When the HI Travel Tales team discovered the Yaktrax Run winter traction device prior to a trip to snowy and cold Norway in November, we rounded up a couple of pairs to try out.
Over the years, slipping and mincing across ice or packed snow on winter runs or hikes has left us completely frustrated. We’ve tried the heavier-duty spikes and cleats but haven’t been so pleased with their use for urban or trail runs, quick walks or just around town. I got to know the Yaktrax Pro a few years ago, loving how well they balled up and carried small, in or on a belt, so I could pop them on when the going got icy. I also found the coils instead of sharp edges or spikes more practical – especially if you have to carry them in a pack or pocket or want to pack them safely in a suitcase. The rubber skeleton was lightweight too. But that Yaktrax Pro is not really made to withstand the added rigors of running.
The Yaktrax Run winter traction device adds a heavier-duty rubber pad with six short carbide steel studs right under the forefoot where a runner needs traction. And of course where the running motion directs more intensive wear. But the brand also keeps the Yaktrax 1.4mm steel coils in the mid-foot and heel areas. Just like the Pro, though, it also has a hook-and-loop strap that fastens across the forefoot for a secure hold, thus combining the best of the Pro with a few extra features for runs or fast hikes on snowy, icy or mixed terrain.
I used the Yaktrax Run winter traction device running and walking on frozen Norwegian streets and trails. And they were surprisingly easy to put on – in fact, easier than the Pro for some reason we haven’t determined. It’s as if the rubber is a little stretchier, making it extremely easy to push your toe into the front section, pull the heel section back and up over the back of your shoe, and then tighten the strap across the top of the shoe. The pair includes an anatomical right and left. (He found the same ease when wearing them on a couple of short urban walks.)
Treading over non-snowy or non-icy surfaces still isn’t the most comfortable – and definitely tests the durability of the spikes (not to mention your patience with the clickety clack) – but is feasible when done carefully. But that’s the beauty of the lightweight packability of these cleats – if you are planning for example to head out along the streets until you hit the trail, it’s super easy to carry them along, then pop them on when needed.
On my runs, I felt so secure, I wanted to toss back my head and laugh at the ice as I lengthened my stride, enjoying the snowy cold of a winter day. Assuming you don’t over-tighten the top strap (which can pinch significantly if you do!), you’ll even forget you have them on.
My foot size puts me mid-size range, but I found they still fit well over running shoes as well as over both crop urban boots and taller winter hiking boots. If you are at the top of the size range and plan to wear much chunkier-soled shoes, you may want to consider sizing up, depending on where you fall in the size run.
All in all, we are outrageously pleased with the freedom and safety these Yaktrax Run traction devices provide. Can we say ecstatic even? They will not be missing from our winter suitcases in the future.
Which model to get? The Run style with top strap, coils and studs is for higher-impact, more intense activity, but would still work well if you need ONE style for doing it all. The Yaktrax Pro model with top strap and coils is beefier than the Yaktrax Walker model (no top strap, just coils), which is intended for very light use – such as grocery shopping or fetching the mail. We have not tried the Walker+ style that also comes without a top strap but does have five carbide studs on a narrow rubber pad just behind the forefoot.
Really, you can’t go wrong if you want to stay upright, active and uninjured all winter long. Our HITT Seal of Approval couldn’t be more enthusiastically bestowed.
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