gadgets to put on the soles of your running shoes for better traction in snow and ice. Like me you may have looked at them and wondered whether they work well enough to be worth the price.
|Yaktrax Pro||Stabilicer Sport|
I've tried the two models shown above. Here's what I've learned.
The Yaktrax Pro will run you about $30. There's a less expensive Walker model without the over-arch strap that's about $20.
The Stabilicer Sport is in the $35 to $40 range. Again, there is a less expensive Stabilicer Lite model for $20 to $25.
The metal spring coils on the Yaktrax do a great job of gripping in packed and hard packed snow... you won't notice any slipping. Traction on icy packed snow is much improved over a running shoe but you will want to tread carefully. Grip on bare asphalt and concrete is good enough but doesn't feel quite as secure or comfortable as the feel in packed snow. The Yaktrax coils don't bite into very hard and smooth surfaces enough to stop a slip and fall. Tread very carefully on black ice and ceramic tile.
The Stabilicer Sport gets it's traction from replaceable studs. The heads of the studs resemble sheet metal screw heads, i.e., hexagonal with raised edges. The grip is OK on packed and hard packed snow. The Stabilicer comes into its own on more icy surfaces... the studs punch into icy packed snow and give more grip than the Yaktrax on black ice (you'll still want to tread carefully to ensure the studs get a bite in the ice). Grip on asphalt and concrete is also good enough but not as secure feeling as being in packed snow.
The Yaktrax is easy to fit on a shoe and, once in place, stays put. I've used them on both running and walking shoes and can't think of anything to improve the fit.
The Stabilicer Sport is makes you work to get it on a shoe. The front section was designed for a narrower toe than my shoes and the heel strap doesn't go very high. I've had the Stabilicer Sport come off spontaneously while walking with it.
For convenience in walking our dogs multiple times each day, I leave the traction devices install on a pair of shoes. It's quicker and easier to just change shoes than fit and remove the devices several times a day.
On surfaces that are soft enough for the Yaktrax coil springs to dig in, the only thing you notice is that you have great traction. Except for that, the feel is essentially the same as a regular shoe. On hard surfaces like bare pavement, you may feel some uneven pressure in the sole... not enough to be painful but just noticeable.
The experience with the Stabilicer Sport is similar on soft surfaces. On pavement, nine small studs bear most of your weight and you will feel them through the sole of the shoe.
I wore the Yaktrax Pro in the January 1st Freezeroo. The Yaktraxs were great on the course sections with packed snow, e.g., I was able to fly down the hills on Canfield and Pond Roads with confidence. The Yaktraxs were definitely not needed on sections where sun and salt had cleared a track to bare asphalt. On those stretches I ran in packed snow when I could and on the pavement where the snow was too slushy. If the whole course had been packed snow, the Yaktrax would have given me an advantage. With the mixed conditions, I'm uncertain whether the Yaktraxs made any difference.
I haven't tried running with the Stabilicer Sport. Given my experience with them spontaneously coming off, I would probably try duct-taping them on.
Around the House
Both devices will damage soft floors so don't wear them in the house. So far, I've found I can put on my Yaktrax shoes in the kitchen and then go outside to walk the dogs. The coil springs on the Yaktrax so far haven't noticeably dented our kitchen floor or the wood steps.
I always go outside to put on my Stabilicer Sport shoes. Those sharp-edged studs that grip ice would quickly tear up the kitchen floor and wood steps.
Both are great for safety in dog walking. When a 50-pound dog decides to chase a squirrel or cat, you need all the traction you can get.
If your favorite winter walks and runs are over packed snow, the Yaktrax Pro is great.
On the other hand, if you need to frequently traverse icy patches and, especially, black ice on roads and sidewalks, then get the Stabilicer Sport.
Have fun and stay upright.