I have had enough slipping around on rocks and boulders in fast moving water to push me to my decision to risk destroying my korkers and add some aluminum bars for traction. Felt is outdated and will soon be illegal in most states, metal studs fall out and don’t give full traction all of the time. I have heard nothing but good things about the aluminum bars. They stick on rock even if it’s covered in slime.
Items I needed to accomplish what I was after:
- Threaded inserts (34 of them, 17 on each boot, size 10-32)”
- Flat head machine screws 3/4″ long size 10-32 (34 of these)
- Aluminum flat, 1/8″x3/4″x3′ (might need two of these)
- Gorilla glue
First I cut out all of the pieces of aluminum from the flat stock using a hacksaw, laying t on the bottom of my boot and marking with a sharpie prior to each cut. Once I had my pieces I could duplicate them and flip them for the other boot.
Next I drilled out holes in the aluminum, tapering them with 2 or 3 different sized drill bits so that the machine screws would countersink into the holes and sit flat with the surface of the aluminum. I laid them out on the bottom of my boot and marked with a silver sharpie where I would drill my holes.
I then drilled holes in the boot. You must be very careful here to only drill 3/4″ or less (the depth of the threaded insert). A drill press would work well here, or rig some kind of a “stop” on the drill bit so you don’t accidentally drill through the sole. You want the fit to be tight, so start out with a smaller bit and try an insert to see if you can screw it it. You may need to cut away some of the surface rubber with a knife to help get it started.
Finally I was ready to glue in the inserts. I chose gorilla glue because I liked that it expands into the material you are gluing. So following the gorilla glue instructions, I used a q-tip to get the holes wet on the boot, and threw the inserts in a bowl of water. I did one row at a time. After applying glue to one row, I screwed in the inserts flush with the bottom of the boot. I did not want the glue to expand into the inserts where I would be screwing in the machine screws – so I mounted the aluminum bars with the screws right away as well. Make sure to get all of the screws started before tightening any of them. If you’re anything like me, your holes might be a little off, so this will allow you to fudge them around a bit.
After the glue was dry, I filed down some of the sharper corners and ends to reduce the risk of cutting into things such as my waders while hiking around. If the gorilla glue does not hold up, I might try marine goop, or 30 minute epoxy. So far, it looks like this should work great.