Category Archives: Softgoods

Winter Traction with Vibram’s Arctic Grip Soles

I knew a man who slipped shoveling his driveway and died. It really sucked. Just walking on a sidewalk he’s walked for decades. We never think a slip and fall is going to lead to anything more than a bruised ego. But it can. Winter traction matters.

Vibram’s Partner in Winter Traction

Outdoor out sole manufacturer Vibram has partnered exclusively with Wolverine Worldwide to ensure winter traction in their footwear brands this season kick butt on ice so it doesn’t kick yours. Their Arctic Grip product is taking the winter ice to task.


If you don’t want to slip in the winter you put chains on your tires and serious lugs on your feet. But up until this season those “lugs” still needed added protection for even everyday walking. Kahtoola Microspikes, Stabilcers, Icebugs, YakTrax. There are all sorts of over-sole devices on the market for winter traction. Vibram’s Arctic Grip technology, however, stands alone.

Several styles from Merrell, Sperry, Saucony, Hush Puppies, CAT, and Wolverine feature this advanced cold-weather gripping system. Vibram has been working on the technology for more than two years and was quite hush about its properties at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Show this year. All they would hint at was that it was a rubber compound with an advanced filler system. Vibram claims they have up to “three times better” winter traction than any other Vibram sole for over 200 miles of use. Your shoes will even warn you if the roads are slick that day because the thermochromatic lugs change color when temps dips below 32 degrees.

Naming The Models For Winter Traction

The shoes from Wolverine Worldwide sporting the new outsole for winter traction include – Merrell Moab FST, Capra Collection and the Aurora 6  CAT Footwear Stiction HI WP Ice+,  Hush Puppies Parkview Ice+, Sperry Cold Bay Ice+, Saucony Razor Ice+, Wolverine Crossbuck FX Ice+.

MerrellHush Puppies Winter Traction

Merrell Winter traction

It’s Ski Hat Season

Winter means ski hat season but darn if helmets have put a crimp in resort style. Maybe we shouldn’t sport acrylic (or wool or fleece) on the slopes but that doesn’t mean those fluffy ear coverings can’t radiate your steeze après and beyond.

ski hat

At this year’s SIA ski industry show in Denver, Colo., hats were front and center. Every soft-goods manufacturer had their own lid offerings.

There are the usual suspects- TurtleFur, Screamer, Smartwool- but I take pride in ‘discovering’ the little guys. First it was Nobis, then Pistil, and now Chaos. Chaos has blown up the last couple of years thanks to some well-placed branding and marketing. And super cute styles; especially from their World Beat collection. The inexpensive, fleece-lined acrylic knit hats in fun, muted colors are ideal for day or night in Park City or any other resort.

But with only one head, how can a girl possibly wear them all?

ski hat

Adios Stinky Feet


If your kid is anything like mine, she lives in her sandals all summer. KEEN’s, if you really must know. KEENs rock as the ultimate outdoor shandal for kids. Easy to put on and comfortable to wear on a boat, the beach, out to dinner and out to hike. It protects tiny toes from stubbing on rocks or sliding out of the shoe altogether when she runs and kids love wearing them (3/4 the battle when it comes to wearing shoes). In fact, all three of us wear KEENs religiously.

The problem is that after a few days of constant wear they wreak. The smell is so bad that I won’t let Sage take them off because the odor about knocks me out. Her feet somehow block the putrid scent from wafting beyond the soles. But when she does kick them off, look out.

KEEN uses an antimicrobial material but not in the neoprene that’s used in the straps so the smell is a tough issue for many moms. Not much works when it comes to my daughter’s (and boyfriend’s) sweaty feet.

The rubber soles are like Petri dishes for bacteria and fungus to work their magic producing that stank. If you don’t keep up on regular washings, the odor can be unbearable.

Normally, I’ll take the shandels and shove them in the dishwasher on the ‘pots and pans’ cycle. This extreme measure works but can dull the color of your shoes. Plus, it takes them a day or two to dry out. Recently I came across some alternate solutions that really do work.

Baking soda.

Add one more thing to the list of useful purposes this handy white powder performs. Cover the soles with baking soda, leave overnight, shake it out in the morning and toss in the washing machine- cold water, gentle cycle, mild detergent. You still may experience fading and longer drying periods, however. Don’t throw them in the dryer unless you’re prepared to have them tighten up around your feet.

You can run a slightly more complicated experiment by sprinkling the baking soda inside each damp shoe after washing and spraying them down with a 50/50 blend of vinegar and water. Don’t forget the inside uppers. Let sit for about 30 minutes, rinse and air dry.

Dryer Sheets

Grab a dryer sheet, wipe all around the inside of the shoe, then stuff it in and leave it overnight. Rub down your feet with hand sanitizer before putting the shoes on and you should be good to go for a couple of days.

These suggestions may not work for everyone but I’m sure there are other ideas out there and I would love to hear them! Please share your cure for stinky feet.







Vibram Settles Lawsuit


Did anyone really think that running (close to) barefoot was good for your legs? Short of being Taharumara where you have to run barefoot because there’s no money for $170 Hoka’s, logic and common sense should steer you toward cushioned insoles. Duh. But just last week Vibram decided it wasn’t worth the headache to fight against claims that it was the company’s fault for making you believe their shoes could decrease foot injuries and strengthen foot muscles. Vibram, though not admitting guilt, has agreed to a $3.75 million settlement to reimburse anyone who bought a pair of FiveFingers between March 21, 2008, and May 27, 2014. According to the lawsuits: Bezdek v. Vibram USA Inc., et al., De Falco v. Vibram USA Inc., et al., and Safavi v. Vibram USA Inc., et al, Vibram falsely advertised certain benefits associated with their FiveFingers footwear.

I use my Vibram FiveFingers the way that nature intended- to keep me from slipping off things like a paddleboard, surfboard, boat deck, you get the idea. But if you thought you would be a healthier, better runner and deserve money back on your FiveFingers’ purchase, well, then you deserve to be unfriended.

The 2009 book Born to Run and several “scientific” studies celebrated barefoot running. They dissed traditional running shoes and a new (stupid IMHO) trend was born. ‘Minimalist’ footwear sales grew by 303 percent between November 2010 and November 2012 and now makes up 10 percent of the $588 million U.S. running shoe market. If you bought a pair of FiveFingers then you bought into this trend. The shoe was not only favored by thousands when it hit the market but people still buy them for a variety of uses including everyday walking and standing. I remember seeing them on a massage therapist during a session as his feet danced around my table. “I will not be participating in this farce,” touted one FiveFingers fan. “FiveFingers are good shoes as long as you know what the hell you are doing. I have three pairs and use them for even long runs when I have built up enough tolerance for them. Good company. This lawsuit is a joke!”


The lawsuit claims that Vibram oversold the shoes’ abilities. Both Skechers and Reebok faced similar reproach after the Federal Trade Commission charged they had misled people about the weightloss and toning benefits of their shoes. The companies agreed to pay out $40 million and $25 million, respectively, to buyers. But those shoes were ugly and did nothing for your butt. I understand why the FTC might want to keep a lid on the sales of snake oil but just because their shoes didn’t work for you personally doesn’t mean you’ll prevail in an actual lawsuit. Just return the damn shoes to REI and move on. Vibram technically didn’t fraud anyone but defending themselves isn’t worth the battle. Unfortunately, if they went to court they would have to basically prove that barefoot running is better and, excuse the pun, the jury’s out on that one.

If you do happen to own a pair of FiveFingers you can do one of FiveThings:

  • Submit a Claim Form by Sept. 24, 2014, and probably get between $25-50 per pair depending on how many boneheads want a buck (the overall settlement will be divided among all the claimants;
  • Exclude Yourself from the case by Aug. 15, 2014
  • Object to the Settlement, in writing, and served by Aug. 15, 2014; (too much work!)
  • Go to a Hearing by submitting a notice of Intention to Appear form, in writing, and file it with the Court on or before August 15, 2014; (again, too much work.)
  • Do Nothing

Of course you can also go out and buy yourself a new pair on sale. They really are great water shoes!



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