Steep and snowy, the race course jutted almost vertically in front of my face.
It was my third day in Vail, Colo., where earlier this month I competed in a variety of events during the Winter Teva Mountain Games.
A few dozen runners, skiers, and snowshoers lined up around me.
At the “Go!” the pack took off, a stampede of athletes preparing to move uphill on snow for two miles to a finish line above 10,000 feet.
The event, called simply the “Vail Uphill,” required specialized equipment to move fast and grip the snow.
Some racers, including top finishers, wore track-spike shoes.
I laced up a pair of waterproof trail-running shoes and cinched steel coils over the soles. Specifically, the traction add-ons came from Yaktrax LLC, a company that’s long made products for people needing a better grip on ice and snow.
The company’s Pro model is a simple design, including a rubber shoe harness, a Velcro strap, and the steel wire underfoot.
Yaktrax are great for winter running and hiking.
Shoveling a sidewalk and sledding with kids are other potential settings where the extra grip can be nice.
They are easy to get on and off. Once on a shoe and cinched tight with the Velcro strap, the Yaktrax Pro grips stay firmly in place.
On the Vail course, despite 45 minutes of uphill running, my Yaktrax did not move an inch.
Grip is good with the Pro model, especially on snow.
For ice, there is some purchase, though the coils do not dig in like spike-equipped crampons can.
The Yaktrax Pro weigh about 3 ounces apiece. This extra weight is all but unnoticeable connected to your shoe.
They cost $30 at yaktrax.com. Overall, the Yaktrax Pro have served as a solid product for me, especially on slush and snow.
Beware of glare ice; almost nothing short of mountaineering crampons will grip to pure frozen H2O. But for average slippery winter days – or the occasional run up a mountainside – Yaktrax should have you covered.
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