
» KO-Z EZ Cabrio
Use: It’s a convertible, baby | Price: $140
Does the name Cabrio ring a bell? Maybe you’ve seen it attached to a Volkswagen badge here or there. Wanna guess why? Cabrio means convertible! That’s exactly what this Deckers X Lab shoe is — a convertible. Not quite like a Croc, with sport mode and casual mode, but you can pop the Cabrio on as a slipper or adjust the heel for security like a sneaker. We can confidently say not to run in your KO-Z EZ Cabrio this time.
Not because it won’t be comfortable, the shoe packs a thicc Xponent+ midsole with a meta rocker design and a squared-off heel. Instead, we recommend not running in this bad boy because it’s made of 10mm Twinface sheepskin with a 5mm looped wool top sole. I just can’t imagine getting sweat all up in that luxurious material. At least you can remove the EVA footbed layer in case you need to let things air out, especially after race day.Shop KO-Z EZ Cabrio