Certain sport shoes – ski boots, mountaineering boots, SPD bike shoes, etc. – are all necessary for the field but highly uncomfortable the minute you stop moving and start relaxing. Problem is, you can't always carry around a comfy pair of after-sport shoes in your pocket. FOOTbrakes are folding sandals designed for this very purpose.
FOOTbrakes were conceived on a biking and wine tasting trip in the Napa Valley. Not wanting to flounder around the shops and vineyards in their stiff, clunky bike shoes, FOOTbrake founders Marjie Hancock and Jill Beckett-Hill instead purchased some cheap flip flops. Of course, they didn't want to purchase a new pair of cheap flip flops on every subsequent biking trip, so instead, they designed a better alternative.
They came up with a pair of lightweight sandals that fold up small enough to slide into a bike jersey pocket. The company says that the sandals are of comparable size and weight to a mobile phone. Whether you're a serious endurance cyclist or an urban commuter, being able to change into a more comfortable, casual set of shoes before stopping at a shop or restaurant should certainly be a welcome improvement over hobbling around in cycling shoes.
The concept behind FOOTbrakes isn't anything groundbreaking. There are a number of folding shoes and sandals already on the market. Gearing them specifically toward cyclists makes sense, however, since cyclists are likely to make stops far from home, and many times they'll appreciate having a more comfortable pair of shoes to walk in.
In addition to the cycling sandal, FOOTbrake also plans a solid shoe designed for skiers. Like the cycling version, the ski shoe folds up and slides into a jacket or pant pocket. The minute schussing turns to après, it's off with the rigid ski boots and on with the FOOTbrake.
FOOTbrake shoes and sandals could also be useful for other activities. A pair of comfortable camp shoes is a welcome convenience when backpacking, but the added size and weight of regular sneakers or sandals can necessitate leaving them out of the pack. FOOTbrakes could slide into a small compartment, providing campsite comfort without much weight or bulk.
FOOTbrake sandals retail for US$25 and are available on FOOTbrake's website. The company is showing its offerings at this week's Interbike trade show.