Stomplox Slack Shoe Review: Lacing Up Adventure
Tom has been testing the Stomplox Slack shoes for months, uncovering their perfect blend of style and practicality. Ideal for modern cyclists, they offer lasting comfort and durability for diverse terrains and challenging trails. Dig in.
Bikepacking attracts a diverse group of enthusiasts, each drawn to the simple pleasures of traveling on two wheels. It redefines what we typically think of as a 'sport.' In my extensive experience riding, I've met a wide range of individuals—from nature lovers and wandering nomads to beginners and, of course, the dedicated road warriors. The charm of bikepacking is its broad appeal. Each participant is driven by their unique reasons, measuring success by the joy experienced, not the distance traveled.
What I am trying to convey is: While it involves cycling, being a cyclist is not a requisite identity. My introduction to cycling began with a desire for freedom and the opportunity to sleep under the stars each night. Bikes unexpectedly became a part of my life. My understanding of the technical aspects of the bikes I rode was limited. However, I was certain of one thing: my eagerness to pursue cycling without conforming to the typical image of a cyclist.
During my cycling adventures, I found a niche suited for alternative bike travelers who prefer to avoid the typical, heavily branded gear and tight attire popular among high-performance cyclists. I always enjoyed the simplicity of cycling in jeans and skate shoes. However, as my daily rides and training became more frequent, I came to an important realization. I was seeking a cycling experience that wouldn't leave me smelling like a ferret cage, with damp feet and the risk of slipping in my single-wall canvas Vans.
Eventually, I began exploring the wide range of bike shoe options, looking for something that didn't mimic the tight fit of football boots. I wanted shoes that were comfortable to walk in, without making a horse-like clatter on trails or when I walked into my favorite coffee shop. A few years later, I’m on my third pair of lace-up bike shoes and have been happy with each pair. I started with the Shimano Explorer RT4, then moved to the Giro Privateer Lace Shoes. These shoes, fitting both MTB and touring needs, offered an unconventional look for bike shoes, while still providing the advantages of clipless pedals. They looked stylish on the bike and were flexible enough for what I needed, but they were undeniably bike-specific, with SPD compatibility and a distinct look that clearly matched cycling. They were a set of shoes I wouldn't wear unless I was going for a ride. That's why the Stomplox caught my attention with their SPD-compatible shoes that combined the functionality of a bike shoe with a vintage hiking boot style. Additionally, they feature a flexible Vibram sole, making walking in these shoes a practical option, far beyond a mere awkward clatter on hard surfaces.
Stomplox: Redefining Cyclist Footwear
Stomplox, nestled in Japan's Shizuoka City, revolutionizes cycling footwear by blending traditional craftsmanship with modern style. Born from a desire for stylish, non-traditional bike shoes, Stomplox offers designs that combine practicality with fashion. While conceptualized in Japan, the shoes are crafted in China, ensuring quality and innovation. The brand's ethos, spurred by a chance meeting with a shoemaker, champions the fusion of cycling functionality with personal style. Stomplox's unique range caters to cyclists seeking performance without sacrificing individuality, redefining the concept of cycling shoes for a diverse, style-conscious community.
Over the past few months, I've been putting the Stomplox Slack through its paces, and I must say, I'm thoroughly pleased with the performance. Available in either black or olive, these shoes boast a suede leather exterior. Regardless of color, they all feature a replaceable Vibram sole with excellent grip, metal lace loops, and a robust pigskin liner on the inside. The latter facilitates easy foot insertion, and the generously spacious toe box ensures day-long comfort.
For those concerned about water ingress, the SPD cleat requires manual attachment using a plate that screws through the sole. While this setup presents an entry point for water, I haven't encountered any issues despite riding extensively in the rain and even subjecting the shoes to river crossings. The manufacturer recommends treating the shoes with a waterproof spray before the first use and every few months thereafter. Interestingly, I haven't followed this advice yet, and the shoes have admirably kept water at bay. However, for the sake of their longevity, I do plan to apply the waterproof spray at some point.
It's worth noting that if you prefer riding without SPD cleats, Stomplox now offers a Vibram placeholder that can fill the cleat channel, providing an alternative for those who opt for flat pedals.
If there's a minor point to mention about these shoes, it's that tucking the laces away can be a bit challenging, but that's quite typical for lace-up shoes, so it's not a significant issue. Installing the cleat plate was somewhat fiddly and required a few adjustments during rides to perfect the position, but it wasn’t a major inconvenience. The 'Power Ride Core System' in the sole is a standout feature, offering a comfortable walking experience while maintaining enough stiffness for long rides.
These shoes are undoubtedly earning a spot in my gear lineup for future multi-day bikepacking adventures, particularly excelling in gravel rides, commuting, and the daily blend of bike activities. Their versatility suggests they'll handle the occasional hike-a-bike with ease. Additionally, if you have a penchant for full-grain leather, Ron's Bikes offers an alternative.
The expansive toe box is a standout feature, providing a pleasantly roomy feel that prevents the discomfort of cramped toes. In my search for the perfect alternative bike shoe, these tick numerous boxes for me. If the design resonates with your preferences, I highly recommend taking a closer look.
|Ability to walk comfortably with minimal cleat / ground contact
|Suede outers, look great and offer good water resistance
|Can work as flats or with cleats
|Alternative design to regular bike shoes
|Replaceable Vibram Sole
|Cleat fastening is fiddly and has potential to let water in
|Size range is fairly limited