Yaktrax Ice Traction Device

When winter weather sets in, slick, icy conditions make it difficult and often dangerous to get around. Falls are the most common cause of injuries during this time of year. However, ice traction devices such as Yaktrax® provide the freedom to head outdoors and stay safe.

Yaktrax fit over most shoes and hiking boots and can be worn in a variety of environments, from urban streets to back country. Once in place, a grid of steel coils provide traction needed on packed snow and ice. With each step you take, coils bite into the snow and ice, providing stability and grip in all directions. You can take your normal stride without fear of falling or risk of injury.

Disclosure: The Intrepid Marketing Agency contacted me to try their lightweight ice-traction product at no cost to me. My only responsibility was an agreement to complete this review after trying the item. I was not pressured in any way to make a positive endorsement.

Yaktrax come in multiple styles, including the Walk for everyday use, the Pro for more rigorous activity and the XTR for more treacherous conditions, and the Run for stability during athletic activity. Retail prices start at $20 for the Yaktrax Walk.

I had a pair of Yaktrax Pro that I had purchased myself for an autumn hiking trip to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. There is a good chance for snow and frigid mornings especially above 11,000 feet even in early October, so I wanted to be prepared. It turned out to be a good call. An early season snow dropped a few inches of fresh Rockies white stuff that made for beautiful alpine scenes, but somewhat treacherous footing.

Two days after the snowfall, my brother and I set out for some high country hiking above Vail Pass in White River National Forest. We started out in mud at 10,000 feet, but as we climbed and reach 11,000 we encountered the first of the snow. After hiking in 2-3 inches for about 20 minutes in just our boots, we began to slip and slide as the conditions got icier and the snow pack deeper.

 

Time to put on the Yaktrax

Time to put on the Yaktrax

 

The Yaktrax Pro’s are easy to put on. You simply stretch the rubber binding from heel to toe over the sole of your hiking boots or other footwear. If you’ve acquired the proper size (there is a size chart available at the Yaktrax website), there is a very snug fit. Finally, attach the velcro strap over the laces for stability up and down as well.

This was my first experience trying Yaktrax, so I was curious to see how they performed. The difference was noticeable with the first few steps. No more two steps up, one step slipping back. The Yaktrax enabled me to plow right ahead through the 4-inch snow pack. After 2-3 short minutes I had total confidence that I would not slip or slide anymore, and basically forgot I even needed to worry about it.

The Yaktrax are quite light, weighing only 2-4 ounces each (depending on the size), so my feet didn’t feel burdened as I climbed through snow at elevation exceeding 11,500 feet. I left them on for the rest of the hike until we got back down below the snow line and back into mud. I noticed the combination of my boot tread and the steel coil tended to accumulate the mud, so no sense caking the mud for a more difficult cleanup later.

One little anecdote I should mention. On the way back down the mountain, my brother and I were just tooling along, happy as larks, gabbing and chatting, when… Whooomph… I was down in a heap. Wha..? What had happened was a root on the side of the trail that had been cut with an axe reached out and grabbed the webbing on the Yaktrax, and down I went.

The perfect storm. The pointed end of the cut root was exactly the right angle to insert itself into the webbing. What an absolutely unbelievable coincidence! I could walk by that spot 10,000 more times and never have that happen again. I don’t blame the fall on the Yaktrax at all. I blame it on pure dumb luck.

 

An Offer to Try

 

A few weeks after I got back from Colorado, I received an email from Intrepid Marketing asking if I would be interested in trying one of their Yaktrax products. After my very positive experience in the Rockies, I said sure, what do you have for me? When the package arrived, it was a pair of Yaktrax Walk, the lightest of the Yaktrax product line.

The Pro model that I had used in Colorado has 1.4mm steel coils for traction. The Walk model takes that down a notch to 1.2mm. The Walk version even comes in multiple colors including black, clear & glow for the fashion conscious among us.

Since I walk for exercise nearly every day to stay in condition for my true passion of hiking, I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to try some street walking in not-ideal conditions. Usually when the streets and sidewalks around home are icy, I’ve simply moved indoors, like at the mall or somewhere else large.

Yaktrax Walk

It took awhile for it to get cold enough here in Western North Carolina, but when the polar vortex came roaring through the first week of January with temperatures at or near 0°, there was plenty of ice to be found. As with my experience with the Pro, tackling the ice with the Walk instilled confidence with each succeeding step. Ice is a little dicier than snow, so I remained a bit trepidatious, but the results were still very good.

I’m convinced. Yaktrax is an excellent ice traction device. There are more extreme products on the market, but they tend to be a lot heavier and more expensive. If you’re ice climbing waterfalls, sure, go for the high-tech crampons. But the Yaktrax Walk reduces the risk of falls and injuries while walking to school, work, or just to the mailbox. It’s particularly useful for those prone to falling, like the elderly. Call it your Yaktrax safety net.

I was also excited to learn that Yaktrax are made right here in North Carolina, in Research Triangle Park, a product of Implus Corporation. So if made in the USA is important to you, there you go.

Disclosure: The Intrepid Marketing Agency contacted me to try their lightweight ice-traction product at no cost to me. My only responsibility was an agreement to complete this review after trying the item. I was not pressured in any way to make a positive endorsement.

 

This post was created by Jeff Clark. Please feel free to use the sharing icons below, or add your thoughts to the comments. Pack it in, pack it out. Preserve the past. Respect other hikers. Let nature prevail. Leave no trace.

 

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