Amazon.com: 25% or more off clearance running shoes - click here to view current selection.
Running Warehouse: HOKA SALE! - Up to 50% select models through 10/31 (view selection).

Review of YakTrax Run Traction Cleats

yaktrax run featuresDealing with traction on winter runs can be challenging for a road runner. Most of the time I find that a decent pair of lugged trail shoes suffices for mixed conditions on sidewalks and roads (mostly crusty ice and snow up here in NH), but there are certain times when a trail shoe alone won’t cut it. Running in or just after a snowstorm is one of those times – combine extreme cold, a fresh layer of powdery snow, and a layer of ice underneath and things can get pretty slick. Such was the case on my run earlier today – 5 degrees Fahrenheit outside with a steadily falling snow made for a cold, slippery run.

In the past I’ve used YakTrax Pro cleats in cases where a bit of extra traction is needed. These are the standard YakTrax with the metal coils underfoot. They’ve always worked well, but the consistent complaint I hear about them is that the rubber bands inside the coils are prone to snapping, which renders them useless. I don’t use mine except when there is a layer of snow on the ground, so they don’t come out often, and never on bare asphalt. As such, I have never broken a pair, but I can see how durability would be a concern.

A few weeks ago YakTrax contacted me about trying their YakTrax Run cleats (Disclosure: Yaktrax provided the product reviewed here free of charge as a media sample). We’ve had a few decent storms so far this winter, so I’ve now taken them out a few times and feel comfortable commenting on their performance.

YakTrax Run Traction Cleats

The big difference between the YakTrax Pro and YakTrax Run is that on the latter the coils under the forefoot are replaced by two studded rubber and plastic plates. The studs are made of carbide steel and the plates they are attached to are removable – apparently the stud plates can be purchased independently for replacement if needed (they seem to be hard to find, Amazon is out of stock). The studs are short enough that they don’t feel uncomfortable when you hit a patch of bare asphalt (feels kind of like running in a Newton shoe), and long enough that they dig in well on bare ice. I tend to load more under my midfoot to forefoot, and I found traction on ice and plowed (yet still snow covered) road to be very good.

The heel of the YakTrax Run retains the familiar coils from other models, and I find these do a better job in deeper snow. A good portion of my run today was on sidewalks covered by about 4-5 inches of light, fresh powder. Once packed down the forefoot studs aren’t deep enough to help much, so I found myself aiming more for my heel to provide traction. It’s tough to get good traction on fresh powder over ice, and I managed to not fall over the course of 3.5 miles. I did slip a few times, and if deep, fresh powder is a regular condition for you there might be better options out there (have not tried them myself, but I’ve heard good things about the Kahtoola Microspikes for when more extreme traction is needed).

It’s hard to comment on durability as I’ve only used these twice so far (I typically only use Yaktrax a handful of times each winter when storms hit), but in a quick perusal of reviews on Amazon I did not see a large number of complaints about them breaking (there were a few, maybe 2-3 out of 24 reviews). My tactic when encountering a short stretch of bare asphalt is to focus on a forefoot landing and avoid direct contact on the coils, hopefully this will keep them in good shape (the ability to do this is an advantage of the Run model over the YakTrax Pro). I would assume that if you have a pair and they break, YakTrax will replace them under warranty if you contact them within 90 days (should cover a winter of use – they are clear to say that these are not to be used on bare asphalt or concrete). I’d guess most retailers would also exchange a pair that breaks prematurely (Zappos carries them and they are typically great with returns).

Overall I found that the YakTrax Run did a pretty good job for the conditions I encounter on roads and sidewalks during or after a snowstorm. They are great on icy surfaces and snow-covered, plowed road, and decent in fresh snow as long as it’s not too deep. My runs are not suited to a spikier traction device so the Kahtoola Microspikes are not something I’d really need, but for occasional traction needs encountered by a road runner in winter they function well.

For do-it-your-selfers, you could also try screwing your shoes (get your head out of the gutter!) – my buddy Sam recently did this with a pair of Hokas and some Ice Spikes, and I’ve done it with La Sportiva Hobnails. It’s also possible to just use some sheet metal screws from a hardware store – minimallyshoddy recently wrote about screwing his Skoras, that’s a risky proposition!

Where to buy – YakTrax Run cleats are available for purchase at Amazon.com and at Zappos.

Running Warehouse: Great prices on closeout shoes! View men's and women's selections.
Amazon.com: 25% or more off clearance running shoes - click here to view current selection.
Trivllage: Save 18% on run, swim, and cycle gear. Use Code: RBTri18.

Recent Posts By Category: Running Shoe Reviews | Running Gear Reviews | Running Science

About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. Good review of something I’ve been wanting to purchase for a while. What happens if the conditions are mixed? If you’re running in snow or slush then the road or sidewalk clears?

    Are the YakTrax damaged in non-harsh conditions?

    • I think the issue is that the rubber bands inside the metal coils under the heel are more likely to break on bare asphalt/concrete. In these I can just stay on my forefoot over bare patches to avoid compressing the coils. I wonder if wearing a shoe with a softish midsole might help as well to avoid crunching the coils?

  2. Christian Eriksson says:

    I have yet to try any form of traction aid during my winter runs, albeit we seldom have very harsh winters here in the south of Sweden.
    We do get ice when snow melts during the warmer days and then freezes over again, but I just try to avoid the worst roads. Minimal shoes with spikes/screws does sound rather risky! Running without helps me to develop a lighter and shorter step :)

    You seem to be looking at rather serious winter weather the coming days, so stay safe!

  3. The velcro attachment that goes across the foot looks like it could get annoying. Honestly, I have never seen a need for any additional traction aids on lugged trail shoes. If I need more than trail shoes, the trail is more suitable for snowshoes or hiking boots with gaiters.

    • My review is specific to my experience as primarily a road runner. I rarely need more than a trail shoe, but there are times when the YakTrax are warranted, such as during or right after a storm when you have a mix of conditions that includes a layer of powder over ice.

  4. With what shoes have you tried these?

    I’ve tried the yaktrax, as well as the kahtoola microspikes. My mountain trails are pure ice in winter so spikes are vital.

    Both worked when using on bulky shoes like my mountain hiking boots. But not with running shoes like Trailroc 235 or not even with Altra Superior. Too loose a fit, pinching the toes especially when running down the mountain. One other reviewer on the net put it nicely: “great for walking the dog but not for serious trail running”

    I’ve drilled some car spikes into a pair of Trailrocs 235. Works perfectly.

    • I used a pair of the old slipon full coils over xmas when the weather was particularly nasty where I was visiting. I was wearing the original Patagonia Forerunners.

      You do have to watch it when going down hill with any slip on style. But I prefer the slip on to screw in as I only use them a couple times a year at most.

    • Wore them with the New Balance 890 current model and the NB MT110W. No fit issues on either for me. I do agree that on a trail the Kahtoolas are probably the better option.

  5. the perfect winter minimal shoe…3/8 inch sheet metal screws in a shoe with some good durameter rubber. ran a beautiful 13 miles in Canaan Valley today in these. ice, snow, zero degrees. was flying :)
    link to facebook.com
    Mark

  6. I avoided YakTrax due to the durability concerns I found while researching what to buy. I came across ICEtrekkers Diamond Grips, which I ended up purchasing. No regrets! I feel very confident running on ice with them, even up a fairly steep grade. When I do hit bare pavement, you can tell they’re there, but not in a bad way. They have been very durable.

  7. Aaron Grenz says:

    I’m a big fan of a competing product called Ice Trekkers. They’re made with aircraft grade steel instead of rubber, so it should address the main concerns most have about the Yaktrax. I’ve had the same pair for a couple years, and they’re holding up great. They seem to have a great “bite” for all my winter runs here in MN. I have run several miles on pavement/asphalt and even a 2.8 mile loop on a frozen lake nearby and have no complaints about discomfort, or durability of the product.

    The only potential durability issue is rust. You need to rinse them of thoroughly after each use to mitigate rust and corrosion from water and rust. I have a could spots where rust is evident, but nothing severe or potentially impacting performance.

    link to icetrekkers.com

    • Aaron Grenz says:

      Need to note two corrections to make on my above post.
      1.I typically run a mile or so each time I run in my Ice Trekkers, so in total I’ve run several DOZEN miles in them.

      2.You need to rinse the Ice Trekkers to remove road SALT (not rust) if that’s used in your area. Rust is obviously bad, but the salt severely causes the corrosion/rust unless you rinse off the Trekkers.

  8. Courtney DeRusha says:

    Thanks for the review. Do you think these would fit over the forefoot lugs on Newtons?

  9. I just bought a pair of these. I commute to work by bus and foot, and with the icy conditions this winter, was finding it not easy without extra help. I also wanted to buy a pair for winter running, so I went with the Run model to dual purpose them.

    Now I know you aren’t supposed to wear them on marble tile, but I cut through a mall on my way from bus to my office, and not once have I slipped. I am careful, but since it is a short part of my (icy) walk, I loathe taking them off just to put them on again 3 minutes later. Walking on pavement seems to not be an issue, since the carbide studs seem to “dig in” a bit.

    I have not run in them yet, but they don’t pinch my winter runners at all, and I don’t feel like they unbalance me at all as I stride out in a walk (or quick jog to beat a light) so I am not concerned about that. A most excellent purchase, IMHO.

  10. Interesting review and product, although it looks like making the product worse compared to the pro model.

    Living in Greenland means that I run snow and ice, on trail, off trail, and roads a lbig part of the year.

    For most conditions the yaktrek pro is imHo the best solution as it integrates very well with the sole of most shoes.
    The kathoola micro spike though is by far the best option out there for terrain use, they are quite heavy in comparison and on soft shoes as the brooks pure runs you will feel the heavy spikes through the sole.
    They mold superbly to the sole given their chain link design though.
    Upside is the bite on even the greenlandic inland ice and pure glacial ice, where yaktreks or other more pedestrian models are useless.
    I have used both yaktrak and kathoola up to full marathon distances pair with either the brooks pure cadence and puredrift.
    I think the microspikes are overkill for most road and even trail winter conditions, but they shine off trail in the mountains or when running glacial ice.

  11. I agree about running in deeper fresh snow – little to no traction. Better saved for snowpacked and icy surfaces.

Speak Your Mind

*