Tony Portera from I Run Ultras.com added an extra traction device to iRunFar’s traction device showdown when he unwittingly brought his own traction device, 32north‘s STABILicers SPORT, to our recent run. Last winter, my sister briefly reviewed my too small pair of STABILicers SPORT (she highly recommended them); well, now it was my turn to take them for a spin. Overall, the SPORT provided a surprising amount of traction without being too heavy or uncomfortable. I did prefer two other traction devices in my tests, but if you’ve got the STABILicers SPORT for occasional use you’ve got a more than capable traction device that doesn’t warrant replacement.
The STABILicers SPORT’s design is unlike the other traction devices I tested. Rather than putting a rubber ring over your shoe’s upper and a metal web providing traction underfoot, each SPORT is made up of two polymer sheets, one in the forefoot and one in the heel, that are both studded with slightly concave steel hex-heads (think hex head screws). The polymer sheets are connected with a highly flexible rubber strip as seen to the right. The hex heads are designed to be replaced when they wear.
The STABILicers SPORT felt heavy on my feet; however, that must have been due to my wet shoes and two and a half hours of running over snow and ice while carrying a 15 pound pack, as the scale doesn’t lie. Tony’s slightly worn pair of SPORTs weighed in at 351 grams (about 6 oz per foot), which is right in line with the Kahtoola MICROspikes (354 g) and the Kako Ice Trekkers Ultra (338 g).
The SPORT come in 4 sizes that range from women’s 5 up to men’s 12.5. While the mediums (men’s 8-10.5) I tried seemed too large for my shoes while I was mounting them, my shoes did not slip around in them at all during use. I’m not sure if it was before or after Tony’s version, but at some point 32 North updated the straps that attach the SPORT upper in order to keep it more firmly attached.
Why mess around with a wordy description of how to mount the STABILicers SPORT to a pair of shoes when I have Tony’s video? Ok, just a few. To mount the SPORT you insert your toe into the front holster/cup, pull the heel cup over the back of your shoe, and – voila – you are ready to run. Overall, the SPORT was easy enough to put on with me only needing to make minor adjustments after initially mounting the device. As with all the traction devices I tested, the SPORT is more easily mounted when not wearing gloves.
I felt like I could have put on a pink tutu and performed the Nutcracker ballet… on ice. In fact, that’s what I did (except for the tutu, Nutcracker, and ballet bits) right before I pulled an Usain Bolt up an ice covered hill. Seriously, the STABILicers SPORT have more than enough traction for the slickest ice. I didn’t get a chance to use them on either pavement or snow. However, Tony is not “a fan of them on pavement at all” on pavement and suggests they are “clunky on roads,” as well as “loud and gritty.” I’m not sure that the SPORT would be beneficial when running in snow, but they likely wouldn’t interfere either. Can anyone share how the STABILicers SPORT fare in various snow conditions or on pavement?
The STABILicers SPORT is a very good traction device for snow and ice. It’s a device that I would likely rave about … had I not tested it side-by-side with Kahtoola’s MICROspikes and the updated Yaktrax Pro. These preferences are not based on any failing of the SPORT, but rather each of these other devices has one characteristic that puts it ahead of the SPORT.
Other Winter Running Traction Devices
For more on the subject, check out our Best Winter Running Traction Devices article. You can also check out these individual reviews of traction devices for running on snow and ice.
Call for Comments
What do you have to say about running in the STABILicers SPORT? As asked above, can anyone share how the STABILicers SPORT fare in various snow conditions or on pavement? Can a reader or someone from 32north shed some light as to if, when, and how the SPORT has been updated?