Winter Running Traction Devices
For iRunFar’s current favorite traction devices, check out our Best Winter Running Traction Devices guide. You can also check out these individual reviews of traction devices for running on snow and ice.
Kako Ice Trekkers Ultra Review
Every tourney needs a loser and iRunFar’s traction device throw down has one – the Kako Ice Trekker Ultra [Product discontinued]. The Ice Trekker Ultra did provide additional traction on ice, but its three competitors clearly outclassed it more or less across the board. In a crowded field of able competitors, leave the Kako’s debut version of the Ice Trekker Ultra on the bench.
The Ice Trekker Ultra shares the basic design of most athletics-friendly traction devices currently on the market – a flexible rubber ring that slides over entire outsole and onto a shoe’s upper when stretched with a web of flexible metal criss-crossing under the outsole. The Ice Trekker Ultra has a relatively simple rubber ring with four points connecting a trapezoid of chains over the forefoot and with three contact points connecting a triangle of chains under the heel. Almost immediately after putting on the Ice Trekker Ultra, it began compressing the toe of my right shoe which led to my big toe chafing enough that there is still a small raw section three days later. It wasn’t until the first big downhill that the inside front chain connection on my left foot started putting uncomfortable pressure on my other big toe, while the outside front chain connection on the same foot became annoying, as well.
The “chains” are actually metal cables covered with rotating steel alloy “X-Beads.” This construction provides the advantage that components that actually hold the underfoot traction piece together are not exposed to contact with rocks or pavement, which may enhance the Ice Trekker Ultra’s durability. Also on the plus side, there was no jingle like Tony and I occasionally had with the Kahtoola MICROspikes.
The Ice Trekker Ultras weigh in at just under 6 oz per shoe (338 g for a size medium pair), which is comparable to the Kahtoola MICROspikes and STABLicer SPORT. There are four sizes of the Ice Trekker Ultra:
While the Ice Trekker Ultra was not difficult to put on, it wasn’t the easiest traction devices to mount either. First off, you need to slip your toe between the rubber ring and front chain and then correctly line up the chains that mount to the rubber lest the connecting chains injure your toes. I also had to go back and adjust both Ice Trekker Ultras by pulling the rubber ring up over the midsole after an initial attempt at mounting them. On the other hand, mounting the Ice Trekker Ultra was aided by a small convenient handle on the rear of each device.
We would contest Kako’s claim “Ultimate Traction on Ice and Snow” and when it comes down to it, that’s what these devices are all about it. When I was running up an icy patch, Tony noted he saw my toes slipping back with each step. The Ice Trekker Ultra didn’t fare better on downhills, as I continued to slip when I tried to put on the breaks. I did get some friction, but my momentum kept me going. Overall, I’d give them a 2 out or 4 on traction. The Ice Trekker Ultras did run smoothly on pavement.
Don’t buy the Kako Ice Trekker Ultra – save your money for another traction device. Other devices to be featured later this week provided better traction, more comfortable designs, easier mounting, or less weight… and maybe all at once.
Have you tried the Kako Ice Trekker Ultra? If so, what did you think?