What You Need To Know
- New project from the mad mind of Jean-Luc Diard, founder of HOKA ONE ONE
- Lifestyle shoe that can transition into activity if necessary
- Made of premium materials, from EcoTan nubuck leather to looped wool midsole
- The comfort level on this shoe is somewhere in that “if a koala bear mated with a plush lop rabbit” range (trust me on this)
ROBBE: When Deckers Lab contacted us about reviewing one of their newest products, the X-Scape NBK Low, I was a little surprised, namely that I hadn’t heard of Deckers Lab, even though I own a plethora of footwear from other Deckers brands. Namely UGG (best slippers ever, on my feet as I’m writing this), HOKA ONE ONE (half of my running shoe rack), and Teva (my all-summer long footwear when I’m not running).
Obviously, my interest was piqued, even more so when I found out that the Deckers Lab project was founded by Jean Luc-Diard, former CEO of Salomon and the founder of HOKA ONE ONE. This newest project, according to their website, is based on three commitments: “best-in-class dynamic comfort, elevated performance, and better products for a better planet.” Does the X-Scape NBK Low hold up?
This is where I should probably tell you that the X-Scape NBK Low isn’t really a running shoe, despite the fact that it’s sold as “a performance running shoe, classical sneaker, and coziest slipper- all in one.” The last two, for sure. My best take– it’s a lifestyle shoe that can transition over into activity if necessary. Need to catch a bus? You can do it in style and maybe the best comfort you’ve ever experienced in a shoe.
That’s right, this may not be a running shoe, but it is a shoe you want on your feet at all other times.
A quick rundown of the shoe: The Deckers X-Scape NBK Low features an EcoTan nubuck leather upper lined with looped wool for a barefoot feel, that also regulates the foot temperature. An anatomical brace support and oversized cushion, in concert with a Meta-Rocker, provide some insane levels of comfort.
One thing I really loved¬– the product is made in a factory that supports women in the supply chain with the help of HERproject, a collaborative initiative with brands that helps empower and educate women in the workplace.
THOMAS: This shoe comes from the future or someplace deep in the outer reaches of space. It is different in look and feel. While it is a bold experiment in footwear design, it is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. Read on to see if X-Scape NBK is a winner.
ROBBE: I’ll say this right now– this may be the most comfortable shoe I’ve ever worn, period. The experience is indulgent, and I can’t believe I’m using that word to describe a shoe. No expense was spared, no detail was overlooked in the creation of this shoe. From the nubuck leather to the soft laces and the unconventional-but-perfectly-supportable collar structure, it’s obvious that a great deal of thought was put into the design of this shoe.
The looped wool (80% natural wool, 20% recycled polyester) interior and insole of the shoe is absolutely wild, in the best way possible. The insole itself is actually a full 5 mm of open-cell PU with a looped wool top layer. It feels like heaven with socks in the winter or bare feet in the summer. I’ve never seen it done before, and whatever mad mind devised this, I am on board all the way. That said, they also have a running/sport insole that can be switched out if you’re looking for something less cozy and more tuned to athletic endeavors.
The midsole (25/19 stack height) is made from Xponent HD (i.e. PU foam wrapped in protective TPU), which I can’t say I’ve seen done before. Huge fan of PU (found in the Saucony Endorphin line); it’s really one of the most comfortable and responsive materials out there right now. Can we get this Xponent HD in a lightweight runner, please?
Btw, this shoe looks good. At first I was a little ‘meh’ on it, because it looks a bit dad shoe/90s chunk on the website (both are in style right now anyway), but once it was in hand and on foot, they totally work. The shoe pairs perfectly with a pair of joggers for a Saturday morning stroll, but can likewise pull double-duty with a pair of nice jeans for an evening out.
I’m actually considering buying this shoe as a present for some family members this year, and I can say I’ve never really thought about doing that with a shoe before.
THOMAS: I agree with Robbe, the X-Scape is about as comfortable of a shoe as you can get. So comfortable it feels like a faux pas leaving the house in them. The materials are luxurious on every level, soft nubuck leather, exchangeable footbeds, wooly textures wrap your foot on the inside. When slipping the shoe on, I had flashbacks to being a child and sinking into the first leather seat of a high-end sedan. It felt foreign and somehow elevated the passenger experience. A big change from riding around in the ’80s in my mom’s 1969 Volvo for sure. The X-Scape will turn your regular trip to the store into more of a spa visit for your feet. What’s better than that, my wife thinks they look cool, unlike my Crocs. You read that right, you can look suave and be comfortable at the same time.Shop Deckers Lab X-Scape
ROBBE: The marketing needs to be reframed for the X-Scape NBK Low. While I’m begging you to please, please, please, send us more Deckers Lab products in the future, I can’t say that this shoe can be taken seriously as a running shoe. Why? The weight.
At over a pound (453 g) for a US M10.5, it’s just not a viable option for any kind of run. I mean, it’s legitimately the same weight as a HOKA Stinson Mid GTX, which is a hiking boot.
I have nothing else bad to say about this shoe, and honestly, I don’t care about the weight as an everyday shoe. It’s an extremely flexible and comfortable shoe, so it works in active situations (like, say, an impromptu game of Frisbee). You’re just not lacing this shoe up for a morning run.
THOMAS: If this wasn’t pitched to us as a possible running shoe, I’d have no negatives at all. This shoe is a masterpiece of footwear, but if you ask me to run it, nope. It is one of the heaviest shoes I have– period. I tried to jog through the parking lot of our local grocery, and the story ends there… I tried. I guess if a bear was chasing me I would enjoy running in them. These just aren’t made for running, but no doubt they are great lifestyle shoes.Shop Deckers Lab X-Scape
Deckers Lab X-Scape NBK Low Conclusion
ROBBE: Yes, we’re a running shoe review site. But I’m one of those people who use running shoes for running, and lifestyle shoes for life (with the exception of the Nike Epic React, one of the few shoes that work as both). I’m gonna be straight¬– if you’re wearing a HOKA Clifton as an everyday shoe out in public, it’s weird and it looks ridiculous. But as a runner, bonus points to a lifestyle shoe that can complement my running life¬; that is, a really nice, comfortable shoe that feels good on the feet and legs on my off days. The Deckers X-Scape NB Low is that kind of shoe.
THOMAS: I love this shoe, but not for running. As a post-run shoe, the X-Scpae is the perfect “recovery” companion. The shoe is in a category by itself, so the only shoe it is truly competing against is itself. I’ll take all the Deckers Lab shoes I can get.
You can pick up the at Deckers Lab X-Scape NBK Low by using the shop link below.Shop Deckers Lab X-Scape
Robbe is the Senior Editor/Review Manager for BITR. He lives in Baltimore with his wife and two sons and runs with the Faster Bastards when he’s not MAF training. His favorite race distance is the marathon and his favorite beer is anything but Blue Moon.