|My shod footprint|
|A man climbs a tree barefoot with no harness or traction devices|
Secondly, the more uneven the terrain, the more useful the flexible features of the foot. Where a stiff soled shoe skates over the top of a bump or hole, the flexible foot wraps around that feature and uses the full surface of the foot for traction. The flexible soled moccasin allows the foot to wrap around surface contours almost as well as if it was bare.
|A sliding foot|
The third feature of the moccasin is the flexible ankle. Once you start sliding in a stiff boot, the angle of your leg quickly becomes steep enough to lift part of the boot off the ground, leaving you with only one edge of your shoe in contact with the ground, and most of the traction features of the shoe in the air, making it quite likely that the little slip will turn into a bigger one and possibly a fall. This problem has also caused me a couple turned ankles in "sensible shoes" when that angle became severe enough to cause gravity to pull me down on the side of the foot instead of re-centering after the misstep. When you start sliding in a shoe that allows natural function of the ankle, the foot can remain flat on the ground and all the traction features remain in effect, increasing your chances of stopping the slide, or buying you time to shift your weight to the other foot.
When I'm feeling like I have a little less traction than normal, I do something counter-intuitive. I oil the leather. Now when you hit a patch of oil on the ground, it's liquid and slippery, but that baked on sticky oil on your dirty dishes, that stuff is what I'm after. About an hour or two after applying leather oil, the oil is all absorbed or wiped off, and the surface of the leather is slightly tacky. This helps a great deal on surfaces like wet linoleum. Note that the skin of my bare foot is producing a similar light coat of oil keeping my flexible traction surface in good condition and giving me a little bit of tackiness on smooth surfaces.
So in short, moccasins do absolutely nothing for my winter traction, but telegraph the natural traction features of the foot while keeping my toes warm.