Thursday, March 08, 2012

Review: Yaktrax Pro

When I was asked to review the Yaktrax Pros, I was intrigued. I've been a loyal user of screw shoes using 3/8" sheet metal screws for years when it comes to running on snowy and icy surfaces. The reasons are simple: They're cheap and they do the job.

I've also tried Icespikes before and they clearly outperformed sheet metal screws. However, the downside is that they tend to wear down fairly quickly and also pop out easier. They're also expensive (~$25), considering their short life span. I just can't justify spending that kind of money when screw shoes do an adequate job but only cost three bucks.

Enter the Yaktrax Pros: I've talked to a few people who have used them and they seemed pretty happy. They cited that they provide very good traction and they liked the easy interchangeability. Additionally, they said they were easy to take on and take off, making them ideal if you have to run on a longer stretch of road or other surface where the Yaktrax aren't required. They sounded nice, so I was anxious to try them out and find out for myself.

Unfortunately, it's been a mild winter this year in Maine. I haven't been able to test them as much as I would have liked, but I feel that I've done enough in a variety of conditions to warrant an initial write-up:

Though I've only done a handful of runs in them so far, I've had the chance to run in slick, icy conditions as well as varying degrees of packed snow. Overall, they did great. On slick ice, caution is still warranted, just as if I were running in standard screw shoes. Really not much more different. I'd say they gripped just as well, if not slightly better, when running on ice.

In packed snow (specifically, snowmobile trails), the Yaktrax Pros really shined. Because they resemble tire chains for your shoes, they make more contact with the snow than screws and dig in accordingly. Yaktrax Pros definitely have a bit of an advantage there.

Comfort and Fit:
The fit was great. Nice and snug. I had the Large which is rated for shoes sized 11.5-13.5, and I wear a twelve. They fit nicely over my running flats (Brooks Mach 13) during one run and all other runs were done with my New Balance MT110. With the MT110s, the front part of the Yaktrax which fits over the toe would occasionally come off center, but was never at risk of falling off. It didn't noticeably affect the placement of the coiled rubber underneath. That also might be because the toe lip of the MT110's is off center.

Good fit with the racing flats.  
Tire chain like grip works very well, but shines in packed snow. 
Also a good fit with the MT110s. 
The velcro strap across the top of the shoe is also good insurance against loosing them in the event that they slip off, but I never experienced that scenario. The strap also helps hold the coiled rubber lines in place up against the bottom of the shoe.

A few people asked if I could feel them underneath while they were on. I couldn't, unless I was on ice or bare road. On the trails, I didn't notice them other than the added traction they provided.

The cost of the Yaktrax Pros varies, but as of this posting they cost around $25 online. I haven't been able to fully test the longevity, but given that I anticipate to get several seasons of use out of my current pair, I'd say that's a bargain. Plus, there's the added benefit that they can be easily transfered from shoe to shoe.

The Yaktrax Pros perform well and make winter running that much easier. They grip great overall, but it's a good idea to still be careful on sheer ice (as you should with any other traction aid). For around $25, they're a good bargain due to good performance, durability and interchangeability.

No comments: