Monday, March 4, 2013

Boot eyelet modification for paragliding

Boot mods for paragliding

Ask anyone whose ever has had an ankle injury, and not only will they tell you that they don't repair well, but that you can end up having ongoing ankle instability issues for life. Proper flying boots are designed to reduce the severity of those injuries, thus the investment you make is one for a lifetime.

One primary feature of paragliding boots are closed loop eyelets on the lacing system, instead of hook style eyelets, so that there are no snag hazards for lines to catch on. It doesn't seem like much of an issue, but serious injuries have been reported for just that little thing.  

You also want a combination of light weight, but with good ankle protection, both for launching and for hiking up and down hills.

Crispi Paragliding boots have a removable steel insert, so that they're stiff when you want them to be (launching and landing), but softer for the hike up.

Nice, but the rouble is, the minute you add the word “Paraglider” to any commercial product, the price seems to skyrocket.

Salomon makes a boot which is popular with the free-flight paraglider community, and as it turns out the Special Forces community as well.  How cool is that? Salomon Quest GTX, boot is lightweight, with excellent ankle support, which can be further enhanced by a pair of removable orthopedic grade ankle supports like ActivAnkle, reviewed here:

Any downside, is that they have open-eyelets such as on the boots in the photo below, as part of their lacing system, and that is a deal breaker for some pilots. 
Fortunately, eyelets can be changed out with minimal time and effort, with closed-eyelet speed loops, (It took me a minute and a half to do one eyelet, once I was set up) or alternatively, a shoe repair person can do it for you for only a few bucks. 

To DIY you’ll need a Dremel style rotory tool and a cut-off blade, and some rivets.

While you grind off the original rivet, be careful not to overheat the metal, and thus melt or burn the boot material.  Keep a damp rag handy, to cool the surface periodically, till the old eye-hook comes away.  

The post of the old rivet will probably have a small finishing washer which you’ll want to keep and reuse.

Attach the closed-loop eyelet and a new rivet cap, tap them together with a rivet setting tool and you’re done.

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