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5 out of 6 winter boots fail slip test on ice, CBC Marketplace finds

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Winter boots equipped with fibre-embedded soles may be the answer to fewer slips and falls on ice this winter, a CBC Marketplace investigation has found.

Marketplace looked at popular brands for sale in Canada — Merrell, Sorel, Kamik, Ugg, Timberland and WindRiver — to see how some of these companies’ winter boots would fare on a wet, icy surface.

The investigation of the boots selected by Marketplace found that the WindRiver Backwoods Waterproof Hyper Dri 3 hiking boots, which include embedded fibres in the sole for extra traction, had the best grip on a wet, icy surface compared to the boots with outsoles made of different materials. WindRiver is a brand owned by Mark’s (formerly Mark’s Work Wearhouse).

Marketplace went to the KITE Research Institute in Toronto, which is part of the University Health Network’s Rehabilitation Institute, where biomedical engineers conducted a footwear slip test assessing the Maximum Achievable Angle (MAA) for each pair of boots. An MMA is the highest degree of elevation at which a boot is able to be worn before slipping on the ice.

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Marketplace chose boot models that were warm and good for walking, and based on recommendations from customer service staff from each company.

 

Marketplace took several pairs of men’s winter boots to be tested by the KITE Research Institute in Toronto. (CBC)

 

Test included floor angle up to 15 degrees

While wearing each of the boots, CBC host David Common walked up and down an ice-covered floor in a chamber where hydraulics changed the angle from zero to 15 degrees of elevation. To ensure maximum safety, Common was strapped into a harness attached to the ceiling of the climate-controlled room. Guidewires were at his sides and a mattress was mounted on the downhill slope to cushion any slips.

The angle of the floor was incrementally increased until the boot treads lost traction on the ice.

In general, accessibility ramps and curb ramps shouldn’t exceed a slope of about seven degrees in Ontario.

“If a pair of footwear does not enable you to walk on that gentle slope both ways then it’s not safe footwear [for walking on ice],” said Sophia Li Yue, lead for the project, and staff scientist and manager of strategic projects and partnerships at the KITE Research Institute.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), there were 67,418 hospital emergency department visits in Canada due to unintentional falls on ice in 2019.

While wearing the WindRiver boots, Common was able to walk uphill at an angle of 15 degrees without slipping. While walking downhill, he was able to reach an angle of 14 degrees without slipping on the wet, icy surface.

Li said the key difference is in how the soles are made. The tread of the WindRiver boot had features the other models did not. According to Mark’s, which is owned by Canadian Tire, the sole has “abrasive materials mixed with the soft rubber compound to provide traction on wet ice.”

 

The WindRiver Backwoods Waterproof Hyper Dri 3 hiking boot is made with a sole that has ‘abrasive materials mixed with the soft rubber compound to provide traction on wet ice,’ according to Mark’s. (John Lesavage/CBC)

 

According to Li, these microfibres “grab on the ice and that enables you to walk up all the way to 15 degrees and 14 degrees.”

On its website, Mark’s says these boots are “engineered to help prevent slips and falls,” and the company has conducted its own testing in Li’s lab to determine what works.

Lab tests hundreds of winter boots and posts results online

Li is the brains behind the Rate My Treads website, and her lab tests hundreds of winter boots. For that protocol, every set of boots is tested with four different participants, who walk inside the chamber on both wet and cold, dry ice. The lab looks at the results of all four rounds of testing and gives an overall rating based on the lowest score achieved for a particular boot.

The lab awards a “one snowflake” rating to boots that make it up at least seven degrees of elevation on both wet and dry ice. If boots don’t make it to that angle, they fail the test.

For the Marketplace test, Common tested the boots on ice with a slick layer of water on top, which is considered more dangerous for slips and falls than colder, dry ice, according to Li.

The WindRiver boots were the best in the Marketplace test. However, Li said there’s still room for improvement in the overall boot market as about 90 per cent of winter boots available for sale in Canada won’t pass the slip-resistance test.

“The challenge here is, by just simply looking at the tread, you have no idea whether it’s good on ice or not,” she said.

 

Marketplace tested how these winter boots would fare on a wet, icy surface. The boot brands from left to right are: Merrell, Timberland, Sorel, Ugg, Kamik and WindRiver. (John Lesavage/CBC)

 

Varied results for other brands

Marketplace also tested Merrell’s Thermo Kiruna Mid Shell Waterproof boot, which, according to the company’s website, has an outsole that provides “durable traction that grips when and where you need it.” While wearing these boots, Common was able to walk at an angle of three degrees without slipping.

In an email statement, Merrell said the Thermo Kiruna Mid Shell Waterproof boot is a “fantastic” boot, but that the company offers other models for customers specifically looking for traction on wet ice conditions, with soles specifically engineered to perform on wet ice.

 

Yue stands in front of the exterior of the lab that moves on hydraulic lifts to test boots on an icy surface at different angles. (Stephanie Matteis/CBC)

 

The Ugg Butte boot had a similar outcome in the Marketplace test, where Common was able to walk up the wet icy slope at three degrees, but on the downhill he only made it to two degrees before slipping.

According to its website, that product is “crafted to handle the harshest winter elements.” In a statement, the company said while the boot is a customer favourite, it would never recommend walking on an icy surface while wearing the Butte boot.

“They’re available in the Canadian marketplace, then I would expect them to live up to Canada’s ‘harshest winter elements,'” said Ela Veresiu, an associate professor of marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business.

“Any boot that is meant to be used in the winter in Canada … where winter can start early, can go late and can be extremely icy, you would expect [those boots] to keep you warm, keep you dry and make sure that you don’t slip and fall.”

Sorel’s pull-on Buxton boot was also put to the test. The boot has an “injection-moulded, waterproof thermal-rubber shell,” according to its website. Common made it to an angle of one degree for both the uphill and downhill slopes. The company did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

 

Ela Veresiu is an associate professor of marketing at the Schulich School of Business in Toronto (Submitted)

 

While wearing Timberland’s Chillberg Mid Sport Waterproof boot, Common was able to walk on a flat surface, but once the floor was tilted to one degree of elevation, he was not able to walk without slipping. On its website, Timberland claims the boot’s outsole “offers durability and traction on any surface.”

Timberland said that it tests its boots using international standards and that the Chillberg boot performed above average for traction compared to its competitors in the hiking category, but that wet ice is an extreme condition that requires specialized outsoles.

Kamik Griffon 2 fails on flat ice

Finally, Common tested Kamik’s Griffon 2 winter boot, which is marketed as having a “synthetic rubber outsole with multi-directional lug design to offer better traction.” Common could not walk on a flat surface without slipping. In a statement, the company said that this particular boot is no longer in production and that the Canadian company is proud to offer boots for every type of weather condition.

While the WindRiver boot offered the best traction, Li said the other brands offer similar treads, just not on the boots Marketplace tested.

When out shopping for winter boots with better traction, Li said to look for ones with embedded fibres that “act as tiny spikes that can bite into the ice.”

She recommended soles made with ICEFX, Green Diamond technology or Vibram Arctic Grip. Several of the boot companies in the Marketplace test sell other boot models with this technology in the soles.

“We do see more and more, this different, special material being developed and researched,” said Li. “Our hope is we will see more of those types of footwear on the market.”

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Gold price firmer as bulls work to stabilize market – Kitco NEWS

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  1. Gold price firmer as bulls work to stabilize market  Kitco NEWS
  2. Gold rebounds but holds below $1,900 on Fed fears, firm dollar  Financial Post
  3. Gold Price Forecast – Gold Markets Attempt to Stabilize  FX Empire
  4. Gold SWOT: The Dollar and Treasury Yields extended declines last week, pushing gold higher  Kitco NEWS
  5. Gold Price Forecast: XAU/USD Awaits Fedspeak after Absolute Blowout Jobs Report  DailyFX
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News

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Turning empty offices into housing is a popular idea. Experts say it's easier said than done – CBC.ca

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Turning empty offices into housing is a popular idea. Experts say it’s easier said than done  CBC.caView Full Coverage on Google News

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Tiny wines find home in B.C.’s market, as Canadians consider reducing consumption

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VANCOUVER — Wine lovers have growing options on the shelf to enjoy their favourite beverage as producers in B.C. offer smaller container sizes.

Multiple British Columbia wineries over the last several years have begun offering their product in smaller, single-serve cans and bottles.

Along with making wine more attractive to those looking to toss some in a backpack or sip on the golf course, the petite containers leave wineries with options for a potential shift in mindset as Canadians discuss the health benefits of reducing alcohol consumption.

Vancouver-based wine consultant Kurtis Kolt said he’s watched the segment of the wine industry offering smaller bottles and cans “explode” over the last several years, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic when people were meeting outdoors in parks and beaches and looking for something more portable to take with them.

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“You’re not taking a hit on quality, you know? In fact, if someone is only going to be having a glass or two, you’re cracking a can and it’s completely fresh, guaranteed,” he said.

It’s also an advantage for people who want to drink less, he said.

“It’s much less of a commitment to crack open a can or a small bottle or a smaller vessel than it is to open a bottle,” he said.

“Then you have to decide how quickly you’re going to go through it or end up dumping some out if you don’t finish it.”

Last month, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction released a report funded by Health Canada saying no amount of alcohol is safe and those who consume up to two standard drinks per week face a low health risk.

That’s a significant change from the centre’s 2011 advice that said having 15 drinks per week for men and 10 drinks per week for women was low risk.

Health Canada has said it is reviewing the report.

Charlie Baessler, the managing partner at Corcelettes Estate Winery in the southern Interior, said his winery’s Santé en Cannette sparkling wine in a can was released in 2020 as a reduced alcohol, reduced sugar, low-calorie option.

“We’ve kind of gone above and beyond to attract a bit of a younger, millennial-type market segment with a fun design concept of the can and sparkling, low alcohol — all these things that have been recently a big item on the news,” he said.

Santé en Cannette is a nine per cent wine and reducing the alcohol was a way to reduce its calories, he said. The can also makes it attractive for events like a picnic or golf, is recyclable, and makes it easier for restaurants that might want to offer sparkling wine by the glass without opening an entire bottle.

At the same time, the lower alcohol content makes it an option for people who might want a glass of wine without feeling the same effect that comes from a higher alcohol content, he said.

“So the health is clearly one incentive, but I think more importantly, so was being able to enjoy a locally made product of B.C. from a boutique winery, dare I say, with a mimosa at 11 o’clock and not ruin your day,” he said.

Baessler said the winery has doubled production since the product was first released to about 30,000 cans a year, which they expect to match this year.

He said there’s naturally a market for the product but he doesn’t expect it to compete with the higher-alcohol wine.

“So this isn’t our Holy Grail. This is something that we do for fun and we’ll never compete, or never distract, from what is our core line of riper, higher-alcohol wine,” he said.

Jeff Guignard, executive director of B.C.’s Alliance of Beverage Licensees, which represents bars, pubs and private liquor stores, said the industry has seen a shift in consumers wanting options that are more convenient.

“It’s not a massive change in consumer behaviour but it is a definitely a noticeable one, which is why you see big companies responding to it,” he said.

Guignard said the latest CCSA report is creating an increased awareness and desire to become educated about responsible consumption choices, which is a good thing, but he adds it’s important for people to look at the relative risk of what they’re doing.

“If you’re eating fast food three meals a day, I don’t think having a beer or not is going to be the single most important determinant of your health,” he said.

“But from a consumer perspective, as consumer preferences change, of course beverage manufacturers respond with different packaging or different products, the same way you’ve seen in the last five years, a large number of low-alcohol or no-alcohol beverages being introduced to the market.”

While he won’t predict how much the market share could grow, Guignard said non-alcoholic beverages and low-alcoholic beverages will continue to be a significant piece of the market.

“I don’t know if it’s reached its peak or if it will grow. I just expect it to be part of the market for now on.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 5, 2023.

 

Ashley Joannou, The Canadian Press

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