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As a shopping writer, I’m always on the prowl for the latest and greatest products; as a person with dodgy knees, even dodgier ankles and a love for walking, those products often tend to be footwear-related. Thanks to a laundry list of injuries (largely in part to a torn ligament a few years ago and a knee that likes, on occasion, to pop out of place) I’m not new to the term ‘orthopaedic shoe’. That said, until recently, I had a hard time finding truly supportive footwear that doesn’t just look like something a twenty-something-year-old would want to wear, but that can be worn with a whole variety of outfits. Introducing the Neo-D-Hyker from FitFlop (£120).
For those new to the brand, FitFlop creates high-performance footwear —from sandals and flip flops, to trainers, boots and slippers — that are engineered to complement your joint alignment and movement. While, given their focus on comfort and support, they’re a brand that has largely been associated with an older demographic (and even awarded the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance), in the name of dodgy knees and even dodgier ankles, I set out to try them out for myself.
Upon unboxing my pair of Neo-D-Hykers I was surprised at how cool they look. Chunky and sporty, they are the embodiment of the ‘ugly dad trainer’ trend. Even better is how they feel: Light and airy, they combine the comfort and flexibility of a trainer with the stability and security of a walking boot
Using a combination of leather and 100% recycled nylon, the Neo-D-Hykers are also fully water resistant. I’ll note, after a few rainy-day walks, these aren’t the pair to go trudging through puddles in (instead, opt for FitFlop’s own support-designed wellies for that), but I’m happy to report my feet stayed dry and toasty in several downpours.
Once laced up I was delighted to find how breathable they felt all thanks to the antibacterial mesh footbed (no boot-like swamp feet here). They were also insanely comfortable from the first wear — aka, no painful break-in period where the heel tab chips away at the back of your ankle.
In fact, FitFlop has seemingly thought about everything when it comes to the fit of the Neo-D-Hykers. Underfoot you have anatomically contoured footbeds for maximum comfort, a special lug outsole for extra grip and a 'Neodynamic midsole', a super springy layer of cushioning. TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) — a type of plastic that is durable, recyclable and biodegradable in 3 to 5 years — is used for a heel clip (the flared, sticky-out bit at the back) for extra stability when walking on uneven terrain. Testing these out and about running errands in London, for a weekend walk along a stony beach and for a woodland hike, I can safely assure these gave me grip and all-day comfort, even on wet and icy surfaces.
Size-wise, I would say these fit true to size. I’m between a UK 4 and 5, and opted for these in the 5 to have room for thick socks, though those aren’t needed here given how comfy these are. You also have four colour options, ranging from classic black and navy blue to nature-ready khaki green and a dusky pink that wouldn’t look amiss paired with your favourite summer dress once the weather warms up. In fact, come festival season, I’ll be packing these instead of my usual Dr. Martens and welly boots combo. They’ll definitely be lighter in my rucksack!