Best for: Street Skating
Star feature: Lakai Select insole
Weight: 333 grams
One of the stars of Lakai's Summer 2013 line is the Camby, a moccasin/yacht shoe-inspired low top vulc sole skate shoe. This particular style of footwear in skateboarding has become more popular over the last five years, with just about every major shoe company putting out their version, but Lakai did it the right way. Most shoe companies take a cool design and just slap some materials together haphazardly and send it straight to the stores. Lakai used the same components from their popular select division which is driven by their solid vulcanized sole construction, herringbone tread on the outsole and most importantly that ideal "Lakai" fit. Knowing it was crafted with quality parts makes the $58 Camby worth checking out. This shoe is billed as being useful whether you're skating or hanging out, and that is a pretty accurate description.
My initial impressions of the Camby were negative but after a while I felt differently. Looking at it, I was turned off by what appeared to be a lack of ankle support, because it looked like a Tom's shoe. Most times when skate companies make super low profile shoes I'm left questioning whether they took the shoe's intent into consideration. All that said, the Camby is a shoe that is boat shoe-template worthy and I'll tell you why. The best part of it is the full-length EVA insole. The insole is made to prop your foot up in a way that helps your strides when you're just walking, which is a good indicator that it'll also work when you're skating flat ground or grinding ledges. The problem with shoes with low collars is that the designers tend to have the audacity to put a wax paper-thin sockliner in an already thin shoe and the pieces don't work well together. You do one trick in shoes like that and your feet are left stinging or you land wrongly and your ankle twists.
The Camby doesn't give you those issues because all the pieces work in tandem. The heart of all this functional harmony is in the way the laces keep your foot glued to that excellent insole I was talking about. The laces' location is right in the area of the foot that supports your entire body each time you take a step. The lacing area is made such that your foot doesn't slip out, no matter how much you're moving around. You can achieve this by trying different degrees of snugness in the way you lace them up. When your foot isn't moving you'll know that you've go it. There's also this blue thing on the inside wall leading up to the collar where your Achilles sits, and that also helps keep your foot in place. Most skate shoe companies don't do this, and that's why the fit impressed me so much.Clearly I have a positive opinion of the Camby but the one thing I'm torn on is the canvas; I can't live with it and I can't live without it. Many years ago I bought some canvas shoes and skated them and they were done in under two hours. So basically I avoid canvas skate shoes, but Lakai's canvas held up pretty well, considering I was trying to rip holes in them. Most importantly it provides ventilation. My feet really liked them, so I recommend purchasing two pairs in different colors. Get one for skating and one for chilling and you'll most likely end up wearing both pairs frequently.
Bottom line: Summer is here and everybody is shedding layers, so do the same with your footwear. The Camby is fun, functional and good for your feet.
Reggie Altema is a Haitian writer from New Jersey who grew up obsessed with music and skateboarding but despised east coast winters, so the former Fat Beats New York employee escaped to Los Angeles where he could skate all year round. When he’s not out walking his pitbulls, he listens to Bebop and contributes to ESPN Skateboarding and Sneaker Report.
Bottom Line: Summer is here and everybody is shedding layers so do the same with your footwear. The Camby is fun and functional and good for your feet.