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Reviews > Snow Gear > Traction Aids > ICEtrekker Diamond Grips > Owner Review by Richard Lyon

ICETREKKER DIAMOND GRIPS
Owner Review by Richard Lyon
April 13, 2013

Icretrekkers1
PERSONAL DETAILS AND BACKPACKING BACKGROUND

Male, 66 years old
Height: 6' 4" (1.93 m)
Weight: 200 lb (91 kg)
Shoe size: 13 US
Email address: montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Bozeman, Montana USA

I'm in my fifth decade of backpacking, and travel regularly to the Rockies for outdoor activities.  I do a week long trip every summer, and often take three-day trips.  I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 13000 ft (1500-4000 m).  I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp, but I do my share of forced marches too.  Recently I've actively sought ways to reduce my pack load, but often still choose a bit more weight over foregoing camp conveniences I've come to expect. Summer trips often focus on fly-fishing, winter trips on skiing opportunities.

PRODUCT DETAILS
icetrekker3
ICEtrekker Diamond Grips are strap-on cleats for better purchase on slippery surfaces such as snow and ice. They take their name from the working end of the cleats, which are multi-sided steel alloy beads strung on steel aircraft cable and run across the bottom of the user's footwear. To my eye each bead is more star-shaped than diamond shaped, but each does have several sharp points for gripping. Chain links attach the bead strings to rivets on a rubber sling at seven points on the shoe, four on the ball of the foot and three on the heel. This yields a roughly rectangular bead assembly under the ball of the foot and a triangle under the heel. I put the ICEtrekkers on by stretching the sling over the sole of my shoe or boot.

Manufacturer: Implus Corporation
Website: http://www.icetrekkers.com
Purchased: November 2012
Measured weight: 10 ox (283 g) per pair
Size: Men's X-Large [Also available in Men's Small, Medium, Large and Women's Small, Medium, and Large]
MSRP: $41.95 US 

FIELD CONDITIONS

2012-2013 was my first winter resident in Montana, and my house stands at the end of a long unpaved driveway that runs from a fairly steep dirt road. Simply for everyday winter wear I figured I would need some help with my grip, a conclusion quickly reinforced when my next-door neighbor slipped and fell during an early-season walk up the hill. I purchased the ICEtrekkers that same day.

Tedinho8 I have worn the ICEtrekkers almost always with my Chaco Tedinho boots (see Test Report), lightweight ankle-high lace-up leather boots. A few times I've worn them with lighter trail shoes and once or twice with sheepskin-lined rubber boots. In the Tedinhos I have done my daily dog walks (3-4 per day, about 2-5 miles/3-8 km) on the roads and land near my home, all ice- or snow-covered from mid-November through the last week of March. Temperatures have ranged from -10 to 40 F (-24 to 4 C) in conditions from bluebird winter days to near-whiteout snow. The terrain around my house is steep and some of my hikes involve 1000 feet (300 m) of elevation gain and loss. Off-road hikes, usually around my house, go through the woods up and down the same steep hills. Since late November there has been at least a foot (30 cm) of settled snow off-road, often tracked up by wildlife, me, and the dog. The roads here are plowed once a storm ends, but I've experienced up to the same depth during our early snowstorms. Most of the time, though, it's been slick, icy roads or slicker icy-watery roads when there's sunlight and slightly warmer temperatures.

In the backcountry I've worn the ICEtrekkers on several day hikes in powdery snow, temperatures 10-20 F (-14 to -7 C) in the Bangtail and Hyalite Mountains (Leverich Canyon) near Bozeman, and on one recent weekend trip to a backcountry cabin in the Gallatin National Forest. I dislike hiking in snowshoes and tried the ICEtrekkers as an alternative. The longest of these hikes was eight miles (13 km) and all were on moderate grades. On the longest hike I did some trail-breaking but most of the time the hikes were on established trail that was covered with snow and had already been trod by others.

Overall at least two hundred miles' (320 km) use this winter - a good start.

PERFORMANCE

Sizing. ICEtrekker has two very useful sizing charts (one for each gender) on its website. The company urges a customer to take account of not only his or her shoe size but also the type of footwear to which the ICEtrekkers will be attached. For example, snow boots usually have larger soles than trail runners, so ICEtrekker recommends adding two sizes to one's street shoe size when using the sizing chart. For me the choice was easy; I needed the largest for trail shoes.

Putting them on. It's easy to attach the ICEtrekkers to my boots. I hold the small loop above the rear of the rubber sling, place the boot heel into the sling, and stretch the front section to fit over the boot's toebox. Sometimes but not very often I must tweak the fit to ensure proper placement of the bead strings underfoot. The loop similarly aids in removing the ICREtrekkers. I've had no particular difficulty pulling the ICEtrekkers over larger boots, just a bit more oomph when attaching.

BabarA firm grip. Let me introduce my testing assistant, Babar, my 105 lb (48 kg) Great Pyrenees, pictured here. Babar has done his best to give me a tumble this winter during his walks, which occur three or four times each day. Though a senior citizen he remains constantly alert to threats to the homestead, especially the evil deer that frequent our neighborhood. When he sees one - this seems always to happen when we are headed downhill - he tugs and strains at the leash. Let me at 'em!  Not once has his sudden charge caused even the smallest skid. I am thoroughly impressed with the Diamond Grip system for grabbing sheet ice or whatever variant is present. I started the local winter hiking with a ski pole, but quickly found that to be unnecessary. Backcountry performance has been similarly stellar, even on the steep Bangtail Divide trail and steeper downhill in Leverich Canyon.  I have taken a ski or trekking pole when wearing a pack on the backcountry hikes.

When hiking in snow, as opposed to plowed roads, the ICEtrekkers seem to find the harder surface (ice or hardpacked dirt) and the bottom and dig in. So long as the snow isn't crusty or really deep, requiring a broader base to keep from six-foot (1.5 m) post holes, the ICEtrrekkers are for me a realistic and much-welcomed alternative to snowshoes.

I haven't used other cleats enough recently to comment on performance of the diamond-bead tread versus other shapes of grips, but as noted they have worked really well, with no visible deterioration at season's end. One design feature I can comment on, however, is how the ICEtrekkers' design places only metal underfoot - no exposure of rubber to the road or other surface. In consequence there's no rubber to abrade from friction. This fact, plus high-grade steel components on the grips, have meant no visible deterioration of the ICEtrekkers and, more importantly to me, no mid-hike loss of a cleat.

Maintenance. Very little to speak of. I've occasionally wiped some mud off the rubber sling. As advertised the tread is more or less self-cleaning. While the ICEtrekkers themselves look almost as good as new the sling does leave a scar on the footwear it envelops, as seen in the photo above. Much of that I could scrub off with leather cleaner and elbow grease.

WHAT I LIKE

GREAT grip.
Easy to use.
No leather or rubber underfoot.

WHAT I DON'T

An extra-extra-large size would be easier to fit over larger boots.












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Reviews > Snow Gear > Traction Aids > ICEtrekker Diamond Grips > Owner Review by Richard Lyon



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