TEST SERIES BY JERRY ADAMS
June 01, 2009
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6' 1" (1.85 m)
190 lb (86.20 kg)
Backpacking Background: I started hiking about 45 years ago. My first backpack was 40 years ago. I currently try to do one backpack trip of 1 to 5 nights every month (which can be tricky in the winter). Mostly I stay around Mount Hood, Columbia Gorge, Mount Adams, Goat Rocks, and the Olympic Peninsula. In recent years I have shifted to lightweight - my pack weight without food and water is about 15 lb (7 kg). I make a lot of my own gear - silnylon tarp-tent, bivy, synthetic bag, simple bag style pack. My sleeping pad is a Therm-a-Rest air mattress.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
January 18, 2009
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.yaktrax.com
MSRP: 29.95 US$
Measured Weight: 7 oz (200 g) (pair of size L for U.S. size 11.5 to 13.5 shoes)
The Yaktrax are traction aids which attach to the bottom of shoes or boots. They are designed to improve traction on ice and hard packed snow. A Velcro strap goes over the top of the boot to keep the Yaktrax on:
The Yaktrax are made out of rubber. There are bands that cross the bottom of the boot at three places - front, middle, and rear. Around the bands are 1.4 mm (1/16 inch) steel wire coils that provides traction. This is patented. All of the rubber is one molded piece.
The Yaktrax are stretched to attach to the boot. The stretch of the rubber around the perimeter of the boot keeps the Yaktrax on the boot. A strap over the top of the boot provides additional support to keep the Yaktrax attached.
Yaktrax Walker are the same as Yaktrax Pro, except they have no strap over the top. The cost $10 less. They weigh a little less.
The Yaktrax are sold, folded up, in a box. Here, I've removed them and placed them next to the box:
The Yaktrax appear to be well made. The rubber material is thick and appears to be tough,. Testing will reveal just how tough. The straps consist of webbing with Velcro sewed to it, and a metal D ring sewn into one end, all the sewing looks well done.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The package says "not for indoor use". I think this is good advice because they could be slippery on some hard surfaces and they could damage some surfaces like wood.
There are no instructions for installing, but there are several pictures of the Yaktrax attached to boots so it's straightforward to figure out.
On the webpage it says how to attach the strap. The straps are attached on the outside edge of the Yaktrax, which is the only difference between left and right.
TRYING IT OUT
Attaching them to the boot, was a little tricky. I think if I had done this, wearing the boot, it would have been easier.
I wore the Yaktrax on a short walk - 1/2 mile (0.8 km) of pavement and 1 mile (1.6 km) of dirt/mud fairly steep at places.
They felt a little uncomfortable on pavement. The Yaktrax are not designed for pavement, but sometimes a hike will include pavement and icy/snowy places. There is much less contact with the pavement so it would be possible to slip. The contact with the pavement is towards the middle of the boot so it feels sort of tippy. There were small spots on the bottoms of my foot where the force was concentrated, it feels sort of like your stepping on a couple sticks. I suspect I would get blisters at some point. If I had a long distance on pavement or similar hard surface I would probably remove them.
They felt very good on the dirt/mud. I couldn't hardly tell the Yaktrax were there at all. The Yaktrax prevented almost all slipping. Without Yaktrax I would have been slipping all over. I saw tracks where previous people had slipped. The Yaktrax are advertised for ice/snow, but I think they are also good on slippery mud.
So far so good. I am impressed with the performance on the short walk I have done. I am looking forward to more testing.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
April 2, 2009
1.5 miles (2.4 km) of pavement, dirt, and mud, steep at places in Portland. This was just a test run. Good test on slippery mud.
9 miles (15 km) on Eagle Creek in the Columbia Gorge. This is about the best (slipperiest) place I can think of to test the Yaktrax. There was ice, packed snow, dirt, rock, and pavement. 28 to 35 F (-2 to 2 C).
12 miles (20 km) on the boardwalks near Ozette in the Olympic Peninsula In Northwest Washington. These are very slippery, especially when icy, which they were. 30 to 40 F (-1 to 4 C).
4.5 miles (7 km) around Portland in 1 inch (3 cm) of snow. Good test to see if snow balls up under the Yaktrax. 32 F (0 C).
5.5 miles (9 km) near Lolo Pass on Mount Hood in Oregon. 0 to 2 feet of snow. My feet sunk into the snow about 6 inches (15 cm) at places. Good test to see if the Yaktrax come off in deep snow. 30 to 45 F (-1 to 7 C).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
On ice and snow the Yaktrax worked great. I tried the Yaktrax on the two most treacherous places I could think of: 9 miles (15 km) along Eagle Creek in the Columbia gorge, and on 6 miles (10 km) of icy boardwalks on the beach of the Olympic Peninsula. I tried walking without the Yaktrax and it was very difficult. With Yaktrax it was walking like normal.
The Yaktrax also work good on slippery mud. I tried a section of trail in the Portland Oregon where other people had slipped all over but with the Yaktrax I had no problem.
The Yaktrax are designed with rubber bands with steel wire coils around them. The steel of the coils bites into hard icy surfaces. The entire rubber bands with coils provide traction on soft snowy or muddy surfaces. Very clever design. Patented.
The rubber of the Yaktrax stretches around the outside of the boots, keeping the Yaktrax attached. Additionally, a strap over the top of the toe of the boot provides additional support. Once, the Yaktrax slipped off my toe and the strap kept it in place. A less expensive version of Yaktrax omits the strap. If all I wanted to do was walk on icy sidewalks, the strap would be unnecessary.
There is a technique to using the Yaktrax. When placing the foot down or picking it up, force must be applied to the entire bottom of the boot to maximize traction. Also, sideways force must be avoided, especially when placing the foot, or picking up the foot. A couple times the band slipped off when I didn't do this - minor problem, I just readjusted it. After a while I got the hang of it and they stopped slipping off.
The Yatrax weigh 7 ounces (200 g). Theoretically, this much weight carried on my back would be minor, but this much weight carried on my feet would be tiring after a while. I seemed a bit more tired after my trips, but without the Yaktrax, I probably wouldn't have even attempted the slipperiest trips. Slippery surfaces require walking slowly and carefully, but with the Yaktrax I can walk almost normally. The point is, if it's slippery enough, the weight of the Yaktrax is worth it.
One problem is that wilderness trails are sometimes a mixture of different surfaces - icy, soft snow, mud, dirt, boulders, as well as paved areas at the trailhead. The Yaktrax work great (much better than without Yaktrax) on icy, soft snow, and muddy surfaces. With Yaktrax works as good as without on dirt surfaces. The Yaktrax don't work as good as without on hard surfaces. Sometimes the Yaktrax will be slippery because there is much less contact with the surface. Other times they will just feel top-heavy. I would take them off if I had a long distance to go. The Yaktrax are poor on boulders. It is better to have a rubber sole to provide traction on the small area of contact. Also, there can be a sharp concentration of force on one part of the foot which is uncomfortable. Sometimes a coil caught on an edge of the boulder which caused me to trip a little. I would take the Yaktrax off if there was very much bouldering to do.
A minor problem is, occasionally, a leaf or stick got caught up in the coils so I had to step on the offending object with my other foot to get it off. If I had a large distance on dirt with little branches and things, I might remove the Yaktrax.
The Yaktrax are a bit difficult to put on. I found that it worked if I put the Yaktrax around the toe, pressed them into the ground, and then pulled the Yaktrax around my heel:
The Yaktrax work great at preventing slipping on ice/snow and also on slippery muddy trails. They can make an otherwise impassable trail fairly easy. They would also be good around the city when there's freezing rain.
There is a technique to walking with Yaktrax - place boot flat on ground and avoid sideways force.
On trails with a mixture of icy places and hard surfaces or boulders to step on, the Yaktrax don't work as good. I would consider taking the Yaktrax off on the difficult sections.
The Yaktrax are a little difficult to get on.
7 ounces (200 g) on the back is hardly noticeable but on the feet it's a bit tiring, so I would only use them if needed.
Thanks to Yaktrax and Backpackgeartest.org for letting me test these.
I have already tested everything I had planned, but I may get another opportunity to use them for the Long Term Report which will come in two months.
May 30, 2009
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I did all of the testing I intended during the Field Report period, but I was going to take them out one more time because I was going on a backpacktrip in the Columbia Gorge where I would encounter some good snow.
I got the Yaktrax out and the rubber straps were broken at two places inside the coils:
I also noticed another place where the rubber strap was nicked. This was about 4 months since I received them.
I sent an email to the address provided on yaktrax.com and within 24 hours got a response:
"Hello and thank you for your email. YakTrax are designed to last longer than you experienced. Usually, concrete and mud with rocks are the only ground that will cause YakTrax to fail too early. YakTrax have a 90 day warranty and broken pairs can be exchanged for new with in that time. Hope this information helps!"
I also called on the telephone and the person said the same thing, except they would exchange it for a period of a year since purchase, rather than just the 90 day warranty.
Looking at the Yaktrax closely, the rubber straps seemed okay except the three places it was broken or nicked, which I think is consistent with rocks causing the damage.
I went back and looked at the box they came in, and at the web site, and noticed they do warn against walking on mud and rocks, but they don't say that this is because it might damage the rubber straps.
The Yaktrax are great for snow and ice, as I said in the Field Report
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
The Yaktrax on mud and rocks are not good because it will damage the rubber straps, and besides, they don't work very good. The only problem, is if you're on a trail with sections of snow/ice and then rocks/mud, you should take the Yaktrax off which is inconvenient.
In the future, I will probably try to jury rig some sort of fix and continue to use the Yaktrax when there's freezing rain and I need to get to the mailbox or store for some groceries.
This concludes my test. Thanks to Yaktrax and Backpackgeartesters.org for letting me test these
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