By Austin Bonds
I recently received a unique product to review. No, it’s not a shoe, but this product did require me to remove the existing laces from my Brooks Ghost 9. Though I typically choose this namesake model to wear on a daily basis to work from a comfort and fit standpoint, it happened to be a good choice for customization purposes too (more on this later). I give you Riplaces. Or as the company website describes them: Bungees + Cords = Riplaces. The aim of the product, as you may have gathered by now, is to provide a strong alternative to traditional shoe laces by way of a “set and forget” approach. Let’s see what that looks like in greater detail.
I’ll start with what I received in the mail: three bungee colors and three types of cores (the Skinny, Invert, and Olivia). The Olivia is a curved version of the Skinny while the Invert is ideal for shoe eyelets that are close together. I decided to use the Skinny core and black bungees for the Ghost 9. The black bungees create distinction from the gray upper, and the neon yellow Skinny core accents the Brooks chevron located on the sides of the shoe. Since I’m on the subject of customization, this is a major strength for Riplaces. Fifteen bungee colors, ten Skinny colors, eleven Invert colors, and twelve Olivia colors make for a staggering sum of arrangements on your shoes. In short, the customization is colossal. I know this as I did the math in my head – just kidding.
The installation process is straight forward too. I received some paper instructions with my bungees and cords, but a video is available on the Riplaces website to offer additional assistance as needed. Unlike lock laces by companies like Nathan Sports and others, Riplace bungees are available in five sizes: extra small, small, medium, large, and extra-large. How are they installed on a shoe? I’m glad you asked.
The bungees are arranged on a flat board and the board is used for measuring the distance from the left and right eyelet. This distance will help you decide which bungee size to use. Speaking of which, this is a second major strength of Riplaces: each eyelet receives a concise fit. I retooled both shoes with Riplaces in twenty minutes, and I like the fit. The shoes feel secure from the first lace to the last. What if the fit in an area of the shoe feels too loose or too tight, though? The remedy is simple. Exchange the existing bungee with a longer length or a shorter length. The precision is palpable.
A final strength of Riplaces is versatility. Obviously they are an excellent option for runners and triathletes who wish to avoid fiddling with traditional laces once and for all, but Riplaces transcend running shoes. They can be implemented with multiple types of sneaks, including Chuck Taylors, Toms, Vans, Keds, and Sunday dress shoes for church (I’d favor black bungees and black cores for these). Eyelets on a shoe are fertile ground for Riplaces.
I’ve thought about any notable critiques of Riplaces for the past few days, but I don’t have any major criticism to lodge. The only point of note that readily stands out pertains to the middle of a run. Unlike a lock lace or a traditional shoe lace, it’s not possible to tweak the fit of a bungee three miles into a workout. They are secure – as they should be. Therefore, a bungee exchange must occur after a run is finished. My shoes required only ten bungees, so I do have ample leftovers. But this surplus can be used to outfit other footwear of interest.
Riplaces are not the death knell for traditional shoe laces, but they are a solid alternative. Runners like options, be it a basic lace, a lock lace, or Riplaces. Individual bungee sizes, assorted cords, and a plethora of colors make for exponential customizations. Riplaces are a good option for multiple styles of footwear too. And a final word regarding design. When a full set of bungees and cords are securely in place and arranged properly, Riplaces provide a clean, polished look to the upper of a shoe. To put another way, crisscrossed, flimsy laces are replaced by secure bungees and vibrant cores that provide robust symmetry. Maybe this is footwear feng shui.
A question lingers though. What of those shoe laces that have been plucked from the eyelets and are now resting on the floor? Since October 31st is drawing nigh, maybe they can be buried in a box or bag with other running gear for later. Or they could be buried in the trash can to rest in peace for good. Or is it rip in peace? You get the idea. I’d go with black bungees and orange cores for this month. Or is it the other way around? Happy Halloween.
I’d like to take a moment and thank David and the Riplaces team for the products to review for Believe in the Run.