Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Snow and Ice Running Solutions

Been playing with screws in shoes, Kahtoola Microspikes and Yaktrax Runs.  My trails look like this (click here).

Summary: they each have their place.

1. The YakTrax Runs are very lightweight (lighter than the Kahtoola Microspikes) and easy to put on.  The strap that goes over the forefoot makes them very secure.  The first warning I got about Yaktrax was they may come off the forefoot, but this velcro strap fixes that.  (using them click here)
There are six carbide steel dull spikes in the forefoot area.  Three in each of two flat pads.  The directions tell you NOT to run on roads or rocks because you will tear these spikes out.  I have about 150 miles on mine and my spikes are bent, some are pushed flush in to the hard plastic.  I did not exactly follow the directions.  In my trails, when there's snow and ice there's STILL exposed rocks.  I think it'd need to snow many feet deep to cover the rocks in my area.  I thought they would be good in mud, but this pic will show the potential issues with that: 

The mud is caked and hides the spikes immediately.  The hard plastic pads have one more issue in my experience.  Just enough snow will get caught in those pads and freeze.  I notice this right away as it feels like there's an acorn in my shoe.  The frozen acorn-sized chunks of snow caught between the pads and my sole freeze and press in to the soft midfoot area.  I have to stop running regularly to clean out this compressed snow.  This is very difficult since my fingers are typically worthless at this point.  The springs along the middle and heel of the foot work GREAT and give me the traction I need.  I score these thusly:
  • six out of ten for effectiveness 
  • three out of ten for longevity
  • eight out of ten for ease of use
2.  Kahtoola MicroSpikes are sadly about as heavy as the thin minimalist shoes I wear.  I notice that I have them on and I am sure they weigh me down!  But the traction and ability to stay on and not need adjustment are unimproveable.  Again, only because I wear such thin shoes, the elastic on these is so strong it bends my toes up and my big toe can feel bruised after a few hours of wear.  I would not use these for an ultra race.  If your shoes are as thin as mine, be prepared to feel the spikes pushing back up into your feet.  This can take some getting used to if your feet are normally pampered.  

Stock photo:
These are a must have for frequent snow/ice runs.
  • eight out of ten for effectiveness 
  • eight out of ten for longevity
  • four out of ten for ease of use (dinged for being heavy and elastic hurting my little feetz)
3. Screw in the shoes - is a way to turn a pair of trail shoes in to a snow/ice biting tool.  Because the screws are in the sole, they won't come out easily so this solution is most likely to see pavement or concrete en route to your trail run.  I used my B2R Trail shoes for this since the stack height is sufficient for me running 3/8" teck screws in to the foot.  

The screw heads provide the bite into the ice and snow.  Not nearly as helpful in snow as the microspikes.  But their longevity and serviceability after hitting road surfaces and rocks is attractive to the do-it-yer'selfer.  The amount of added weight is negligible and the difference in feeling for my foot is slight.  Sometimes I swear I can feel the sharp point of a screw when I hit a rock 'just righ' (wrong).  But no foot damage or discomfort.  I could double the # of screws in the foot bed for more traction on ice, but I feel it'd get too slippery on harder surfaces.  
  • four out of ten for effectiveness 
  • five out of ten for longevity
  • nine out of ten for ease of use