Boot Treads



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Rarnir
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Boot Treads

Post by Rarnir »

Greetings all!

I am undertaking the daunting challenge of making leather boots from scratch (by far the most complicated leather project I've yet to attempt) but I'm a bit conflicted on what to do about the soles. From Lindybeige to personal accounts I have heard nothing but tales about how slippery historical leather boots/shoes are. I do not want to do tacks as you'd find on caligae for I have heard they're pretty uncomfortable and I'd like to be able to wear my boots to indoor events. That being said I also do not want to slap on a rubber sole, while I am not trying to be 100% historical with my methods or materials (ex. I have no prob slipping in some modern adhesive into places that will go unseen), I certainly try to avoid modern materials when it compromises the visual aesthetic.

My plan is to attempt to make something halfway in between the two, that is, use leather to make a somewhat modern (but mostly hidden) tread pattern on my boot. My question for you all is if anyone has had experience in making "historical treads" or simply if they had an opinion on what pattern/method they think would be most effective. I quickly drew up two ideas, though I am going to continue looking at hiking boot treads and see what I can reasonably translate to leather.
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My current idea is to glue an extra layer of leather onto the sole and texturing it to hopefully provide a little more traction than you'd normally get with just plain flat leather. Certain designs lend themselves to getting damaged more easily than others, though I am fine with doing maintenance every now and then. The image isn't to scale/proportionate, and the tan parts are the additions/tread leather, the white is the original sole.

Any thoughts on the matter are appreciated.
"A little apart the Rangers sat, silent, in an ordered company, armed with spear and bow and sword. They were clad in cloaks of dark grey, and their hoods were cast now over helm and head."
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Rarnir
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Re: Boot Treads

Post by Rarnir »

Oh! By the way, these are the style of boots I am trying to emulate. I know they don't look very rangery compared to other styles with straps and all, but I wanted to go with slip ons to maximize water resistance and leave the area clear for when I eventually get greaves.
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russ boots type 1.jpg
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Other variants of these boots, other historical boots, and lots of other awesome stuff can be found on http://www.wojmir.pl/buty_ruskie.htm I highly recommend taking a look at some of his stuff.
"A little apart the Rangers sat, silent, in an ordered company, armed with spear and bow and sword. They were clad in cloaks of dark grey, and their hoods were cast now over helm and head."
RangerofAngmar
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Re: Boot Treads

Post by RangerofAngmar »

https://www.facebook.com/17129495956512 ... 825572086/

this page has some pictures and evidence for rope(knot) soled shoes.

Could also be an option
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Rarnir
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Re: Boot Treads

Post by Rarnir »

RangerofAngmar wrote:https://www.facebook.com/17129495956512 ... 825572086/

this page has some pictures and evidence for rope(knot) soled shoes.

Could also be an option
Wow, I didn't even consider using rope as a tread. I'll definitely look into that more, certainly could be an option indeed.
"A little apart the Rangers sat, silent, in an ordered company, armed with spear and bow and sword. They were clad in cloaks of dark grey, and their hoods were cast now over helm and head."
RangerofAngmar
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Re: Boot Treads

Post by RangerofAngmar »

Rarnir wrote:
RangerofAngmar wrote:https://www.facebook.com/17129495956512 ... 825572086/

this page has some pictures and evidence for rope(knot) soled shoes.

Could also be an option
Wow, I didn't even consider using rope as a tread. I'll definitely look into that more, certainly could be an option indeed.

i have not tried this myself yet, but i have a pair or 14thC riding boots that i want to give this a go on and see if it helps at all
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Greg
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Re: Boot Treads

Post by Greg »

Not to mess up your plans...but I’ve been on leather soles for over five years now, and I wouldn’t trade them for tread for ANY money. Most of the accounts you hear, I dare say, are less experienced than they claim, made an assumption rather than giving them an honest try first, and went straight for lugged soles. It’s up to you, but leather soles are fantastic in the woods.
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Re: Boot Treads

Post by theowl »

Greg wrote:Not to mess up your plans...but I’ve been on leather soles for over five years now, and I wouldn’t trade them for tread for ANY money. Most of the accounts you hear, I dare say, are less experienced than they claim, made an assumption rather than giving them an honest try first, and went straight for lugged soles. It’s up to you, but leather soles are fantastic in the woods.
Yep. My main boots for both everyday use and trekking are leather sole and I have no issues at all.
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Re: Boot Treads

Post by Manveruon »

Those are absolutely beautiful boots! I’m quite fond of the minimalist style, honestly. Personally, I like having some means of tightening them onto my feet for maximum security as I’m hiking, but I’ve worn slip-on pirate boots for years with various costumes, and I generally do find them both convenient and comfortable.

As for the tread, I know others here have said what Greg and TheOwl here have just mentioned many times over the years, and while I’m sure that’s absolutely the case for them, I personally just prefer walking in something with a bit of tread rather than plain leather soles. I’ve worn boots with plain leather soles for years (see above about the pirate boots), and while they definitely get less slippery with wear, I also still find myself sliding around on certain surfaces. I’m sure it’s a difference in how I place my feet when I walk vs. how people who are more used to that type of sole would walk (and no doubt the difference between relatively soft turnshoe soles vs. more modern, heavier leather boot soles), but just in terms of personal preference, I still gravitate towards tread.

That being said, you could definitely TRY the plain leather soles for a while, and see if you can adapt to them - it’s absolutely worth a shot. And if not you can always try to add the tread later? Anyway, just a thought.
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Rarnir
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Re: Boot Treads

Post by Rarnir »

Greg wrote: Tue Jan 19, 2021 10:00 am Not to mess up your plans...but I’ve been on leather soles for over five years now, and I wouldn’t trade them for tread for ANY money. Most of the accounts you hear, I dare say, are less experienced than they claim, made an assumption rather than giving them an honest try first, and went straight for lugged soles. It’s up to you, but leather soles are fantastic in the woods.
Sorry I took so long to respond, I built a new computer and it took longer to set up than expected (and then the site went down). You're not messing up any plans at all! Any tread modifications can be put on after the boot would be completed normally, so I fully intend on trying out the regular leather sole before making modifications.

The accounts that I've heard about leather soles being slick comes from people mainly involved in HEMA settings (especially in the rain), where as you could expect traction is very important, but I imagine it does quite well for trekking. I also participate in HEMA so I wouldn't to take that into account for my boots, but also because my ranger persona is a grey company member headed for battle, I thought he too would take concern of having extra grip on the field. That being said, some HEMA practitioners believe that compensating for less grippy footwear is in more spirit of how people fought back then and think people should incorporate that into learning said martial arts. I suppose its something to think about as my boots get closer to completion.
"A little apart the Rangers sat, silent, in an ordered company, armed with spear and bow and sword. They were clad in cloaks of dark grey, and their hoods were cast now over helm and head."
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Rarnir
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Re: Boot Treads

Post by Rarnir »

Manveruon wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 6:36 am Those are absolutely beautiful boots! I’m quite fond of the minimalist style, honestly. Personally, I like having some means of tightening them onto my feet for maximum security as I’m hiking, but I’ve worn slip-on pirate boots for years with various costumes, and I generally do find them both convenient and comfortable.

As for the tread, I know others here have said what Greg and TheOwl here have just mentioned many times over the years, and while I’m sure that’s absolutely the case for them, I personally just prefer walking in something with a bit of tread rather than plain leather soles. I’ve worn boots with plain leather soles for years (see above about the pirate boots), and while they definitely get less slippery with wear, I also still find myself sliding around on certain surfaces. I’m sure it’s a difference in how I place my feet when I walk vs. how people who are more used to that type of sole would walk (and no doubt the difference between relatively soft turnshoe soles vs. more modern, heavier leather boot soles), but just in terms of personal preference, I still gravitate towards tread.

That being said, you could definitely TRY the plain leather soles for a while, and see if you can adapt to them - it’s absolutely worth a shot. And if not you can always try to add the tread later? Anyway, just a thought.
Yeah I'm definitely going to try out the plain soles first before making any tread modifications, and if I've got enough leather, I might actually make a pair of turn shoes to test out different tread ideas to see what I like best and then slap it on the final boot.
Personally, I like having some means of tightening them onto my feet for maximum security as I’m hiking
Yeah I'm still in the mock up stage right now and I'm trying to ensure that they stay nice and snug for trekking, however if I find that they're too loose then I may add on some exterior strap loops along the back. I'm hoping with wearing winnegas underneath they'll be a good fit.
"A little apart the Rangers sat, silent, in an ordered company, armed with spear and bow and sword. They were clad in cloaks of dark grey, and their hoods were cast now over helm and head."
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Iodo
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Re: Boot Treads

Post by Iodo »

Rarnir wrote: Fri Feb 19, 2021 7:33 am Sorry I took so long to respond, I built a new computer and it took longer to set up than expected
So glad I'm not the only one :lol: this is exactly the reason why I've not been around much of late
Rarnir wrote: Fri Feb 19, 2021 7:41 am Yeah I'm definitely going to try out the plain soles first before making any tread modifications, and if I've got enough leather, I might actually make a pair of turn shoes to test out different tread ideas to see what I like best and then slap it on the final boot.
can't wait to see what you come up with :P personally I think the tread idea is kinda' cool, admittedly I haven't worn leather shoes many times so I'm no expert, but to me the advantage you get from having a flexible sole and being able to feel the shape of the ground would still be there because you wouldn't have changed the thickness/construction much, however it might get you more grip? I'd be interested to know how well it works if you try it
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Re: Boot Treads

Post by caedmon »

This was a recent Facebook post from Ana Period Shoes:


ABOUT KNOTTED SOLES: AUTHENTIC PROFILE SOLES FOR MEDIEVAL FIGHTERS' SHOES
I have been experimenting with knotted soles for two years now, and the results from the field-testing have come in.

IT WORKS!

I was worried that the cords would get ripped off the soles too quickly and I was worried that the cords themselves would wear out and fray far too quickly, but neither was the case. They lasted a whole season an a very active fighter and are still in good condition for next season.

I tried two types: Fully authentic linen whipcord and a look-a-like made from Kevlar. If worn only on grass and only for the fighting rather than prolonged marches, they stand up quite well.

WHAT IS THE HISTORIC EVIDENCE?

Knotted soles are described in detail in the Hastings Manuscript from 1485. I do not usually work from descriptive texts because these are too often open to misinterpretations, but this description is extremely precise. And applying working techniques which are already in use in a cordwainers workshop, there is very little room for misunderstanding about how to carry out these instructions.

Here the original text from the Hastings Manuscript as quoted in ‘The Armourer and his Craft From the XIth to the XVIth Century’ by Charles Ffoulkes, Dover Publications, New York, 1988, Page 107:
…Also a payre of shone of thikke Cordwene and they muste be frette with smal whipcorde thre knottis up on a corde and thre cordis muste be faste swoid on to the hele of the shoo and fyne cordis in the mydill of the soole of the same shoo and that ther be betwene the frettis of the hele and the frettis of the mydill of the shoo the space of three fvngris.
I read this to mean in modern English:
Also a pair of highest quality leather shoes.

And there are ribs made of whipcord (braided like for a whip, not twisted which would unravel too quickly) with three knots on each sewn onto the heel of the shoe.

And thinner cords are sewn in ribs onto the the centre (under the joint) of the shoe, with a gap of three fingers width between the frets on the heel and frets under the joint.
The effect of this will be a very pronounced profile under the heel with much enhanced grip on the heel and a lesser amount of grip under the joint of the foot.
In a fight this would mean that when weight-bearing on the heel the foot is well immobilized (rock-solid stance), but when standing on the balls of the feet the shoes have enough grip to avoid accidental slipping, while still allowing for intentional sliding or twisting motions (dynamic fluid stance).
HOW TO FIT THEM ONTO ARMING BOOTS:
I recommend to sew the knotted cords and frets onto separate pieces of clump soles and clump heels and then attach these to the main soles of the arming boots.

This has three advantages:

A: The additional layer of leather prevents the profile from being felt through the soles and causing discomfort.

B: The main sole is not being compromised by a profusion of stitching holes.

C: The clump sole and heel elements can be prefabricated and either fitted or replaced much more quickly ( 1-2 hours of labour) than sewing the cord directly to the soles (approx. 8 hours of labour).

ADDENDUM because so many people asked this:

Why do we not find any remains of these knotted soles?

I do not know for certain, but here are a few hypotheses:

A: Linen thread decomposes in waterlogged anaerobic environments while leather survives. Most archaeological finds are from some pit fillied with water (a well, a midden, a moat - it is always a hole with water in it, that people chucked rubbish into). So even if they threw a knotted sole in there, the thread would be gone by the time we come along to dig them up.

B: But even if the linen thread decomposed or if it simply wore out through wear and tear, there should still be traces of stitching holes in the soles? So where is the evidence for this?
The trouble is that once the fretting has been completely abraded you still have a fine pair of shoes with almost brand new soles. You would either wear them yourself on occasions where no fretting is required, or you would pass them on to someone poorer who will wear them out. As the stitching in the soling is rather shallow the strata where the thread ran fixing the fretting would be completely abraded by the time the shoes got discarded.
We have plenty of evidence for shoes being resold, reconditioned, repaired and modified repeatedly before eventually being discarded. By the time such high quality shoes came to the end of their lives all traces of original fretted soles would have long been obliterated.

C: One may safely assume that these modifications were quite rare. It takes me almost the same time to add the fretting as making the basic shoes. Adding these expensive modifications to ones shoes only makes sense for someone whose life literally depends on not slipping at the wrong moment. Everybody else presumably wore pattens instead as they are much hardier and keep your feet dry as well.
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Elleth
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Re: Boot Treads

Post by Elleth »

.... well isn't that a wonderment?

hunh.

Clever!!
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Greg
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Re: Boot Treads

Post by Greg »

VERY interesting!

Might be worth trying on a clump sole sometime!
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