by Lisa Taylor (a.k.a. trixie)Beginnertriathlete.com Gear Reviewer
IntroductionRaise your hand if you are one of the lucky people who get to experience all four seasons. Keep your hand raised if during the winter months you turn into a slug because of the slippery roads. For those of you with your hands still up, I see a new freedom on your horizon. I introduce to you...the Yaktrax.First ImpressionsThere are a few of these anti-slip traction devices on the market, but this one appealed to me because of its spike-less design and durable materials. And who am I kidding! Looks are just as important as well. If the galosh-wearing community sports members-only jackets, the Yaktrax crowd dons an Arcteryx ultra-wicking, wind-resistant, all bells and whistles pullover. PackagingThe Yaktrax comes to you encased in a hard plastic package that is easily opened without scissors, which comes in handy if you're so excited to try them out, you stop at the trails on your way home from the store. What emerges from said package is a bit...curious. It appears like an archaic torture device, a mass of rubber, steel coils and Velcro straps. Hmmm. Having never been one to shy away from new and exciting experiences, I separated the two Yaktrax and began the installation.
Yaktrax, LLC (Yaktrax.com)
Good stuff for us northerners.
InstallationYaktrax come in 2 different varieties and 4 sizes in each variety. I chose the Yaktrax Pro in a small, as was suggested by the package. I fall on the small end of the spectrum for that size and it was a VERY tight fit, so expect a struggle. The installation instructions that are printed on the inside of the package are so simple, anyone old enough to read can instruct a much stronger person to put these on.
Making sure that the label on the heel tab is facing outward, you place the front of the Yaktrax over the toe of your shoe and stretch, then stretch some more, and finally you stretch it until you can securely fasten the heel tab to the back of your shoe. Warning: it will take some stretching. Pull the performance strap over your foot, loop it under the main band, pull it through the guide loop, and fasten the Velcro. Ta-dah! You are now ready to tackle the snow and ice-covered roads.
On the RoadBefore testing out the Yaktrax, I ran a short loop on some snow-covered trails in a pair of trail shoes, just to see how difficult it was to get traction. After returning to the car, I took the very cold Yaktrax out of the package and attempted to put them on my shoes. It seems that cold rubber and frozen hands make it extremely difficult to do this seemingly simple task.
I do not recommend attaching these to your shoes after spending time in 13-degree weather. It’s best done with warm hands.
So, before I began any real running, I tested the Yaktrax across an ice and snow covered parking lot to make sure that they were comfortable enough to take onto the trails. I started to jog and immediately flashed back to high school track! The Yaktrax gripped into the ice like racing spikes on a rubber track. Sweeeeet. I tried a sliding hockey stop just for kicks and nearly fell on my rear. Note to self: no sliding in the yaks.
From the parking lot, I headed off into the trails. WOW. What a difference! I flew up the first hill with surprising ease and power. After a few minutes of running with complete confidence on the frozen trail, I stopped to compare the tracks of my previous run, sans Yaktrax. There was a noticeable difference in the length of my footprint. Without the Yaktrax my foot would slide back, from 1-3 inches depending on the slope. With the Yaktrax, no slide, perfect tracks!
The Yaktrax are a tight-fitting mess of rubber bands and metal coils. I will not lie to you, you can feel them under your feet, but they are not uncomfortable. HOWEVER, if you wear them for an extended period of time on asphalt or concrete without much snow, (like in a 50k) they can become uncomfortable. My recommendation in this situation would be not to compete in a 50k in the middle of winter. The strap over the top of the shoes didn't seem to be necessary to keep the trax on, so it did not have to be fastened tight. That being said, I liked it tight—it made me feel a little more secure. The strap also fit nicely over my Suunto foot pod, easing my mind of any unfortunate loss of the pod.
Final ThoughtsIn the past, I’ve done very little running in the winter months because treadmill running is boring and I was afraid of injury on wintry roads. Since purchasing the Yaktrax two weeks ago, I’ve been on my treadmill just once out of nine runs. There is nothing quite like the solitude of running, and to be able to get out in the silence after a fresh snow is unworldly.
Ease of installation
And I thought I was strong.
Ease of use
So easy a caveman could do it.
TBD (to be determined)
I could see how these could wear out quickly but I have an acquaintance who has had her pair for 2 years.
Hard-core looking piece of equipment.
Yaktrax is the best piece of running equipment I’ve purchased in years. They are as cool as the other side of the pillow.
*Based on the fashion magazine, not the sitcom character
Random Thoughts That May Only Interest MeWhy doesn't everyone eat their Snickers with a fork and knife?
Technical DataConstructed of heavy-duty natural rubber and abrasion resistant 1.44mm steel coils. They can be worn in temps as low as -41 degrees F.
A Note On the Author: Lisa (trixie) Taylor works part time as a personal trainer using the remainder of her time to torture train herself. She is very active in the multisport community, participating primarily in duathlons - as she hasn't grown gills yet. She has placed (OA or AG) in all of the events she has competed in. She has recently lost her mind and has started running ultra marathons, with a 100-mile race scheduled in March. She is one of the official gear reviewers for BeginnerTriathlete.com, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I dream of a better tomorrow... where chickens can cross roads and not have their motives questioned