I have no data whatsoever to back this up, but it seems as if it’s been a bad winter for falls – and with spring just around the corner, we’re likely to get more wet snowfalls in the coming weeks that freeze to ice. For the past few years, I’ve battled Portland’s slick sidewalks with a pair of those brightly colored traction devices that slip on over your shoes and keep your feet steady and beneath you. I still get stopped by random strangers begging to know where I got them.
I recently discovered a brand of these traction devices that is not only made in Maine, but is the only brand made in the entire United States. Stabilicers, made by a 25-year-old Biddeford-based company called Stabil, began as a commercial safety product worn by delivery people and utility workers who have to be outdoors a lot during winter, according to company president John Milburn. Then along came L.L. Bean, which began retailing the traction devices to ordinary consumers – now 60 percent of their business.
There are now versions of Stabilicers for just about any outdoor activity – walking, running, hiking, ice fishing – and a heel-only version for people who have to drive while wearing them. Their multi-directional cleats dig into the ice and snow, making it more difficult for you to fall. Prices vary. The walkers cost $21.95 on the company’s website.
“Our mission day in, day out is keeping people safely on their feet no matter the environment that their going into,” Milburn said. “I run year round, and in the wintertime, in Maine, I’ll take the dog on icy trails and wear our running product.”
Milburn said the company also sells to Cabela’s, EMS, hardware stores and other large independent retailers, and it contributes 10 percent of its wholesale sales to the National Park Foundation.