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Swap Your Vibram Soles with Korkers OmniTrax

8:20 a.m. on January 26, 2013 (EST)
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This thread is for comments on the article "Swap Your Vibram Soles with Korkers OmniTrax"

Not sure which boots to wear on your next winter hike, or rather, which soles? Swap out your Vibram soles mid-hike for just the right traction with the OmniTrax adaptable system from Korkers.

Full article at http://www.trailspace.com/articles/2013/01/26/vibram-swappable-soles.html

12:42 a.m. on January 27, 2013 (EST)
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It's a nice concept, but I figure gear reviews of this system will describe several fatal shortcomings:

  • Snow, water, and grit will work their way between the exchangeable sole and boot bottom, freeze and force the sole away from the boot, much like ice expanding in a crack, eventually splitting a rock.
  • If the boot get torsionally twisted, and they tend to on side hill travel and uneven terrain, the soles will react differently than the boots, and become separated.
  • The fastening system appears too light weight, doomed to failure.
  • It doesn't look like the system can be changed over without help from someone; otherwise you are forced to remove the boot to perform this task.

I have not worn then, but I can't imagine this design working in the field.

Ed

10:17 a.m. on January 28, 2013 (EST)
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I cant see how they attach, but ed makes good points. Maybe a seal around the edge like on tupperware. That would seal out moisture or debris and keep the sole tight to the boot. Good concept, not sure how it will function in the real world.

10:41 a.m. on January 28, 2013 (EST)
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Here are two Korkers videos on its OmniTrax system. They talk about the attachment system:

They also have more info here: http://www.korkers.com/technology/

10:46 a.m. on January 28, 2013 (EST)
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I just edited the article to include this video:

PJ Antonik demonstrates Vibram's OmniTrax interchangable sole system at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2013.

7:06 p.m. on January 28, 2013 (EST)
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I remain unconvinced; furthermore the videos reaffirm my doubts.

  • There is nothing preventing snow, ice, and debris from building up between the boot bottom and sole.  Those accumulating materials will make the footwear heavy, and eventually force the sole to release from the boot.
  • If the attaching system can be disengaged by moderate force, then certainly it is vulnerable to the forces generated when the boot gets twisted in uneven terrain.
  • The fastening system is made of rubber or plastic, not sufficiently durable for the forces we apply stepping about.  There is a reason the engineered elements of ski bindings are steel.
  • True they demonstrate you can change soles while standing without removing the boot.  But many of us have trouble standing on one foot for more than a moment without lurching to maintain balance, let alone stand on one foot in the snow while bending over and tugging against the lifted foot.  Add a pack into the mix, or uneven terrain, and I see an accident waiting to happen.

Ed

7:37 p.m. on January 28, 2013 (EST)
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Plastics have come a long way, im not doubting the strength of that feature. I agree with ed about buildup under the sole, I couldnt really see but a locking lip around the outside would help.

4:38 a.m. on January 29, 2013 (EST)
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hotdogman said:

Plastics have come a long way, im not doubting the strength of that feature. I agree with ed about buildup under the sole, I couldnt really see but a locking lip around the outside would help.

Indeed plastics have come along, but I have yet to see a snap lock design (such as the one used by those tabs that fit into pockets along the boot edge) that doesn't fatigue after a fairly low number of life cycles.  That design is not used where repeated coupling/uncoupling is anticipated.  This type of attaching system is limited to applications when low vector forces are applied to the system.  When this type of lock is subjected to significant forces, those tabs always seem to eventually break at their base.  Furthermore if you can disengage this device using the strength of your arm, then certainly the forces frequently generated by your leg is more than enough to over come whatever mechanical properties are inherent in the locking system.  Lastly, the locking tab design applied in the manner used on the boot soles subjects the elements to tensional stress, an application not well suited for plastic materials.

Ed

 

11:00 a.m. on January 29, 2013 (EST)
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Hmm. I would have to count myself among the doubters here. For one thing, much will depend on the boots themselves. Are they heavy/stiff/waterproof/insulated/mesh/narrow/etc etc etc. The boot itself is going to matter more than this feature.

Also, I don't wear the same footwear for summer mud that I do for winter ice. I need the winter boots bigger for extra socks and wiggle room, for one thing.

So that leaves the shoulder season. I can't see switching out for every patch of dirt and then again for a patch of snow or ice. If there's enough ice to justify doing that, well, I'm already carrying a lightweight traction device that I can put on with gloved hands while standing up. So, at least for me, this seems to be a clever solution to a problem I didn't have.

12:21 p.m. on January 31, 2013 (EST)
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While I haven't used this system for hiking, I do have the Korkers system for fishing.  I was not impressed with how the interchangeable soles attached to the boot.  I liked the concept, but not how it was implemented.  While I was wading thru some mud, the back rubber attachment actually ripped and the back part of the sole separated from boot.  Other than that, the soles stayed on pretty well, but I have not really hiked on hard ground in difficult terrain with them.  Changing the soles is not very difficult, but you do have to have your shoes off and it takes a bit of time until you become practiced.  Seems it would be easier to just use regular hiking boots and an add on traction device like Icelandis suggests.

April 16, 2014
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