Test Series by Scott Wasley
Last Update July 3, 2007
Name: Scott Wasley
Height: 5’ 10” (178 cm)
Weight: 180 lb (82 kg)
Email address: snw61(at)yahoo(dot)com
City, State, Country:
Idaho Falls, ID, U.S.A
I am an avid backpacker, kayaker, skier, and all around outdoorsman. I began
backpacking thirty-five years ago at the age of 10. I have hiked mostly in the
western part of the United States (Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana). I am generally
a mid-weight hiker, mainly because I like to take a little extra gear to be
comfortable. I have recently spent a good share of my time in the Yellowstone
National Park backcountry.
February 22, 2007
Manufacturer: 32north Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Men's Sizes Available:
· S = 4 –7 (US) (36 – 40 EUR)
· M = 7.5 – 10 (US) (40.5 – 44 EUR)
· L = 10.5 – 13 (US) (44.5 – 47.5 EUR)
· XL = 13.5 – 16 (US) (48 – 50.5 EUR) [on website, not on product card]
Women’s Sizes Available:
· S = 5 – 8 (US) (35 –38.5 EUR)
· M = 8.5 – 12 (US) (39 – 42.5 EUR)
Listed Weight: Not Listed
Measured Weight: 10.8 oz (306 g) per pair
Material: Dual-Density TPE Elastomer
Warranty: None Listed
MSRP: $21.95 USD
The STABILicers Lite (hereafter called STABILicers or traction device) are one of several 32north footwear traction products. The STABILicers are a stretchy, flexible, rubbery, molded material which includes three cleat plates per unit. The three cleat plates are molded into the sole of each unit. Two cleat plates are located in the ball of the foot and the third is located in the heel. Each cleat plate contains eight, rounded, chisel-point cleats, which protrude approximately 3/16 in (4.7 mm). The non-replaceable cleats are bi-directional, with four cleats running perpendicular to the other four cleats per plate. The traction device attaches to the shoe via an elastomer band that circles the lower portion of the shoe’s sole. There are two such bands in the heel. The elastomer material has wavy, raised, lines in the foot bed to provide grip for the shoe. In addition, the traction device has molded areas on the sole and the perimeter banding to provide additional traction and stability.
Upon arrival, the STABILicers were coupled together, one inside of the other, with an information card attached. The card identifies the size and description of the traction device, and includes fitting instructions.
The traction device appears to be a one-piece, high quality TPE Elastomer material, with steel cleats. It appears one can wear the STABILicers on either foot. They are black in color, which appears to be the only choice for this style according to the manufacturer’s website. There were no cuts or voids noted. However, there are areas where the elastomer material varies in width and thickness. Thinner areas have more potential for failure. Therefore, I will pay particular attention to these areas during the test period.
The size ordered and received was men’s medium. I donned the traction device on my tennis shoes, which are men’s size 9.5 (US), 43 (EUR) and have a sole length of 12 in (30 cm). Because the fit was so snug, I believe the next larger size, men's large, would have been a better choice especially for use with winter boots.
Proposed Test Locations:
I plan to test the STABILicers while walking along wintry, icy, walkways and light hiking. In southeastern Idaho, we have long winters with sub-zero temperatures and icy spring conditions. These conditions generally last through April and even longer at the higher elevations where I will be backpacking and/or hiking. Average temperatures in southeastern Idaho during the test period should range between 0 F (-18 C) and 70 F (21 C). There is always the potential for wind, rain, and snow as well.
Proposed Test Plan:
The items I will evaluate during this test include:
· Overall Quality of Materials and Workmanship
· Ease of use – How easy are they to put on and take off? Are they easily cleaned?
· If walking on sidewalks or pavement, will they allow you to slip? Can you use them easily in areas where there is patchy ice and dry pavement?
· Durability – How effective will the cleats be after miles of hiking? How long do the cleats last under the proposed conditions?
· Variety – Do they accommodate multiple types of footwear – i.e. hiking boots, walking shoes, winter boots?
· Packability - Can they be folded, rolled, stuffed into backpack easily?
· General overall usability
May 8, 2007
During February, I wore the STABILicers Lite when the temperature was approximately 24 F (-4 C) and winds of 10 MPH (16 KPH). The test walking surface was dry pavement, solid smooth ice, and 2 - 4 in (5.1 - 10.8 cm) thick fresh snow. I would walk ½ mile (0.8 km) through the neighborhood.
I have also worn the STABILicers hiking in to my cabin in the Swan Valley Idaho area, at an elevation of 6200 ft (1890 m). The temperature was generally around 24 F (-5 C). The distance to my cabin from the gate, which is closed during the winter, is about ¼ mile (0.4 km). The road has a fairly steep grade, and the packed snow depth was about 1.5 ft (0.5 m). However, there were occasions where there was 4 - 6 in (10 - 15 cm) of fresh powder. I also wore them on other winter hikes/walks near Idaho Falls, Idaho at temperatures ranging from 10 F to 32 F (-12C to 0 C).
In preparation for each of my test hikes/walks, I installed the traction device in a manner which I thought was straight and evenly spaced around my shoes. Initially, I began walking on areas of dry pavement and solid ice in my neighborhood. The traction device made me feel like I was walking on stilts or very thick-soled shoes. This seemed very unstable, and I felt like I might twist an ankle. The STABILicers also felt like they were protruding through the bottom of the shoes. This was quite uncomfortable on my feet. This was a little surprising since the shoes I was wearing initially were a medium-quality, medium-weight hiking boot. I also wore them on a high-quality brand heavier-weight hiking boot. Both boots had average sole thickness and stiffness. However, with the medium weight boot, it felt like I was wearing a soft-soled athletic shoe.
The traction device provided phenomenal traction on smooth, solid ice. I walked fast and tried to slide on the ice. However, I was unable to slide, it was like walking on pavement with a rubber-soled shoes. When walking in snow, the traction device sank slightly in the snow and I did not notice the instability and the feeling of walking on stilts.
After walking about 1/2 mile (0.8 km) the traction device felt like they were no longer centered on my feet. It felt like I was walking on the edge of my shoes. However, I kept walking. Shortly thereafter, on the very first test, the left unit came off my shoe. So, I picked it up and walked the rest of the way home. At home, I went to remove the other unit from my right foot only to find that it was about to fall off as well. The heel cleat was off to one side. After being out in the cold for a while, the traction device seemed to lose the stretchiness they had when I initially put them on in the warm house. I assume the cold temperature caused them to loose their grip on the shoe sole and ultimately fall off.
The STABILicers Lite just did not stay on my shoes, whether I wore them with hiking boots, tennis shoes, or even sandals. One might ask why I tried them on sandals. Well, I thought that if the edges of the STABILicers could roll over the tops of the sandals' soles, maybe they would stay on better. Therefore, I decided to try wearing the STABILicers on sandals in my home. Although a good true test could not be achieved inside the house, they did seem to stay on the sandals a bit better than on other shoes.
After all of the field testing, when I could keep them on my feet, the STABILicers do not appear to show any signs of wear on the cleat points or rubber body. The traction device appears to be quite durable and easy to clean up after being subjected to mud, sand, and salt.
Although I ordered and received the medium, which was described on the STABILicers website as appropriate for my size 9.5 US (43 European) feet, they initially appeared small to me. Maybe a larger size would not have shrunk, or rolled off, so easily.
Because they slip off of my shoes, and give me the sensation of walking on stilts, I am not very impressed with the STABILicers Lite.
July 3, 2007
Due to warmer weather, and lack of snow, there has been no further opportunity to test the STABILicers Lite since the Field Report. As stated above in my Field Report, I am dissatisfied with the ability to keep this traction device attached to my footwear.
This concludes my Long-Term Report. I would like to thank BackPackGearTest and 32north, Inc. for the opportunity to test the STABILicers Lite.
Read more reviews of 32North gear
Read more gear reviews by Scott Wasley