Competitive lumberjacks utilize an odd collection of specialized athletic shoes. They aren’t the clunky, well-heeled logger boots that keep you safe and comfortable in the woods. This may come as a surprise, but what makes a logger boot comfortable for long hours in the woods running chainsaws or climbing trees is the opposite of what a competitive athlete needs to run the six disciplines. Instead of heavy leather, the name of the game in competitive lumberjack footwear is lightweight speed.
The most common, go-to shoe style for chopping events is a smooth-soled, flexible pair of footwear. A chevron pattern on the rubber soles seems to stick to almost any surface. Limited structure in the shoes is important to allow competitors to feel where they are on a log when cutting the underhand or jumping onto springboards. Without much shape in the toe-box, competitors can easily wear chainmail socks for protection inside the shoe during the chopping disciplines. A light, free-moving, grippy shoe is most common in the underhand chop and springboard chop, although some competitors also use them in the standing block chop or even the single buck because they are so comfortable and dependable.
When more grip is needed, competitors turn to corks. Starting with a soccer cleat, competitors remove the plastic cleats, flattening the sole with a grinder or belt sander. Then 12 to 30 spikes are drilled through the sole and threaded into their bases to secure them permanently. These are the same sharpened spikes found on caulk logger boots in the Pacific Northwest. Corks allow competitors to generate rotational power by digging into the wooden stage in the single buck or standing block chop. They also give sure grip during the power sawing events so competitors don’t get pushed around by the stock saw, or the ever-powerful hot saw. Corks let a competitor feel like they are securely bolted to the deck while still being able to pick up their feet and move around when needed.
The shoes that help competitive lumberjacks perform during the STIHL® TIMBERSPORTS® Series are a far cry from the clunky boots that support the lumberjack laboring in the woods. The protection given by stiff leather and a rugged sole give way to thin-soled athletic shoes with either smooth soles for chopping or corked soles for sawing traction. Each competitor chooses what to lace up to get his cut off quickly and safely while the logger boots get left back stage.