You pull up to a call in winter and what do you encounter? Water and ICE!

By Bill Ells, Vibram USA, Inc.

How do you then minimize the risk of slips and falls in winter conditions? Globe fire boots with Vibram Arctic Grip Pro Technology provide a level of traction on wet ice not seen before.

In 2014, Vibram challenged its chemists, product engineers, and team of testers to develop a technology that changed the standard in winter traction and one of the most treacherous surfaces known to man – WET ICE. Added to the challenge, was to do it without the use of metal spikes or the need to stop and fix a separate component, or overshoe, to footwear.

After years of development, countless trials, and a few failures, success was achieved in the development of Vibram Arctic Grip and Arctic Grip Pro – the most advanced cold weather gripping system Vibram has ever created. Globe, a longtime supporter of the Vibram brand, immediately took interest in this revolutionary product. After all, the goal of both Vibram and Globe is to provide the first responder with the highest level of performance available.

Vibram Arctic Grip Pro is a combination of the highest performing rubber outsole compound, combined with an advanced filler system that provides unparalleled traction on wet ice, along with Vibram durability. The areas within the sole (see image at right) with yellow fleck in the lug, contain the advanced filler system that runs throughout the full thickness of the material.

Vibram Arctic Grip and Vibram Arctic Grip Pro (Pro is the industrial version that meets NFPA requirements) have been tested in some of the most extreme environments. Vibram Arctic Grip Pro is temperature rated to -40 degrees and has been vigorously tested in the oil fields on the North Slope of Alaska. In addition to real world environments, Vibram also employed the expertise of the scientists and engineers of the iDAPT Research team, at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (TRI) of Toronto, Canada. TRI has a unique set of testing facilities whereby they can mechanically pitch up to 20 degrees, an entire room that has been conditioned to form ice. In this environment, the test protocol requires the tester to repeatedly ascend and descend the icy surface to the maximum angle achievable. In addition to independent testing, Vibram’s test and development team performed load cell testing which requires that the tester be able to remain sure-footed while exerting a minimum load of eight pounds while standing on wet ice.
Below you’ll see an image of the test apparatus at TRI as well as the iDAPT test results of the angle of incline achieved on wet ice.

iDAPT Test Apparatus

The graph details the incline data comparing footwear outfitted with Vibram Arctic Grip to other styles and brands of cold weather footwear. The data reflects an eight times increase in the combined incline and decline angle achieved with footwear outfitted with Arctic Grip.

Shown at the top of this article is Vibram’s tester performing fixed load cell testing while wearing Globe boots with Arctic Grip Pro. The digital read out is illustrating an achieved load of 39.59 kilograms (87 pounds) of applied force while standing on wet ice. When you’ve been on the fireground working on wet ice in the past, how hard has it been to pull that kind of weight? It has been impossible!

With durability also being a must have, the Vibram tester team wearing their Arctic Grip-soled running shoes pounded over 250 miles of trails and paved roadway.

First responders, and the communities they serve, come across many hazards. While no footwear can eliminate all slips and falls, the partnership between Globe and Vibram has taken firefighters’ footwear to a new level of performance.


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