Outdoors

Review: ICEtrekkers are a confidence-inspiring upgrade to snowchains for your feet

ICEtrekkers packaging
ICEtrekkers packaging
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Gizmag tested the ICETrekker Diamond Grip shoe chains in a number of testing conditions, including loose snow and rock
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Gizmag tested the ICETrekker Diamond Grip shoe chains in a number of testing conditions, including loose snow and rock
Gizmag tested the ICETrekker Diamond Grip shoe chains in a number of testing conditions, including frozen slush
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Gizmag tested the ICETrekker Diamond Grip shoe chains in a number of testing conditions, including frozen slush
Gizmag tested the ICETrekker Diamond Grip shoe chains in a number of testing conditions, including frozen slush with fresh snow
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Gizmag tested the ICETrekker Diamond Grip shoe chains in a number of testing conditions, including frozen slush with fresh snow
Gizmag tested the ICETrekker Diamond Grip shoe chains in a number of testing conditions, including slush, mud, fresh snow
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Gizmag tested the ICETrekker Diamond Grip shoe chains in a number of testing conditions, including slush, mud, fresh snow
Outer aspect revealing riveted construction
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Outer aspect revealing riveted construction
Inner aspect revealing riveted construction
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Inner aspect revealing riveted construction
Front chain close-up
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Front chain close-up
ICEtrekkers packaging
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ICEtrekkers packaging

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.

Front chain close-up
Front chain close-up

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

5 comments
gizmowiz
I could use diamond grips for chains for my car!
the.other.will
I have a pair of these. They do not provide adequate traction to be safe on ice in wilderness conditions. The points on the "beads" do not penetrate the ice enough for that. They are probably superior to the YakTrax mentioned in the piece. I've upgraded to light crampons that put metal teeth under part of the foot.
michael_dowling
A couple of problems here.I have tried various types of these things,and what bugs me is when you enter a store with them on,you can slip and slide on the hard smooth flooring.I almost fell walking around my Safeway last winter.If you decide to take them off,what do you do with the wet,messy things? Carry a bag just for the purpose? Of course,they are a godsend in certain weather,such as after an ice-storm,when it is a challenge to just walk without slipping.
Charles Barnard
Nearly every piece of ice footware works--on ice. Or snow. 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.
Bob Stuart
How long does it take to untangle these things? I'm happy with four carbide studs, but I want a way to deploy them by clicking my heels together, and to retract them by kicking with the toe as we do to dislodge snow before going into a store. Manufacturers, ask me how.