Yaktrax Pro Review

The Yaktrax Pro 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.

The YakTrax Pro. All photos: iRunFar

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 lateral view of the YakTrax Pro.

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 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.

A medial view of the Yaktrax Pro.

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.

A bottom view of the YakTrax Pro.

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.

A view of the YakTrax Pro from above.

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

How have the Yaktrax Pro worked for you when running on snow and ice?

Bryon Powell: is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar.com. Having spent nearly 20 years as an ultrarunner and three decades as a trail runner, he's also written Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and co-wrote Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running. He calls Silverton, Colorado and Moab, Utah home.

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  • One area where I think Yaktrax excels over Kahtoola is in the event that you have to go over portions of non-iced roads.

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  • 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.

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  • 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!

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • Any of you ice runners out there ever try icebug shoes? I love them.ajw

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  • 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.

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  • 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!

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  • 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.

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  • Thanks

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  • 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

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  • 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!

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  • Sean,Thanks for the Canadian perspective on the Yaktrax Pro.

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  • 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?

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  • 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....

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  • I had put about 20 miles of Colorado trail running on my YaxTrax Pro when the rubber broke on one of mine.

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  • This will be our first year running in the snow and ice. Can't wait to try the Yaktrax Pro.

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  • timing is perfect-living in chicago i will be needing a pair of yaxtrax

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