Here’s one of those products that make you say to yourself, “Now why didn’t I think of that?” U-Laces, apparently all the rage in Europe in Japan, are colorful, pop-in-your-sneakers stretchy bands that turn any pair of tie-up shoes into slip-on shoes. No need to tie and untie tennis shoes at airport security if you’ve got your shoes outfitted with U-Laces. Love the concept, and I love them in practice.

u-laceU-Laces come in 24 different colors — purchase multi-color packages ($8.99) or single-color packages ($7.99). Thread them through the eylets in your sneakers in a variety of ladder-like, criss-cross or weaved patterns to create a multitude of looks. My daughter poured over the different designs — outlined on a sheet that comes with any package — before mixing and matching the colors we received and threading them into her light-turquoise, low-top Converses (see photo right).

Now, my son had a harder time threading the plastic tip of each U-Lace through the eyelets on his Nike running shoes. The eyelet openings were much smaller (U-Lace says the modular lacing system works best when the eyelets are at least 1/8 of an inch in diameter.) We managed to shove them through my son’s eylets, but not without a parent’s help (and some pliers to yank the tip through). Note that U-Laces don’t work on shoes that have little loop flaps to hold the laces. (Read more U-Laces FAQ here.)

Both kids report that their shoes stay on their feet plenty snug without being fully laced up. They also say it’s easy to slip their feet in and out of the shoes, when they want to take them on and off. However, if they chose, they could use the 20-inch top lace to actually tie one segment in a bow so the sneakers appear to have “normal” laces. Each packet of U-laces comes with 2 20-inch top laces, and 16 modular segments. The manufacturer recommends that if you’re running, playing basketball or competing in other sports, you’ll want to use that top tie lace to make sure the sneakers stay on your feet.

For any kids (or adults!) who will be traveling soon and need easy on-off shoes, I’d certainly purchase the inexpensive U-Laces. They’re not only functional, but fashionable and fun. Also consider for seniors who have a hard time with tying bows (and who might not want to sport shoes with those two ugly Velcro straps across the top of the foot). Same goes for little children who haven’t yet mastered tying laces. Everyone can use U-Laces! (Trust me, if you buy these for your children now, they’ll be the talk of the school, come fall.)

Purchase multi-color or single-color packs of U-Laces at the online store. You can find a couple styles at Amazon.

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