TEST SERIES BY BRIAN TANNEHILL
July 09, 2007
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tannehillclan (at) gmail (dot) com
Colorado Springs, Co
5' 7" (1.70 m)
185 lbs (83.90 kg)
I am fairly new to backpacking, but I have hunted/fished/camped all my life in East Texas, Colorado, and California. My young kids (4, 10, 12) limit me to weekend overnight camping trips, or day hikes Geocaching. I am also an avid mountain biker. Currently I live in Colorado Springs, Co at the base of the Rocky Mountains. Pike National Forest surrounds me at 9000 - 14,110 feet (2743 m - 4301 m). Snow can happen 10 months out of the year and summer is the hottest reaching 65 F + (18 C +), the other months average 45 F (7 C).
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: 32 North
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: www.32north.com
MSRP: US$ 21.95
Listed Weight: Not Listed
Measured Weight: 11 Ounces (310 grams) for the pair
From the web site: "With aggressive cleats and tread, STABILicers Lite provide unbeatable traction. Made from the same elastomer as the STABILicers SPORT, the Lite is easy to pull on and take off, while securely fitting both shoes and boots. STABILicers Lite's non-replaceable multidirectional steel cleats bite into ice and snow allowing you to stride naturally through winter's worse conditions. This product is ideal for walking, jogging, and light running or light trail hiking. When you don't need the heavy durability of the original STABILicers or the grip of the STABILicers SPORT for daily runs or rigorous hikes, the STABILicers Lite is just what you need. "
Studded snow tires for your feet! I like that catch phrase for some reason. These devices are made from some type of rubber material that stretches really easy. I received a size medium (see fig 2 for a size chart)
|Fig 2 courtesy 32north
One big phrase jumps out at me from the web site, that is non-replaceable steel cleats.
|Fig 3 Metal Cleats
Even though these weigh in at 11 ounces (310 grams) for the pair, they "feel" heavy on my feet. I wore them around the yard for a few minutes just to get a feel for them. They collect dirt very easily. I noticed a few things right from the start. First the cleat area seems to be fairly narrow. There are three identical grip areas. One on the toe, one on the ball, and one on the heel of the foot. Each one has 8 steel cleats in them. I listed some measurements on Fig 1. I felt my foot was leaning to either side of the square traction areas as I walked. Can this be fixed by adjusting the cleats side to side? I also felt there was too much room, 3.5 in (8.9 cm), between the front and back cleats. My foot seemed to sag in this area and provided for poor support. This area was designed for uses like climbing a ladder and such. Will it bother me through out this test period? The devices seem to hold really well to the shoe. Will the rubber stretch over time and make them loose? I have my doubts about the rubber material they are made of though. Will it harden and crack over time?
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
Instructions that I like, easy and to the point. The only thing that would have made these better are some pictures.
From the web site:
1. While seated, cross your leg over your knee. Position the STABILicers Lite over the front of your shoe (it does not need to go over the top of your toe, just around the front).
2. Holding the two heel straps, stretch the STABILicers lite around the heel of your shoe.
3. Pull the sides of the STABILicers Lite up while straitening the cleats, positioning them under the heel and forefoot of your shoe.
So far this seems like the best way to don and doff these traction devices.
My test plan.
Well I'll see how well these things work. Or don't work. I'm out hiking in the woods or Ice fishing almost every weekend. Right now snow is everywhere, and as it melts it is turning to ice in places. I plan on using them for hiking, ice fishing, and maybe even fly fishing if the river hasn't already frozen over. I will use them with my LL Bean slip on shoes, my New Balance model 471 and Saucony Grid Stratos 2 tennis Shoes, My work boots which I hike in the snow in, my Hi Tec Altitude II hiking boots, and any other shoes I happen to run across where I need traction outside. Mainly though I will wear them ice fishing and hiking. I would also like to know if they could slip on over my wading boots and be used on the bottom of rivers for fly fishing. Provided the river isn't frozen over, and its kind of warm out I will try these out in the river.
How well do I get traction in them? Will the steel cleats hold up? Are they made of durable rubber? Will it get brittle over time? How well will they stay on my feet? Will I have to clean any dirt and debris out from in between the spikes? I'd also like to know if they have a wide enough base to hike in. It looks like it is kind of narrow. Would this be prone to turning an ankle? How easy do they pack up? Do they tangle on things in my pack?
Please check back in two months to read the field the report and some of my conclusions.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I've used these traction devices up mainly two trails where I live. One trail is called Stanley Canyon, and the other is called Eagle Peak. Stanley Canyon trail is 2.1 miles (3.4 km) long and gains over 1200 feet (366 m) from start to finish. The Eagle Peak trail is only 1.2 miles (1.9 km) long and gains over 2000 feet (610 m) at the finish. Weather was snowy and icy on the trails. The trails are typical Rocky Mountain terrain, with lots of rocks and scree.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
On almost every hike I used these devices on, they moved and/or slipped off my feet at one point or another. As the packaging says they are designed for LITE hiking. I think maybe I am pushing theses devices just a little bit out of their comfort zone. There isn't a good way to really measure how intense these hikes are. I like to give the reference of a geocache that is along both trails. On both Stanley Canyon and Eagles Peak the trail rating according to the Geocaching web site has a difficulty of 2.5 and terrain of 3.5. Here is an image of the Stanley Canyon Trail and the ice and snow I hiked over. This section is one of the flatter spots on the trail.
These traction devices have GREAT traction on the ice. I always felt sure footed and I really liked using them on the ice covered trails. They were way better than not having anything at all. I did notice some things about them I did not like.
On one hike I wound up losing one of the STABILicers all together. I went back and looked for it immediately after I noticed it was lost, and also following the weekend. I never found it. The company did graciously send me a replacement pair and I thank them for that. They also sent a few pieces of hook and loop fastener and said, "Why don't you try this?" I've used them since then on an easier part of Eagles Peak and had them slip off again. I'm mainly using them on my Scarpa Mustang boots that I have been testing, but have also used them on my Hi Tec Altitude II's as well. They seem to perform about the same on each pair of boots.
Every time I have used them, they kept sliding to one side or the other on my feet. It was an easy adjustment to make, I could just push them back with the tip of my hiking pole, but I had to do this a lot. I think the small width of the traction device lent itself to this. I have also noticed when the rubber grip that holds the traction devices on my shoe gets wet, they tend to slip more. Which is kind of bad seeing how they are used for snow and ice. They also had a tendency while going down hill for the grips on the heels to slide off my feet. I didn't have a camera in the field when this happened, but here is what it looked like.
They also didn't perform well on the wind blown crusty snow. I slipped a lot on that as the cleats are not long enough to dig in. I wound up clipping these to the outside of my pack, mainly because they attract a lot of dirt.
I have not been real happy with these. However I do believe I am pushing them to their limits. On flatter surfaces they tend to do better, but I don't hike in flat areas.
I was also going to use these devices as traction devices while I fly fished in some of the local rivers. Two things have persuaded me not to do this. One is how easily these things have come off. Two is I have noticed when I step on rocks with these they make an awful noise. Something along the lines of raking your finger nails across a chalk board. This type of noise in the water does not go well with my stealth like skill I use sneaking up on the elusive trout. In other words, I make enough noise in the water, I don't need a bull horn going off in there!
My testing strategy will be to continue to take this on each hike with me. I had to climb to 9000 feet (2743 m) to find snow on this last hike. I don't think it will be around much longer. I do have one more hike planned that could possibly have snow, that is Pikes Peak. I know that is not lite hiking and I will be pushing the traction devices way past their limit, but it may be the only snow I can find.
I wish I could tell you to check back here in two months, but seeing how there isn't much snow, you may have to wait till October 2007 for a final report.
Thanks to 32 North and BGT for allowing me to participate in this test.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
Due to the weather not co-operating and keeping the temps cold and snow on the ground through out the test period, I will have to add more information to the LTR section of this report after the 2007-2008 winter season. Please check back sometime around March 2008 for the rest.
This report was created with the BGT Report Generator.
Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.
Thanks to BackPackGearTest and Stabilicer for allowing me to participate in this test.
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Read more gear reviews by Brian Tannehill