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Yaktrax is an ice traction "device" that you slip onto the bottom of your shoe. Can one wear this on Shabbat? Possible concerns:

  • boneh - "building". Wearing the device involves stretching a band onto the bottom of your shoe which causes some untwisting of the contraption as well as creating the toothed / ridged coil "grip" on the bottom of the shoe.
  • Walking with these ridged / cleated device on snow makes ruts in the snow. On hard ice, it makes a dent, if the ice pack is somewhat loose, it may even crush or break the ice itself forming either ice crumbs or breaking the ice pack forming separate sheets. Perhaps, this is a violation of kore'ah - tearing, or something similar?
  • If there is no eruv, would this be considered carrying? While you are attaching it to your shoe, it is not a piece of clothing like a boot, and I don't know if it would fal in the same category as tachshit - jewelry - which is permitted.
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On the simplest level, if you must expose yourself to physical danger by going out on Shabbat when it is dangerous from ice and snow, you would have a heter in terms of 'sakanah nefashot', danger to life. The questions of binyan and making a mark are not relevant. There is no creation of a toothed edge. It exists both before and after placing the YakTrak on your shoe. The question of 'making a mark' in the snow or ice relates to the idea of folding a tallit which can be found in other discussions on this site.

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    Sources? And why assume you can actively put yourself in a situation that creates sakanat nefashot? – andrewmh20 May 24 '16 at 20:21
  • Look into Shulchan Aruch in the laws related to 'Shmirat HaGuf' and the same subject in Mishnah Torah and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch. Regarding the subject of whether it is a danger to life walking without proper footwear in ice and snow, you clearly haven't done much walking in that type of condition. – Yaacov Deane May 24 '16 at 21:08
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    please add in that relevant issue – andrewmh20 May 25 '16 at 4:26
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I once asked about this to Rabbi Dovid Feinstein. He said the product as is would not be permissable to wear in an area which has no eruv.

His said since it provides no protection from outside elements it cannot be considered a malbush, clothing.

He continued and said if the rubber sole would be solid and come up and cover at least past where the sole of the shoe is attached to the upper part of the shoe, making it water resistant, that would be enough of a protection to allow wearing it, just like galoshes.

He did not seem concerned about the other issues you pointed out.

He did mention that if one cannot walk outside without these devices he should stay home. It is no different than someone who can only walk outside with a cane, which is not allowed due to hotza'ah. (If this person walks with a cane indoors too, he would be allowed to go out, but that does not apply to this device. I hope.)

  • Source for your sentence about a cane: Mishna B'rura 301:64. If a person is incapable of any amount of walking whatsoever without a cane, he can walk out with it, as the cane has the same status as a shoe for him (ibid. 301:63). The Bei'ur Halacha there (s.v. אבל) discusses whether it is biblically considered carrying for someone who is able to walk a tiny bit without a cane, or whether it is prohibited by a rabbinic decree דילמא אתי לאתויי. – Fred Jun 22 '16 at 21:01

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