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New Study Reveals Most Winter Boots Lack an Important Safety Feature: Traction

bootsA team of researchers from the iDAPT labs at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-University Health Network recently developed a test to determine the slip-resistance level of winter footwear. Their findings were surprising, as well as eye-opening.

The test, deemed as the Maximum Achievable Angle (MAA) Testing Method, utilized the facilities of WinterLab and several test subjects to reach conclusions. Winterlab is a state-of-the art underground research facility located at Toronto Rehab. At this facility, researchers tested the slip-resistance of 98 different pairs of winter boots, which included both safety wear and casual styles.

The results were shocking. Only 8% of the 98 pairs of boots met minimum slip-resistance standards set forth by the MAA test. The U.S. industrial market for safety shoes and boots is approximately $1 billion, and it’s safe to say safety boots out-performed their casual competition.

Despite the discouraging results, something good has come of this test. Consumers will now have winter slip-resistance ratings available when purchasing winter footwear. These ratings work in a way similar to those available for winter tires.

In addition to the new data available to customers, the researchers are encouraging citizens to request different types of footwear that should be put to the MAA test. “You put snow tires on your car in the winter, surely you should worry about the boots you’re going to wear in the same weather,” explained Geoff Fernie, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute research director.

As far as casual boots go, Sperry brand’s iconic Vibram Arctic Grip boots were at the top of the list. These boots are reminiscent of L.L. Bean’s snow boots, which are in particularly high demand this year.

While the popular winter boot style is still sold out in popular sizes until next year, the company announced that their wait-list decreased from 50,000 to 20,000 this season. L.L, Bean officials report that over 3,000 pairs are being produced every day. Factories in Maine report working nearly around the clock to produce such quantities of shoes.

Will shoe companies start taking these slip-resistance ratings into account and start seeing higher demands as a result? Only time and winter weather conditions will tell.