Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Yak Trax Pro review

So, if you live in a similar climate to me, there's two choices when it comes to winter running. Spend the entire winter running indoors (on a track or treadmill) or run outside. Given the boredom factor of indoor running, the choice is obvious: run outside. It certainly requires more thought and preparation, but if you dress for the weather, you can run in just about any temperature.

Where things get tricky is when it gets slippery. As a new runner going into this winter, I got kind of freaked out when it started snowing. At first, I did a bunch of my runs at the track, but like I said, BORING! So, finally I sucked it up and started running outside.

Along with winter clothing, one of my purchases was a pair of yak trax pro.

They're made of rubber and have little coils wound around the segments which cut into the ice. They're unisex and come in three sizes: small, medium and large. According to my shoe size of women's 10, I should have worn a small, but the medium started at a 10.5 and fit my shoe a lot better, so I got that.

The first time I wore them, I was thrilled. There was a layer of snow on all the paths and I could feel that my traction was great. I even tested it on some icy spots, and my footing felt totally secure. It gave me the confidence to run even though the conditions weren't great, and I was very happy about that.

One thing I didn't like at all was running on bare concrete. They make a kind of clicky noise when you do and you can feel them on the bottom of your feet. They don't hurt, but they're uncomfortable. For this reason, I rarely wore them for my long runs. I actually found myself avoiding the bare patches in favour of running on snow covered spots. Of course, if I ran on long stretches of shoveled sidewalks, I didn't have a choice; I just had to put up with the feel on the bottom of my feet.

I also started to realize that I didn't need them as much as I thought I did. As I ran more, I learned that you can almost always see the icy patches. Yes, you have to pay attention, but that's a good habit anyways. I sometimes left the yak trax at home when it was mostly clear, and I didn't have any problems with running on the spots that still had snow and ice.

Having said that, I did enjoy having them as an option. They let me run at times I was otherwise a bit unsure of the sidewalks, and they always made my footing feel secure.

Until they broke.

I had them for about 3 months, and probably only used them about 12 times. I was preparing to put them on for a run and realized that one of the little rubber straps had broken. Then I looked and saw that one of the other coils also seemed to have detached itself.

Fortunately, I had bought them at Mountain Equipment Co-op, and they have amazing customer service. When I brought them back to the store, I was given my money back without any question. I didn't buy another pair. I question whether they're really designed well for running. Reading other reviews, it doesn't seem like my experience is unique. While they might be a good option for shoveling the sidewalk, I don't know that they can handle the additional load running puts on them.

I must admit that I miss having them, but I can't really recommend them. I'm on the look out for another traction device, although I don't think it's as vital as I used to. If you do buy them, I strongly recommend buying them somewhere that has good customer service and a good return policy...

How do you deal with icy sidewalks?


  1. Thanks for this review...on my first ever snow run this past weekend I used these rubber things that has like screw heads in them. (They were a gift given to me when I had asked for the Yax Trax) They worked really well but like you said if you were not in the snow it didn't feel great to run on them. I was wondering how much different it would be with the YT. Glad to know that it's not better.

  2. I deal with icy sidewalks by pretending I'm running barefoot. Landing square under my body, and being careful about pushoff. I had a pair of yak trax given to me and they were fine running on packed snow, but no good for ice or concrete. They went sproing off my feet in the middle of a run.

  3. Thanks for the review!
    I considered buying a pair (although the ones with the little spikes, not the coils) but never got around to it. The clicking on the bare concrete drove me nuts when my running buddies wore them and I figured they would be uncomfortable on the bare concrete like you mentioned.

    One woman wore them during my race yesterday and there was only 1 bad spot. Totally not needed at all!

    I just run really slowly on the ice patches, or even walk.