Excellent traction on solid ice

Reviewed by bearsnob from Oregon on Sunday, December 30, 2012
I remember asking several hikers about these years ago. I specifically wanted to know how they performed on solid ice because it seemed to me that they might cause you to slip and fall if the wire coils did not dig into the ice. No one had a good answer for me. Well, I now have the answer: they work extremely well even on two inch thick solid ice. I was going down a steep trail last week that was covered with fresh snow. I had the yaktrax on and the traction was so good that I wasn't even using my trekking poles. Got down the hill and hiked about 700 feet vertical to the top of a ridge and then I turned around to go back down. I soon could see the trail I had first gone down and there were four hikers on it slipping, sliding, and falling all over the place. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. How could that trail get that icy in 20 minutes? I talked with some of the hikers and they said it was the slickest trail they had ever been on. One told me he never falls on icy trails and he fell three times on this one. I looked up the trail and it was clear what had happened. The new snow was covering clear ice that was about an inch thick. I hadn't noticed because the yaktrax worked so well that I never slipped even an inch. But these four hikers had cleared away most of the snow while slipping and sliding and the ice was now obvious. Even though there was an easier way up, I couldn't resist putting the yaks to the test. So I hiked up the hill and then turned around and came back down purposely walking on the parts of the trail where the other hikers had the most trouble. I never slipped. The other hikers were watching in disbelief.

So today I was able to test them in worse conditions. That trail now has two inch thick solid ice covering it and it was 16 degrees out when I started down. I was thinking that maybe the ice was a little soft the other day because the temperature was about 33 degrees. It certainly wasn't soft this morning at 16. Again, I had no problems. I was using my trekking poles this time, and taking short steps, but I never slipped even once going down or up. Pretty amazing. I have a pair of non-Yaks that look like they are made for this type of ice. Instead of the coils, they have sharp diamond shaped pieces that are supposed to dig into the ice much like what happens with studded tires. These were expensive and manufactured by a major outdoor company. They don't work at all on this type of ice. In fact, they can be worse than not wearing them. It isn't at all clear to me why the yaktrax perform so well. Obviously, they have a patent on their coil system and that forces other companies to make devices that look like they will do a better job when, in fact, they don't.
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