For an urbanite living in a city where snow falls for approximately 2 days in every 365, it does seem a little excessive that I have 2 different sets of ice cleats and snow grips.
As London transport tends to collapse at the first hint of a snow flake, and commuters are left to fend for themselves in the harsh cold streets, I’ve developed a slight -ism. Call it what you like but my -ism means that from October to May I carry a set of Yaktrax in the bottom of my bag just in case I should find myself stranded at Victoria again and have to walk home through miles of slippy slush.
We’ve just had the annual weekend of snowfall so I was quick to take the IceSpikes and the Yaktrax Pro on a head to head test across Mitcham and Tooting Commons.
I was given a pack of IceSpikes at the recent running show. I think they retail around £25 (amazon link) and consist of a pack of hard screws and device for inserting them into your shoe. It took me about 10 mins to get them all set up and screwed in. You could technically remove them from your shoes after use as they only result in a smal puncture hole but really its a bit of a faff. I’ve instead chosen to sacrifice an old pair running shoes to become my permanent snow shoes. They will spend most of their remaining life in the bottom of a cupboard but on their annual outing they’ll become the star of the show.
I’ve had the Yaktrax for a couple of years now, purchased after the “stranded in Victoria” incident, and they haven’t seen snow that often. I’ve just checked on (Amazon) and at £16 they are cheaper than I remember.
The Yaktrax are much quicker to set up than the IceSpike although you have to do it over and over again. You start at the toe and peel them over the sole of the shoe. They are quite a tight squeeze and I’m always worried about trapping my chilled fingers in the coils and taut rubber but so far I have remained injury free. The pro versions have an additional velcro strap across the foot that gives you the confidence to run without fear that the contraption may spring off your foot mid-stride.
In terms of gripability I would say that both the Yaktrax and IceSpike were on a par. They both enabled a confident pace to be maintained across snow covered pavements and trails. The IceSpike were the least conspicuous and unless you walked on cleared tarmac you could forget that you had them on.
So if you can’t distinguish the two grips in terms of their performance on snow I suppose you have to look at the relative convenience factor.
Yaktrax can be carried around with you until required and convert any shoe (barring stilettos) into a snow shoe. Should you encounter patchy road conditions or need to enter a building you can whip them on and off at will. IceSpike, once installed on your shoe can just be left in place but that means if you walk across gritted and cleared roads you would either need to change your shoes or put up with the loud, sticky sound they make.
I think I’ll be sticking to the best of both worlds. My newly IceSpiked shoe will remain my snow running shoe of choice as they are so comfortable while the Yaktrax will remain in my bag, ready to transform any commuting shoe to an expedition ready mountain shoe – if ever required.