The Yaktrax Pro ($30) are just about everything a runner could ask for in a traction device: lightweight, inexpensive, and grippy in most winter conditions. In fact, they reached a pinnacle for which all traction devices should shoot–I completely forgot that I was wearing them. Now, more than a decade after first trying them, the YakTrax Pro continue to standout for their mix of low cost, light weight, and comfort when running on roads or other bare surfaces. Their main drawback is that they don’t provide quite as much grip on smooth ice as more toothy traction devices.Shop the Yaktrax Pro
Yaktrax Pro Design
The action side of the Yaktrax Pro is wire coiled around an elastomer frame. This contrasts the many traction devices with more aggressive teeth or metal spikes underfoot. This helps them weigh in at 5.0 ounces (140 grams) for the pair. This is less than half the weight than, say, the very capable Kahtoola MICROspikes. While you might not notice as you start running, the difference between having less than 3 ounces on each foot rather than 6 ounces makes itself known as the miles and hours go by.
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 than other traction devices, which contributes significantly to weight savings. It also yields a very secure fit.
As noted above, 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 an elastomer 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. (I did manage to shred a very old pair during a this-shouldn’t-be-happening, off-trail, steep-as-anything, descent on snow-covered wet grass during an ultramarathon in China… but, these were extreme outlier conditions!)
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.
Yaktrax Pro Use and Traction
While I initially wasn’t a fan of the process of mounting the YakTrax Pro to my shoes, over time I’ve come to realize it’s actually quite easy. Yes, the the metal coils inevitably fold each device 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.
A decade ago, this led me to write “it’ still not difficult to mount the Yaktrax Pro to your shoes, it’s just not as easy as the other traction devices we tested.” However, with time, I’ve come to a much easier way of mounting the YakTrax Pro. I leave the velcro secured, slip my toes below it, and then pull the rear portion over my heel. This go-for-it strategy is simple, quick, and works! You might only need to open up and adjust the velcro and adjust when switching to a new model of shoes.
Note: 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.
Taking them off is as simple as pulling the rear heel tab back and down… or, let’s be honest, just yanking down and maybe slightly backward on any rear portion of the YakTrax.
Despite their diminutive design, the Yaktrax Pro provide amazing traction on snow and packed snow and some additional traction on ice. They are also fine on cobblestone and pavement, even if they have a slightly cushy feel to them. In fact, the Yaktrax comfort and prowess on bare pavement and trail is my favorite feature and are the reason I’d pull them off my shelf ahead of another device on a given day.
Yaktrax Pro Overall Impressions
I can heartily recommend the Yaktrax Pro. These are one of my favorite traction devices. It’s hard to beat their combination of light weight and good traction at a great price. Their comfort on stretches of harder surfaces like bare asphalt and concrete make them a strong option if you’ll be road running in wintry conditions. With both the value proposition for occasional use and their runnability on roads, I’d highly recommend them for urban- and suburban-dwelling runners out there.Shop the Yaktrax Pro
Other 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.
Call for Comments
How have the Yaktrax Pro worked for you when running on snow and ice?
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