Outside of concrete mafia sneakers, ski boots are the stiffest, most uncomfortable footwear you can possibly torture your peds with. The minute you disengage your ski bindings, you want them off, but you typically have to slog across the base village back to your car or locker. Pakems are casual shoes designed to be carried while skiing so you can change into something more comfy on the spot.
After leaving her job of nearly two decades as a corporate attorney, Julie Adams was enjoying some of her newly found free time skiing. While enjoying an aprés ski beverage or two, Adams instinctively kicked off her ski boots to free her throbbing feet. It was at this moment she realized what career path she would take, formulating an idea for an aprés ski-specific set of footwear that eventually led to her Colorado-based company Aprés Gear.
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Aprés Gear's debut product is Pakems, a line of compressible shoes and boots designed to be carried around on a ski day and quickly swapped for ski boots. The shoes are made from a soft, water-resistant ripstop material that compacts flat. They can be stashed on their own or inside the available compression bag, and the whole package weighs 15 ounces (425 g). Adams told us that a size 10 measures about 12 inches (30.5 cm) long by 3 inches (7.6 cm) wide by 2 inches (5 cm) thick. They have an insulated, DWR-coated upper, an EVA midsole, a rubber outsole and a one-handed lacing system.
Since the soles don't fold, Pakems will be a bit long to slide in a pants pocket or small jacket pocket, but they might fit in a larger, deeper jacket pocket. If they don't fit in your pockets, they can also be carried in a backpack or around the waist with the belt on the storage bag. That belt doubles as a ski-boot strap for carrying your ski boots when you switch over.
Since Pakems stay on your person for the entire ski day, you can slip out of your ski boots any time you want – at the end of the day, during lunch, during a break, etc. Your feet enjoy instant relief rather than suffering in rigid, constricting, damp boots.
Pakems' puffy, slipper-like styling won't exactly blend in with the leather boots and white sneakers at the restaurant, but neither do the ski boots and other ultra-waterproof, -40 rated boots. At least Pakems are comfortable to wear.
Pakems are available now in black and gray. The low-cut shoes retail for US$60 and the boots for $70. Additional styles will be available later this year.
Compacting shoes appear to be an idea that's gaining steam. We saw Timberland folding hiking shoes about a year ago, and a FOOTbrake folding bike sandals made an appearance at last year's Interbike show.
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