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Reviews > Snow Gear > Traction Aids > Yaktrax Pro Owner Reviews > Owner Review by Ray Estrella

Yaktrax Pro
By Raymond Estrella
OWNER REVIEW
February 24, 2009

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 48
LOCATION: Orange County, California, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my wife Jenn or brother-in-law Dave.

The Product

Manufacturer: Yaktrax
Web site: www.yaktrax.com
Product: Yaktrax Pro
Year manufactured: 2007
MSRP: US $29.95
Size: XLarge, fits shoes sizes 14+ (see below for more info on this)
Stated weight: N/A
Actual weight (pair): 5.1 oz (145 g)
Color: Black
Size folded up for travel: 3 x 4 in (7.6 x 10 cm)

Product Description

Yaktrax Pros


The Yaktrax Pros are a compact traction device made to improve stability on slick and icy surfaces.

They are made from heavy duty natural rubber that is said to stay flexible to -41 F/C. The 0.2 in (5 mm) thick rubber strands are woven into a kind of basket that will stretch over shoes and boots. The strands of rubber that go across the sole, or bottom, of the footwear have been wrapped with high strength, abrasion resistant 1.4 mm (0.06 in) steel coils.

These coils with what Yaktrax calls their SkidLock design, are made to cut into a frozen surface, or grab the solid surface through water to keep one upright and mobile in bad conditions.

Front and back


To put them on, the toe of the footwear goes into the front of the Yaktrax. Then gripping the thick pull tab at the back of the Yaktrax it can be stretched over the footwear. The sides then need to be pulled up to make sure they go around the footwear properly.

To keep the cradle of rubber and coils in place on the footwear a 0.75 in (1.9 cm) nylon strap is attached with a buckle to one side of the Yaktrax. It is run through a slot on the opposite side, then pulled over the bridge of the foot and attached to itself by means of sewn on Velcro strips.

It can be difficult to get them on over large boots, but in my experience it is quite easy to get them off. I just pull the tab gently and like a giant rubber band they POP off my boots.

I keep the pair stuck together and folded in two for storage. By slipping a section of rubber over one another it keeps them from unraveling. Here is how they look in this manner.

Folded for storage

Field Conditions

I have used, or at least carried, the Yaktrax Pros a lot in the San Gorgonio wilderness and Mt San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness area. The hikes in these areas range from 5000 to 11500 ft (1500 to 3500 m) elevation. Temperatures will get down to 10 F (-12 C).

There have been way too many to individually list but here are a couple memorable trips I used them on.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah: This was a one night trip with the camp elevation at 8,000 ft (2,438 m). The daytime temperatures were from 36 F (2 C) and a nighttime temperature of 5 F (-15 C). There was snow on the ground from a trace amount to almost 3 ft (1 m) drifts. The white snow setting off the orange rock was beautiful.

Stretching the boundaries of how they should be used I wore them on a 15 mi (24 km) winter peak bagging trip to the Mt Baldy area. We summited Timber Mountain, Telegraph Peak and an unnamed peak in one day. Conditions ranged from dirt trails with some snow on the approach to frozen snow/ice fields, hard frozen ground and rock. I did not carry a thermometer but will guess the temps to be from 30 F to 60 F (-1 to 16 C).

Observations

I was given the Yaktrax as a surprise by my wife back when we were dating. She bought them for me based on my boot size listed in my reviews as US Men's 11. According to the chart, a size Large Yaktrax would be right. My first use of them was on a two day trip to Bryce. The main trails and heavily used trails were packed down by traffic and got very slick and icy. I immediately put the Yaktrax to work, only taking them off when I got into deep snow in the canyon bottoms. Then the snowshoes would go on.

But they were too small. It took all my strength just to get them over my boots. Once they were on they were so tight that if I traversed and put my weight on the side of my foot the Yaktrax would pop off my boot. It was pretty irritating but I kept using them for the trip.

Thankfully she had purchased them from REI. Once I got back from that trip REI exchanged them for a size XLarge. These worked great. I have never had an instance of the Yaktrax popping off since.

They work very well for snowy trails that will support my weight. Rather than keep my snowshoes on I can slip the Yaktrax on and make much better time without the tripping hazard of snowshoes on a hard surface.

I have gotten pretty good at putting them on and taking them off, although there is a short learning curve. The colder the weather, the harder it is to put them on as the rubber is not as pliant and my fingers are stiffer. I find it easier to do bare-handed rather than in gloves.

Yaktrax and, ice axe?


My brother-in-law Dave had been watching me bring the Yaktrax on trips that I felt did not warrant crampons, yet I might want some traction on, for some time. He finally bought a pair himself. On his first trip with them we did the climbing trip to the Mt Baldy area mentioned earlier and pictured above. It had been very warm and I expected most of the snow to be gone, and what little was left I expected to be shallow mush. I decided that we would probably not need crampons and Dave foolishly listened to me. We did bring the ice axes just in case. Good thing.

What we found was solidly frozen areas of snow cover. It sounded like rock as our poles (or axes later) would strike down.

We put on the Yaktrax to negotiate some big snow fields that needed to be traversed downwards to hit a saddle that was the location of the trail to two of our peaks. It was very steep.

NOTE: Yaktrax does not intend these devices to replace crampons.

The Yaktrax gripped the frozen surface quite well. I let my ankle roll to keep as much contact with the surface as possible. I found that if I hesitated after planting my foot, before transferring all my weight to it for the next step, the coils would bite into the surface better.

Dave just watched me for a while as I slowly made my way across. Then I stepped into an area that had about two in (5 cm) of fresh snow over the hard under-layer of ice. That floated the Yaktrax away from the surface resulting in me taking a fall and making a self arrest. Seeing this Dave chose to forgo the traverse, instead climbing up to find buttresses that had the tops melted free of snow and ice that would take him where we were trying to get to. I stubbornly continued on using the Yaktrax until I made it to clear ground.

I hate to admit it but I had two more falls. But it was not the fault of the Yaktrax which had performed mightily in some conditions that they were not made to handle. And through it all they never popped off my boots although I watched them for signs remembering that first trip.

They have held up quite well. I have worn them on exposed rock and the long concrete ramp at Mountain Station (the hardest part of a trip to Mt San Jacinto State Park some say) many times. I see no major wear on the steel coils. They are understandably scratched and pitted a bit.

While I will not use them for any further mountaineering trips I will certainly keep my Yaktrax Pros around for more reasonable pursuits for a long time to come.

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

Read more reviews of Yaktrax gear
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Reviews > Snow Gear > Traction Aids > Yaktrax Pro Owner Reviews > Owner Review by Ray Estrella



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