Winter Running Traction Devices

This past Friday, after 14 months of waiting, I finally got the chance to try the Kahtoola MICROspikes [iRF MICROspike preview]… and that’s not all. When I traveled north to visit my parents for the holidays, I threw three pairs of winter traction devices into my car just in case there was snow to be found somewhere to the north. Well, early on the morning after Christmas I headed up to White Plains, New York to run with TWIR author, Anthony Portera. As we pulled up to Rockefeller State Park it was clear that White Plains was aptly named on this day. During our three hour jaunt over ice-covered hill and dale, Tony and I put four pairs of traction devices to the test. I’ll be sharing our findings over the next four days.

The author testing Rockefeller State Park’s finest ice.

Oh, you want to know which traction devices we tested? Well, we put metal to ice with the Kahtoola MICROspikes, Yaktrax Pro, Kako Ice Trekkers Ultra, and STABILicers SPORT. These oversoles varied as much in their design, construction, and weight as much as they did in the traction they provided. I feel like I normally mince my words, but not today. Here’s how I rank the traction devices I tested … from least favorite to the best.

Take a look at my individual reviews to see why I ranked the traction devices as I did, to share your own thoughts, and to hear what others have to say. [The easiest way to read the latest post at iRunFar is by subscribing via RSS or via email.] If you see that I’ve reviewed a device that you’ve tried, I ask that you post your comments for the appropriate day to maximize their helpfulness to other readers.

In the mean time, take a look at these winter running resources:


  • Andy Jones-Wilkins asks “Any of you ice runners out there ever try icebug shoes?” Well have you? Do you like them? Andy likes his.

There are 3 comments

  1. solarweasel

    on this last day of my winter break as i was sliding around on the snowy trails above my hometown here in colorado, i was pondering this very subject. thanks for this article bryon

  2. Trail Goat

    Weasel,While you might be light on your feet, we'll fill you in on which traction devices give you goat like traction on snow and ice throughout the week. In fact, we couldn't hold off on posting our first review on the subject. (Technically, it's already 12:14 a.m. here.)

  3. Bryon Powell

    The following comment was manually transferred from the previous

    Darwin said…

    I'm considering getting Kahtoola Microspikes, YakTrax Pros or Stabilicers (probably the Sports version) for walking up and down snowy/icy forest trails and for walking on icy sidewalks where there would be quite a bit of no ice dry sidewalk, which of these would you recommend for this combination of purposes or would you recommend something else? I checked out your reviews for these, but I'm still not sure what would be best for me.
    I'm trying to take advantage of year end sales.I wish I had found your website sooner. I'm sorry for such late notice.
    Thank you for your time. Take care and have a great Christmas.

    December 24, 2009 11:07 AM

  4. Run Junkie

    Great write up, Bryon. For anyone with a ski hill close by that allows hikers, I'd also recommend the Khatoola KTS running crampons. They're great going up and down very steep groomed trail – where some lower profile devices may not find as much purchase, especially if there's 2 – 3 inches of new on the trail. I've put a lot of winter vert on mine in Sun Valley, and I'd buy another pair without hesitating if I ever lost the ones I have. Cheers.

  5. mtnrunner2

    MICROSPIKES! I love mine, best gear purchase ever after my skis. And boot heaters :)

    I know some don't want to have to bother with something they have to take on and off, but isn't it better than broken bones? So they get a bit worn on dirt in-between. You can't beat being able to run up and down ice and snow.

    The Kahtoola KTS crampons are interesting too.

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