With just a twist, these no-tie sneakers are the perfect fit
Saucony Switchback 2 shoe review
WITH JUST A TWIST, THESE NO-TIE SNEAKERS ARE THE PERFECT FIT
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If you’ve ever stopped to watch the complicated process of tying a shoe, or taught a young child how to do it, you know it requires serious dexterity. Putting on a sneaker involves some other muscles and movements too—you have to reach all the way to the ground, hold that position while tying the shoe, and return to standing (or sitting).
For many with physical disabilities, hand injuries, and other complications, this is an impossible process that relegates them to slip-on shoes only. But Saucony’s Switchback shoe line is here to solve this problem and does a pretty good job of it.
Dr. Patrick McEneaney, a foot and ankle surgeon at Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists, says, “There’s a lot of different conditions people have that can make these kinds of products helpful, whether it’s Parkinson’s, whether they have really bad arthritis in their hand.
“Let’s say they’ve had a stroke and only one hand works, or they have a traumatic brain injury—really, a lot of ailments can affect your fine motor skills in your hand or hands. And sometimes people either don’t have the dexterity or don’t have two hands to be able to do that. And so the little wheels allow you to use one hand to spin the wheel which then causes tightening.”
How does the Saucony Switchback 2 hands-free shoe work?
McEneaney is referencing the wheel on the side of the trail running shoes that works via a pulley-like system to tighten the shoe as it would if you were tying laces in the traditional pattern. He adds that people with back problems who can’t spend a long time bent over to complete the tying process might find it helpful too.
What I like about the Saucony Switchback 2
Exactly as tight as you need them
An additional benefit of these Saucony running shoes is that they allow you to more precisely choose how tight you want your sneakers to be. When you are tying shoes the old-fashioned way, you would have to start over if you accidentally made them too tight or too loose. But the wheel offers a much more specific choice to wearers when it comes to tightness.
The shoes are also ideal for kids who haven’t yet learned how to tie shoes, or for getting dressed quickly on hectic mornings before school. The Big Kid’s Switchback 2.0 sneaker offers the same wheel function so kids can take control of putting on secure sneakers without an adult’s help.
When my 6-year-old tested these, he was proud of being able to finally master laces, and I was pleased that we could check one more item off the getting ready for the day list (though I’m sure it will ultimately delay learning how to tie a shoe the traditional way).
What I don’t like about the Saucony Switchback 2
Lace-free, but not hands-free
While the Sauconies aren’t slip on, and you still have to use your hands to put them on, McEneaney sees this as a positive when it comes to added stability. “Slip-on shoes don’t always stay on great. And so I’m not a big fan of slip-on shoes, especially for activities.
“They can slip off while walking and it can lead to tripping and falling,” he explains. So, these wouldn’t be ideal for someone who must have a hands-free experience putting their sneakers on.” (If you need completely hands-free shoes, check out Kizik shoes instead.)
Should you buy the Saucony Switchback 2?
While we hope to see them be a little bit easier to put on in future editions, in the meantime, the Saucony Switchbacks provide an easier time for anyone hoping for an accessible sneaker “tying” experience. So if it’s a problem for you to tie shoelaces, or you just want to get out the door faster, the Saucony Switchback 2 is a solid choice.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.