November 9, 2017

The dangerous speed-lace hook.

I've been wearing these hiking boots for 8 years without any trouble, but 3 times in the last week, the lace on one boot has caught on the hook from the other boot:



Each time I've tripped but caught myself before falling, probably because the lace didn't hook in completely tightly (and I wasn't taking fast strides). The first time it happened, I thought, what a bizarre fluke, but when it happened 2 more times in close succession, I had to admit that the design was dangerous.

I found a few stories on the internet:

1. "So I'm out for my hike this morning with a 45 lb pack, my Hanwag Alaska GTX Boots and my Kahtoola Micro-Spikes... I'm coming down a steep rocky grade and suddenly both of my feet are somehow shackled together, resulting in a major wipe-out that somehow, miraculously resulted in no damage to my pathetic body. As I lay in the rock-slide assessing if I'd broken anything I realized that my feet were inexplicably connected at the ankles. One of the links on my spikes had caught a speed lace hook on the opposite foot and hooked my boots together."

2. "I have a problem with the lace of my boot catching on the backward facing open eyelet hook (for the laces) of my opposite foot when my feet pass each other. In the last five years I have fallen from this four times and when I fall I fall extremely hard and broke my arm pretty severely once and injured my hip in another fall. It happens extremely unexpectedly and my feet are essentially tied together."

3. "I was walking on a trail, same as I've done hundreds of times before and suddenly with no warning, I'm flat on the ground with my face in the dirt. I generally find my hiking poles very useful in preventing falls, but not this time. As I tried to stand I found that my feet were tied together. The inside loop of the double knot on my left boot had snagged in one of the speed lace hooks on the inside of my right boot. This happened so quick there was no chance of preventing the fall. After a little reflection I realized how serious this could have been if it occured while climbing down a steep cliff, rock-hopping across a stream, or dashing across a road."

4. "I was walking along indoors (so no jogging or running) and the loop (bow) of the lace on one of my shoes got hooked onto one of the hooks of the other shoe and I still don't know how I managed to stay on my feet without crashing to the floor. I had to take a number of stumbling steps before I eventually came to a halt. If I had been going any faster or if I was older or less fit, then it could have been very, very dangerous because when shoelaces get caught like that it is ALMOST impossible to achieve a stablising stance."

I love these hiking boots. If I needed to replace them, I'd buy essentially the same thing again, here.  But I've got to deal with the safety issue. Options:

1. Remove the hook. (No, I like the ankle support.)

2. Bend the hook to make the opening smaller. (If it's small enough to work to lace the shoes, it's not too small to catch, and you can't do it if the hooks aren't made of metal, and mine are not.)

3. Learn to walk with your feet farther apart. (Ridiculous! You might forget to do it all the time, it seems unhealthy, it might look stupid, and it's not what you want to be thinking about when you're out for a walk.)

4. Wear clothing that covers the hook area — either long-enough pants, fold over the tops of socks, or some kind of leg warmers or gaiters. (This is a good idea, perhaps the best idea.)

5. Put the laces through the hooks twice to fill up the hole and also tie the loops of the bow a second and even a third time so there's nothing sticking out where it might catch. (This is the simplest idea, but don't trust it when you're wearing your Kahtoola Micro-Spikes.)

75 comments:

buwaya said...

There is a class-action suit just waiting for some entrepreneurial attorney.

Simon Kenton said...

The older hooks that looked like half-clam-shells were safer. Take a sidecutter or a heavy scissors and clip off the extention of the hook/snag; effect is about the same as putting the lace through 2 or 3 times to fill it up.

Bad Lieutenant said...

2. "I have a problem with the lace of my boot catching on the backward facing open eyelet hook (for the laces) of my opposite foot when my feet pass each other. In the last five years I have fallen from this four times and when I fall I fall extremely hard and broke my arm pretty severely once and injured my hip in another fall. It happens extremely unexpectedly and my feet are essentially tied together."



FOUR TIMES? This is a Laslo-signal...

"The first three times he molested me...but the fourth time!"
"Yes, I'm going back tomorrow, why do you ask?"

Curious George said...

What is hiking?

swierczekml said...

This has happened to me several times...and when you're running, you go down HARD. I solved the problem by taking pliers and bending the hooks completely closed. The lack of ankle support is a decent tradeoff for the lack of falling on your face.

Kelly said...

Odd that it is just now happening after eight years. Maybe you’ve worn the soles down so your stride is different?

Curious George said...

"...extremely unexpectedly..."

What does this mean?

madAsHell said...

"...extremely unexpectedly..."

There are 50 shades of unexpectedly.

chickelit said...

Can't you minimize or avoid this problem by using shorter laces?

Mary Martha said...

I have had the same thing happen with my boots. It's a big shock when it happens.

The nice part of my boots is the hooks are metal so I was able to take pliers and tighten and almost close the hooks.

Now I have to thread the laces through those hooks rather than 'speed lace' but it's worth it for me not to fall (at least not more than usual)

Rosalyn C. said...

You might try using some glue like Duco Cement and fill the opening if the hooks are made of plastic.

gspencer said...

So remove the hook.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

My first thought was the same as Bad Lieutenant's.

My second thought was gaiters. Since you are not looking to keep out snow, you could probably get some crafty person to make you something that slips one easily, doesn't extend above the boot, and looks reasonable, fairly cheaply.

Expat(ish) said...

If your boots are 8 years old and well used, then they are worn out. Certainly they are damaged by UV rays to the point where a serious failure is going to happen soon.

Go back to a good store and try on new boots - your feet will be shocked.

-XC

PS - Running shoes really only give you good support for a maximum of 6 months or 200-300 miles.

traditionalguy said...

Ankle grab takedown
works every time. Your shoes are wrestling with you.

Rabel said...

All the sex abuse news has caused you to subconsciously being your knees closer together. Your feet have followed.

Francisco D said...

They look like Keen's. I am a big fan of Keen hiking shoes and sandals.

Take your time to lace them correctly. They are the best hiking shoes.

rcocean said...

Amazing. And you a law professor (Retired).

Seriously, I've been hiking all my life, and I've heard of this happening.

But truth is stranger..etc.

Original Mike said...

I've long recognized a collary of Murphy's Law; if there's any chance something will get hung up it will, at the worst possible time. Until you need something to catch; then you can forget about it.

Original Mike said...

The fact that it's never happened over eight years but now happens repetitively means something has changed. I'd consider either the geometry of the hook (or the other boot), or your gait.

MadisonMan said...

What Original Mike says. I'll guess wear on the boot has changed your gait?

I think wrapping duct tape around the boot after you put it on, covering up the hook, will solve your problem. Because duct tape fixes anything.

Original Mike said...

Shorter laces.

gilbar said...

I'm assuming that it's the bows that are catching; since the lace below the knot has no slack? so, either
you're tying them different, and the bows are bigger; or,
you're walking different (like people are saying)
8 years old: BUY NEW BOOTS!
Then, tuck the bows under the tongue and/or get gaiters/duck tape to cover the bows
We can't afford to lose you prof!

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

I thought I was just a clutz! I fold the second pair of socks over the top of my boots.

Ann Althouse said...

They're in perfectly good condition. I'm not throwing them out! Boots are better when they are broken in. What are you people, shoe salesmen?

buwaya said...

I have 20-year-old hiking boots.
Good as new.
But they have no weird hooks.

Original Mike said...

I recently had to replace my 30 year old hiking boots. Broke my heart.

Farmer Lawyer said...

I had that happen one time with a pair of work shoes with metal hooks. I was just going to make a quick trip outside so I didn't bother lacing them up, I just put them on and started running across the driveway. My feet got tied together and I did a face plant on the blacktop.

Aggie said...

If you really like the boots for hiking, just put a wrap of athletic tape around the top of them once they're laced up. Easily removed after the hike.

D 2 said...

Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times....

Say, where is that odd job feller who tends the grounds?...

D 2 said...

Hiker: do you expect me to walk?
Boots reply: No, I expect you to fall!

Rabel said...

"What are you people, shoe salesmen?"

rhhardin = Al Bundy? Possible.

L Day said...

I think your biggest problem is a poorly designed hook. The laces on my Oboz boots easily go into the top hook, and it's very secure, but I can't force the laces through the hook a second time even if I try. I'm also in the habit of "double tying" my laces because I hate it when they come untied. Double tying shortens the loops considerably. You might try that. If the loop in your laces can't reach the hook they can't get hooked. Years ago I was downclimbing some low angled ice, facing outward as is appropriate when my crampons pierced a rather long strap that was hanging down from my backpack. I fell flat on my face on a polished ice slope directly above a near vertical drop of 75' or so. The books say you can't self-arrest on water ice, but I did. A damned good thing, too.

Big Mike said...

@Althouse, consider (6) what Aggie proposed, and (7) replacing your existing laces with wider, thicker laces.

MadisonMan said...

I have boots I bought in 1986. So, 30 years old. Bought them at Fontana. Awesome Boots.

No weird hooks.

Original Mike said...

"I have boots I bought in 1986. So, 30 years old. Bought them at Fontana. Awesome Boots."

Hey, me too! (Fontana, about 1983). Boots fit right out of the box, little breaking in required. When they finally gave up the ghost (holes in the leather upper) I found that Danner still made the same model, but there are construction differences such that I'm not as happy with them as my old ones. They are servicable, however.

Ralph L said...

Your picture shows the outside of the right boot. If that's the hook that's snagging, you should try putting it on the other foot. Or gain 30 pounds so your fatter thighs push your feet further apart.

My boot laces are way too long. At first I wrapped them around my ankle before tying, now I hook them twice on each hook.

Unknown said...

What about taking the loops and threading them down the tongue under the crossing laces? Or tucking them in the top of the tongue. Or shortening the laces so that they don't need long loops.

steve uhr said...

I hear that never-be-senator moore's zipper happens to catch on any 14-year old girl who happens to walk by.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Uhr, you really crept back here to share gems like that? Remember what I told you...

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Bad design. Accident waiting to happen.

Best answer, cut the hooks off flush. A permanent fix.

Second best answer, overwrap with duct tape after tying laces. A "workaround." Requires more personal discipline and bringing a roll of duct tape on the hike.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Don't they have ankle warmers, or whatever that girl wore in Flashdance? That ought to do the job.

Achilles said...

First You need to tuck your laces no matter what boots you wear.

Pro tip from someone who spent too much time walking in boots.

I would also agree that those hooks are poorly placed. Who ever designed them walks in cities.

Anonymous said...

Stop wearing these shoes. Problem solved.

Unknown said...

If you like the boots, why not just change the eyelet- speed hooks for metal ones. Is there no shoe shop in your town? A decent leather worker can replace the plastic hooks for lower profile metal ones.

Clyde said...

So they're the Takata airbags of hiking boots.

stlcdr said...

Duct tape.

sdharms said...

and yet, you keep wearing the boots.

Bruce Gee said...

Y’all need to start getting yer boots put on the right feet. That I think is the problem thar.

Bob said...

I agree with what n1r0l anynonmouse said: Take the boots to shoe repair shop. I see them in my own little NC town, so presumably cosmopolitan Madison has one or two, as well. Maybe the cobbler can replace the hook with a grommet or eyelet.

Original Mike said...

Try Monroe Street Shoe Repair, 2630 Monroe St. I've been going there for years.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Achilles said...

tl;dr


I'm not sure I'd take advice on foot protection from someone named Achilles.

Original Mike said...

At the Monroe St shop, ask for Sally.

kjbe said...

This has never happened to me when I've hiked, but it does, often, when I sit at a desk and cross legs at my ankles. That's fun.

I'm looking at my Oboz and they don't have hooks like the old school boots I've had. My Altra's don't either.

emmeljay said...

i've had the same problem on my salomon boots. and one time it resulted in the worst fall i've had so far. still have scar tissue on my knee. i still wear them but i have to be really careful tying away any loose laces, and i won't buy boots with the speed hooks in the future.

Caroline Blackler said...

I fractured my shoulder three weeks ago because of the same thing!

Joanne Nebbia said...

Yesterday afternoon I popped into town for some shopping and was headed for the greengrocers at moderate speed when, suddenly, somebody lassoed my feet...
I am squinting at the screen through my one working eye... the other is the most spectacular black eye I have ever seen (I mean, if Marks & Spencers did black eyes...) But that is not the worst bit! I sprained both elbows and am currently unable to eat or drink unaided (trousers are also a bit of a problem). The ER doctor reckons it will take at least a week for the swelling to go down.
On the other hand, my ego feels slightly less dented knowing that this actually happens (quite often apparently) to other people. I will probably throw these boots out - nice footwear is all well and good, but I prefer being able to feed and dress myself while I am still of an age.

emmeljay said...

I've had this exact same problem. I fell hard twice before i stopped wearing or buying hiking boots with hooks instead of eyelets. The problem is:i can't find a single brand that has hiking boots with only eyelets. So I'm stuck with low tops.

BB said...

Yesterday morning I went out for a walk with my dog. I only made it to the end of my road when I came crashing down to the pavement. I also was wearing some walking boots and the bow of the lace from one boot had got caught by the metal hook of the boot on the opposite foot! The metal hook came off the boot due to the force of me falling. This was extremely painful and I went along to the MIU later on as the pain would not go from my left arm. They did some x-rays and found that I have fractured the radial head (elbow) and is extremely painfull. This was suppossed to be my week off work. Something needs to be done about these boots as the metal hook makes them very dangerous. Good job I was not going down some stairs or running when it happened.

Joanne Nebbia said...

Hi BB - perhaps I should have updated my previous comment. It turned out I didn't just sprain both elbows - I was only led to believe that by a spectacularly useless/disinterested ER doctor... I had infact fractured both my radial heads - it took 6 months of physio to get my arms straightened out and I have just started more physio on my shoulders and neck which apparently also took the shock. You are right - Something needs to be done. They were banned for use by parachutists following a fatal accident and over here in France where I live they are part of the military and police uniforms - but they are issued with strict instructions to the wearers to cover the speed hooks with socks or even gaffer tape in order to avoid accidents! Why do they not come with at least a warning on the box?
Hope you recover quickly.
Joanne

Unknown said...

Just happened last weekend in my sign shop. Made a quick turn around a table and lace hooked the opposite shoe speed hook. No stopping forward body motion. Into the wall corner catching wall with my left hand bending shoulder half way around also slamming both knees into the concrete. Luckily did not land face first into wall or could have broken my neck. Need to be outlawed.

Peking Solutions said...

My solution! Drill the hooks off the boots and put the laces through the holes!

A few years ago I was getting a bucket of manure in the backyard. Whilst carrying the heavy bucket in one hand, the lace of one boot caught the speed-hook of the other and over I went... put my hand out to stop my fall and nearly broke a finger in the process (my finger was sore for a year and had to take medication for months for the pain), ended up flat on my face... thank God it was only on grass and not concrete!

These hooks are a fashion accessory, they save no time at all (speed-hooks my ....). Get rid of them, they ARE a real danger especially on WORK BOOTS!!!

p.s. check out some of the "accidents". e.g. a hang-glider pilot's control cables caught the hooks on one boot and he had to land with one foot only!

Unknown said...

Hello I know its been awhile since this post first was posted. But I just got a new pair of X Ultra Solomon boots and I nearly fell 3 times in two days... Wow I researched this problem and came across your post. I was wondering if you ever came up with a solution you were satisfied with?
ron

Joanne Nebbia said...

I threw them away. They are an accident waiting to happen

Jeff said...

Just happens to me with a pair of Sportivas. Almost broke two wrists, damaged both knees, and re-injured my groin . Not sure how I didn’t end up in the ER. This really is a serious issue! Walking fast I did a sudden face plant to the ground. Very scary!

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Unknown said...

Same thing happened to me with Bergahus boots recently but fractured hip into the bargain and ended up in ER. Will probably crimp them so it wont happen again. Scary that others have had similar experiences, thought I was being an un-coordinated oaf

Kristen said...

Happened to me with my Sportivas today. Hip and foot are injured, and I'm a competitive athlete. This is a huge design flaw. Expensive hiking boots should not need modified with tape or gaiters covering the hooks. Tucked in laces can come out. This is a problem the companies need to remedy--not the consumer. I don't understand why boots have these hooks. Traditional eyelets work fine. I contacted La Sportiva and urge everyone do do the same with other manufacturers. Maybe they will start to listen.

Dogpatch said...

Has no one ever notified the shoe manufacturers? Just found this blog and feel vindicated. Brand new Soloman X-Ultra boots have smashed me onto a grassy slope, a gravel road and elsewhere. Road rash on nose, lip and chin. I'm 79 years old--lucky still to be in one piece! My daughter and granddaughter both said they and their friends have had this problem with Soloman ski boots. I'm going to contact Soloman and give them a hard time. We all should!

Lara said...

I know this post is old, but I just got a new pair of Keen Targhee ii boots and this exact same thing is happening to me. I'm an avid hiker and not prone to tripping or losing my balance at all, so this is driving me crazy. I've been mostly able to catch myself when it's happened several times over the last two weeks, but today it was a bit cold and I was walking with my hands in my pocket and I biffed it big time. Luckily my injuries are surfacey, but now I am scared to keep wearing them. I am glad to know I'm not the only one (because my pride was feeling as bruised as my knees and hands), but wondered if you ever found a good solution? Or if I should just return them, since they're still under warranty?

Anita said...

I tried out my new merrell boots with the top hooks. Somehow the hook got caught onto the other boot and I fell flat. Luckily I put my hands out and did everything to prevent my nose and teeth from connecting with the concrete. I only cut my lip but I really feel that the hook is a dangerous. I've been hiking twenty years and this has never happened. The shock from the fall was so bad I almost started crying in front of the hiking group I was with.

My walking companion said it was a miracle I didn't break my nose.
I am going to be writing to Merrell regarding the hooks on their boot. I have a swollen lip from the cut. I am 50 but have good upper body strength so I think the ability of me being able to break my fall helped

Anita said...

I tried out my new merrell boots with the top hooks. Somehow the hook got caught onto the other boot and I fell flat. Luckily I put my hands out and did everything to prevent my nose and teeth from connecting with the concrete. I only cut my lip but I really feel that the hook is a dangerous. I've been hiking twenty years and this has never happened.
My walking companion said it was a miracle I didn't break my nose.
I am going to be writing to Merrell regarding the hooks on their boot. I have a swollen lip from the cut. I am 50 but have good upper body strength.

Unknown said...

I started wearing my new Berghaus walking boots last week. Second time out I felt like my feet had been glued together and fell flat on the pavement. Luckily just minor bruising. Put it down to bad luck. Next day after walking for 20 mins same thing but came down much harder badly bruising shoulder,elbow, arm and wrist. I realised the lacing hooks had clipped and locked into the opposing boot. I was lucky it was a flat path and I was walki g slowly. If it had happened on a more challenging walk and I fell I could have been seriously injured. I will never wear boots with hooks again. They are a death trap. The designers should be aware of this with so many serious falls. They were not cheap £150. I won't resell as I couldn't pass on a potential disaster to someone else. Gaffer tape socks over the top, why? The design is at fault and it is not up to the purchaser to find a way round this. Everyone please don't buy boots with hooks.

Foot-Tied said...

This happened to me. Ended up with hairline crack in my back. I loved the boots but I'm tossing them. Not worth it.

Unknown said...

This is happening to me with Keen hikers. I'm going to tie my laces facing the outside of each shoe rather than the center and see if it improves my chances of staying upright. This is going to kill someone and quite possibly may have already.