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Tested: Yaktrax RUN

coach levi wearing yaktrax run

I think variety is the spice of life, so I try to get on skis as soon as winter hits (rather than biking or running like I do all summer). But that’s not always possible. In fact, here in Pennsylvania, it’s rare!

And then there are crazy people who just like to keep running year round, even if the sidewalks and trails are covered in snow or ice!

When it’s really bad, the coach in me says, “stay inside!” You don’t want to risk injury at this time of year. But the adventurer in me says, “go for it, just wear Yaktrax!”

What are Yaktrax? They are traction devices for the soles of your shoes. And for last winter, they came out with a new model called the Yaktrax RUN.

You put these on your running shoes for extra traction on packed snow and ice. A mix of carbide steel spikes and steel coils digs into snow and ice to give you stable footing in treacherous conditions.

yaktrax run in the box

You’ve probably heard the Yaktrax name. The product has been around, in some form, for at least 10 years. But it was really aimed at walking and hiking. This one is for running!

Let’s unbox them and put them to use!

The first step is getting them on your shoes.

It’s not difficult. I figured them out without instructions, just by looking at pictures of them on shoes.

unfolded yaktrax run

First, put the Velcro strap through, and that creates the toe box. (The toe end says “toe” so you know for sure.) That goes on first.

Once your toe is situated, pull the heel back and up/over your heel. It does take some strength to do this part, so be careful.

They are also marked left/right on the heel, so check that, too.

It’s probably a good idea to read the instructions. You don’t want to rip/stretch the rubber, or rip/stretch any ligaments in your hands/arms!

From their FAQ:

The easiest way for most people to install Yaktrax on their shoes is to sit down, pull your foot up near your other knee and slip them over your shoe. Start from the front of your shoe and then pull them over the bottom of your shoes, securing them in the back heel area. You may also fit them over your shoe prior to putting on your shoes. Whatever way you find easiest is the best way for you.

The only catch is that I’m not sure I could put them on if I’m wearing thick gloves. Which is a bummer, because you have to wait till you’re outside before you put them on (or you’d scratch up your floor).

Your hands might get chilly! (Maybe that’s why they make Yaktrax hand warmers?)

How long does it take to put them on?

If you’re not wearing thick gloves, it shouldn’t take much longer to get them on than it takes to tie your shoes.

It’s really easy if you’re sitting down on a stable surface and have both hands to pull them on. It’s a lot tougher to do outside, in the cold, standing on one leg. (For instance, if you’re only using them for part of a run, and stashing them in your Camelbak the rest of the time.)

You could actually leave them on your shoes full-time, which would be the quickest way. But that only makes sense if you put your shoes on outside and remove them before walking inside or hopping into the driver’s seat.

The point is that they’re quick to go on and off!

How to get the right size:

Before you put them on, you have to choose the proper size!

These are sold in four sizes, based on your shoe size. I got size Medium, which fits Men’s 9-11 shoe sizes.

Most of my outdoor shoes are 10.5, 11, or 11.5. And the ones that are 11 or 11.5, they’re usually a pretty low profile shoe. I didn’t want to size up to a Large for them. (Remember, these are the Run model, so don’t buy these for your mountaineering boots!)

How do they fit?

I tested these on some Salomon hiking shoes (size 10), in addition to my primary trail running shoes, the Keen A86 TR (size 11 or 11.5).

yaktrax run on keen trail running shoes

The Yaktrax Run fit well on both of these shoes.

They use a Velcro strap over the top/front of your foot to keep them in place, so they work for different styles of shoes.

Now, if you have really low profile shoes, I’d worry a little that these could slip off the toe, due to not getting enough bite. If you have really large shoes, I’m not sure – I did not yet try these on my Hoka One Ones!

You will actually get the best fit when wearing these on regular road running shoes. The Yaktrax will sit better against the flat surface of a road shoe than it will against the lugged tread of a trail shoe. Closer fit equals less slipping and shifting!

Are they comfortable?

Well, they’re not uncomfortable!

The first thing you’re probably wondering is, do you feel them underfoot? And that would be no. It’s just like you’re walking or running normally.

There’s also the question of, do the straps pinch your feet? Sort of. It really depends on the shoe. In my running shoes, I do feel the strap pressing down onto the top of my foot. It’s noticeable, but not particularly uncomfortable.

If you’re really picky about your feet, I wouldn’t be surprised if you are finicky about wearing these. For me, I’m not complaining. It’s far more comfortable than falling and breaking your wrist!!

Traction!

These have carbide spikes on the forefoot to dig into ice:

yaktrax run carbide spike close-up

As long as the ice is thick enough, these will grab in just enough to hold your footing, but not so much as to interfere with your stride.

The steel coils are designed for snow:

yaktrax run steel coils

These keep you steady in hard-packed or crusty snow. They come in particularly handy on downhills!

Note: Just as important as what surface they’re good on, is what surfaces you might not want to go near! They are NOT designed for rocks, dry concrete, or tile flooring! (I imagine that would be somewhat akin to walking around in your road bike racing shoes!)

Durability is going to be the biggest issue.

Sure, on hard pack snow and ice, these should last a while. But I think both the rubber sole and the spikes would wear out if subjected to rock and pavement. And if the coils get pinched or pressed, they might start slicing into the rubber bands running through them.

Let’s be realistic. If you’re out on the trails, you’re probably going to come across some rocks. If you’re on the road or sidewalk, you’ll probably face patches of bare cement. And you probably won’t want to remove the Yaktrax just for the occasional short section like that. So you’ll risk the wear and tear.

I don’t know how long they’ll hold up to that.

I only need to wear them occasionally, so mine are still looking good after their first full winter. They have only touched snow, ice, and gravel, and that gravel was underneath some light snow. And with this winter, well, there has only been day I needed them, and that was to navigate the parking lot at work! (Suffice to say, I keep these with my outdoor gear, not with my work bag!)

The best use for Yaktrax Run:

If you have road running shoes that provide no traction on snow or ice, and you have packed snow and ice on your routes, you would be the ideal candidate for these Yaktrax.

If you have trail running shoes, you probably don’t need these unless you plan to run on icy trails. With my Salomon X Ultra 2 GTX Hiking Shoe, mentioned previously, I rarely feel the need to add these Yaktrax. Only on slick ice.

Of course, sometimes you think it’s just snow, and you’ve fallen on your butt before you notice the ice hiding underneath the powder!

perfect shoes for using with yaktrax run

Or maybe your trail running shoes don’t have lugs anymore! The lugs are gone on mine, but I still liked wearing the shoes! The Yaktrax were a perfect match!

Where these used to simply slide across ice, I have traction! With Yaktrax, no more slipping and sliding! The difference is night and day.

I only used these on mild trails – dirt and grass trails that don’t get plowed, with (at most) rolling hills. I had to go out of my way to find sheets of ice and purposely run across them!

But, what the Mid-Atlantic states lack in snowfall, we make up for with unpredictable weather and temperature shifts. So when I did get onto snow, it was rarely fresh powder. It was typically that rough, crusty, and slippery stuff where snow has melted and refrozen into an ever-changing variety of textures.

The Yaktrax definitely help there!

yaktrax run heel tab

Also, if you are out on public roads, Yaktrax feature lots of reflective bits to improve visibility.

CAUTION! Remember that being active on snow/ice is very dangerous no matter what!

The only real problem I encountered was through no fault of the Yaktrax.

It was one day, a few weeks into my testing, I was jogging home from a neighbor’s house. I slipped on ice that was covered by fresh snow! I had assumed this patch of grass was only snow, but I was wrong. Of course, I was NOT wearing my Yaktrax!

I twisted my knee during the fall, which prevented me from doing any real mountain runs the rest of the winter! So the lesson is, these only help if you’re wearing them!

For those times you think you’re safe, or the treacherous terrain is the parking lot at work, and therefore you’re not wearing these, they won’t help. I know!

yaktrax run on salomon hiking shoes

My final verdict is…

With how little I’ve used these, I have to say that most people probably don’t need these. It wouldn’t be the best use of $40.

But if you like to run year round, and you frequently face hard-pack snow or icy conditions, these are a great idea!

Official website: www.YakTrax.com

Buy online: www.Amazon.com

Product Review Details
Company: Yaktrax
Product: Yaktrax RUN
Reviewed by: Coach Levi
My Rating: 4.0 out of 5
Date last updated: 2017-01-15
Obtained Product: Free sample from company.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: No.

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2 Comments
  1. Come to Vermont and you’ll use them!

    • @Ben

      I would love to! 🙂

      I used to get up to Vermont to go skiing at least once a year, but I haven’t made it up there the past few years. I want to go back!!!!

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coach levi
Hi, I'm Coach Levi. I'm a USA Cycling Certified Level 3 Coach as well as Level 1 Certified with Precision Nutrition. Want to feel better, ride faster, and look great? Let's work together!

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Coach Levi is my favorite child and favorite cycling coach. I'd choose him over Christoper McCarmikael even. Did I mention that Levi can coach you to a healthier lifestyle where you look and feel your best?
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