Gear Review: YakTrax
This is the time of year when the days are short and the weather transitions from warm, sunny days in early Fall to the bone chilling cold of Winter. It is sometime that fickle time of year when the weather can’t decide if it wants to stay warm or treat us to a Nor’easter. Often that means the rain we have one day will freeze like a rock the next and leave us with the excitement of getting from one place to another on a sheet of ice.
Whether you need to get somewhere in icy conditions because of work, or you frequent the trails of your favorite forest or State Park, your best ally is a good pair of “ice-walkers”. In addition to ice, the condition of walking on hard packed snow can also result in slips, trips & falls. One of the most popular and ideally suited for these winter conditions we encounter here in southern New England are the Yaktrax. The Yaktrax are coils of wound wire that are interlaced on a heavy duty Poly Elastomer web frame. One of the benefits of this design is that there are no spikes. The steel coils prevent slipping, but they are easy to walk on if the ice is intermittent. They work great if you are scrambling on icy rock faces. It takes a bit of practice to get used to the sensation that you are walking on ice or packed snow, but once you get comfortable it is a great feeling to know that you will not be frequently picking yourself off the ground. And even if you find yourself on a section of trail that is ice or snow free, the Yaks do not have to come off your shoes. I have worn Yaktrax on many hikes in the White Mountains, including summiting Cannon Mountain and Mt. Moriah in early spring and have found them as critical a piece of equipment as my poles and snowshoes. I wear them on my daily hikes in winter whenever there is packed snow on the ground.
I would recommend the Yaktrax Pros for those who will be hiking in the woods or will be leaving the Yaks on for a long duration. This model has a strap that is secured across the lacing face of your boot. This strap will prevent the Yak from slipping off your shoe if you happen to step in some deeper snow or encounter a mud puddle.
If you don’t already have a pair, I recommend you get some Yaktrax for yourself and keep them in your backpack or near your winter boots. Wear them with confidence when you venture out on the ice or packed snow this winter.