User Review: Yaktrax Pro
Price Paid: retail (~$25)
I’ve had my Yaktrax Pro traction devices for two winters now and was relatively happy with them for winter trail running, despite some limitations, until I got a pair of Kahtoola MICROspikes to test this winter (see my review of those). Now I’ll rarely, if ever, go back to my Yaktrax Pros.
This winter I’m pregnant, so instead of running on icy trails and dirt roads, I’m walking. The plowed and unplowed dirt camp roads I walk down are completely covered with either very hard, continuous ice or a combination of ice and slippery, packed snow.
The MICROspikes beat the Yaktrax for traction, hands down. One day I started out for a walk with my Yaktrax Pros on and encountered black ice covered with a dusting of snow. After several feet of tentative slipping, I turned around and came back for my MICROspikes, which performed perfectly.
In the past, while running in winter on trails and dirt roads with my Yaktrax, I’ve had several tumbles due to slipping on ice or snow clogging the coils. My MICROspikes have not clogged or slipped yet, even when walking in several inches of snow (neither traction device is designed for use in heavy snow). They always grip securely, biting into the ice. If I was able to, I would not hesitate to run in my MICROspikes, though I have to note that I haven’t been able to personally test them while running yet.
Even now, in my last trimester of pregnancy, I have no worries walking across any kind of ice in my MICROspikes. I can’t say the same for the Yaktrax. They just don’t inspire the same confidence in me anymore.
My Yaktrax Pros don’t show significant signs of wear, but I’ve personally heard from several other users who’ve had theirs wear out or break after regular usage. These include: an active friend who complained that he’s had to replace several pairs of Yaktrax after wearing them outside while cutting wood or doing other work around his country inn; a runner who busted through several pairs; and a pair of hikers, who were happy Yaktrax owners but recently bought their own MICROspikes after seeing mine.
I can’t comment on the MICROspikes’ long term-durability yet, since 2007-08 is their first season of availability.
Both the Yaktrax Pros and Kahtoola MICROspikes are easy to use, stretching over your regular winter trail runners or even boots, if sized properly. The Yaktrax have a Velcro buckle that fastens over the top of your shoe, while the MICROspikes’ elastomer shoe harness simply pulls on. Personally, I find both models easy to use.
Both traction devices are also small enough to hold in your hand or pocket until needed, you’ll have to beware of MICROspikes’ stainless steel spikes if you try this with them. Their design folds flatter and theoretically you could sharpen the spikes when necessary—not an option with Yaktrax’s coil design.
It should be noted that the Yaktrax are significantly lighter than MICROspikes. My pair of medium Yaktrak Pros weighs 5 ounces (142 grams) versus 11.3 ounces (319 grams) for my small MICROspikes. Yaktrax also cost half as much—$30 for Yaktrax Pros versus $59 for MICROspikes. However, for more active, demanding winter users that higher weight and cost come with far superior performance.
Yaktrax still have a place for the casual urban walker for whom the heavier, spiked MICROspikes would be overkill. If you only encounter consistent, packed snow on your winter walks and runs they may be an adequate, affordable choice for you. But if you’re a winter trail runner, hiker, or walker who encounters slippery ice or snow and wants superior traction, but doesn’t need crampons, check out the MICROspikes first.