There are increasingly more and better products available in the marketplace to get us out into the great outdoors no matter the conditions. Weather continues to drive much of the development and for good reason, runners want to be safer, faster and more comfortable as they brave the elements. Be it La Nina, El Nino, North, South, East or West, many runners face ice, snow and cold during these cold winter months and are looking for ways to increase their safety on the road and trails.
Enter the Yaktrax RUN. Living in New Mexico, you’d think there’d be little opportunity to get out and use a traction device designed for the snow, but you’d be wrong! We get plenty of snow out here, albeit, it’s usually melted by noon the same day. I’ve had Yaktrax product in my winter running arsenal for years and have tested and run in their very first iteration. I have since gotten rid of the originals and now own both the PRO and now the RUN.
The Yaktrax RUN is a run specific traction device designed to increase stability in winter conditions such as snow and ice. Designed much like the other Yaktrax products they come with 1.4mm steel coils set on a heavy duty rubber frame. The RUN has some additional features, adding a forefoot pad with six removable carbide steel spikes for added stability and a reflective heel tab and performance strap. Unlike the PRO which has a strap that secures the medial and lateral sides across the top of the foot, the RUN also integrates a wrap from the toe up to the strap. Additionally the designers moved this wrap strap forward so that it crosses further forward on the foot as opposed to more in the middle like the PRO. This design change had huge implications during my testing.
In Bend, I ran with a buddy who used the PRO. He weighs in about 50# more than me and punched through the snow quite a bit more than I did. We were running in snow more than 3-4 feet deep so when we punched through it was generally down to the knee. Almost every time he would pull his leg out, the entire front of the PRO would pop off the toe and wrap underneath his shoe and he’d have to re-position it before continuing. It wasn’t just when he punched through deep though, even if he accidently caught his foot or punched through to the ankle and could keep going, he had to significantly alter his gait to keep the front of his foot from “catching” the snow so that the PRO would stay on. I never had that problem with the RUN.
I tested the RUN on two types of snow. First was during a week early this winter where we got a lot of snow and it stayed a bit longer. I ran on fresh 6-8 inches of powder on top of a 2-3 inch base on the trails at the foot of the Sandia mountains here in Albuquerque. The second was in the Cascades outside of the Bend/Sister’s, Oregon region just a few weeks ago. The snowpack was much deeper and for the most part I was running on a packed snow shoe trail.
For the first test I used a “normal” shoe, INOV-8 X-talon. The RUN fit fine and had no trouble staying on during the seven mile jaunt. The second test I wanted to see how they would fit on my Hoka’s…not great. They worked, but barely, and I’d recommended a size larger at least if your go-to shoe is a deep stack height style shoe.
The RUN excelled on 2-3 inch base decently packed down and runnable trail. In the foothills I could maintain a quick pace and only lost a little on the uphills where the toe would push through and shift during loading. I never lost traction but it felt a bit like running on sand if you know what I mean…the surface under the front of the foot just kind of gave way a bit and you’d have to adapt. During that run I did get a chance to get onto a 1 mile stretch of relatively untouched 6-8 inch powder and appreciated the fact that I had the spikes underfoot. I knew that under the powder was a layer of packed down ice and snow from previous days and could keep my speed without fear of slipping out.
In the deeper snow they performed less well. Not for any fault of the design, just a realization that these traction devices are meant for harder packed conditions and not deep snow. If you are wanting to get out in deep snow, take a pair of running snowshoes with you, otherwise, these are going to punch through which means slower going and lots of potential for tweaked the knees and ankles.
A problem I encountered with my older Yaktrak PRO was ice build-up on the coils. Conditions didn’t allow for me to test this much but I would venture to guess that one significant improvement with the RUN is that there is no place for the ice to build up under the forefoot now. While it might still build up no the heel, the change of design effectively reduces that possibility
FOREFOOT VS REARFOOT:
The RUN supports a forefoot/midfoot strike well because of the placement of the spikes. A strong rearfoot striker is going to land with a bit more on the coils but will still use the spikes to generate forward momentum during the later stages of the running gait when they shift onto the front of their foot.
The Yaktrax RUN are a great addition to a winter running kit. They cost $10 more than the PRO but in my opinion are a much better version if you are a runner. They are ideal for icier conditions and will not substitute for a snowshoe if that’s the kind of snow pack you are trying to run on; they simply do not distribute enough force to keep you above the snow for long. Traction and stability is excellent without buildup of ice and gunk.
And if you wear a larger shoe, i.e. one with an extra large footprint or increased stackheight, make sure to test them in the store for fit, or just buy a size larger.
– Jason Taylor
Do you use the Yaktrax Run? Feel free to share your experience.
If you are interested in the Yaktrax Run, they are available at Running Warehouse.
[The Yaktrax were a test sample. The honest review was completely our own.]
Posted on 16 Feb 2016