Yaktrax Pro Review

Yaktrax ProAfter years of hearing stories of the Yaktrax’s propensity for slipping off shoes at the most inopportune times, I was skeptical in trying the Yaktrax Pro. Well count me among the converted – these are the cat’s meow. The Yaktrax Pro are everything a runner could ask for in a traction device: lightweight, inexpensive, and grippy as all hell. In fact, they reached a pinnacle for which all traction devices should shoot – I completely forgot that I was wearing them.

Design
The Yaktrax Pro come from the rubber ring with metal underfoot school of traction devices, but with some significant differences. First, the Yaktrax were – by far – the lightest traction devices I tested. To be more precise, at 169 grams for the pair they were half the weight of the next lightest traction device, the Kako Ice Trekkers Ultra. That’s the difference between strapping 3 ounces to each foot instead of 6 ounces.

Another key difference is that the Yaktrax Pro have a velcro strap that tightens over the forefoot. The straps help keep the Yaktrax secure with less rubber that other traction devices, which contributes significantly to weight savings.

Yaktrax ProThe Yaktrax Pro in action

Rather than providing traction with spikes or grooved metal as the over traction devices in iRunFar’s traction device tests, the Yaktrax derive their traction from a spring-like metal coil that wraps around a rubber core. While the coil looks flimsy, I assure you that they are quite hardy. They do not crush underfoot and I’ve heard of folks using the Yaktrax for many a harsh Wyoming winter without them wearing out.

The Yaktrax Pro front strap design also lessens the chance of a complaint that I’ve heard about other rubber ring design traction devices. That is that the rubber pulls the toe of the shoe up, which can lead to discomfort or even injury when used for prolonged periods.

The Pro is available in four sizes ranging from women’s 6.5 to men’s “14+”… whatever that means.

Yaktrax Pro sizing
Mounting

The only aspect where the Yaktrax don’t shine is in ease of mounting. Like its rubber ring traction device brethren, you slip your toe into rubber in the forefoot and then pull the rear of the ring up over your heel; however, the Yaktrax Pro’s design provides to challenges. First, the metal coils inevitably fold into a pyramidal shape. When the pyramid points downward, the rubber ring constricts and it can be difficult to slip your toe under the strap. When the pyramid points up, the coils press against the forefoot strap, which again makes it difficult to slip your toe under the strap. Second, you have to be mindful of the strap itself, as it could slip out of the slit through which it folds over itself. Despite these complications, it is still not difficult to mount the Yaktrax Pro to your shoes, it’s just not as easy as the other traction devices we tested.

As you can see in the video, you should note that there is a right foot and a left foot in each pair if Yaktrax Pro. When putting on the Yaktrax you should keep the loose end of the strap pointing inward. If you do this, any excess strap will hang on the outside of your shoe when you are running. This is better than the alternative.

Traction

Despite their diminutive design, the Yaktrax Pro provide 100% traction on pure ice. They are also fine on cobblestone and pavement, even if they have a slightly cushy feel to them. In fact, the Yaktrax prowess on pavement was one of my biggest reasons for choosing these as my favorite traction devices. The coils also provide solid traction on packed snow, though I suspect the Kahtoola MICROspikes would outperform the Yaktrax on deeper snow.

Conclusion
I give full iRunFar praise for the Yaktrax Pro. They were my favorite traction device, if only slightly ahead of the MICROspikes, and Tony said he really liked them and that they were “much better than the old ones.” It’s hard to beat their combination of light weight and great traction at a reasonable price. So all you city and suburban dwelling trail runners out there, go get yourself up a pair – you won’t regret it.

Call for Comments
How have the Yaktrax Pro worked for you? How do the Yaktrax Pro perform on deeper snow?

iRunFar Traction Devices Reviews

There are 37 comments

  1. RunningMtns

    The Yaktrax Pro is far and away my favorite traction device for packed snow on western trails. You cannot beat the weight! They have also worked very well the few times I have used them on ice. Be aware however that the Yaktrax DO NOT hold up well on gravel or on dirt and gravel, although I have had pretty good success repairing them when the underfoot rubber breaks.

  2. Sophie Speidel

    I wore the regular Yaktrax (the kind w/out the velcro strap) at Hellgate during the snow/ice year of 2005–halfway through the race, one came off and I didn't notice until a few yards later, and didn't want to waste time back tracking to find it (in the end, another runner found it and got it back to me). I had been running REALLY well up until that point and after I lost the Yak, I slowed considerably. Bummer.I bought the PRO version afterwards, but have not had a chance to wear them as we are in a global warming state in VA. But my overall impression was that they work great on ice, snow, and even the deep stuff. Hope I can wear them again someday soon…Thanks for the helpful review, Goat!

  3. Geoff

    great reviews. thanks for all the info.two complaints I have about the yaktrax pro:1) They don't last all that long. luckily they're pretty cheap because last year i was going through about one pair every month and i was only using them on about 3 or 4 runs a week.2) more importantly they don't stay on your feet on uneven mixed terrain. i do a lot of winter running on trails through thick forest where there are very snowy, icy stretches followed by stretches with so much tree cover that there is only frozen ground with uneven roots and rocks. when you get to a stretch like this you pretty much have no chance of keeping the thing on your feet. i used to use the regular ones without the strap so i was really excited when i got the ones with the strap but my experience has been that the strap does almost nothing to help with this problem. the only way that the strap helps is if i tighten it so tight that it then rubs and causes pain and blisters on the tops/sides of my feet. i still use the yaktraks on certain runs because they are great on flat/consistent surfaces (i.e. roads and smooth trails) but FOR ME i'm deciding more and more often to go with the old standby: short sheet metal screws inserted directly into the sole of any pair of shoes. it's the cheapest, lightest, and only method that you can be guaranteed not to lose your device.

  4. Trail Goat

    Tony, I completely agree.RunningMtns, How did the rubber wear out and how did you go about repairing it? Sophie, I'd heard so many tales of the old Yaktrax coming off during runs in the Massanuttens that I never tried them.Geoff, Thanks for the very informative comment. I was hoping I'd get some snow bound Alaskans and/or Canadians chiming in on these devices. Re (1) How many miles were you putting in with the Yaktrax and what portion of that was on snowless trail? It would be interesting to hear how the Yaktrax have held up for folks who use them almost exclusively on snow and ice, as opposed to pavement or bare trail.Re (2) I've yet to try the Yaktrax Pro for long trail sections without snow or ice. Have you tried any other traction devices (screwed shoes aside) that have stayed on any better?I need to screw my old Hardrocks just as soon as I make it to Home Depot. I think I finally sacrifice one to the screws. That said, I've made it through 16 icy mid-Atlantic winters running outside in nothing but unadulterated trainers and am still in one piece. Well, come to think of it, I have logged a few icy runs in old cross country cleats.

  5. RunningMtns

    I ran on my Yaktrax probably 30+ times last season without incident. On the final winter run (not the final snow–that was Bighorn!), I stupidly decided to leave the Yaktrax on for the last 2 miles down a sandy dirt road that still had a fair amount of slush and ice. When I finally took the Yaktrax off, I discovered the rubber had broken just behind the cross piece under one of the heels. I repaired it by using 19 ga annealed steel wire to wrap the rubber from the back 3-way joint to and around the steel Yaktrax coil under the heel. Then I covered the wire wrapping at the rear 3-way joint with some duct tape. I've used them several times since, and the repair seems to be holding up.

  6. Geoff

    i think for most of last winter i was only getting about 150 miles out of one pair, but that was with tons of bare pavement and bare trail running (probably as much as half of the mileage). we had a really icy winter with not a whole lot of snow so on most runs there were stretches in which you needed something to add traction but there were also long stretches of hard surface.the only other device i've used in these similar conditions are the stabilicer lites. they seem to stay on my feet better than the yaktrax on hard ground but i don't like the way they feel on these hard surfaces. they push up into my feet because the spikes are basically too pointed and spaced far enough apart that they each absorb a lot of pressure on hard ground.

  7. andyb

    I just used the regular Yaktrax recently while visiting some friends, as I don't typically have to deal with snow in the winter. I loved em, and had no problems with them coming off my shoes. Though I was running on a road that had been plowed and the snow/ice was pretty packed down. Great traction and light weight, I hardly knew they were on my feet. I'd definitely use em again.

  8. Howler

    I live in England and am recovering from surgery to repair a broken patella and ankle on my left leg. Things are a bit icy here and I'm worried about slipping on the pavement when I'm getting to and from work. There is much less ice and snow here than in the US so most of the walking will be on pavements with either no ice, or a thin covering of frost/ice. Could you tell me if the Yaktrax will provide any benefits for me on this kind of surface? Is it more 'slippery' than a normal shoe on a pavement with no ice on it? Thanks and happy new year!

  9. Trail Goat

    Howler,This is pure speculation, but I don't think the Yaktrax would be much help on frost. They seem to get their grip by biting into the snow or ice. If the frost is just enough to fill in the voids in asphalt, not sure if they'd do any good. Once you get some frozen precipitation, the Yaktraz Pro should help. Here in the mid-Atlantic states, we see a good deal of precipitation events with a small accumulation of freezing rain for which I except to don my Yaktrax Pro.

  10. Meghan

    I ALMOST stopped reading after you wrote "the cat's meow." :) But I had to keep reading because I like mine so much.My Yaktrax Pros have lasted for 4 winter seasons, they are now on their 5th, and I have no idea how many miles are on them. I would say on average 20 miles per winter week of walking and running. They are very close to wearing out, though. Any day, a rubber piece on the bottom is going to snap. I heart them!Meghan

  11. Sean

    Trail Goat, since you wanted to hear from a Canadian on this issue, I thought I'd post my 2 cents worth. I live in British Columbia and run in the trails about 90% of the time. This winter our weather has made trail running particularly challenging. I recently bought a pair of Yaktrax Pro's and instantly fell in love with them. Admittedly the first time I put them on I lost my grip and one went flying into the bushes, but they are basically very easy to get on. Yaktrax provide extreme traction in snow and ice. They have allowed me to continue training in an otherwise horrible training season. The only problem with them is that they are not well suited for any kind of terrain with exposed rocks. As Geoff mentioned, I too have found they don't last long under these conditions. After my third 4hr run in a row, the Yaktrax basically ended up dangling around my ankles. I do really like these devices, but they are only suitable for conditions of snow and ice without exposed rock. They are the cat's meow… mostly!

  12. Mary

    I have used Yaktrax for two winters now and I broke my second pair just yesterday. I run about 30 miles/week on snow, ice and pavement in Illinois. My big problem with them is that the wire coils keep unwinding from the rubber. This not only resulted in breakage (since I was then running on the rubber, not the wire), but the bigger issue was that the free ends of the coil work their way to the outside of the shoe and then catch on either the opposite shoe, or my sock, or running tights. *That* was a bigger hazard than the ice! Anybody else have that problem?

  13. Jenna

    Mary – I had the exact same problem this morning with my YaxTrax Pro. Except one of the wire coils caught my other shoe and I went down…Hard! Then I realized that I had lost a coil at some point in my run and one of the rubber parts broke.

    I've only put about 120 miles on these and have only had them for about 2 months. I'm really disappointed with them. Up until today they've worked great! I'm not sure if I'm willing to spend another $35 for another pair or try the stabilcers sport….

  14. Wendy Akeson

    Hi,

    There seem to be several different names for the Yaktrax… yaktrax pro, yaktrack walker traction, yaktrax pro traction cleats for snow & ice…

    Which one is best for running on snow/icy trails?

    Thank you,

  15. Peter Haberg

    I have gone through 3 pairs of Pro's in 2 years walking the dog in upstate NY. I only go a couple of miles each day and don't wear them all that often. 3 pairs in 2 yr at $30 bucks a pop is not cost effective. 1 time the rubber broke and Yak Trax gave me a new pair. The other 2 times the coil springs broke and forced the rubber to break and I purchased another pair. Yak Trax offered to get me another pair providing I had the proof of purchase.I didn't have any proof of purchase from last year so I declined I need something more reliable. This time I am going for the Micro Spikes.

  16. Matt

    I am looking for something for trail running after taking a nice spill last week on a large piece of ice. The thing is, I love rock hopping and need something that would hold up well to the abuse. Would the stabilicers sport be a better choice?

  17. mary

    I just reeived my Yaktraks today. Bought a pair for my Dad too… unfortunately, the sizing relates to shoe size only, and when i tried to fit the yaks on my hiking boots, they were way too small. My Father found the same thing- they do fit over our lighter boots though, so we will have to make do. Think the sizing relates to trainers only- if you want to put them over hiking boots- go up a size! I am used to walking with ski socks over my boots- amazing traction- you cannot slip even on the sheerest of ice= will be interesting to see how the yaks compare to the socks

  18. swampy

    Love these. They do slip over the toe in deeper snow. I had an issue with them bending up the toe of a road running shoe until I switched to a stiffer-soled shoe (Mountain Masochist gtx)

  19. Robert

    I used them for a winter trail 50K and they broke within the first 10 miles. The rubber on the base where the metal coils around snapped, and they would no longer stay on my shoe. Up until then they worked well in terms of comfort and grip. The design seems good, but the grade of material needs to be improved. I would not count of these for a technical winter trail run.

  20. Linda W

    I just got my second pair of the Pros since Christmas! I got a pair for Christmas and started wearing them right away. They lasted 5 weeks before the coils broke away and the rubber went (the retail store was kind enough to exchange them for a new pair). They are great for the short time that they hold together. I am putting in about 60km per week wearing them on trails, snow covered roads and sidewalks and iceroads (I live in Northern Ontario Canada). I tried the regular Yaktrax last year and they also broke quickly. I would have to do a repair job on them every week. I also had a bad fall because one of the coils broke away and got caught on my other foot – good thing for snowbanks to break a fall. I had hoped the Pro hold up better but no luck.

  21. AngrySwede

    I don't see how you can recommend the Yaktrax at all. Most customer reviews say the same thing. They are indeed fantastic but they don't last very long. And they are not THAT cheap anyway. Still amounts to an awful product. Of course I use traction devices for boots, not running shoes, but I fail to see how the Yaktrax can be better than the Diamond Grip for instance. Or the Microspikes.

    1. Bryon Powell

      I still wear YakTrax Pro for most my winter running that could benefit from traction devices. They not be the most robust, but at their reasonable price, I'll take their high utility even if one might break every other winter. I expect gear that I wear on my feet (see running shoes) to wear out pretty quickly as I realize there's a trade off be durability and weight.

  22. Sherpi

    I tried yak trax pro and put them on hiking boots and went hunting in the mountain. Well not on trails and they broke on the first day then my friend tried the more roburst vesion yak xtr and they also broke on the first day. So I dont recoment them for hiking were there is sharp rocks, and that aplies for both version the pro and the xtr.

  23. WildChildT

    I have to mildly disagree with you. The first time (the first year) I used the YakTrax Pro I liked them- they were grippy and lightweight. However, within the year of trail running the rubber stretched an would move around on my shoe regardless of how tight I made the strap (the size was correct for my shoe) and eventually the spring broke mid-run ten miles out. Not fun. Determined, I purchased a second pair and the spring broke again within a few months of use. I was frustrated, but REI replaced them. The third and final pair broke again within a year. I gave up, knowing it wasn't a lemon but a poorly designed traction device. I now run with Kahtoola microspikes and LOVE them. *note: my trail runs were average runs and I was not overly harsh on the YakTrax* I have found here in Colorado, many of my trail running friends agreed with my review and also have had spring breaks. I think YakTrax would be decent for trail hiking, not vigorous running.

    1. Bryon Powell

      I can't say I've had any stretch or heard of that problem before. Sorry to hear you've had trouble with them. I have had one Yaktrax Pro break in a couple years of moderate use. For me, that's a reasonable usage period, but we all have different expectations from our gear. Personally, I like the lighter weight of the Yaktrax Pro. Also, they can be found at a third of the cost of the Microspikes (which I also like a great deal).

  24. Karin Borland

    Hi

    I have one of the underfoot rubber straps on my Yak trak. please could you tell me how you repaired yours.

    Thank you

    Karin Borland

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