Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Gear Review: Yaktrax and Deer Tracks

Years ago, an outdoor adventurer was exploring the Himalayas and encountered a seasoned Sherpa striding confidently across the slick and icy surface. What was seen on the Sherpa's feet sparked a revolutionary invention -- the Yaktrax patented coil traction device.

That is how the company began, modeled after the Tibetan Yak. I decided to give their Yaktrax Pro slip-ons a try, with deer rather than yak as companions. The company reached out and sent a pair to me and Rachel for review. We have been inundated with snow and ice in 2015 here in the New York City area, but I have the United NYC Half in less than two weeks and need to get off the dreadmill and be accustomed to elements.

Our trail between Piermont and Nyack up in the Palisades cliffs along the Hudson River north of NYC is normally a perfect clay-packed stretch for four miles. Now it is snow-covered. I wasn't sure how covered, but I realized immediately it was a long way from a meltdown and visible surface. You can see here how the trail looks.

I decided to go ahead and slip on the Yaktrax over my ASICS Gel-Cumulus 16s. It took me a few moments to figure out which way they went on, but you can see where one end is marked heel and the other toe. Had I watched this video, it would have been easier!

You just need a good stretch to get the rubber to pull over both ends of your foot, and then affix the Velcro strap over the top of your shoe. It was  easy, especially because I found a rock to sit on. It would be impossible to do while standing up on thick snow. I did not find these to be bulky whatsoever and they were light as air ... no impact on my body.

After a minute of running, it was obvious that snowshoes were the more likely need. The snow was still soft from Sunday's latest blanket (btw it's snowing again as I write this). The Yaktrax would be ideal on packed snow, trodden by others before me. Instead, just about the only creatures who traversed this snow before me were deer. It was deer tracks and Yaktrax.

Here's what it felt like running with Yaktrax along the deer tracks:

It was an incredible workout, part running and part hiking. Most steps were extra effort. I wound up running close to three miles on the snow, and then when I reached our usual crossing to go over a busy road, I opted to take off the Yaktrax at that point and run the fourth mile through downtown Nyack on their main street. So four total miles, but it felt like eight.

If not for Yaktrax, it would not have been possible at all. Even though my shoes sank into the snow, there would have been a lot of problematic steps without the hard-rubber soles and their hundreds of steel coils. The Yaktrax Pro are great, but I wish I had their new Yaktrax Run model to review instead, as you can see a big difference in these two graphics:



Here is an easy way to compare the Yaktrax models. - Mark

How do YOU beat the snow during training?

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