If you have dexterity issues, finding shoes that work for you can be a daunting task. The simplicity of Velcro has served as a stand-in for laces for decades, but good luck finding Velcro shoes that don’t exude the bland aesthetic of retirement home chic. Traditional sneakers like these still come through in a pinch when you need something cheap, simple, and functional, but recent developments in adaptive footwear offer new opportunities for persons with disabilities to tailor their feet stylings more naturally.
Reviewed has critiqued adaptive shoes from the likes of Billy Footwear and Kizik alike, but the Chuck Taylor All Star FlyEase are one of the latest additions to the category. While all options offer cosmetic laces for a stylish look, the All Star FlyEase are advertised as the Converse brand’s first hands-free attempt.
For a young man with dexterity and mobility issues resulting from moderate Cerebral Palsy, this sounded like a pretty lofty claim. Could I actually put on a pair of shoes that didn’t feature Velcro or zippers? I was admittedly skeptical, but my testing over about three weeks of wear yielded more than a few surprises.
What are the Chuck Taylor All Star FlyEase shoes?
The Chuck Taylor All Star FlyEase shoes are marketed as a hands-free shoe without need for zippers, laces, or straps of any kind. The key to that seemingly impossible feat is a flexible, elastic-like heel that expands as you put your foot inside the sneaker. Nike first introduced the FlyEase brand to the world in the middle of 2021, and Converse, as a subsidiary of Nike, has brought that technology to the storied Chuck Taylor All Star lineup.
The design philosophy of the All Star FlyEase is extremely familiar to the main draw of the Kiziks, so folks who’ve used those sneakers before should feel right at home. Simply step into the shoe while angled toward the hard plastic tab on the back of the heel, and it opens wide enough to accommodate.
The Chuck Taylor All Star FlyEase shoes retail for $90 and come in a unisex design to fit men’s sizes 6.5 to 13 and women’s sizes 8.5 to 15. The shoes come in three different colorways. I tried the Black/Wild Mango/White colorway for this review.
What I like about the Chuck Taylor FlyEase shoes
It actually works, even seated
With the hands-free gimmick placed front and center of the All Star FlyEase, the central question for most disabled folks is just how well that flexible heel actually works. Through my personal testing, you’ll be glad to know the base FlyEase technology is almost as good as advertised, if not a little better.
Given that it’s difficult for me to stand and get the proper foot positioning while using crutches, I had to put on the All Star FlyEase shoes while seated on my couch. This requires a little bit of dexterity to ensure your feet are properly aligned within the opening, but it’s totally possible to slide the shoes on and put a little pressure on the underside of the heel to push them the rest of the way. Once on, the sneakers felt secure on my size 6.5 feet without once falling off.
I imagine it’s just as easy to slide them on from a standing position, given that that’s the intended method, but it’s always a massive plus when adaptive tech accommodates for alternate scenarios. It may take some practice to get the hang of the process, as that hard plastic heel can sometimes unpleasantly scrape against your ankles if you’re doing it seated, but the central purpose of the FlyEase brand totally delivers for anyone seeking out an easy-on shoe.
Cool comfort and even cooler style
Not only are the Chuck Taylor All Star FlyEase shoes a completely functional option for folks with limited mobility and dexterity, but they also look stylish and are extremely comfortable to wear.
For my testing purposes I selected the Black/Wild Mango/White colorway, and they look every bit as sleek in person as they do in official product shots. Though I didn’t scope them out in person, the White/Black/Wild Mango colorway appears a bit more traditional with its lighter hue, and the Egret/String/Light Silver version exhibits a slightly greenish tint for something a bit more unique. They all look great to my eyes, but I liked the idea of seeing how some black shoes might complement my collection. I can’t wait to see what other designs might be in the works going forward, but the three initial designs amount to a solid start.
I also greatly appreciated the small design touch of having two different insole graphics on the left and right sneakers as well. It may sound silly, but, when you’ve spent your whole life avoiding standard laced sneakers, it might be difficult to know which foot each shoe goes on. For a wearer who struggles with that aspect, the variable insoles offer an easy way to differentiate between shoes.
Alongside that awesome look comes a surprising level of comfort. I was initially worried that such a narrow shoe design would feel tight on my feet, but the CX foam cushioning on the insole is truly fantastic. Shoes can start feeling restrictive very quickly if you’re not very mobile in them, but I never felt compelled to take these off even after hours of use. I’m not a big sneaker head, but these are still the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn.
What I don’t like about the Chuck Taylor FlyEase shoes
As sleek as the All Star FlyEase is, its unabashedly narrow design may be prohibitive for some. If you’re in the habit of wearing leg braces or AFOs, for example, odds are you need a wide, bucket-like topline and insole to accommodate the extra equipment. While it might be theoretically possible to go up an extra size to make the All Stars work for you, I personally think something like the Billy Footwear line, with its massive zipper opening, is much more appropriate for that specific use case. Nike also makes the Air Zoom Pegasus, that combines zippers with FlyEase, but we’ve yet to test those.
Higher price than the accessible mainstays
Many products with accessibility benefits are expensive, and I would argue that’s somewhat true of the All Star FlyEase. These retail for around $90, which is still cheaper than some of Nike’s own FlyEase options, but it still might be a hard sell compared to the Velcro Reeboks or zipper Billys that often sell for $60 or less.
The FlyEase tech is truly special and deserves to be experienced by the disabled community at large. But, for a population historically familiar with lower pay checks, these shoes may still mandate a somewhat high budget. This is a great innovation that everyone should be able to experience without major impact to their wallets.
Should you buy the Converse All Star FlyEase shoes?
Yes, if you’re looking to be a stylish, easy-on sneaker.
There’s little doubt in my mind that the Converse All Star FlyEase shoes could be an absolute gamechanger for a certain class of folks in the disabled community or those who just want a sneaker with quick and easy entry. As long as you’re able to step in or use a little dexterity to put them on while seated, the FlyEase tech delivers on its promises.
Zippers seem like a much better option for working around orthotics or braces, but, as long as that’s not a concern for you, these shoes are stylish, comfortable, and easy to slip on. If you can save up a little extra money to buy them, you won’t be disappointed.