Review: ICEtrekkers are a confidence-inspiring upgrade to snowchains for your feet
With winter weather fast approaching in the Northern Hemisphere and a "Godzilla El Nino" predicted for the west coast of the United States you might be wondering how you're going to move around in all that ice and snow. To help you answer that question Gizmag got out in the cold to test ICEtrekkers Diamond Grip shoe chains in a mix of slick situations.
ICEtrekkers are neither brand new, nor are they a new idea. In fact we profiled a very similar product, YakTrax, way back in 2005. However with a winter that even sources as conservative as NASA are suggesting is likely to be epic, we thought we'd take a look at the current state-of-the-art.
In comparison to YakTrax , ICEtrekkers Diamond Grip shoe chains look mighty serious. Instead of coiled springs wrapped around natural rubber, the underside consists of welded steel chains connected to aircraft aluminum cables that are threaded through diamond pointed steel traction beads. The result is a shoe-upgrade that handles ice with aplomb but is sure to destroy your kitchen floor in two steps (safety tip: put these on outside).
Gearing up is as simple as slipping the front of your shoe into the part conveniently labeled "front" and pulling the back of the chains up over your heel and it's quick: 30 seconds max for both feet, first time out.
To test out the ICEtrekkers we explored a range of conditions in the high sierra following a recent winter storm. Over the course of several hours we encountered hard pack snow, loose snow, granite with loose snow, ice, snow over ice, icy and snowy logs, and icy, slushy and generally very slippery roads.
In summary, this winter-warrior shoe upgrade inspires confidence. In fact even in conditions where you'd expect to lose traction, the diamond grip chains bite fiercely. Even on ice covered logs – something that usually defeats everything but crampons – the ICEtrekkers grabbed and held with every step.
At times the wet sierra snow does cling to the shoe chains more than it would to the sole of a boot, but a quick stomp or kick was always sufficient to completely clear anything that might have accumulated while walking. Temperatures during the outing varied from 32 to around 10 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to -12° C) and the natural rubber upper section remained pliable enough to easily remove and replace the shoe chains, yet they felt remarkably secure even when running, jumping or making lateral movements.
If there's any downside, it's that the ICETrekkers are not cheap. The Diamond Grip shoe chains are priced at US$44.95, more than twice the cost of the YakTrax Walk. That said, if you're a hard-core outdoor addict that wants to be sure-footed in all conditions, this is a product worthy of serious consideration.
Product page: ICETrekkers Diamond Grip
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But that's not what is needed for most city dwellers.
Yak-Traks will wear out seemingly instantly on concrete or asphalt.
Rugged metal units will destroy softer surfaces (concrete, asphalt...
The most common dangerous icing condition is patchy "black" ice, which happens on cleared surfaces like sidewalks. It's more dangerous than straight ice, because it ambushes you.
Your average urbanite crosses several different surfaces in any given hour of activity, and there seems yet to be a footware which can handle them all without damage to itself, the surfaces or the user.
This is complicated to an extent by a culture which has no custom established regarding changing footware in public places.