EP2294936A1 - Water barrier for footwear - Google Patents

Water barrier for footwear Download PDF

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Publication number
EP2294936A1
EP2294936A1 EP10176462A EP10176462A EP2294936A1 EP 2294936 A1 EP2294936 A1 EP 2294936A1 EP 10176462 A EP10176462 A EP 10176462A EP 10176462 A EP10176462 A EP 10176462A EP 2294936 A1 EP2294936 A1 EP 2294936A1
Authority
EP
European Patent Office
Prior art keywords
footwear
channel
upper
water
barrier element
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Withdrawn
Application number
EP10176462A
Other languages
German (de)
French (fr)
Inventor
Kiyotaka Nakano
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Wolverine Outdoors Inc
Original Assignee
Wolverine World Wide Inc
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US12/558,072 priority Critical patent/US20110061269A1/en
Application filed by Wolverine World Wide Inc filed Critical Wolverine World Wide Inc
Publication of EP2294936A1 publication Critical patent/EP2294936A1/en
Application status is Withdrawn legal-status Critical

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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B7/00Footwear with health or hygienic arrangements
    • A43B7/06Ventilated footwear
    • A43B7/08Footwear with air-holes, with or without closures
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B13/00Soles; Sole and heel units
    • A43B13/02Soles; Sole and heel units characterised by the material
    • A43B13/12Soles with several layers of different materials
    • A43B13/125Soles with several layers of different materials characterised by the midsole or middle layer
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B17/00Insoles for insertion, e.g. footbeds or inlays, for attachment to the shoe after the upper has been joined
    • A43B17/10Insoles for insertion, e.g. footbeds or inlays, for attachment to the shoe after the upper has been joined specially adapted for sweaty feet; waterproof
    • A43B17/107Insoles for insertion, e.g. footbeds or inlays, for attachment to the shoe after the upper has been joined specially adapted for sweaty feet; waterproof waterproof
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B7/00Footwear with health or hygienic arrangements
    • A43B7/12Special watertight footwear

Abstract

A footwear construction including a barrier clement that restricts the transfer of water into the footwear. The footwear can include an upper joined with a sole, with at least one of the upper and sole defining a channel that allows air to circulate to the upper. The barrier element can be located in the channel, and can include a phase change material that swells to close the channel when subjected to water. The barrier element can act as a valve to restrict the flow of water into the upper through the channel when subjected to water. The barrier element can be water absorbing polymer included in a non-woven sheet. When dry, the barrier element can allow air to pass through the channel and circulate to an interior of the upper. The barrier element can be wetted and dried repeatedly, yet still function to restrict water flow into the footwear.

Description

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates to footwear, and more particularly to footwear for outdoor use.
  • Outdoor footwear products are typically designed to provide, among other things, comfort in a variety of environmental conditions. For example, most outdoor footwear is designed to keep feet dry when exposed to wet or damp conditions, such as that encountered when a wearer traverses water, or engages in activity in rain or snow. If not addressed, such conditions can quickly saturate the footwear with water, possibly causing discomfort, blisters, and bacteria growth if not controlled.
  • Many manufacturers waterproof outdoor footwear to prevent water from entering the footwear and causing the above issues. While this technique works in some cases, it can create additional issues. For example, if the wearer steps in water deeper than the height of the footwear, water will fill the waterproof footwear. Water also may enter waterproof footwear by running down the wearer's leg into the footwear. After water enters waterproof footwear, the waterproofing features typically prevent water from exiting the footwear and drying out, thereby increasing discomfort for the wearer. Further, the waterproofing features of most waterproof footwear significantly reduce air circulation. In such cases, waterproof footwear can cause excessive perspiration, and can actually contribute to wetness or perspiration build-up within the footwear.
  • While many manufacturers have attempted to provide waterproof footwear with a variety of constructions, there still remains room for improvement.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • A footwear construction is provided including a system that manages footwear air circulation, as well as moisture and/or water infiltration.
  • In one embodiment, the footwear includes a barrier element that restricts the transfer of water into the footwear. The footwear can include a channel leading from an exterior of the footwear to an interior of the footwear. When contacted with water or other liquid, the barrier element can close at least a portion of the channel to restrict the flow of water or other liquid from the exterior of the footwear to the interior of the footwear, thereby providing a water barrier.
  • In another embodiment, the footwear can include an upper joined with a sole, with at least one of the upper and sole defining the channel. The channel allows air to circulate to the upper. The barrier element can be located in the channel, and can include a phase change material that when wet, swells to close the channel. Optionally, the barrier element can act as a valve to restrict the flow of water into the upper through the channel when subjected to water.
  • In yet another embodiment, the barrier element can include a water absorbing polymer included in a non-woven sheet. When dry, the barrier element can allow air to pass through the channel and circulate to an interior of the upper. When wet, the barrier element can change in dimension, and in so doing, can close at least a portion of the channel to restrict water flow into the footwear. Optionally, the barrier element can be wetted and dried repeatedly, yet still function to restrict water flow into the footwear when wet.
  • In still another embodiment, the sole can include a midsole and an outsole. The channel can be defined in the midsole, and can extend from an exterior of the footwear to an interior of the upper. The barrier element can be at least partially positioned in the channel, and can undergo a phase change to at least partially close the channel when exposed to water, thereby restricting a flow of water from the exterior of the footwear to the interior of the upper.
  • In a further embodiment, the upper of the footwear can include a waterproof membrane. The waterproof membrane can define an opening in fluid communication with the channel that leads to the exterior of the footwear. The opening optionally can be located on the bottom of the upper, adjacent the sole. The barrier element can enable air to circulate through the channel and the opening when dry, yet restrict water from passing through the channel and opening when the barrier element is wet.
  • In yet a further embodiment, a secondary element including a base and a mesh screen can be included in the channel between the barrier element and the exterior of the footwear. The screen can prevent dirt or debris from clogging the exit of the channel to the environment.
  • In still a further embodiment, the barrier element can be located adjacent the secondary element with a gap formed at least partially therebetween. The mesh screen can allow water to pass through the mesh screen to contact the barrier element. The barrier element can swell when contacted with the water that passes through the mesh screen to at least partially close the gap.
  • In another further embodiment, the footwear can include a sealing element joined with a barrier element. The sealing element can be located adjacent a portion of the channel, for example, a hole in the sole, that is in fluid communication with the interior of the footwear. The sealing element can be aligned with the hole so that it closes the hole when the barrier element expands, thereby restricting water from flowing into the hole and further into the footwear interior.
  • The footwear construction herein provides improved ventilation in dry environments, and also provides a substantial barrier to water infiltration in wet environments. The barrier element can be included in channels that provide air flow to the interior of the footwear. The barrier element, when dry, can facilitate the exchange of air between the interior of the upper and the exterior of the footwear via the channels. This provides a somewhat open and breathable structure for the footwear. The barrier element, when wet, can expand in dimension and/or swell to close the channels leading from the footwear exterior to the interior. Optionally, the barrier element can undergo a physical transformation to restrict water from passing through the barrier element. In turn, this can restrict the passage of water into the upper.
  • These and other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of the invention, when viewed in accordance with the accompanying drawings and appended claims.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
    • Fig. 1 is side view of a footwear construction of a current embodiment;
    • Fig. 2 is an exploded perspective view of the footwear;
    • Fig. 3 is a top view of a sole of the footwear;
    • Fig. 4 is a section view of the footwear taken along line 4-4 of Fig. 1 when dry;
    • Fig. 5 is a second section view of the footwear taken along line 4-4 of Fig. 1 when the footwear is subjected to water;
    • Fig. 6 is a section view of the footwear taken along line 6-6 of Fig. 1 when dry;
    • Fig. 7 is a close up view of a barrier element in the footwear shown in Fig. 6 when dry;
    • Fig. 8 is a second section view of the footwear taken along line 6-6 of Fig. 1 when the footwear is subjected to water;
    • Fig. 9 is a close up view of a barrier element in the footwear shown in Fig. 4 when the footwear is subjected to water;
    • Fig. 10 is a section view of a first alternative embodiment of the footwear taken along line 6-6 of Fig. 1;
    • Fig. 11 is a section view of a second alternative embodiment of the footwear taken along line 6-6 of Fig. 1;
    • Fig. 12 is a section view of a third alternative embodiment of the footwear taken along line 6-6 of Fig. 1;
    • Fig. 13 is a section view of a fourth alternative embodiment of the footwear taken along line 6-6 of Fig. 1 when dry; and
    • Fig. 14 is a section view of the fourth alternative embodiment of the footwear taken along line 6-6 of Fig. 1 when the footwear is subjected to water.
    DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE CURRENT EMBODIMENTS I. Overview
  • A boot incorporating the construction of a current embodiment is shown in Figs. 1-9 and generally designated 10. For purposes of the disclosure, the embodiment is described in connection with a three-quarter height boot, however, the construction is well suited for use with other types of soled footwear. In general, the boot includes an upper 20 joined with a sole 90, which can include an outsole 40 and a midsole 30. The midsole 30 can include a heel wedge 50 located in the heel region 44 of the boot 10. The midsole 30 also can include channels 60 that extend from an exterior 110 of the footwear to an interior 120 of the upper 20. These channels 60 can provide fluid communication between the exterior 110 and interior 120. This fluid communication can provide air flow in to and out from the upper, which in turn can provide improved ventilation to a user's foot when positioned in the footwear 10.
  • At least one barrier element 70 is in fluid communication with the channels 60. The barrier element 70 can be constructed from a variety of materials that undergo a transformation or a phase change that in some manner closes off at least a portion of the one or more channels 60 to restrict water flow from an exterior 110 of the footwear to the interior 120 of the footwear when subjected to water. When dry, the barrier element 70 also allows air to circulate between the interior 120 and the exterior 110, as described in more detail below. In general, the barrier element 70 provides the relatively open and breathable structure when dry, which allows ample ventilation to the wearer's foot. The barrier element, however, becomes substantially impassable by water when wet, and generally closes a substantial portion of the channel to prevent water from flowing through it.
  • It is also noted that while the barrier element 70 is primarily illustrated as being utilized in the sole 80 of the footwear, for example, in the midsole 30, the barrier element 70 can also be utilized in the outsole and/or upper 120 as desired.
  • As used herein, the term "arch region" refers generally to a portion of the shoe corresponding to the arch of the wearer's foot; the term "forefoot region" refers generally to a portion of the foot forward of the arch region corresponding to the forefoot (for example, the ball and toes) of a wearer's foot; and the term "heel region" refers generally to that portion of the shoe rearward of the arch region corresponding to the heel of the wearer's foot. The forefoot region 42, arch region 43, and heel region 44 are generally identified in Fig. 1; however, the delineation of these regions may vary depending on the configuration of the footwear.
  • II. Construction
  • Referring to Figs. 1-9, the components of the footwear 10 will now be described in more detail, beginning with the upper 20. The upper 20 can be generally conventional, and can include a vamp 22, quarters 24, and a backstay 26. Optionally, a removable footbed (not shown) can be positioned inside the upper 20 as desired. With reference to Figs. 2 and 4, the upper 20 includes a lower portion that transitions to an allowance 23, also referred to as a peripheral allowance, which is folded inward toward the center of the footwear 23. The footwear 23 can be lasted to a sole board (not shown) or Stroebel stitched to an insole 25 and/or a fabric sock liner. The insole 25 can be generally flexible, and can be cemented, stitched, stapled, or otherwise fastened to the upper, and in particular, the peripheral allowance 23. The insole 25 can be constructed from a variety of conventional materials.
  • As shown in Fig. 2, the insole 25 can define one or more holes or apertures 26. These apertures 26 can be defined in different portions of the insole 25, for example, in the forefoot region 42 and in the heel region 44, or in other combinations of regions as desired. Although shown as being separate, the holes 26 can be a continuous single hole extending from the heel region 44 to the forefoot region 42. The holes 26 can extend both through the material of the upper 20, as well as any internal liners (discussed below) used in the upper 20.
  • The sole 90 can extend upwardly along the sides of the upper a sufficient distance to cover the holes 26 in the bottom of the footwear. Sufficient cement and/or adhesives can also be utilized to act as a water barrier to prevent water from leaking between the upper and the midsole, where they are joined together into the holes 26, and causing water infiltration at that location. Further optionally, although illustrated as elongate holes, the apertures 26 can be a series of smaller slits or holes.
  • As shown in Fig. 2, a mesh 27 can extend across the respective holes 26. The mesh can be formed from canvas, nylon, metal or polymeric screens, or open pore fabrics or cloth or other synthetic materials. The mesh can be an open, breathable construction that allows moisture and air to freely pass through it with minimal restriction. The mesh can be joined with the adjacent portion of the insole 25 in a variety of manners, for example, by stitching, cementing, or otherwise fastening the mesh to the material surrounding the respective hole 26. Optionally, in constructions where the insole 25 has sufficient integrity, the mesh can be removed. Further optionally, the insole 25 can be constructed from a breathable, circulation promoting material and the holes 26 and associated mesh 27 can both be absent.
  • In the embodiment shown in Fig. 2, the mesh 27 in the openings 26 is generally aligned with respective channel 60 in the heel 44 and forefoot 42 regions of the footwear 10 so that air passing from the exterior 110 of the footwear to the interior of the footwear 120 passes through the channels, as well as the openings 26 and mesh 27, respectively.
  • As illustrated in Fig. 4, the mesh 27 can be aligned with the holes 39 defined in the midsole 30, which again are further aligned with, and optionally form a part of the channels 60. In such a configuration, air flow indicated by arrows 113 and 115 can flow into and out from the interior 120 of the footwear in dry conditions.
  • The footwear 10 also can include a liner 28, also referred to as a waterproof membrane herein. The liner 28 can extend downwardly and terminate adjacent the hole 26 at a periphery 29. With such a construction, air can circulate from the interior 120 of the upper through the hole 26 and optionally out the channels 60 to the exterior 110 of the footwear. The liner also can extend upwardly to the top of the upper, terminating a second opening that fits around the neck of the ankle of a wearer.
  • In general, the liner or waterproof membrane 29 restricts water from entering the interior of the upper. The waterproof membrane 28 can be constructed from any material, but in the embodiment illustrated, is constructed from a water-impermeable fabric or material. Suitable materials for use to form the waterproof membrane include materials sold under the trademark Gore-Tex, which is commercially available from W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc., of Newark, Delaware, as well as materials sold under the trademark SYMPATEX, which is commercially available from SympaTex Technologies GmbH of Wuppertal, Germany. Optionally, the waterproof membrane can be constructed from a continuous layer of waterproof thermoplastic or adhesive, which coats the interior of the upper, or further optionally constructed from a polyurethane membrane or latex seam seal construction. Regardless of the materials used, all of the foregoing can be considered to form a waterproof membrane as used herein. Furthermore, although certain materials are not considered to be completely waterproof, that is, they are water resistant or generally form water barriers, they may also be used to construct the waterproof membrane of the footwear 10.
  • The outsole 40 can be manufactured from a relatively hard rubber or other sufficiently durable or wear-resistant material. The bottom 46 can include an outer surface 48 that forms the wearing surface of the outsole 40, and can be contoured to the desired heel and trim pattern. The outer surface 48 can be textured to provide traction from the heel to the forefoot if desired. Optionally, the upper surface 47 can be contoured to form portions of the respective channels 60.
  • As shown in Figs. 1-5, the midsole 30 of the sole 90 can extend from the heel region 44 to the forefoot region 42, and can be formed as a single, unitary and integral structure. The midsole 30 can include one or more channels 60 extending from the exterior 110 of the footwear inwardly through the midsole 30. These channels 60 can define openings 61 in the exterior visible surface 31 of the midsole as shown in Figs. 1 and 2. The openings 61 can transition to elongate portions 63 of the channel 60.
  • The channels can be formed in part by the midsole 30, as well as the upper surface 47 of the outsole 40. For example, the channels 60 can be defined partially by the midsole 30, while a bottom wall of the channel is defined by the upper surface 47 of the outsole. It is noted here that the outsole 40 can be adhered or cemented directly to the midsole 30 in the current embodiment. Of course, the midsole and outsole can be of a integral monolithic structure that is alternatively direct attached to the upper 20 in other applications. The midsole can be constructed from a variety of materials, such as polyurethane, ethyl vinyl acetate, or any other conventional material.
  • Returning to Fig. 2, the channels 60 can be defined in both the upper 33 and lower 32 surfaces of the midsole 30. If desired, the midsole 30 can include multiple lower channels 64 and upper channels 65 that generally intersect one another as described in U.S. Patent 6,701,640 to Nakano , which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. The upper channels and lower channels can intersect at openings 66 to cooperatively provide fluid flow paths vertically through the midsole. A number of the channels 60 in the forefoot are open to the environment via the openings 61. The channels 68 shown in Fig. 3 running lengthwise along the midsole 30 can generally connect the channels 60 in the forefoot region and the heel region. Other channel structures can be substituted as desired. For example, the sole 90 can simply include open-ended tube-shaped apertures that open to the exterior 110 through the outsole 40 or through side 31 of the midsole 30, and extend upwardly to the upper surface 33 of the midsole 30 so that they are in fluid communication with the holes 26 and/or interior 120 of the upper.
  • With reference to Fig. 3, a shank 81 can be joined with or molded integrally with the midsole 30 or other component of the footwear as desired. The shank can be positioned at least partially in the arch region 43 and/or the heel region 44 of the footwear, and can be constructed of metal, plastic, or other conventional shank materials.
  • With reference to Fig. 2, in the forefoot region 42 of the footwear, the midsole 30 can define grooves 36 which extend generally lengthwise along the sole 90. These grooves 36 can be generally transverse to and can intersect one or more of the channels 60. The depth of the grooves 60 can be slightly greater than the vertical depth of the channels. The grooves can be located between the exterior 110 of the footwear and/or the openings 66 that provide fluid communication between the lower channels 64 and the upper channels 65, which collectively form a part of the channels 60. Optionally, the grooves 36 can be located between the opening 61 to the holes 26 that lead to the interior 120 of the upper. The grooves 36 can be reproduced on the both the medial and lateral sides of the footwear or wherever the channels 60 open to the exterior of the footwear.
  • Fig. 4 illustrates a cross section of the groove 36 in the forefoot region and its intersection with the channels 60. In general, the groove 36 is adapted to receive a barrier element 70. Accordingly, it can be slightly larger than the barrier element 70 so that the barrier element 70 can fit within it.
  • Referring to Fig. 2, the sole 90 can include a heel wedge 50. The heel wedge optionally can be constructed from a different density or durometer material from the midsole. The heel wedge 50 can be fitted into the heel region within a cavity 37 defined by the under surface 32 of the midsole 30. The heel wedge itself can define multiple subchannels 52 that extend laterally across it. These wedge subchannels 52 are open so that they fluidly communicate with the corresponding channels 60 defined in the heel region of the footwear, which themselves are generally defined in the bottom surface 32 of the midsole.
  • The heel wedge 50 can include multiple additional components and take on a variety of configurations. For example, as illustrated in Figs. 2 and 3, it can include a lateral shoulder 55 extending generally away from the heel wedge lateral sidewall 57. In general, these two components, the lateral shoulder 55 and the lateral sidewall 57, can function to form a portion of groove 36 that is transversely oriented relative to one or more channels 60 in the heel region as explained in further detail below.
  • As shown in Figs. 2 and 6, the sole 90 can include barrier elements 70. These barrier elements 70 can be disposed and the heel and forefoot regions as illustrated, or any combination of the heel, forefoot and arch regions, depending on the particular footwear and activity in which the footwear is to be used. The barrier elements 70 can be constructed of any material or composition which, when dry allows air to pass through and/or around it, but when wet, restricts the flow of water through it and/or around it. Optionally, the barrier element can be constructed from a material or composition which is of a first dimension and generally configured in a reduced mode, when dry. When subjected to water or other liquids, however, the barrier element swells and/or increases in dimension to a swelled mode. When placed in a tight fitting area, the barrier element can swell sufficiently to close gaps or regions between it and immediately adjacent surfaces so that water or liquids are restricted from passing between the barrier element and those surfaces. In the swelled mode, the barrier element also optionally can close off internal passageways to restrict water from flowing through the element. As used herein, restricting a flow of water or liquid generally means that the flow of water can be completely or partially prevented from passing around and/or through a structure or space.
  • Explained in another way, the structure of the barrier element 70 can be such that when it is contacted with water, the water absorbent material (described below) included within it, increases in dimension as it absorbs liquids, and in general, acts as a valve to restrict the flow of water into the upper through the channels when the footwear is subjected to water. For example, the water absorbent material can undergo a volume change and swells or expands. This can cause the overall dimensions of the barrier element to increase. Where the barrier element is placed in close proximity to adjacent components, with relatively small gaps between it and the adjacent components, the swelling causes the barrier element to protrude and project further into those gaps, thereby generally causing them to close. Where the gaps form a portion of channels, the water in the channels can be prevented from moving through the gaps.
  • Further, or alternatively, the barrier element can be constructed so that when dry, air is enabled to circulate directly through the barrier element from a first surface to a second opposing surface on the other side of the barrier element. When subjected to liquid, such as water, the water absorbent polymers, as noted above, swell. This swelling causes the closure of the passage ways between the water absorbent polymers and the fabric or other material within which the water absorbent polymer is embedded. In turn, the closure of the small passageways also further restricts water from passing through the barrier element 70.
  • The barrier element 70 can include a non-woven material including a water absorbent polymer that expands in size when exposed to water. One such material is referred to as a water expandable non-woven cloth, which is available from Kyowa Rubber Co. Ltd. of Hirakata City, Osaka, Japan. As illustrated in the close up of the non-woven material in Fig. 7, the material can generally include multiple, closely packed fibers 71 joined with one another, like a felt, with the water absorbing polymers 72 included within and intermixed among and/or on the fibers. The fibers can be in a fabric form, configured in a web, which can be single or multi-layered, and can include any number of woven or non-woven fibrous webs, including, but not limited to a spun-bound web, an air laid web, and/or a hydro-entangled fibrous web. Further, the fabric can be made up of one or kinds of fibers. The web may contain cotton, reconstituted cellulose fibers, polyester fibers or melt-blown polypropylene fibers in combination with other materials, for example, wood pulp, wood cellulose fibers, and/or lightly bonded melt-blown synthetic fibers.
  • The water absorbent polymers or materials suitable with the footwear 10 include super absorbent polymers that are capable of absorbing several times their own weight of water or aqueous liquids. Some suitable super absorbent polymers can include carboxyl-related polymers that are cross linked by metal ions or organic cross-linking agents when heated and dried on the base web or fabric. The super absorbent polymers can be joined or bonded with the fibers, web or fabric using a suitable manufacturing techniques, for example, those provided in U.S. Patent 5,071,681 to Manning and U.S. Patent 5,451,219 to Suzuki , both of which are incorporated by reference in their entirety.
  • As shown in Fig. 2, the barrier element can be provided in sheets or strips to fit within the grooves 36 and optionally traverse multiple channels 60 so that multiple independent barrier elements 70 need not be placed in each individual channel. If desired, however, the barrier elements can be constructed as multiple independent pieces and configured to fit within each individual channel 60.
  • Although shown as being positioned relatively near the opening 61 of the channels 60, the barrier element 70 can be positioned further inward within the channels. Further, the channels 60 themselves can include a variety of structures that are interconnected. In general, as used herein, a channel can include any number of connected elements that generally provide collective fluid and/or liquid communication between the exterior 110 of the footwear and the interior 120 of the upper.
  • As shown in Figs. 2, 3 and 7, the barrier element 70 in the heel region can be generally positioned in close proximity to the heel wedge 50. Optionally, the heel wedge 50 can form at least a portion of the grooves 36 of the midsole 30. For example, the grooves 36 in the heel region adjacent the heel wedge 50 can be bounded by the heel wedge lateral shoulder 55 and a heel wedge sidewall 57. In addition, the groove 36 can also be bounded by a portion of the midsole cavity 37, as well as a secondary element 80. Generally speaking, the groove 36 in the heel can be bounded by multiple components, for example, the bottom-most portion of the midsole cavity 37, the sidewall 57 of the heel wedge, as well as a lower shoulder 55 of the heel wedge, in addition to the secondary element 80. Of course, if desired, the groove 36 could be defined by only one, or select ones of these components where included.
  • The footwear can include multiple secondary elements 80 located at least partially in the channels 60, in the forefoot, arch and/or heel regions of the footwear. The secondary elements 80 can be positioned at least partially within the groove 36 defined by the midsole and transverse at least a portion of one or more channels 60 defined with a midsole. Secondary elements 80, as shown in Figs. 2, 6 and 7, can include a base 82 defining one or more apertures or holes 84. The apertures 84 generally can be aligned with the channels 60 in the forefoot and heel regions of the footwear. The secondary elements 80 can also include a mesh 86 positioned within the holes 24. The mesh 60 can generally extend across the entire openings or at least a portion of the openings. This mesh can be any of the types of mesh explained above.
  • In general, the mesh 86 is aligned with the barrier element 80 within the channel 60. When the footwear is subjected to water, the mesh is of a sufficient size to allow water to pass through it to contact the barrier element and initiate a physical transformation of the barrier element in which it swells to restrict water from flowing through and/or around it.
  • The mesh 86 can be in the form of a screen that restricts mud and other solids or debris from passing into the sole 90 through openings 61, farther into the channels 60 toward the interior 120 of the footwear 10. The mesh optionally can be molded over by the material from which the base 82 is constructed. The base 82 can generally be a molded plastic or composite or other substrate that is molded directly over the mesh 86 to join the mesh and the base. Alternatively, the mesh can be glued, cemented or otherwise fastened to the base. Of course, if desired, the base 82 and mesh 86 can be completely separate elements simply placed adjacent one another.
  • As shown in Figs. 2 and 4, the barrier element 70 can be placed adjacent the base 82, and in general, the secondary element 80. Both of these components can be configured so that they fit side-by-side one another in the groove 36. The components also can be joined with one another via spot gluing or other joining techniques. Where spot glued, the components can still enable air to flow between them relatively freely. Thus, spot gluing does not form an air- impervious glue barrier around the respective channels. Of course, where water or air permeable glue is used, or in circumstances where the barrier element is very porous, allowing sufficient air flow through it, a continuous bead of glue can be utilized. If the construction does not utilize the secondary element 80, the barrier element 70 can be spot glued directly to the midsole or attached via other fasteners or cement or bonding devices to the midsole 30. Alternatively, the barrier element 70 and/or the secondary element 80 can be loosely positioned within the groove 36 defined by the midsole, and held there simply by virtue of it being entrapped within the groove when the outsole 40 is joined with the midsole 30.
  • As shown in Figs. 4 and 7, the barrier element 70 can be positioned within the groove so that gaps 77 and 78 are established between the barrier element 80 and the remainder of the midsole 30 and/or secondary element 80 and/or heel wedge 50. In general, the gaps between the barrier element 80 and other components of the footwear 10 can be variable in dimension. For example, when the barrier element 70 is relatively dry, that is, it has not been recently subjected to water or moisture, the gaps 77 and 78 achieve their greatest dimensions. When the barrier element 70 is subjected to water, it swells and optionally changes dimensions so that the gaps 77 and 78 achieve their smallest dimensions. In many cases, the smallest dimensions of the gaps are small enough that water cannot easily pass or flow through them.
  • The gaps 77 and 78 generally can form a part of the channel 60. In cooperation with the other portions of the channels 60, when dry, the gaps enable air to circulate to the interior 120 of the upper from the exterior or environment 110 of the footwear. Although the various gaps 77 and 78 are illustrated as being relatively open, given the structure of some embodiments of the barrier element, the fibers 71 (where included) of the barrier element 70 can project into the gaps, and in some cases touch adjacent components, such as, the secondary element, the heel wedge, or other midsole components. Despite having the fibers 71 or other structures projecting into them, these spaces 77 and 78 are still considered gaps for purposes of this disclosure.
  • III. Operation and Manufacture
  • The operation of a current embodiment of the footwear 10 will now be described. In general, the footwear 10 is adapted to provide a system that manages air circulation as well as moisture and/or water infiltration into the footwear. As shown in Figs. 1-3, the channels 60 open to the exterior 110. The channels, although formed from a variety of different components and compartments, are in fluid communication with the interior of the upper 120. The channels, however, are also in fluid communication with one or more barrier elements 70. The barrier elements 70 can be at least partially positioned within the channels 60. In a normal dry environment, where the exterior of the footwear is generally dry as shown in Figs. 4 and 7, the barrier elements 70 can be configured so that air can travel freely through the barrier 70 as well as around the barrier, through the gaps 77 and 78 located between the barrier and other components of the footwear. The air can travel in and out of the footwear to provide improved circulation to the wearer's foot within the interior 120 of the footwear.
  • For example, as shown in Figs. 6 and 7, air flows through the channels 60 as illustrated by the various arrows. The barrier element 70 allows the air to flow in to and out from the interior 120 directly through the barrier element and/or around the barrier element, through the gaps 77 and 78 adjacent the barrier element.
  • The construction of the footwear in the heel region 44 can also be configured so that it enhances air circulation. As shown in Fig. 6, when a user exerts force on the top plate 34 of the midsole 30, for example, when the wearer's heel strikes the heel plate 34 in the direction of arrow 158, the heel plate 34 can deflect slightly, as shown in phantom lines. In turn, this causes air to exhaust from the interior 120 of the footwear as well as the chambers 35 of the midsole and/or heel wedge 50. When the wearer continues their stride, and the heel is drawn off the heel plate 34 in the direction of the arrow 156, air is rapidly drawn into the interior 120 of the footwear, around and/or through the barrier element 70. This can provide increased air circulation. In general, when the barrier element is dry, it is relatively "open." Accordingly, air can pass relatively easily through and/or around it, within the channels, providing a high degree of ventilation. When in this relatively dry form, the barrier element is generally referred to as being configured in its reduced mode.
  • The barrier element 70 undergoes a phase change or transformation when it becomes wetted with liquid, such as water. As a result, the barrier element 70 functions to restrict water flow into the interior 120 of the upper. In turn, this can provide a highly efficient water barrier. In general, when the barrier element becomes wet, the water absorbent polymers or other material within it absorb water and begin to physically swell. As the swelling continues, the internal passageways of the barrier element become substantially closed and/or constructed. The barrier element 70 also swells against other components of the footwear to effectively close off gaps 77, 78, or other gaps, that were previously adjacent the barrier element that allowed air to circulate by or around the barrier element. With the constriction or closure of the internal passageways and gaps adjacent the barrier element, the barrier element provides a barrier to the flow of water through the channel 60 and into the interior 120 of the footwear. Where the waterproof membrane 28 is included, that membrane provides waterproofing to the upper 20 above the sole 90.
  • Depending on the particular material used to construct the barrier element 70, the barrier element may or may not prevent all liquids and/or water from passing through it or around it and into the interior of the footwear. Optionally, it at least restricts water flow so that the interior of the footwear 120 is not substantially wetted from water passing completely through the channel 60 into the interior 120.
  • More specific examples of the operation of the footwear are shown in Figs. 4 and 5. In Fig. 4, the footwear is in a dry environment were water has not contacted the barrier element 70. Accordingly, air continues to circulate around the barrier element 70. However, as shown in Fig. 5, when water or liquid from the footwear 10 is subjected to water or liquid on its exterior 110, the water travels into the channels 60 and engages and contacts the barrier element 70. The barrier element 70 swells and expands to at least partially close the former gaps 77, 78 around the barrier element 70. The internal passageways of the barrier element 70 are also at least partially closed. In turn, the barrier element acts as a water barrier to restrict the flow of water through the channels 60 into the interior 120 of the footwear.
  • Referring to Figs. 6 and 8, the operation of the water barrier in the heel is generally illustrated. Again, Fig. 6 illustrates free movement and flow of air to and from the interior and exterior 110 and 120 in a dry environment. When the footwear 10 is subjected to water as shown in Fig. 8, the barrier element 70 swells or expands in dimension from its reduced mode to its expanded mode. In so doing, it closes off the channel 60 so that the water is restricted from passing through the channel 60 from the exterior 110 to the interior 120. While the barrier element is subjected to water, it maintains its transformed state so that it continues to restrict water from entering the interior 120 of the footwear through the channel 60.
  • After the footwear 10 is removed from the wet environment, that is, it is no longer subjected to water, the barrier element 70 can begin drying out. As it does, it transforms from its swelled mode back to its reduced mode and in so doing, reduces in dimension. This in turn causes the various gaps 77, 78 around the barrier elements to reopen to an air circulating configuration. Additionally, where included, the internal passageways that extend generally through the barrier element 70 reopen so that air can begin to circulate through the barrier element as well. In this manner, the barrier element is able to regenerate itself to provide air circulation again after it dries out. However, when it becomes wet again or subject to water, it will again restrict the flow of water from the environment 110 into the interior 120 of the footwear 10.
  • The manufacture of the footwear will now be described with reference to Figs. 1-4. In general, the upper 20 is manufactured using conventional techniques and apparatus. For example, the desired upper material (not shown) can be cut to form the upper 20. The multiple elements of the upper 20 such as the vamp 22, quarters 24 and back stay 26 are fitted and sewn together. The optional waterproof membrane or liner 28 can be secured within the upper via adhesives or stitching that does not deteriorate the water impermeability of the membrane or liner in the desired areas. The liner 28 can also be fitted to the upper so that in the finished footwear 10 it extends downward a sufficient distance so that the later-added midsole 30 terminates above the lowermost portion of the liner.
  • The peripheral allowance 23 can be Stroebel stitched or otherwise attached to the insole 28. The insole 28 can be prefinished to include holes 26 and the respective mesh 27 within the holes. The outsole 40, midsole 30 and heel wedge 50 can be manufactured including the features described above. These components can be injection molded or porer molded from the respective materials as discussed above.
  • With the midsole manufactured, it can be outfitted with strips of the barrier elements 70 disposed within the respective grooves 36. If utilized, the secondary element 80 including the base 84 and mesh 86 can be included in the grooves 36, generally between the barrier element and the opening 61 of the channel 60. If desired, the secondary element 80 can be glued within the groove. The barrier element 70 also can be spot glued within the groove 36 to the midsole and/or the secondary element 80, generally positioned transverse to one or more channels 60 in the sole 80.
  • With the barrier element 70, and where included, the secondary elements 80 in place in the groove, the outsole 40 can be adhered to the midsole 30. In so doing, the outsole 40 as illustrated can complete the channels 60 on the underside of the midsole 30. With the midsole and outsole j joined with one another, the sole 80 is adhered or cemented to the upper 20.
  • With the sole 80 joined with the upper, the finished footwear 10 can undergo a number of conventional finishing operations. For example, the midsole 30 and outsole 40 and other parts thereof can be trimmed and shaped. The upper 20 can be clean, polished and treated as desired.
  • IV. First Alternative Embodiment
  • A first alternative embodiment of the footwear is illustrated in Fig. 10. This footwear is similar to the embodiment described above with several exceptions. For example, the sole 280 generally does not include a heel wedge. Instead, it includes a structure having a tray-like or u-shaped barrier element 270 positioned adjacent a secondary element 280. The secondary element 280 can include the mesh screen as described above to prevent debris from entering the footwear. The sole 280 can also define multiple sets of channels 260 and 266. The channel 260 includes an opening 261 defined in a sidewall 231 of the midsole 230. The sole 280 also can include a second larger channel 266 that extends through the outsole 240 as well as a portion of the midsole 230. The lower portion of the barrier element 270 facing the channel 266 can be adjacent a mesh 286 included in the secondary element 280. Optionally, the mesh 286 can be a completely separate element. Indeed, the mesh 286 can be joined with a portion of the barrier element 270 as desired.
  • This construction operates in a similar manner to that of the embodiment described above, with air flowing from the exterior 110 into and out from the interior 120 through the channels 260 and 266 as shown with the arrows. Again, as explained above, the barrier element can enable the air flow to pass directly through the element and/or around gaps between the element and another component of the footwear. When wetted, the barrier element operates to restrict flow through the channels 266 and 260, and generally to prevent the flow of water into the interior 120 of the footwear.
  • V. Second Alternative Embodiment
  • A second alternative embodiment of the footwear 310 is generally illustrated in Fig. 11. This embodiment is similar to the embodiments described above with several exceptions. For example, instead of having channels that open through the exterior sidewalls 331 of the midsole 330, this construction can include a large channel 366 opening through the outsole 340 and the lower portion of the midsole 330 to the environment. Like the first alternative embodiment described above, a barrier element 370 can be positioned adjacent a secondary element 380. A mesh screen 386 can be positioned immediately adjacent the barrier element to prevent dirt and debris from entering the barrier element and/or the interior 120 of the footwear. The barrier element 370 can be of a generally planar configuration, in the form of a widened strip or sheet, extending across the channel 366. When dry, the barrier element allows air to travel through the channel 366 from the exterior 110 into and out from the interior 120 of the footwear. When wet, the barrier element 370 operates in the same manner as described in the embodiments above, generally restricting liquid, such as water, from passing around and/or through the barrier element. In turn, this provides a water barrier to keep the interior 120 of the footwear relatively dry.
  • VI. Third Alternative Embodiment
  • Fig. 12 generally illustrates a third alternative embodiment of the footwear 410, which is similar to the above embodiments with several exceptions. For example, the midsole 430 and the sole 480 in general can define channels 460 extending inwardly from the sidewalls 431. These channels 431 can be in fluid communication with the interior 120 of the footwear 410. A chamber 435 can form a portion of the channels 460 as desired. The barrier element 470 can be positioned within the sidewalls 431. These barrier elements can be of a special configuration and can have a desired geometric cross section, for example, a circular, square, elliptical or other polygonal cross section, that generally matches the geometric cross section of the portion of the channels 460 within which they are positioned. A mesh screen 486 can be embedded in the material of the midsole generally between the opening 461 of the channels and the barrier element 470. The barrier element also can include an enlarged internal passageway 471. The added passageway 471 can increase air flow into and out from the footwear and air circulation in general. A gap 477 can be formed around the perimeter of the barrier element 470. The barrier element 470 can be spot glued with adhesive 479 within the channel 460.
  • Air can flow directly through the barrier element 470 through its internal passage 471 and/or around the barrier element through the gap 477 into and out from the interior 120 of the footwear. When subjected to water, however, the barrier element 470 can act as a valve and swell from a reduced mode to a swelled mode, in which it closes the gap 477 adjacent the element 470, as well as the internal passageway 471 extending through the element 470. In turn, water is restricted from flowing through or around the gap. In effect, the barrier element at least partially closes off the channel to prevent water from passing from the exterior 110 into the interior 120 of the footwear. If desired, a heel button or other cushion (not shown) can be positioned within the compartment 435. Optionally, however, the cushion can be dimensioned so that it does not completely close off the fluid communication between the openings 439 in the upper plate 434 of the midsole and the channels 460.
  • VII. Fourth Alternative Embodiment
  • A fourth alternative embodiment of the footwear 510 is generally illustrated in Figs. 13 and 14. This embodiment is similar to the embodiments described above with several exceptions. For example, the operation and construction of the barrier elements 570 differs from that of the above embodiments. This embodiment includes channels 560 that are in fluid communication with a chamber 535 which is further in communication with openings 539 in the sole 590 that open to the interior 120 of the footwear 510. As shown, the sole 590 includes a chamber 535 defined in the midsole 530. This chamber 535 is in fluid communication with the channels 560. One or more screens 586 are disposed in the channel and/or chamber 535. The barrier elements 570 can be constructed of the same materials described in the embodiments above. Joined with these barrier elements 570 are sealing elements 505. The sealing elements 505 can be constructed from rubber, polymers, nylon, EVA, PVC, or a variety of other materials.
  • The sealing elements 505 are generally aligned with the holes 539 that lead to the interior 120 of the footwear. The sealing elements 505 generally include a base 506 that extends across a portion of the individual barrier elements 570. The base 505 can be joined with the respective barrier element 570 in a variety of manners, for example, by cement, adhesives, stitching or other fastening mechanisms. The base can further optionally include a guide element 507, which extends upwardly toward the opening 539 with which the respective sealing element 505 is aligned. In general, the guiding element 507 can operate to generally center the base 506 relative to the opening 509. Of course, the guiding element 507 can be absent from the construction if desired.
  • Although shown as multiple separate sealing elements 505 (as illustrated there are three sealing elements), multiple sealing elements can be combined together as one sealing element, and can extend across multiple openings 539 heading to the interior 120 of the footwear 510. Further, although shown as three separate barrier elements 570, the barrier elements 570 can be combined into a single barrier element 571 (shown in phantom lines) with the respective sealing elements 505 joined with that single barrier element 571.
  • The sole 590 can include a secondary openings 583 defined in a secondary element 580. These secondary openings 583 generally open to a large channel 566 defined through the lower portion of the sole 590, and in particular the lower portion of the midsole 530 and outsole 540.
  • Referring to Fig. 13, each of the individual barrier elements 570 can be joined with the secondary element 580 and held in place and/or trapped by a seat 589. Of course, the barrier element can be glued, adhered or otherwise fastened at its lower portion to the seat 589, or generally to the surface of the secondary element 580 facing the chamber 535.
  • In operation, like the above embodiments, the barrier element 570 generally enables air to travel through the channels 560 through the openings 539 in the sole 590 into and out from the interior 120 of the footwear 110. For example, air can flow from the exterior 110 through the channels 560 into the compartment 535 through the opening 539 as well as through the mesh 527 into the interior 120 of the upper. Air may flow in the opposite direction as well. In general, the openings 539, as well as the chamber 535 can be considered part of the channel 560, as these elements are all in fluid communication with one another. Optionally, air also can flow through the lower channel 566, through the openings 583, the chamber 535, the openings 539, through the mesh 527, and into or out from the interior 120.
  • As illustrated in Fig. 13, when dry, the barrier elements 370 are in a reduced mode. Accordingly, air can flow past the sealing elements 505 into or out from the interior 120 of the footwear and through the respective channels 560 and 566. When, however, the barrier elements are subjected to liquids or water, they expand. Accordingly, each individual barrier element 570 increases in dimension, which causes the barrier element to urge the sealing element 505 toward the area surrounding the respective holes 539 that lead to the interior 120 of the upper 520. Expansion continues until the barrier elements 570 press the sealing elements 505 into sealing engagement with the surface 538 adjacent the holes 539. The guiding elements 505, where included, generally guide the sealing element, aligning the base with the holes 539 so that the base engages the surface 538 to seal the holes. Accordingly, with the holes 539 sealed by the respective sealing elements 505, water is restricted, and in some cases completely prevented, from entering the interior 120 through the holes 539. Of course, other combinations and variations of the constructions for the barrier elements and sealing elements can be substituted for that shown in Figs. 13 and 14.
  • Generally speaking, the barrier element undergoes a phase change, which in turn causes the barrier element to expand, pushing the sealing element 505 into sealing engagement with the surface 538, thereby effectively closing off the channel 560 which leads to the interior 120. This restricts the flow of water from the exterior 110 to the interior 120 of the upper 520 when the footwear is subject to water as shown, for example, in Fig. 14.
  • The above description is that of the current embodiments of the invention. Various alterations and changes can be made without departing from the spirit and broader aspects of the invention as defined in the appended claims, which are to be interpreted in accordance with the principles of patent law including the doctrine of equivalents. Any reference to claim elements in the singular, for example, using the articles "a," "an," "the" or "said," is not to be construed as limiting the element to the singular.
  • The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive property or privilege is claimed are defined as follows:

Claims (22)

  1. A footwear comprising:
    an upper including an interior in which a wearer's foot is positioned;
    a sole joined with the upper;
    a channel defined by at least one of the upper and the sole, the channel extending from an exterior of the footwear and in fluid communication with the interior of the upper; and
    a barrier element in fluid communication with the channel, the barrier element including a phase change material that swells to at least partially close the channel when exposed to water, thereby restricting a flow of water from the exterior of the footwear to the interior of the upper, whereby the interior of the upper remains relatively dry when the exterior of the footwear is subjected to water.
  2. The footwear of claim 1 wherein the sole includes a midsole and an outsole, wherein the channel is defined at least partially in the midsole, but not in the outsole.
  3. The footwear of claim 2 wherein the midsole defines a chamber in fluid communication with the channel.
  4. The footwear of claim 3 wherein the midsole defines a hole above the chamber, the hole being in fluid communication with the interior of the upper, the hole and chamber forming a portion of the channel.
  5. The footwear of claim 4 wherein the upper includes a waterproofing membrane to restrict water from entering the interior of the upper, the waterproofing membrane terminating adjacent the hole so that air can circulate from the interior of the upper, through the hole.
  6. The footwear of claim 1 comprising a groove defined in the sole and transverse to the channel, wherein the barrier element is positioned in the groove, and is transverse to the channel.
  7. The footwear of claim 1 comprising a waterproofing membrane joined with the upper, the waterproofing membrane defining a first hole atop the upper and a second hole adjacent the sole, the second hole being in fluid communication with the channel so that air can flow through the channel and hole into the interior of the upper.
  8. The footwear of claim 1 wherein the barrier element is positioned adjacent a secondary element, the secondary element transverse to the channel, the secondary element and the barrier element defining a gap therebetween when the barrier element is dry, the barrier element adapted to swell into the gap when the barrier element is wetted with water so as to close at least a portion of the gap and to restrict water from entering the interior of the upper through the gap.
  9. The footwear of claim 1 comprising a sealing element joined with the barrier element, the sealing element positioned adjacent a hole defined by the sole, the hole wherein the barrier element pushes the sealing element, forming a portion of the channel, into engagement with the sole to restrict the flow of water through the hole.
  10. A footwear comprising:
    an upper including an interior in which a wearer's foot is positioned;
    a sole joined with the upper, the sole defining a channel that extends from an exterior of the footwear and that is in fluid communication with the interior of the upper, the channel adapted to allow air from the exterior of the footwear to travel to the interior of the upper; and
    a barrier element at least partially positioned in the channel, the barrier element being a non-woven fabric including a water absorbent polymer that expands in size when exposed to water,
    wherein the barrier element undergoes a phase change to at least partially close the channel when exposed to water, thereby restricting a flow of water from the exterior of the footwear to the interior of the upper.
  11. The footwear of claim 10 wherein the sole includes a midsole and an outsole, wherein the channel is defined by the midsole and the outsole.
  12. The footwear of claim 1 comprising a mesh screen extending across the channel, wherein the barrier element is located between the mesh screen and the interior of the upper.
  13. The footwear of claim 12 wherein the mesh screen is included in a base, wherein the barrier element is located adjacent at least one of the base and the mesh screen with a gap formed at least partially between the barrier element and at least one of the base and the mesh screen, wherein the mesh screen allows water to pass through the mesh screen to contact the barrier element, wherein the barrier element swells when contacted with the water that passes through the mesh screen to at least partially close the gap.
  14. The footwear of claim 10 comprising a waterproofing membrane defining an opening adjacent the sole in fluid communication with the channel, through which air can flow from the exterior of the footwear.
  15. A footwear comprising an upper joined with a sole, at least one of the upper and sole defining a channel that allows air to circulate to the upper through the channel, the channel including a phase change material that swells when subjected to water disposed therein, wherein the phase change material acts as a valve to restrict the flow of water into the upper through the channel when the footwear is subjected to water.
  16. The footwear of claim 15 wherein the sole includes a plurality of the channels, wherein the phase change material is in the form of a strip of a water absorbing non-woven cloth including a water absorbing polymer, wherein the strip is positioned transversely across the plurality of channels.
  17. The footwear of claim 15 comprising a sealing element joined with the phase change material, wherein the sealing element is positioned adjacent a portion of the channel when the footwear is dry, wherein the barrier element moves the sealing element into engagement with at least one of the sole, the channel and the upper, to seal the channel and restrict the flow of water into the upper through the channel when the footwear is subjected to water.
  18. The footwear of claim 15 wherein the sole defines the channel, wherein the upper includes a waterproof membrane, wherein the waterproof membrane defines an opening in fluid communication with the channel, wherein the opening is adapted to allow air to enter the upper from the sole.
  19. The footwear of claim 18 wherein the sole defines a groove transverse to the channel, wherein the barrier element is in the form of a strip, wherein the strip is positioned in the groove with the barrier element being transverse to the channel.
  20. The footwear of claim 19 comprising a mesh screen located between the barrier element and the exterior of the footwear.
  21. The footwear of claim 15 wherein the sole includes a midsole having an exterior, visible side, wherein the channel is defined in the midsole and includes an opening defined in the exterior, visible side, wherein the barrier element is located distal from the opening in the channel.
  22. The footwear of claim 15 wherein the phase change material is a water absorbent polymer included in a non-woven sheet.
EP10176462A 2009-09-11 2010-09-13 Water barrier for footwear Withdrawn EP2294936A1 (en)

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