After spending the last few days slipping and sliding our way around the snow and ice of the Glenmore Campsite we finally succumbed and bought a couple of pairs of “YakTrax Pros”. The blurb describes them as “Heavy duty traction device for running, light hiking and working on packed snow and ice”.
As you can see from the photos they have a rubber lattice and rand with a coiled stainless steel spring that provides the grip. The only addition with the “Pro” is that they incorporate a Velcro strap across the bridge of your shoe, which can be removed. They come in four size fittings to match your footwear (small in Elaine’s case and large in mine).
Once back at the ‘van we tried fitting the YakTrax to our walking shoes. Fitting was very easy and after some minor adjustments we gave them a try around the site. The ice around the site was atrocious and we were previously slipping with just about every step. With the YakTrax on we were able to walk around normally. They don’t even feel particularly unnatural to walk on, albeit we do have them on fairly thick-soled shoes.
Today we walked around Loch Morlich – a route that was previously “out of bounds” when we went running on New Year’s Day due to the treacherous ice on the path. Very quickly we forgot all about the icy conditions as the YakTraxs provided good traction underfoot. There were a few times when the rubber lattice on the sole twisted round a little – but this did not cause us any undue issues. From the NE side of the loch we then walked about ¾ mile down the ski road – where the YakTrax performed well on the tarmac. Interestingly, you are more prone to slipping slightly on the tarmac because the metal coils don’t have anything to bite into.
Back on the Loggers Route and we continued for another few miles until the snow and ice petered out sufficiently for us to remove the YakTrax. This was easy to do and took a matter of seconds. We did encounter a few more isolated icy patches en route and it was really noticeable how much harder it was to walk without the YakTrax compared to with them in these icy conditions. It would have been very ironic if we had taken them off and then soon afterwards fallen on some ice!
There are quite a few different variants on the YakTrax theme: some have small spikes a few millimeters long (like the type you might find on golf shoes) and small are made of chain and have small shark-tooth metal spikes (like small crampons – without the front-point fangs). We decided on the YakTrax Pros because they might also be suitable for running with them on. We’ve yet to test this out though.
Our Initial impressions are that the YakTrax Pros are very good and do exactly what they say on their packaging. It will, however, be interesting to see how well the rubber lattice stands up to a few miles of walking on slightly mixed terrain – although the manufacturers tell you not to do this – but it can be hard to avoid when the conditions are mixed. It will also be interesting to see how well they stand up to being fitted and removed quite often.