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Honorable Mention: "Best Walking Shoe" - SHAPE Magazine
Prospecs - The Perfect Blend of Cushioning and Stability
By Cam White
Are you walking every day in running shoes? If you are in the market for a great-looking shoe with exceptional stability and superior cushioning for walking, Prospecs may well be your solution. This brand, which has flourished in South Korea since 2009, just arrived in the United States, and will be shipping to selected retailers soon. Advertised as a "sports walking shoe", Prospecs will be worn as an all-day shoe for Americans who enjoy active lifestyles and for those who spend a lot of time on their feet.
I have never felt a shoe like Prospecs before. It's instant comfort as soon as you put them on your feet. The shoes have an exceptional fit, anatomically contoured foot bed and roomy toe box. But the real magic happens when you stand and walk in them. The shoe cushions the entire foot from heel strike through toe-off without sacrificing medial/lateral (side-to-side) stability. Walking in Prospecs is pure pleasure. The shoe protects the body from the repetitive impact of walking on concrete and hard surfaces, while ensuring maximum control and stability.
Anatomy of the Prospecs "Power" Series Shoe
What separates Prospecs from other athletic walking shoes is the unique "Move Frame (TM)" technology built-in to many of their models. The midsole consists of a rigid, patented Move Frame Cell which acts like a "spine" built into the shoe. In the model I'm testing, 32 frame bars act like alternating ribs pointed both upwards and downwards that push against each other to provide even shock absorption throughout the entire shoe. The Move Frame Cell is sandwiched between two semi-rigid phylon layers, that provide a stable platform for the Move Frame Cell. The upper phylon shell is anatomically contoured, which gives Prospecs shoes a "customized" feeling on your feet.
The upper of the shoe has a very firm heel counter, which aids in stabilizing the foot, and has exceptional padding on the collar and tongue for comfort. The insole is practically an over-the-counter orthotic. It has resilient cushioning underneath the heel, semi-rigid medial and lateral arch support, and forefoot cushioning. This is not your ordinary sock liner. It's substantial. I have never seen such an advanced insole in an athletic shoe. Finally, the entire shoe and insole is lined with Outlast(R), an advanced temperature-regulating fabric originally developed for NASA Outlast can either absorb or emit heat depending on the outside conditions, creating a more comfortable environment for the foot.
When you put it all together, the design of Prospecs shoes has been very well-thought-out from top to bottom. Given the intense attention paid to detail in the design and manufacturing of this shoe, I expected it to retail north of the $200 price point. I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that Prospecs shoes are retailing in the U.S. for about $150, in line with other quality, name brand shoes.
Video: Prospecs Explained
My Experience Wearing Prospecs
On December 4, 2012 I picked up a pair of Prospecs Power 401 shoes at The Running Event trade show in Austin, TX. I was excited to see the brand had finally arrived in America, and couldn't wait to give them a test drive. I had seen Prospecs a year earlier at the WSA Show in Las Vegas, but they brand was not available for distribution in the United States back in 2011. I met with Stephen and Bonnie Meyers, managing partners for Prospecs USA, as well as several of their South Korean colleagues from Prospecs headquarters.
|My Prospecs Power 401 Shoes|
The shoes felt like old friends as soon as I put them on. I spent the next two days walking the floor of the Austin Convention Center, and experienced absolutely no pain or fatigue in my feet or in my limbs. The cushioning and stability of the shoes actually made me feel a bit energized. At the trade show, I called my friend Mark Poole, owner of The Shoe Shoppe in Farmington, NM and shared my experience wearing the shoes. He immediately placed an order for the shoes, and became the first US retailer for Prospecs. More on this later.
It's now been a month, and I have been wearing my Prospecs every day. I usually put shoes to the test when I'm evaluating a new shoe technology. I wear them daily to see if I can pick up any bumps, warts or wrinkles in the shoe design. No disappointments thus far. I wear them as soon as I get out of bed, take them on my morning walk and wear them all day long. The shoes feel exactly the way they felt the first day I got them, with absolutely no breakdown in the cushioning. The cushioning is very noticeable throughout the entire stride, but I'm most impressed with the stability of the shoes. It's nearly impossible for me to pronate (roll-in) or supinate (roll-out) wearing my shoes. If I try to pronate or supinate, it requires real effort, and the shoe automatically pulls my foot back to a level, neutral orientation. I believe this is due to the Move Frame spine controlling the motion of my foot in a straightforward motion. My low-arched, flexible flat feet naturally want to pronate, but my Prospecs shoes keep my feet aligned, and very comfortable. The arch support feels great, and I have become a big fan of the Outlast lining of the shoes. My feet feel the same when it's toasty indoors or frigid outside.
Early Consumer Feedback on Prospecs
I talked to Mark at the Shoe Shoppe to find out how the Prospecs shoes were being received in his store. Mark loves his pair, and his customers are buying Prospecs shoes as soon as they stand up and walk in them. He's had the shoes for three weeks, and he has already have one customer return to purchase her 2nd pair online. Online purchasers are also quick to review Prospecs shoes. "I am a nurse who is always searching for the most comfortable shoes. I love these shoes. They have great support and are very comfortable all day long." remarked one customer who purchased the shoes online. Several customers have remarked that their foot, leg and back pain decreases significantly when they wear Prospecs shoes. It's still early, but I have yet to meet a person who hasn't been completely impressed with Prospecs.
Sizing, Pricing and Information
Prospecs USA stocks 13 different styles of shoes in great color patterns. Full information about Prospecs, including where to buy the shoes will be published on the Prospecs USA website, which is currently under construction. In the meantime, you can purchase Prospecs shoes online from The Shoe Shoppe. Prospecs shoes retail for about $150 for most models.
US Women's Sizes: 6-11, including half sizes.
US Men's Sizes: 8-13, including half sizes.
If you are looking for extreme comfort, cushioning and stability in a walking, exercise or daily wear athletic shoe Prospecs is a brand well worth considering. They will worn by walking enthusiasts, some runners, at the gym, and for any activity requiring long hours of standing or walking. If you work at a standing job that allows you to wear athletic shoes, Prospecs is a great choice. Your body will thank you.