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Yaktrax Walkers

Yaktrax Traction System on Innov-8 Boots

Yaktrax are a traction device that you can attach to your shoes to prevent slipping on ice and snow. They are made using an elastic mesh that wraps around the sole of hiking boots, trail runners, or even dress shoes. Wire is coiled around the elastic and provides traction that bites into frozen surfaces to keep you from slipping.

Although they have an attachment system similar to Kahtoola Microspikes, Yaktrax have a tendency to pop off of your shoes far more frequently. They also have far less of a bite than Microspikes and are better used for walking on sidewalks and not on hiking trails or over icy boulders.

Both Yaktrax and Kahtoola are known as sub-crampon traction devices and one of their advantages over crampons is that they can be used with soft shoes that do not have a stiff sole. However, if you plan on hiking on ice that is greater than 1 inch thick, you’d be better off buying a pair of Black Diamond Contact Strap Crampons which are compatible with most leather backpacking boots and can be used on mixed ice and rock in winter. These are much less technical than the crampons needed for plastic or ice climbing boots and are appropriate for day hikes where you are likely to encounter thicker ice.

Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.


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6 comments

  1. Serious question though – how do they rate for *urban* winter running and walking? I keep thinking about getting some (I live in Minneapolis) and keep not getting around to it.

  2. So for general winter hiking, in a mix of snow and ice, would you recommend the Microspikes or BD CS crampons?

    The microspikes don't do well on pavement or snow. I've found that pavement can cause slippage on the boot, and snow can clump up underneath. These are relatively minor problems, given how well they excel at walking on ice, and for the most part snow isn't a problem.

  3. Walking definitely. I don't run so I can't say, but I can't see why not. They pop off in the woods on me, but that's a different environment than sidewalks.

  4. Adam – for general hiking in snow and ice, my vote is for the contact strap crampons, hands down. However, they won't work very well with a soft pac boot like a sorrel – you do need a stiffer sole like a hiking boot.

    I use the microspikes for shoulder season hiking when I'm hiking through frost or very light snow.

    The crampons have plates on them called anti-balling devices that prevent snow and ice build-up under them.

    However, for multi-day trips, when I use a plastic boot, I use BD Sabertooth step-in crampons. These are similar to the Contact straps. See http://sectionhiker.com/2009/02/04/black-diamond-

  5. I'm not sure what material the Yaktrax "springs" are… semi-stainless? Don't make the same mistake as me and leave them wet in a plastic bag- they will rust.

  6. I am little late with any response here, but I use these all the time for walking and running in winter. Never had a problem with them popping off. I buy these one size larger than recomended. The rubber straps will break. Super glue works pretty well for repairs. The springs will break. They only last about 700-1000 mi. Snow can build up on the bottoms causing them to get slick. Not a spike, but they do not weigh that much either.

    They are NOT a substitute for crampons. Nor any other type of spike. They slip on and off real easy, good for around town. And to carry in your pack if you have some chance of seeing icy trails. (I have used them in the High Peaks nearing some of the summits.)

    The springs are just tempered steel, hard and subject to rust. Do not leave them on anything that can be stained by the rust. As Jara says, they will rust.

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