Got Ice? Try Yaktrax

Yaktrax couldn’t help her, but they can help you.

When superstorm “Nemo” was brewing a little while back, Cinnamon went for a 7 mile run but found it to be more of a 7 mile slide. Remembering a mention of traction devices, she asked the rest of us for some recommendations on how she could safely get in her runs while Brooklyn was covered in ice. Living in Boulder, I have my fair share of experience here, so I offered to help her out.

Like the U.S. Postal Service, we runners get the job done whether it’s rain, sleet, snow or hail, but it’s tough when winter weather conditions make for slick and icy trails.  Most of us will be tough and complete those training runs, but if you’re like me, you’re afraid of falling.  Plus, the snow and ice can mess with your footing which can lead to twisted ankles or general soreness from working those running muscles so differently.  To get through these difficult conditions, Yaktrax may save the day.

Yaktrax are rubber devices made to stretch over the bottom of your shoe and fit snug at the toe and heel.  Light, metal coils line the bottom of the device to provide stable footing on slippery surfaces.  Yaktrax are also designed to withstand sub-zero temperatures!

The rubber/coil device fits snug on the bottom of your running shoe. Those little metal coils help prevent slipping on slick surfaces.

The concept of Yaktrax was created by an outdoorsman who went hiking in the Himalayas and met a Sherpa who had no problems walking in icy conditions.  He noticed that the Sherpa was wearing a coil-like device on his shoes, and presto..the light bulb went off, the patents were filed and a new company was created.  The company was named for the Tibetan Yak and markets its traction products to runners, walkers, hikers, construction workers and anybody who needs to/wants to be outdoors in slick conditions.

I’ve been using Yaktrax for nearly four years, and I enjoy using them in snowy and icy conditions for easy runs.  They give me peace of mind that I won’t slip, and I don’t feel like my stride changes as much when I run in the snow.  I’m fairly clumsy, so this is very important to me!  They are easy to put on and fit snug on the bottoms of my shoes.

While I do like them for easy runs, I find that I don’t do well when doing strides, pick-ups or any kind of faster-pace running.  When the weather gets bad and I have to do a speed workout, I either accept that I won’t perform as well or I hit the treadmill.  My point is that Yaktrax are likely not the answer for hitting those interval times.  The coils don’t absorb the shock as well, and I notice more stiffness in my calves.  I’ve also noticed that the coils break easily, but that’s to be somewhat expected given the impact of running.

If you look closely, I am wearing my Yaktrax on this snowy, cold run!
If you look closely, I am wearing my Yaktrax on this snowy, cold run!

Don’t get me wrong, Yaktrax are a great addition to your winter running gear. Consider them just for those easy runs to keep on track with your training program. The range in price from $12 to over $50, and can be purchased at most running stores or on Amazon.

Do you run with Yaktrax or any other type of non-slip device in the winter?  What are your experiences?

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this endorsement. This post contains only my own opinions.

Native Ohioan now living in Boulder, Colorado. I love to run, tri, train, eat good chocolate, drink good rum, and laugh (a lot). I am a CPA by trade and work for Newton Running.

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  1. I think Yaktrax and other similar products are great if your running surface is a half inch or more of ice and/or snow. If the roads are partially clear and partially snowy, however, they are SUPER annoying and hard to run on. So, in my opinion, they are rarely useful.

  2. Thanks for recommending Yaktrax. I’m being using this product to stop myself falling into freezing ice. Yes to walking or running shoes gives great support if you use Yaktrax. I really like affordable price of this good products. 🙂

  3. I love Yaktrax! They were a life saver when I lived in Illinois and I recommend them to anyone running in icy conditions. I agree they are not ideal for speed work, but are great for easy runs

    1. Glad they work well for you. They give us an option for when the roads are slick and not ideal, even if we can’t go fast. At least it’s better than nothing!

  4. I used some once for a trail run in the snow and they definitely helped. Otherwise, I find as long as you wear newer shoes, the treads do a good enough job. If in doubt I run on the snow rather than ice. If it’s really icy I head for the treadmill. And when I say really icy I mean if I’m-on-my-ass-less-than-.25-miles-from-my-front-door icy 🙂

      1. I agree! I always end up twisting an ankle if it is snowy/icy and I don’t use them. Plus the sloshing around sometimes just messes with my gait. I will say, like Ellie, that I have noticed soreness for longer runs around the pressure points. Overall, I find them to be incredibly helpful! My only advice to someone who doesn’t have a pair yet is stick with the men’s version; I’ve had friends lose one on more snowy, technical trails. The men’s version has a strap that velcros around the foot so you won’t lose one. 🙂

  5. Mint’s point is a good one, I think whether that gets annoying or not just depends on your weather… it’s kind of funny because if the sidewalks were kind of “patchy” I would actually find myself aiming for the snow/ice and not the bare sidewalk spots for that very reason! I loooove Yaktrax, unfortunately now I’m in Oklahoma where we don’t get any snow but they were great for Pennsylvania winters!!

  6. Yak Trax do work, but only for shorter, easy runs. I can’t do speed workouts or reliable intervals in them. I wore them on a very icy / snowy 16 miler and only made it 14 because my feet hurt from the pressure points on the Yaks. It took a week for my feet not to hurt. I now will only wear them for 5 miles or less. I opted to avoid them on an extremely snowy/icy 20 miler and just went more slowly. No foot pain. And I agree with the others, Yaks on bare cement feels like nails on a chalkboard!

    1. I’m with you—ok for easier runs, but not speedwork. They do seem to make enemies with my calves, but they are useful if we need to get out and do something, even if we’re forced with easy and short.

  7. I like YakTrax on hard pack snow with no patches, or on trails if they’re spotty with ice & snow but not enough snow to use my running snowshoes. I once did a 13 miler with them in the middle of a 3-day snowstorm because there was no way I could reschedule the run and keep on track for marathon training. Like Ellie, it took a while for my feet not to hurt afterward. Would I do that again? Probably, if I had to. My limit on the treadmill these days is about 6 miles.

    1. The tm is not fun, especially for long runs! At least hte YakTrax give us an option if we are willing to brave the elements and know that we won’t be able to hit those speed intervals.

  8. I live in Minnesota and started using YakTrax this winter. I use them for running on packed snow, on sidewalks, roads and trails and have been very pleased with them — it’s like having snow chains on your tires! I have run up to 17 mi in them and not had any problems with them. I haven’t tried speedwork in them.

    They don’t do much on bare, slick ice, and they’re less useful (though still somewhat helpful) on loose snow. As others said, they’re annoying on bare pavement and when wearing them, I actually run on the snowy part of the sidewalk when it’s partially cleared!

    When there’s loose or partly packed snow (such as my 17-miler last weekend on trails), I use both YakTrax and gaiters, to keep the snow out. It’s a combo that makes even my road shoes into snow machines!