Your Boots can injure or kill you.
February 4, 2020 1:58 PM   Subscribe

The dangerous speed-lace hook. "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."
posted by storybored (61 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
I used to fly hang gliders quite a bit. One of the things they always warned us about were lace hooks and how they can hook on your harness. This can trip you up on your launch run, prevent zipping up the harness and sometimes jam your foot (or feet) in the harness.

I had my old hiking boots with the lace hooks but always wore boot gators that covered them up so had no problems at all. Until the day I left them at home. Everything went well until I tried to zip the harness up. It felt like I had to use a whole lot of force to close the zipper. It turns out that I had, unknowingly, zipped the hook into the zipper.

Everything was fine until about an hour or so later when I decided to land. As I getting set up on approach I found the zipper would only go down about half way and my foot was now part of the tail of the harness. It was a bit stressful knowing that I had to nail the landing as I wouldn't be able to run but everything turned out okay. I went to the surplus store down the street from my work and bought a pair of lace up canvas boots the next day and never looked back.
posted by flyingfox at 2:12 PM on February 4 [14 favorites]


The danger of the hooks is one of those weird, specific things that I have learned in my life that makes the people around me think I'm a multiply-niched encyclopedia. My dad worked labor his whole life, mostly construction, and he always refused to buy boots that didn't have eyelets all the way up. It used to take him a long time to lace his boots, and sometimes he needed help, especially after his hip replacement. the older I get the more I realize that nearly all of our conversations were actually life lessons. I think one of the reasons that I'm so good at learning is that everything he said had something in it.
posted by FirstMateKate at 2:16 PM on February 4 [57 favorites]


I've never thought about it before, but one of my favourite pair of boots is the Bates 11" Paratrooper Boot. Despite having an absolutely ridiculous number of eyelets, there are no speed laces to be found on them. Because of course paratrooper-style boots wouldn't have something like that which could potentially catch on stuff. I've also always wondered why they had a little button flap at the top, which now seems pretty obviously a mechanism to prevent the same thing happening to the toggle on the side zip.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:31 PM on February 4 [5 favorites]


Wow, in the comments someone broke an arm because of this. Those speed lace hooks are dangerous. If you want to keep them then I guess you need something to make sure your laces don't get caught in them.

This hasn't happened to me because a) I usually wear trail runners instead of hiking boots when hiking and b) I always wear full-length pants when hiking regardless of temperature so if I was wearing boots the laces would be tucked inside my pant legs.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:31 PM on February 4


This has happened to me several times, but luckily it's just when I'm trying to uncross my legs if they're stretched out in front of me. It's very frustrating, because it really does feel like your ankles are just shackled together. And it's completely unintuitive how you're supposed to move your feet to fix this problem.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 2:36 PM on February 4 [5 favorites]


Speed kills.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 2:54 PM on February 4 [7 favorites]


Huh! My snow boots have those speed laces. I love them but have never even considered the danger. I'll let you all know how I fare this weekend when I wear them in Vermont!
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:57 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Speed lace hooks seem like a convenience feature for people who don't hike that much and/or are wearing ill-fitting boots that they need to remove at every stop.

Also, I never liked them because apparently my foot-to-calf proportions are so strange that boots would never actually close around my calf (too thin), so the untensioned laces would inevitably fall off the speed hooks and untie themselves. Now I've learned that you really don't need specialized equipment for the majority of hiking, and most long-distance hikers are just using trail runners anyway.
posted by meowzilla at 2:58 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


I've had this happen, but fortunately I hadn't double-knotted, so the loop came undone. It was still enough to make me stumble.

A bit of gaffer tape would probably sort it out for anyone who's worried.
posted by pipeski at 2:58 PM on February 4


. for grumpybear69.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 3:02 PM on February 4 [12 favorites]


grumpybear69 if your (snow)pants are covering the tops of your boots/laces then it shouldn't be a problem for you.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:05 PM on February 4


I worked with a woman who faceplanted in the middle of Chicago's Michigan Avenue thanks to her speed lace hooks getting caught. She suffered serious facial and brain injuries and was literally never the same again. Since then I've always been on high alert about those, as well as about shoes where there's any chance of the tread getting locked on something.

We just gotta stop leaving our houses, people! It's a damn nightmare out there.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 3:06 PM on February 4 [38 favorites]


I have periodically gotten them hooked together, but always tie my laces short. It hadn’t occurred to me they could hook on other stuff, and dangerously so.

Guess I’m spending some time with a metal file tonight.
posted by mhoye at 3:18 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Geez, I've had shoes with speed laces for all of my adult life and never viewed them as potentially dangerous. Thanks for yet another thing to worry about...
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:24 PM on February 4 [12 favorites]


We just gotta stop leaving our houses, people! It's a damn nightmare out there.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese


Way ahead of you, my friend. Way ahead. :)
posted by Splunge at 3:39 PM on February 4 [11 favorites]


The danger of the hooks is one of those weird, specific things that I have learned in my life that makes the people around me think I'm a multiply-niched encyclopedia.

I learned not to wear rings after watching a co-worker try a basketball dunk/block style maneuver to unblock and overhead conveyor. He came down without his ring finger. I also saw a woman get her hand caught in between conveyor rollers. Her hand swelled up so bad that the ER docs did more damage removing her rings to save her fingers than the initial crush injury!

Lots of people wear them and they are probably fine 99.999% of the time. That .001% of the time is a real hard lesson though.
posted by srboisvert at 3:40 PM on February 4 [6 favorites]


Conveyors. Not even once.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 3:48 PM on February 4 [5 favorites]


I worked adjacent to a medical tent at Burning Man a bunch of years ago. One of the more gruesome injuries that I saw come through was caused by one of these.

A gentleman with a Prince Albert piercing had been crouching down. When he stood up, his piercing caught on his boot, and was ripped out.

He was evacuated off-playa.
posted by toxic at 3:50 PM on February 4 [37 favorites]


This happened to me more than once with my Lowa boots, but I fortunately never fell over.
posted by Chuffy at 3:53 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


shoes where there's any chance of the tread getting locked on something

Like... bike cleats? What kind of tread?
posted by clew at 3:55 PM on February 4


The answer is gaiters (preferably soaked in permethrin).
posted by ryanrs at 3:55 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


I stopped wearing lace-up boots because this happened to me on my stairs -- fortunately only halfway down, so I didn't break anything, but it was terrifying.
posted by jrochest at 4:05 PM on February 4 [6 favorites]


If you're ok with the laces being semi-permanently attached you can use pliers to flatten them into little loops.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 4:29 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


This thread is giving me way more body horror anxiety than I'd anticipated.
posted by erinfern at 4:32 PM on February 4 [38 favorites]


A gentleman with a Prince Albert piercing had been crouching down. When he stood up, his piercing caught on his boot, and was ripped out

Ok, you win.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:33 PM on February 4 [36 favorites]


Ok, you win.

A prized memory I'm sure!
posted by srboisvert at 5:21 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Not going to google Prince Albert piercing. I'm not. No. Won't do it.
posted by coppertop at 5:35 PM on February 4 [10 favorites]


So the reason why I posted this, is because it happened to me this afternoon. Basically I was walking pretty quick and suddenly my legs were frickin' tied together. I wiped out and hit the ground. This was inside a subway station in Ottawa. My head missed a stair banister thankfully. But I landed hard and scraped a quarter-sized piece of skin off my knee. Smart phone flew out of my pocket and smashed into a few pieces. The force of my gait was enough to rip the metal ringlet out of the offending boot. On the bright side two or three people came to help right away. I was shaken more than anything else but I now wonder what would have happened if the lace had caught while I was walking on the subway platform. I was wearing snow boots from SoftMoc, but I have another pair of Merrells with the same kind of speed lace hooks.

When I got home I took out a big pair of pliers and I squeezed the remaining metal hooks tight. It felt good. Taking revenge on those little metal f*ckers.

But yeah, boot makers, y'all are looking at a class-action lawsuit someday.....
posted by storybored at 5:43 PM on February 4 [15 favorites]


So I take it this is about the boots that have those things like ice skates have? Mine aren't quite like that. Are mine safe?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:04 PM on February 4


I thought I was the only one this had happened to. Luckily I was not moving very fast at the time.
posted by rpfields at 6:48 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


This happened to me just last month walking across a parking lot. I skinned one arm and one leg through my clothes and bruised myself a bit but thought the embarrassment was the worst of it. It was several weeks before I realized that the growing knee pain after my running workouts was at the precise spot that took the worst hit, and ten days off has not been enough to get past it. Physical therapy starts next week. Learn from my example and pay attention to your boots!
posted by Songdog at 7:05 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


I worked with a woman who faceplanted in the middle of Chicago's Michigan Avenue thanks to her speed lace hooks getting caught. She suffered serious facial and brain injuries and was literally never the same again

Jesus f--ing Christ I picked the wrong day to recover from a major depressive episode, come on! I had just decided to start leaving the house again! :P
posted by captain afab at 7:12 PM on February 4 [7 favorites]


How are speed laces legal??? They are clearly deadly??
posted by captain afab at 7:15 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


I gave up on my old Mark's winter boots because they were super-heavy, too shallow for deep snow, and the speedlacing hooks wouldn't accept the laces once they got wet, swollen, and stiff with salt. My new boots are toasty-warm and tall enough for Toronto snowbanks, have excellent slip-resistant soles, and, thankfully, D rings for lacing all the way.
posted by maudlin at 7:24 PM on February 4


I'm a carpenter and wear boots at work. For a while I had a pair with hooks, until one day as I was descending a ladder one of the hooks caught on the fiberglass side rail. I very nearly fell. No more hooks for me!
posted by Makwa at 7:41 PM on February 4 [5 favorites]


Jeez. I've worn boots like this for years and have a couple pair today I use regularly, and the risk never occurred to me. I guess generally I'm wearing long pants over the offending bits, but I will certainly think twice next time I lace up.
posted by St. Oops at 10:17 PM on February 4


(Ann Althouse...I know that name but it’s been a long time...)

After some quick googling to jog my memory: UW-Madison law prof, oh, now retired, who rather embraced the role of conservative contrarian Bush/ Iraq war supporter amidst the unchecked liberalism of Madison. A ‘I’m totally an independent, I just happen to support Republican positions’ type.

Based on a couple minutes looking over her recent posts and the comments (jfc), thanks for the shoe tips, but here’s to hoping it’s another 15 years before I stumble onto her corner of the internet again.
posted by queseyo at 10:21 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


I have wiped out walking when the lace of one boot caught on the hook of the other. Fortunately it was on my way *to* the liquor store.
posted by inexorably_forward at 10:57 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


In an optimally organized country, once you had discovered that the speed-lace hooks were dangerous, how would you get that information out, to boot owners and manufacturers?
posted by Baeria at 12:19 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


This is horrific and reassuring - I have faceplanted (so abruptly that I didn't put a hand out) while hiking, but I've also broken a shoulder by standing on my own shoelace, so I was attributing the former to clumsiness. I only cut open my forehead and got a huge lump on my brow bone, though it was much more horrific for my walking companion (my mum) who was trying to stay calm and ignore my bloody face.

Is squeezing them shut enough?
posted by carbide at 1:22 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Yup I've hooked my feet together before, usually sitting down with my legs stretched out. Never worried about it really. UNTIL THIS THREAD.
posted by carter at 3:45 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


It's a damn nightmare out there.

Stop wearing shoes.


how would you get that information out, to boot owners and manufacturers?

Get the Consumer Product Safety Commission involved. (After a Democratic President reconstitutes it.)


I've had a couple of minor, noninjurious incidents with speed hooks. I'm going to have to take a hard look at my boot collection. This all sounds like a good business opportunity for an innovative bootmaker. "Now with Safety Hooks!"
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:50 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Toxic, your post caused me to make a low volume invasion of the body snatchers type low moaning noise that lasted a long damn time.

Now to spread the horror of that far and wide. I need to expose others to that horror so that I’m not so alone in my night terrors.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:21 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


his piercing caught on his boot, and was ripped out.

Usually takes me longer to punt on the whole internet thing for the day when I'm browsing metafilter, at least as compared to other outlets of information, but it's 8:38am and whelp, I'm done folks. See ya tomorrow.

actually it'll be like 2 hours tops but you get the idea...
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:39 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


I had speed laces on some old snowboarding boots. My hands were a little numb as I retied my boots (the fit feels looser after a few minutes of wear because the insulation packs out), and, blunt as the edges were, I managed to slice the hell out of my finger.

I advise taking your speed lace having boots to a cobbler and having them replaced with eyelets. Pinching them shut with pliers should work as a stop-gap measure, so long as the edge doesn't stick up.
posted by wires at 5:44 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Holy hell. I thought speed laces were a good idea, but no more. The d-ring thing sounds useful, though.
posted by corvikate at 6:26 AM on February 5


This is a problem that could be easily and permanently solved by adding a warning label to all speed-laced boots.
posted by scratch at 7:10 AM on February 5


A former coworker shattered her elbow when this happened to her. Just realizing the new winter boots I bought this year have speed laces and wondering if I should return them to REI. It's been such a mild winter I've only worn them a handful of times.
posted by misskaz at 7:21 AM on February 5


Good Gawd, this is timely. I am the market for a new pair of work boots after admitting my ancient, beloved Timberlands must be retired. There's a fantastic shop that specializes in work footwear up the street, and when I visit, I'm going to pull up this article and ask if they ever advise people on this issue.
posted by Caxton1476 at 7:22 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


YEAH this has happened with my combat boots two or three times! Thankfully I've been able to avoid falling by just hopping along on the one foot but I can 100% see how people wipe out. Hazardous as hell but those boots are so sexy
posted by scruffy-looking nerfherder at 7:23 AM on February 5


@toxic...at least he left a tip before leaving...
(I'll see myself out)
posted by zerobyproxy at 8:41 AM on February 5 [5 favorites]


Mine haven’t seemed to catch as long as they actually have laces in them, but otherwise they are absolutely a hazard and I hate them. How possible is it to get them replaced with eyelets?
posted by en forme de poire at 9:00 AM on February 5


speed laces hell. it's anything that affixes a toe to a bike pedal that freaks me out.

ask me about the nightmares I still have from the cyclist who couldn't disengage their feet at a stopsign and who laid down in front of me, and who I would have decapitated if I'd been a few milliseconds slower reacting
posted by Sauce Trough at 9:18 AM on February 5 [6 favorites]


it's anything that affixes a toe to a bike pedal that freaks me out.

So true. I know the cleats are supposed to break under force, but I still refuse to ride with them. I don't even like toe clips.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:20 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


The number of times my foot has slipped off a pedal on takeoff, causing me to wobble into the line of traffic to my left (dozens, I sometimes ride in bad weather), vs the number of times I've been unable to unclip as I come to a stop (once, when I first got my clipless pedals) means I've made a different calculus on that one. However, back to the subject of laces, I definitely am very careful about making sure any shoe I'm wearing on my bike has the laces safely tucked away because getting them caught up in your chainring is NOT FUN.
posted by misskaz at 10:35 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


I have an old (~18 years, I think) pair of Scarpa Manta boots with hooks - but they are articulated, and when laced, the hook is pulled flat to the boot and behind a small "spoiler" structure to keep the lace in place and reduce the risk of the hook catching anything else.

Looking at pictures of the current Manta, I note that they don't use them anymore...
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 11:01 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


I generally wear really long wool socks and fold them down over my laces and top speed hooks under my jeans but I'm not anywhere that I'm going to get wet and wick water towards my feet.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 2:32 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Holy shit. I've tripped but not fallen because of those things, but they were thrift store boots and I assumed they were just broken or warped. I'm gonna throw them away when I get home!
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:53 AM on February 6


So I take it this is about the boots that have those things like ice skates have? Mine aren't quite like that. Are mine safe?

I have the same boots, and question. They seem like they may have been designed the way they are to be safer, but they also seem like the worst of both worlds in that laces neither stay in or out when untied with any consistency.
posted by rodlymight at 1:51 PM on February 9


My father worked with a dude named Jerry. They worked on huge banks of relays and tubes. They had to use ladders to replace burnt out tubes. For ITT when it meant International Telephone and Telegraph. One day Jerry fell off a ladder. He left his wedding ring and most of his finger behind.

Dudes took off their rings after that.
posted by Splunge at 5:27 PM on February 9


I remember having to tell the engineers at that one company that if they were going to use the lathe, they really had to take off their neckties.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:50 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


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