It’s hard to say if we’re just getting older, or if the early 2000’s were really the “golden years” of skateboarding. Although not too different from how it is now, but it felt like during that time in middle school, EVERYONE SKATED. All the kids were wearing Lakai, Adio, Osiris, Element and Spitfire sweaters, and school binders were over zealously tagged with the logos of our favorite skate brands. Incredible full length DVD videos showcasing a brand’s team roster and puffy skate shoes were on the top of everyone’s Christmas wish list. A catalyst behind the early 2000’s skate craze was the brand Lakai, which was just founded by Rick Howard and Mike Carroll, who had just left DC shoes. With a plan set in stone and a skate team including Cairo Foster, Anthony Pappalardo, Rob Welsh and Jeff Lenoce, Lakai was ready to release their first line of their shoes worldwide, which included the infamous Lakai Carroll 1. From then on, Lakai continued to re-design and release advancements on Carroll’s pro model (II-IV), with the final Lakai Carroll 5 launched around 8 years ago. Since then Lakai has had quite a roster change, with young guns like Simon Bannerot, Griffin Gass, and Manchild joining veterans like Vincent Alvarez, Stevie Perez and Riley Hawk; even Tony Hawk joined his son on the team for three years and released a pro model. Fast forward to present day skateboarding, the skate industry is still somehow nostalgic about the 90’s and early 2000’s, from board shapes to clothing and shoes. It only seems fitting for Lakai to bring back a classic silhouette for the youth of today, that has touched the hearts (and feet) of so many skaters from that era; and which better silhouette to bring back than the one that started it all, the Lakai Carroll one. The new Lakai Carroll XLK is a legacy style with a modern, slimmed down shape and updated technical features. Read on below to see how a revamped past silhouette with future technology skated during our 10 hr weartest.
The Lakai Carroll fits true to size; we recommend going for the size you usually wear in Lakai.
Overall the durability of the Lakai Carroll was quite good, with some minor areas for improvements. There were three main points of the shoe that helped prolong the entire lifespan of skating. First off, the iconic Lakai Carroll toe piece cap was made out of a high quality suede, which wrapped around the toe-piece in the shape of a “T”. The shape of the toe cap and the way it was stitched proved to be very durable, especially since the stitching was purposely designed to be placed outside of the critical areas of wear. The sole in the toe area was also quite thick so it helped protect the suede toe from griptape contact and provided great flick. These two points only showed regular signs of wear after the 10-hour test. Another highlight that improved the durability was the lacing system, an iconic element of the first released Carroll. The hidden lacing system proved to work very well and even the seams in the midfoot area did not show signs of wear. With that said, the first loop was exposed to griptape contact and showed signs of wear but didn’t completely rip. All in all, the durability of the Carroll good, and it’s performance after our 10 hour wear-test was expected.
Released as a reissue under their XLK cup-sole program, the revamped Carroll 1 features Lakai’s proven XLK cushioning technology. The cushioning is above average, thanks to the sole construction and the EVA-foam insole with an additional foam element directly in the heel area. Flatground skating felt extremely comfortable, and the impact from small to middle sized gaps was easy to absorb. However, the absence of a foamed midsole in the center and front-area does reduce the model’s ability to dampen high impacts in these regions if you’re skating larger sets.
Without completely redesigning an easy 2000’s shoe that so many have loved, the Carroll XLK does feature a rather wider silhouette. The heel area has a good amount of padding which make this area wider but the shape of the shoe does taper towards the midfoot area, before narrowing down to the toe area and ending up in a nice round toe tip. The shoe’s aesthetic is still classic and looks incredible on foot.
The first half of the shoe from the toe tip to the arch is mainly responsible for the boardfeel. The Lakai Carroll is able to provide two huge benefits in this area. The first benefit is a thin front area with the removable insole as well as a thin sole itself. This causes a direct contact between foot and board. The second is the flexibility of the shoe, which allows for maximum surface area contact and causes the shoe to adapt well to the concave of the deck. The boardfeel and the grip are really balanced; you can feel the deck for feet positioning and concave pop and still feel confident with enough cushioning, which helps make bails bearable when you’re trying a trick. On top of that, Lakai keeps it classic with Carroll’s herringbone sole. The zig-zag pattern has also proven to offer a grippy connection between the deck and sole with a softer rubber compound mixture and deep grooves, and in this case, both are present. In addition, sole does have more rigid structure and ensures a certain wear resistance, with the result of a gimmick-less sole with good adhesion for a cupsole model.
The most important features for a comfortable skate shoe include weight, ventilation and a well-crafted inner shoe area. Despite the outward appearance of it’s former model, the Carroll XLK is lightweight and the inner area is crafted very well. A very positive feature is the fixated tongue which helps keep everything in place and your feet secure. The shoe’ s upper has mesh elements which surprisingly resulted in very good breathability, especially in the toe and sidewall areas. As far as stability goes, the overall stability of the shoe is very balanced. However, despite the additional padding in the heel area that helped with securing the heel and comfort, the heel area did feel a bit wide cut and sometimes created a feeling of slipping out. The suede upper did not stretch out at all during the test, which means the sidewalls didn’t get too flexible and lose their shape, ensuring the shoe’s stability and maintain it’s full potential over the whole lifespan of the shoe.
It was refreshing and nostalgic to skate the Lakai Carroll 1 with updated features; the shoe hit huge points with comfort, breathability, durability in toe area and boardfeel. The only recommendation would be a slight adjustment in the heel to maximize stability.