By JILL ADLER
It’s not every day I wear “tennis shoes” in the winter. That’s like wearing white pants after Labor Day, right? But when you throw a softshell upper onto a wrap-around sole that has little rubber stumps on the bottom for grip and traction, you turn a tennis shoe into a kind of winter glove for your foot.
At least that’s what I conjure while wearing the Kuru Chicane shoe. It is a unique design — good-looking enough to wear around town but with the technical characteristics to handle the cold and snow.
Kuru Chicane women’s shoes
The first time I slipped on the Chicanes ($115,
Marketed as a “light-duty trail shoe,” the Chicane has an asymmetrical lacing system meant to mimic the path your instep and ankle joint take down to your big toe. The shoe reminded me a bit of a Keen design. But in choosing to use a softshell fabric, the company has created a shoe with its own identity.
In my test, which included two months of use this winter, the shoe felt like one seamless entity on my foot: The insole cups the heel and supports your arch while the lacing system acts like a ribcage over the foot. Webbing stitched into the liner runs down the side of the shoe and is lasted between the midsole and outsole, preventing the softshell upper from over-stretching and creating a cocoon of support for the entire foot.
Kuru Chicane, top view
The softshell gives you not only a sleek look but provides a barrier against the cold with warmth and breathability. Despite poor circulation in my feet, shoveling snow in these shoes for 30 minutes didn’t numb my toes.
Hanging out inside the house, however, my feet were often warm and a tad sweaty in the Chicanes. I doubt I’d do any summer desert hiking in them.
Though the softshell is only water resistant — not waterproof — you can add a coating of NikWax (for softshells) and create a go-anywhere winter shoe that’s much lighter than a boot and still more stylish than a trail runner.
—Jill Adler is a freelance writer and a certified PSIA ski instructor living in Park City, Utah.