#183: Cleat beaters

Walking boots are now available in a huge variety of colours, ‘technical’ materials, weights and prices. It always bugs me though that when I strap on my old Karrimors, the heavily-cleated soles quickly fill with mud and don’t provide me with any more grip than a pair of Italian loafers (not that I’d ever wear these, even if they came in my size).

It’s perhaps not quite that bad, but there’s certainly some kind of ongoing design compromise by manufacturers so as to provide a certain amount of traction, at a reasonable cost but without destroying the surfaces of woodland paths and rock formations all across the globe.


Today’s invention is a new approach to walking boot soles. Instead of fixed cleats, I’m proposing an array of retractable studs (resembling about fifty short golf tees per boot). These would be made of eg tungsten and free to move independently up into the 2cm-deep base of the sole, but each would be mounted on a small spring. This would allow the sole of the boots to conform more closely to the local shape of the ground surface and thus provide much better grip. They might also give a certain extra protection from damaging impacts when clambering over rock surfaces.

Walking on a smoother surface afterwards would force more of the studs upwards and allow any accumulated mud/debris to be sloughed off (without having to wait the usual week for it to form dry cakes and fall away).

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