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The cold weather has finally hit the UK and once again I am tempted to buy something like https://www.yaktrax.co.uk/shop/yaktrax-pro. For those of you not in the UK we get some snow each year (enough to make everything grind to a halt), but as the temperature is usually around 0oC it often melts and refreezes into ice causing very slippery pavements. I've got a decent pair of walking boots and they are much better than trainers, but they fail when confronted with sheet ice.

So my question is are these Ice grip things as in the link (a similar idea to crampons but less without the specific requirements for types of footwear) worth buying, do they significantly improve grip and are there any pit-falls I should be aware of?

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7 Answers 7

up vote 11 down vote accepted

I have used both the Pro version of YakTrax as well as the normal version that lacks the velcro strap across the forefoot.

They are amazingly well engineered, durable and perform as advertised. On ice, hard snow and frozen trails, they provide excellent footing. Of course - if you are walking on a dry smooth surface like marble or stone, the grip isn't as good as you would have with a completely rubber sole, but the foot feel is good and I would highly recommend them for hiking and trail running as well as general cold weather traction.

I have had the pro versions for 5 seasons and they show no signs of wear after easily a hundred miles under foot - half of this mountain hiking in Montana. My normal pair see more on/off for short use like dog walking and this pair are several seasons old. I live in Minnesota, so both get months of use at a time.

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+1 - I picked up some YakTrax a couple years ago, and they're wonderful in snow & ice. I use them hiking with my camera, which wouldn't take well to me falling on it. –  D. Lambert Dec 5 '13 at 14:33
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I recently purchased a pair of Kahtoola Microspikes and they are great. I went with the Microspikes over the Yaktracks because all of the reviews I read online said the Yatracks break pretty easily.

But I'm very happy with my Microspikes. I got them for hiking mixed terrain where it's part snow, part ice, part rock, and they fit the bill perfectly. They come on and off very quickly so it's easy to transition from sidewalk or cement to ice and snow.

You basically don't have to worry about your foot slipping at all, which is great for peace of mind. I usually end up doing the penguin waddle if I'm trying to walk somewhere that's icy, but with these I can just stride along confidently as if the ice wasn't even there.

They're great for casual hiking when conditions are a wintry mix or just straight ice. I'd say they're a great purchase if you'll get a lot of use out of them. They'll let you hike in conditions where you might not otherwise be able to.

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Would these things be acceptable to wear indoors on some floor types? If so what types? Or, do you always take them off on entering and put them back on when leaving? How much of a hassle is that if you're carrying a bag of groceries, for example? –  Olin Lathrop Dec 11 '12 at 16:43
    
I'd say definitely not appropriate for any type of hard floor surface (cement, hardwood, tile, etc). Slipping on and off is relatively easy, but you wouldn't be able to do it with one hand while holding groceries. –  Hartley Brody Dec 12 '12 at 5:15
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I got the yaktracks a couple of years ago and they have performed really well - through two sub -15 degree winters.

They have enough flexibility that I still managed to run in them for a couple of hours at a time, and very easy to remove when entering a building. This takes about 20 seconds for each one.

Where there is a layer of ice or snow on a pavement they give immense amounts of grip, but if the pavement has been cleared you will be better off removing them.

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I had a pair of Yaktracks for a couple of winters, and they turned out not to be what I really wanted. They do work very well on packed snow and you can walk inside most places without having to take them off.

However, they work poorly on hard ice, which make them less than ideal for walking around town in the winter. The hard metal coil spring doesn't dig into the ice, so just slides almost as readily as a bare shoe. If the ice has some roughness, then they help more.

One problem that almost got me was unexpected. I was leaving work, so put them on my shoes in my office. The lack of spikes makes them OK for walking in the building when just going in and out. I stopped by the bathroom on the way out, which had a hard stone tiled floor. I slipped and almost cracked my head on a sink. The hard metal on the hard stone was about as slippery as the shoes would have been on bare ice, but I wasn't expecting it.

Eventually one of the spring wires broke, so that was the end of the Yaktracks. I haven't gotten any replacements, but winter is coming and it's nice to have something you can walk around with outside without having to worry about slipping on ice. I'll probably try something with small spikes next. That may mean I have to take them off when entering a building. I don't know if there is something that works on ice and doesn't hurt indoor floors. Probably not, so I guess I'll get to see how that tradeoff works. If they are easy to put on and take off in a few seconds, then it will probably work. If not, they'll probably be more trouble than they are worth.

I am eagerly looking at other answers for suggestions, although I am surprised others liked their Yaktracks better than I did.

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I've been using Petzl Spiky Plus for four seasons. I like that they are mostly soft rubber and can easily be put in a small backpack pocket. They only have six microspikes per foot but they grip really well. Sadly two of the spikes came off when a friend borrowed them, I never did find out why but they still work quite well.

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I've used Jordan david ice grips called Altragrips-Lite™ LP’s. I can go in and out of the store where I work. The spikes are 1mm studs that don't dig into the floor either. I've used over the years, and if they get wet, these ice grips have fallen off. However if you put some straps on them, the ice grips will not fall off. For more info

http://www.slipresistant.net/Slip-Resistant-Pages/altragrips-lite-slip-resistant-attachments.html

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I have a pair of microspikes, and have a friend who has owned both microspikes and yaktrax. The impression I get is that yaktrax are meant for walking around town on sidewalks covered with snow and ice, whereas microspikes are more for trails and steep terrain. Microspikes have spikes, yaktrax don't. Because of that, yaktrax give much poorer traction on ice, but you can walk into a shop without taking them off. Microspikes are more like mini-crampons, and the situation where they're really great is if you're hiking across a landscape where there's a mixture of rocks, ice, snow, and dirt. Crampons are not well suited to these mixed conditions. Microspikes are also more compact and lightweight than crampons, and unlike crampons they're compatible with any kind of shoe. I've used microspikes plus an ice ax in situations where other people were using crampons plus an ice ax, and although I would have felt safer with crampons, they were better than nothing.

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