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Reviews > Snow Gear > Traction Aids > Yaktrax Pro 2009 > Test Report by Patrick McNeilly

Yaktrax Pro Traction Aid
Reviewed By Pat McNeilly

Initial Report: January 20, 2009
Field Report: March 31, 2009
Long-Term Report: May 29, 2009

Name: Pat McNeilly
Age: 46
Gender: Male
Height: 5í 8Ē (1.7 m)
Weight: 155 lb (70 kg)
Email address: mcne4752 at yahoo dot com
City, State, Country: Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA

Backpacking Background:
I have been hiking for at least 20 years but backpacking for only the last five years.Most of my backpacking is done as overnight trips and occasional weekend and week long trips.My typical pack weight is approximately 18 to 20 lb (8 to 9 kg) before food or water.Most of my backpacking is the three season variety in the mountains of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.In addition to backpacking, I also fish, hunt, and enjoy orienteering.As a result, some of my backpacking equipment gets use in a number of different venues.

Product Information:
Yaktrax Pro
Product: Yaktrax Pro
Size: Medium
†††† (Mens shoe sizes 9-11, Womens sizes 10.5-12.5)
Color: Black
Manufacturer: Yaktrax, Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Listed Weight:6 - 8 oz (170 Ė 227 g)
Measured Weight (pair): 5.7 oz (162 g)††
MSRP: $29.95 USD

Initial Report
Report Date: January 20, 2009

Yaktrax Pro CoilsProduct Description:
The Yaktrax Pro is a lightweight spikeless traction device designed to be worn with most footwear to prevent slips and falls on packed snow and ice.The device consists of an oval natural rubber band which stretches to wrap around the outside of the foot.The bottom of the device has crisscrossing rubber strands which have 1.4 mm (0.06 in) high strength steel coils wrapped around them.The Yaktrax Pro also has a removable nylon strap which secures the device across the top of the foot and has YAKTRAX written across it.This nylon strap secures in place with hook and loop fasteners.The device is designed to be easily donned and removed, a nylon strap is used to ensure a secure fit during activities such as running.

The information provided with the Yaktrax Pro and on the manufacturerís website indicates that this product has been improved over previous versions of the product.The rubber is now textured for a better grip when pulling the device on or making adjustments.The Yaktrax Pro also has a larger heel tab and thicker strands at the heel to provide a better fit and be more durable.There is increased space between the steel coils to prevent binding where the coils intersect.The toe bridge has been enhanced to provide a more secure fit and prevent the toe from pushing through.

Product Review:
My first impression of the Yaktrax Pro was that it appeared to be a very simple design and that the product was very light weight.The concept seemed simple enough.Loosen the adjustable strap, stick your foot in and pull back over the heel.It took me a few seconds to figure out which was the toe end but it is fairly obvious.When I looked closer, the product is marked to indicate which end is which but it is stamped into the rubber and hard to read.
Heel Portion of Yaktrax Pro
I put the Yaktrax Pro on over a pair of low cut trail shoes to gauge the fit and ease of putting them on.It took a fairly strong tug to pull the rubber past the heel but once on the product felt very secure.It did not seem like it would be going anywhere even if it didnít have the top strap.When putting the Yaktrax Pro on I did have to pull up on the sides of the product to ensure that it wrapped all the way around the shoe which was not difficult at all.There does appear to be enough stretch in the rubber to allow fitting the Yaktrax Pro over various kinds of footwear.I will want to see if how difficult it might be to get these things on over a pair of boots and in cold weather or with gloves on.††

The steel coils seem very strong and I am very interested to see how they perform on packed snow and ice.I found it interesting that the manufacturer provides a number of precautions in its information on the Yaktrax Pro.For instance, the product is not recommended for use on concrete or sanded roads clear of ice or snow.The manufacturer also indicates Folded Upthat the product is not for indoor use and should not be worn on marble floors.This has me wondering how well the device performs on rocky trails that may only be partially covered with snow or ice.

The Yaktrax Pro is lightweight but is a little bulky.The pair can be nested into each other and easily folded to conserve some space.If this is done, I can fit the pair into one hand.The device does not have any kind of stuff sack or container.I am wondering whether these are something I should carry on the outside of a pack when not in use due to the bulkiness and/or how wet and dirty they get after use.Something I will have to look into during the test.

Field Report
March 31, 2009

Field Conditions:
The Mid-Atlantic has a had a rather mild winter this year but, more importantly, it has been quite dry.This has somewhat limited my ability to use the Yaktrax Pro.Over the past few months, I have used the Yaktrax Pro traction device on one weekend trip along the Appalachian Trail near Harpers Ferry, WV.Temperatures ranged from 20 to 35 F (-7 to 2 C), along with light snow and winds blowing from 10 to 20 mph (16 to 32 kmph).The daily mileage was approximately 5 miles (8 km) and elevation on the trip ranged from 400 to 1200 ft (122 to 366 m).†† I have also worn the device on three separate day hikes in central Maryland.These hikes were all on maintained trails (with some ice and snow covered) and ranged from 5 to 8 miles (8 to 13 km) and elevations from 300 to 900 ft (91 to 274 m).The temperature encountered ranged from 25 to 55 F (-4 to 13 C).

In addition to hiking and backpacking, I was able to use the Yaktrax Pro during one orienteering event.This involved running both on and off trail on a very icy course.The weather conditions for this event were clear with temperatures approximately 35 F (2 C).†† I have also been using the devices on around town on ice covered sidewalks, roads, and parking lots.

Product Review:
The first thing I can say about the Yaktrax Pro is that it does seem to work well at providing traction on ice and packed snow.Having used the device in a few different conditions, I found that my footing is more secure when wearing the Yaktrax Pro.This is most noticeable on ice covered trails or walkways.When walking on such surfaces, I felt that my footing was almost no different than on an ice-free trail.I would still be a little cautions but I definitely had less fear of slipping.One thing that I did notice when walking on ice was that I could sometimes feel the device underfoot.I typically got used to it but did notice it when I would start out walking on ice.I didnít notice this quite so much when walking on snow since the Yaktrax Pro would sink into the snow a bit.

While using the Yaktrax Pro, I did notice that the devices can pick up trail debris.I particularly notice this when hiking on a trail which was partly covered with snow, where I found it too much effort to constantly take the devices on and off.Leaves and mud can get caught between the shoe and coils and usually is noticeable underfoot.I have had small sticks caught in the side of the Yaktrax Pro while orienteering and not realize it until sometime later.

The Yaktrax Pro does fit over many different types of footwear.I have used it with hiking boots, trail runners, and even casual shoes.I find that it is fairly easy to put on, even over the hiking boots.I have not had any problems with sliding shoes under the top strap.Once the product is on the shoe, it tends to stay in place.Every once in a while, something may get caught between the device and the shoe requiring a readjustment.It is usually easy to adjust the Yaktrax Pro when this does happen.

The Yaktrax Pro does nest together fairly well for storage but I found that the coils would get bent out of shape during use.This required that they be bent back to their original shape to foldup.It isnít always so easy to bend them to the proper shape and thus it is now more difficult to fold them up for storage.I also found that I need to either bring an extra bag to store the Yaktrax Pro when it is not in use or carry them on the outside of my pack because they would end up being wet and/or muddy.

Although the Yaktrax Pro works well at preventing slipping, I have some serious questions about its durability.On my third usage of the product, I had one of the rubber straps on the side of one of the devices break.This was one of the thinnest bands of rubber which connected the coils to the main rubber strap along the side.I was able to put the device on a shoe but the toe would ultimately work its way out of the device and not be effective.I also had one of the steel coils break from trying to bend it back to its original shape after wearing the Yaktrax Pro.This occurred at a point where the coils bend and has really not affected the performance of the device but does tens to stick out on one side and can catch on clothing.†† I have been able to attach some elastic material to hold the product together and bend the steel coil around, in order to continue the testing.After having problems with the Yaktrax Pro after so few uses, I feel the product is not really study enough for hiking use.

Broken coilBroken rubber strap

Long-Term Report
May 29, 2009

Field Conditions:
Temperatures really warmed up around here since my Field Report and I havenít had too much chance to use the Yaktrax Pro since then.I took them with me on a trip along the Appalachian Trail in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (New Jersey).I did encounter some light snow and temperatures down to 28 F (-2 C) but there wasnít any accumulation of snow and the devices remained attached to the outside of my pack the whole time.

I was able to wear them around town two additional times.These were times when we had rain overnight followed by freezing temperatures.This left parking lots and sidewalks very icy.This may not have been hiking or backpacking but these parking lots were more treacherous than many trails I have hiked.

Product Review:
Although I havenít had much more opportunity to use the Yaktrax Pro devices due the to warmer temperatures, there are a few other things to comment on.First, I had mentioned in my Field Report that a coil had broken.When putting the devices on during the long-term testing period, I did not pay close enough attention to make sure the broken piece was on the outside (i.e., lateral) side of the shoe.I ended up snagging my pants with the broken coil.It didnít cause a rip but I certainly wasnít happy about that.

I also wanted to mention that cleaning the devices has been very simple.Larger sticks can get caught in the coils but they are pretty easily removed.Other smaller debris can also get caught but I found that they can easily be removed by running the device under some running water.I thought I was going to have to scrub some mud and debris out but there didnít seem to be much problem cleaning them.I also had a little concern that the coils would rust and possibly cause some weakening of the coils, particularly where they bend.I have already seen that the coils can weaken from metal fatigue, so I guess the importance of that concern was moot.However, I would note that I havenít seen any rusting of the coils, which I find rather surprising since I havenít kept them meticulously clean.

Other than those few observations, I would say that my feelings remain the same as in my Field Report.The Yaktrax Pro works well as it is intended, that is, providing traction on ice and packed snow.The product appears to have some durability issues, particularly if worn hiking where dirt or rock might be encountered.

Yaktrax Pro is a simple removable traction device which works well on packed snow and ice in preventing slipping.The product utilizes a natural rubber band to surround the foot and steel coils to provide traction.The device easily slips on over shoes and secures over the top of the foot with a nylon strap and hoop and loop fasteners.The rubber of some of the side straps does not appear to be durable and not very suitable for hiking purposes.The device can pick up trail debris like sticks and mud if worn on trails with intermittent snow or ice patches.The Yaktrax Pro folds up into a fairly small package when not in use but the steel coils can bend or break making packing somewhat difficult.

Things I like:
1. Grips ice and packed snow well.
2. Easy to get on.
3. Fits over many types of shoes.

Things I donít like:
1. Rubber straps not very durable.
2. Steel coils bend out of shape.
3. Tend to pick up debris.

This concludes my testing of the Yaktrax Pro traction device.I would like to thank Yaktrax and for the opportunity to test this item.

Read more reviews of Yaktrax gear
Read more gear reviews by Patrick McNeilly

Reviews > Snow Gear > Traction Aids > Yaktrax Pro 2009 > Test Report by Patrick McNeilly

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