Stingray Foot Protection Booties & Boots | Product Development Thought Experiment

Making a Case For a Product To Protect Surfers & Swimmers From Stingray Barb Stings

After stumbling across Brian Chernicky's article on there being no stingray resistant surf booties for sale online, I literally could not believe that there was no product in existence that offers surfers and swimmers real protection from stingrays, so here is the case for someone / company making a product that offers some help to the tender feet of those who dare to enter ocean waters where this creature with a razor sharp tail hides in the sandy shallows waiting to be stepped on!
Photo by Fernando Jorge on Unsplash

The Problem 

Products are developed by start-ups and corporations because they solve a problem. The problem in this case is that tons of people get injured by the stingray every year. In fact, according to CNN, in October of 2019, 176 people were attacked and stung in a single day at Huntington Beach California. This is not like a bee sting where one who is not allergic can easily brush off the pain - if you get stung by the same animal that stabbed the beloved Steve Erwin through the chest I might add, there is often or most likely the need to seek medical help in order to check to make sure the barb fragments are out of the affected area and if not then they must be surgically removed. Okay, so not only is the problem the threat of physical injury from the barb stab, and ensuing possible infection and complications, but now a little math: 176 x average cost of an urgent care visit = $$$$ (*please comment if you know the answer)

Similar Successful Products: Snake Bite Proof Boots

Snake proof boots which helps hunters or anyone planning to walk through high grass or the woods, or deserts, or wherever vipers might strike are insanely popular, yet do we hear of any day in the USA where over 100 people were bitten in one spot by snakes? By the way 4783 people search for snake bite proof boots per month.

Competitive Products Already in Existence

There are these products already out there which are really designed as wading boots and guards to protect those fishing in areas where stingrays might be lurking, at nearly $70. They would be much different than a product designed as a best stingray protection product for surfers or swimmers in that that kind of product would need to be much less bulky, and way more stylish, at way less cost. Here we can start seeing some of the obstacles to designing stingray resistant booties, or socks for that matter.

Confusing Words

Now, while you might think stingray boots would refer to something created to fend those triangular shaped monsters of the shallow off, in this case, they refer to the many cowboy boots made from the hides of stingrays, which might create confusion once a product is branded and marketed with similar verbiage. When people search for "how to clean stingray boots" they will really be meaning those cowboy boots, so the expectations will need to be adjusted. 

Competing Against Natural Methods of Prevention

Can people do without anti stingray booties? That is the question. Does the product really need to be created? Just like hunters might stomp around in the woods hoping snakes feel the vibrations and move out of the way, swimmers and surfers have read that stomping or doing the stingray shuffle in the sand will scare away the stinging fish we are discussing here, but that may be a myth, and the worst part is that it may even increase the odds of getting "bitten". More research is needed here. 

 Limited Application - Making a Choice

While you've got to start somewhere, it may be best to start with puncture proofing the soles of boots. But, now you have to pick a product to do that with, whether it is surf booties or dive booties, and there is a difference! And, when you start sourcing make sure you aren't getting dive boots when you are really wanting surf boots. The difference between the two might be subtle but surfers don't want a thick sole while divers too, and surfers want tighter fitting booties so they don't fall off while diver boots may be a little looser. Then there is the question of just making a puncture proof sole when the stingray tail may whip up and strike the ankle, or hit someone in the leg, so now we are looking at sourcing materials that go far beyond the sole. Puncture proof wetsuit anyone?

Stingray Trademarks and Patents

With all of this said it is good to check uspto.gov for existing patents and trademarks, and there does appear to be some there, albeit it you'll need a lawyer to determine what's possible. Someone who was looking into this product idea with me, as we chatted excitedly over tea, said to me that one patent is there but doesn't seem to have a product out yet, while I remember seeing a few things but didn't think they were strong enough to prevent stingray boots from being born. 

Issues With Legal Claims 

There is also a question about whether one can create some barb sting prevention and say it is stingray proof - because then what happens if the product defects or does not work, which leaves one to say stingray protection boot or not say anything at all. 

No Other Products Marketed As Stingray Boots

Speaking of not saying anything at all, many products out there might say puncture proof, none that I saw seem to really say or state or market language that leads people to believe that their booties will shield them from barb stings, leaving people to just assume that water shoes protect them against rays, when in fact they probably don't even come close, which brings us to discussing the material science required to pull this off. 

What Materials Are Actually Stingray Proof?


Well, I don't know, but I found a material scientist on Fivver who provided this report, which basically recommended: SuperFabric, HexArmor, Turtleskin, etc. - ultimately saying Kevlar should be used. 

Where To Source Stingray Proof Boots?

Now comes the fun part: sourcing new products. The first place I checked was Alibaba, because a friend of mine just developed a surf leash key chain here and found some great manufacturers there. I spent a few nights writing letters to the five I found that said they made surf booties, but then found that actually they were making dive boots. When I asked if they could put a Kevlar layer in (which beware may be patented already even if it is as easy as slipping in a layer into the existing upper and sole) they said yes and that I'd need to pay $100 for a sample to be sent. A sample coming from China will take forever and the back and forth will too, so this is where my thought experiment ended. I did get a few photos of mock ups, but nothing I saw or read on there I would want to actually buy. 

Design Considerations


Beyond the patent and trademark issues of basically putting a layer of some material that is puncture proof into an existing boot design, one must consider that it has to be light enough, work okay in salt water, not hurt the skin, etc., and actually work! And, who is going to test it? 

PR Stunt Not To Do!


My friend joked that one could take the sample stingray resistant booties or whatever they turn out to be and walk through the stingrays at the local aquarium's petting zoo where they have such animals for kids to touch. Of course, one could talk with them about ideas on how to actually test the shoes out but the point is that one must be careful how the testing actually happens. One can assume that needle testing, etc. might simulate the real thing, but beta testing a product like this for real could get one in trouble, legally, physically, and psychologically if it hurts animals or the people testing. 

Getting Started

If you're actually interested in getting started, it may pay off to get a good domain to sell the product on a single product website, such as: 

rayboots.net
stingraybooties.com
stingrayboots.com
stingrayprotection.com

During my tea time product dev research which I love to do on my off time, I looked these up and they were available, so I purchased them (and will gladly let them go super low if you end up bringing this product alive to save the surfing and swimming soles, legs, ankle, etc. of the world.

I played around with some logo ideas too, like this:
stingray boot booties

Disclaimer: this article is not intended to be accurate, truth, or helpful in any serious way.  No one is to assume anything useful or hold the blogger responsible for anything discussed here...it is a thought experiment after all, intended to attract a community of commenters to discuss the idea. 






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