K-Swiss Women's Stabilor Tennis Shoe Review
Could finding the right shoe be compared to finding the right vehicle? Maybe that sounds far fetched, but think about it a minute. In a car, you might consider:
Will it keep my family safe?
How does it handle in those turns?
Will it run forever?
Then, you'll also probably be looking at whether it has a plush interior and color choices for the body.
In a shoe, you might consider:
Will the shoe keep my feet and ankles safe?
How is the support for lateral cuts?
How long will the outsole last?
Then, you'll also probably be looking at whether it has plush cushioning and color choices.
The TW playtesters took out the KSwiss Stabilor (complete with two body options: leather and mesh) for a test drive, so to speak. After a couple of months on the courts, our playtesters reported back with their feedback.
The Stabilor features Shock Spring cushioning in the midsole, as well as an Ortholite sockliner designed to provide moisture management and breathability. Being a stability-oriented shoe, the Stabilor required some break-in time for DeeDee. "During the first week the Stabilors were stiff. However, after I broke them in they became one of my favorites."
Tiffani immediately sensed the Shock Spring cushioning, and found it got better after a couple of hours. "The Stabilor was comfortable for me right away. I enjoyed the wider forefoot, too. The cushioning was nice, and always noticeable. However, at first I found the shoe to be a bit short, causing me to hit the front of the shoe on extreme stops. However, after about five hours I sunk into the cushioning, and I didn't notice my toes hitting the end."
Even after logging long hours on the court, Lindsey found the shoe well padded. "The Stabilor is a very comfortable shoe with a very padded sole. I don't usually wear shoes that have higher ankle support because I find that they limit my flexibility, but these shoes did not bother me in that regard. I was on the court teaching/hitting all day and my feet did not tire."
Kana loved the placement of the cushioning. "Initially, the shoe fit very well, which meant break-in time wasn't a factor. What needed adjusting was the insole, because I could feel the breathe holes on the bottom of my feet, though it could possibly be due to the thinness of my socks. After a few plays I got used to the feel. The cushioning felt just right throughout the whole shoe." Fit came into play for Kimber, though. "There is no doubt that the shoes have cushioning, and I didn't experience any pinching, rubbing or poking, but they were too roomy and wide, which gave them a clunky feel."
Most of the playtesters were pleased with the support. Kimber, though, struggled with the placement of the support. "For some reason my left arch felt strained, and after playing for an extended period of time my foot began to bother me. When I would take the shoe off after my match the area was sore. Perhaps the arch is high or misplaced for my foot." Also with medium arches is Lindsey, who found good support. "I had no problems with the arch. I wore these shoes for teaching and hitting, and felt that my feet were very well supported. I have a medium arch and found these shoes very comfortable. The inner soles are very soft, and they molded to my feet after break-in."
For our playtesters with lower arches, the Stabilor was a nice fit, as Kana noted. "The shoe itself was built with a low arch, which I favor." Tiffani, too, was impressed. "I'm surprised that I actually could feel the arch support without any pain. Often supports make my feet ache. That wasn't the case here. I felt the insoles molded to my feet to offer the right amount of support. I loved that the Stablior offered me arch support without pain!"
DeeDee was surprised at the amount of support she got for her high arches. "When I first looked at the Stabilors they appeared kind of boxy and heavy, so I didn't think they would be comfortable and provide enough arch support for my high arches, but was I pleasantly surprised."
Some playtesters wore the leather version of the shoe, while others had the mesh shoe. Lindsey wore the leather shoe and noted the shoe was extremely stable. "Just by looking at these shoes you can see that they have good support. Personally, I felt that they had a little too much support for my taste because they felt extremely bulky to me. The soles are very stiff, which gave me added support. I personally felt that the walls of the shoe were a little too stiff." Kana, who also wore the leather Stabilor, felt comfortable making quick cuts. "Compared to the Head Prestige, the Stabilor was built for more agile movements because it has less cushioning in the ankle area. I prefer less cushioning in the ankle because it feels more flexible, allowing me to make sharper cuts on the court."
DeeDee had high praise for the mesh Stabilor. "I don't know whether it's the lacing system of the shoe or the way the sole is constructed, but the Stabilor kept my foot level on the court. No sliding around or feeling like my ankles were going to roll over. This is a great shoe for players who have had previous ankle injuries. I was concerned with the high tongue, but was pleasantly pleased with the tongue cushioning. I found it very softly padded. I have had shoes in the past that have conformed to my feet and allowed me to naturally pronate. I felt like the Stabilor corrected that problem and helped me to be more stable moving on the court. "
Tiffani, also in the mesh shoe, was confident in her movement. "Considering the shoe is called the Stabilor, I was expecting a lot of stability. It certainly lived up to the name in lateral stability. Extreme cuts did not cause shoe failure or rolled ankles. However, as I noted in the comfort category, I did slide within the shoes. On extreme stops, my feet slid forward and crammed into the toe box. Though, as I said, the shoe had super stability so even then I knew I wouldn't fall, it was more of an issue of discomfort." The mesh Stabilor for Kimber was bulky, affecting her movement. "The shoes seemed to be built for stability, but not maneuverability. They were too wide for my feet, so I felt like I was tripping over my feet, and I couldn't glide smoothly on the court. I prefer having a shoe that conforms to my foot, which gives me confidence running around the court."
Overall sole durability
The Stabilor comes equipped with the Aosta 7 rubber outsole, as well as DragGuard in the heel and in the forefoot for additional durability. Kana loved the durability. "I usually wear out at the balls of the feet, but because of the high-density outsole there was no wear throughout playtesting." Lindsey put her shoes through the wringer and was impressed. "I think that these shoes are made to last. I wore them during match play, training and teaching, and they did not seem to wear very much at all. The soles seem thick enough to last, even after intensive play."
DeeDee, too, praised the outsole. "After wearing the Stabilor for more than four months there are absolutely no signs of wear and tear on the sole."
For Kimber, the shoe's design made it durable. "Because of the way that I play, the shoes I wear always show wear under and around the toe area, and that was the case with the Stabilor. The sole and the style create a bulky shoe, so you could say that it is durable, but it is not the kind of durability that I want in a tennis shoe." Tiffani knew she could get months of wear from the Stabilor. "In the month or so I wore the shoes I didn't see much wear on most of the tread. As is typical, I saw most of the wear on the ball of the foot. Looking at the outsole, I wore the medial edge smooth, right where the seam of the shoe would be. The rest of the outsole was in good shape, though, and I could get plenty of use out of them. Durability is at least on par with shoes that offer durability guarantees, even though this one doesn't."
For increased toe durability the DragGuard material wraps the tip of the shoe. Our two toe draggers, Tiffani and Kimber, wore the mesh version of the shoes and were impressed with the durability. Tiffani's initial concerns about the mesh upper were unfounded. "I had no problems with durability. The toe bumper doesn't wrap up onto the upper, rather it sticks off the end of the shoe. That worried me a bit because I thought there wouldn't be enough protection on top, but I didn't have any problems. Sometimes I turn my foot over, but the plastic piece and mesh were tough, and didn't show any wear."
Kimber agreed the toe in the mesh shoe was plenty durable. "The toe cap area is bulky, and it would drag more than usual when I served. The clunky wide shoe caused me to drag my toe more often as I would attempt approach shots as well, but it was durable."
On the outsoles of the Stabilor a tight traditional herringbone pattern provides traction. DeeDee felt the shoes gripped well. "Traction was excellent. I had no problems whatsoever changing directions, stopping and starting." Kana agreed. "Stopping and starting in this shoe was great. The shoe offers a low to the court feel, which made quick turns easier, with no sliding at all."
The Stabilors served Kimber well, even in adverse conditions. "The tread provided good grip on the court. I played with these shoes on a damp court, a hard court and on clay, and had no problems with traction. Stopping and starting was not a problem, but because the toe box is too wide for my feet, changing directions was awkward."
Lindsey noted lasting traction. "I tend to play with a shoe that does not have so much ankle support, so I was a little tentative when changing directions. I felt like the sole traction was very good, however. The grooves on the base of the sole are deep enough that even after some wear they still have decent traction."
Having a little trouble was Tiffani. "With all the outstanding features of the Stabilor, I was expecting slightly better traction. I was slipping some on the hard courts. I was fine with the up and back movements. It was the quick lateral changes of direction that caused the shoe to slip. I never fell, but it's frustrating to watch a ball go by that I could've tracked down if I hadn't slipped on the court."
The Stabilor weighs in at 14.5 ounces (size 8.5). For Kana and DeeDee the shoe was plenty light. "The weight felt just right," Kana said. Agreeing with that sentiment, DeeDee noted, "Don't let the looks of the Stabilor fool you. They look heavy but they feel very light."
For Tiffani, the weight was in line with the shoe's durability. "The shoe looks bulky, which may have contributed to my perception of weight. The shoes didn't feel like bricks on my feet, but they didn't feel light on my feet, either. They're somewhat clunky. Considering the durability of this shoe, however, the weight is what I would expect."
Kimber prefers lighter weight shoes. "The shoe was too heavy. Though the shoe was comfortable and provided cushioning for my feet, the bulky sole was heavy and decreased my mobility as matches wore on. I found the shoes molding to my feet over time, but the weight of the shoe continued to bother me during play." Lindsey also prefers speed-oriented designs when it comes to selecting shoes. "These shoes are on the heavier side. I felt like my footwork was slower due to the weight of the shoes, and I felt my legs getting tired after only a few games. I had to put more effort into my movement than I usually do with lighter shoes."
Going back to our car comparison checklist we found the Stabilors performed well. Let's take a look at the checkpoints:
Safety: Our playtesters felt that they were protected and wouldn't experience ankle roll overs.
Handling: The Stabilor offered reasonable traction on the hard courts.
Durability: The testers were very impressed by the way the Aosta 7 outsole held up for the duration of the test.
Cushioning: The cushioning system seemed to mold to our testers' feet, garnering the Stabilor high marks.
Colors: Check. Two options: a more traditional leather version and a flashier mesh version.
This all added up to a solid performance from the KSwiss Stabilor. As can been seen, we found the Stabilor impressive in several areas. No matter if you prefer the flashier mesh version or the more conservative leather option, the Stabilors have plenty to offer for serious tennis players.