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Reviews > Snow Gear > Traction Aids > Yaktrax Pro 2009 > Test Report by Nathan Kettner

YAKTRAX PRO
TEST SERIES BY NATHAN KETTNER
LONG-TERM REPORT
June 09, 2009

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Nathan Kettner
EMAIL: kettnernw "at" yahoo "dot" com
AGE: 31
LOCATION: Colorado Springs, Colorado
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 1" (1.85 m)
WEIGHT: 175 lb (79.40 kg)

I'm a medium weight backpacker, meaning my pack usually weighs 30-35 lb (13-16 kg), and I generally hike a moderate pace and mostly in mountainous terrain. I almost always use a tent (lightweight when backpacking, wall tent when hunting). I'm a weekend backpacker and make lots of day trips and single night outings, plus a few week-long backpack trips. All of my outings have been in the beautiful and rugged Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Wyoming since I started backpacking in 2004.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Yaktrax
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: http://yaktrax.com/
MSRP: US$ 29.95
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 2 7/8 oz (82 g) each
Size Tested: Medium
Color Tested: Black

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Yaktrax Pro packaging is simple and the box is large enough that the Yaktrax can easily be returned to the box for storage, if desired. When I pulled them out, I immediately wanted to try them on and see how these neat little devices would work. At first I had a little trouble figuring out which end was which, but after a quick inspection, I found that there are convenient markings on the toe and heel as seen in the photos below.
IMAGE 1
Toe
IMAGE 2
Heel


The main component of the Yaktrax is the one-piece rubber that runs through the steel coils on the sole and around the side and ends to hold the whole thing onto my shoe. The 2nd component is the steel coils that provide the grip on slippery surfaces. The third and final component is the nylon 'performance' strap that provides extra tension to hold the Yaktrax in place.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The instructions are printed on the packaging and provide step-by-step directions for "installing" the Yaktrax, including detailed diagrams. Of course, I didn't bother to read the directions and figured out how to put the Yaktrax on without too much trouble. When I did read the directions, I found that I made one mistake by looping the performance strap around the small rubber guide instead of the thicker piece of rubber on the side of the Yaktrax, however, I doubt it would affect the utility of Yaktrax. One final note is that I found another set of directions on the Yaktrax website that say the metal loops on the performance straps should be on the outside (left side of left foot, right side of right foot), but again, I don't see how that would affect performance.

The instructions also include directions for maintenance, which is simply keeping the steel coils bent at the appropriate angle to avoid unnecessary wear and tear.

Finally, and most importantly, there several warnings and tips, abbreviated here to save space:
1. Always use caution on slippery surfaces.
2. Yaktrax Pro are not for use on gravel, concrete, or sanded roads clear of snow.
3. Yaktrax Pro are not for indoor use.
4. Yaktrax Pro can be worn in temperatures down to -41F (-41 C).

Personally, I think the most difficult of these to follow will be #2. Most of the icy, snow-packed trails I intend to test the Yaktrax on will have intermittent spots of gravel/snow/ice and I will most likely not want to stop and remove the Yaktrax every time I come across some gravel.
IMAGE 3 IMAGE 4 IMAGE 5

TRYING IT OUT

The Yaktrax are not for use indoors and I don't have any snow/ice in my neighborhood, so my initial impressions are limited to what I could do in the backyard. The fit seems very good - tight all the way around. The weight is almost negligible - I couldn't tell any difference in the weight on my feet.

SUMMARY - January 23, 2009

So far, they have met my expectations for fit and ease of use and exceeded my expectations for weight. I'm excited to get out and try the Yaktrax Pro.

This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be appended to this report in approximately eight weeks.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I wore the Yaktrax Pro during several trips to the Incline on Pikes Peak, just west of Colorado Springs, CO. The Incline is 2000 feet (600 m) elevation gain in just 1 mile (1.6 km). The hike up is on an old cog railroad (the tracks are gone, but the ties are still there and make decent steps), and the descent is a 4 mile (6.5 km) run down the much gentler grade of the Barr Trail. The temperature ranged from approximately 25 - 60 degF (-4 to15.5 degC). The condition of the Incline and Barr Trail varied widely, from mostly dry gravel to hard-packed icy snow to slush.
IMAGE 1
IMAGE 2
Manitou Springs Incline
IMAGE 3IMAGE 4
I also carried the Yaktrax Pro with me on two snowshoeing trips and another day hike in the Pikes Peak region, but the trail conditions rarely called for the type of traction provided by the Yaktrax Pro, so I wore them for only a short period of time other than the Incline.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Yaktrax Pro are ideal for hard-packed snow. The traction provided with the very low additional weight on my feet was fantastic. The small spiraled metal digs in just enough and over such a wide area of the sole of my foot, that I felt as sure-footed as a mountain goat. In deeper snow, they just don't do much, as expected. On hard ice, the Yaktrax Pro do provide some traction, but they don't put enough pressure in any one spot to actually dig into the ice and really provide a lot of grip.

Also, as I suspected, I didn't have the patience to remove the Yaktrax every time I came across a section of trail that was dry gravel. When I ran down Barr Trail, the surface conditions varied between dry gravel where the sun and wind can get to the trail and hard-packed ice where the trees cast shadows. This makes it difficult to avoid running on gravel, as the instructions advised against. After my first trip down Barr Trail with the Yaktrax Pro, I inspected the rubber components and noticed some significant wear and tear, especially near the toe. I will try to avoid using the Yaktrax Pro in future when I expect the trail to be more dry than snow-covered so that I don't destroy them prematurely.

SUMMARY - 4 April, 2009

The Yaktrax Pro are ideal for specific conditions. They are very lightweight and provide plenty of traction on the surface they were designed for, packed snow. In other conditions, such as ice or slush, they provide some amount traction which is better than my rubber soled shoes alone, but in deeper snow the Yaktrax Pro are not of much use. Lastly, as specified in the manufacturer's instructions, they should not be used on gravel as it accelerates the normal wear and tear.

This concludes my Field Report. The Long Term Report will be amended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for further information.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I used the Yaktrax Pro on two more trips up the Incline in mid-April after our late Spring snowstorms. The conditions were fairly similar to my previous ascents (see Field Report above), except that there was slightly less snow, and more packed ice in the shade, and slush in the more exposed areas.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Yaktrax Pro performed just as well during the last trip up the incline as they did on the first trip. The only difference being that I did not wear them on the descents because after one of my previous trips I noticed some significant thinning of the rubber strands, as I noted in my Field Report above.

SUMMARY

The Yaktrax Pro work well for many cold weather trail conditions such as ice or slush, and are nearly perfect for packed snow. Plus, they are very lightweight, which makes them ideal for bringing with on hikes or along in the car for those days when you just aren't sure what conditions you might encounter. However, they are not designed to withstand the abuse of running on mixed surface trails (snow and dry conditions interspersed), and indeed do not hold up under that kind of punishment.

CONTINUED USE

I've already put my Yaktrax away, along with my windshield scrapers and tire chains, for the summer, but I'll definitely use them again next winter when the wind turns cold and the white stuff starts falling again.

This concludes my testing of the Yaktrax Pro.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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