Dr. Penny Pincher founded the popular personal finance blog Penny Pincher Journal in 2013 and has published two books about saving money.
Yaktrax: Keep Walking During Winter!
I went to the Famous Footware store with my wife and kids in July. We needed a couple pairs of shoes, and buy one, get one half price is the deal that makes Famous Footware famous.
While my family was busy looking at shoes, I spotted a clearance bin that attracted my attention. I found a pair of Yaktrax in my size, marked down to $1.99. I was surprised to see Yaktrax marked down so low, especially since it was getting into fall. If I were the store manager, I might have set the Yaktrax aside and put them back out for sale again in October for much more than $1.99.
I decided that I couldn't go wrong buying the Yaktrax for $1.99. I enjoy walking year round, but sometimes in January and February ice and slippery snow gets to be a problem and I don't go walking for fear of slipping and falling down. If using Yaktrax can extend my walking season, I was willing to give it a try.
How Do You Put Yaktrax on Your Shoes?
The first step in trying out my Yaktrax was to figure out how to use them. Sitting down with your shoes on, you put the toe of your shoe, you push the toe into the toe of the Yaktrax and pull the heel of the Yaktrax over the heel of your shoe. It takes about 10 seconds to put them on.
You can take Yaktrax off while standing up- just pull on the heel tab and stretch them a bit to peel them off. The video shows how this process works. It is easy to put Yaktrax on and take them off once you know how it works.
Yaktrax Video: How To Put On and Take Off Yaktrax
Do Yaktrax Work on Slippery Surfaces?
About 5 months after buying my Yaktrax, we finally got some good winter weather here in Iowa and I had lots of opportunities to try walking on slippery surfaces with my Yaktrax. During the winter, I have to walk across a parking lot every week day, which is often snow and ice covered. At night, I like to walk my dogs on sidewalks and trails. All of these types of walking present risks of slipping and falling.
I think the highest risk of slipping and falling is at night- it is hard to see the slippery spots and slow down or avoid them. Plus, when I am walking my dogs, sometimes they pull and tug a bit, making it harder to keep stable on slippery surfaces.
Testing Yaktrax on Packed Snow and Ice
Winter trails are a good place to test my Yaktrax and ice cleats. I like to walk my dogs in nature areas along snowmobile trails. These trails can be really slippery after a warm day when it cools down below freezing. I found that Yaktrax work well on this sort of surface. The coils really provide a lot of traction- it feels more like you are walking on dry pavement than on a slippery surface.
Sidewalks with snow and ice are another area of concern. Yaktrax work great on sidewalks. I found that I could walk much faster and more confidently on sidewalks while wearing the Yaktrax.
I don't need to go out of my way to find slippery ice and snow to try out my Yaktrax. Even parking lots have really slippery areas that are hard to avoid. Yaktrax and other similar traction aids are designed to work on packed snow and ice. I found that Yaktrax helped some on really hard, slippery ice- but you can still slip on surfaces like the one shown in the picture below. When water freezes hard into really smooth ice, it is hard to get traction. Your best move is to avoid walking on these areas, even with Yaktrax.
Yaktrax, Ice Cleats, and Stabilicers
In addition to the Yaktrax that I got in the clearance bin, I also have a set of ice cleats that my wife gave me for Christmas a couple years ago. I have tried to find out how much they cost, but my wife won't tell me...
The ice cleats are similar to Yaktrax, but use spikes instead of the coiled steel that Yaktrax use to provide traction. Another style of traction aid that you can get is called "Stabilicers".
Overall, I prefer the Yaktrax over ice cleats. The coiled steel seems to provide more traction surface than the points of the spikes on the ice cleats. The ice cleats are also less comfortable when walking on hard surfaces without snow or ice that you often encounter when walking on a sidewalk in winter. I suspect that the spikes on the ice cleats will wear out much faster than the steel coils on the Yaktrax.
I have not yet tried Stabilicers, but I would like to see how they perform on really hard, slick ice like the parking lot picture above.
Yaktrax- Avoid Slipping on Packed Snow and Ice
Yaktrax do their job based on my experience trying them out on winter trails, sidewalks, and parking lots. No traction aid can prevent 100% of slipping on any surface, but Yaktrax greatly increase traction on slippery surfaces.
With Yaktrax, I can walk at a faster pace in slippery conditions, allowing me- and my dogs- to get more exercise. When I walk on slippery surfaces, I tend to walk with shorter steps and stay up on my toes, which makes my legs sore. With Yaktrax, I can walk more naturally.
Yaktrax are easy to put on and take off. If you encounter snow and ice while walking, I recommend Yaktrax to improve your traction. Yaktrax is well worth the money if you can extend your walking season and keep walking safely throughout the winter.
Yaktrax Review: Star Rating
© 2014 Dr Penny Pincher