A blog by runners. For runners.

Running with traction: snow tires for sneakers


This time of year, the sidewalks can be quite treacherous. And I’m not just talking about the snow because that’s a given. The sun is warmer in these late winter months, which means the roads thaw during the day. But the nights are still frigid so everything freezes over again, making night and morning runs a Russian Roulette of sorts. Black ice or sidewalk? You may not know until it’s too late.

That’s where ice traction clip-ons — or ice cleats — come in handy. Six years of Boston winter running/wiping out and yet I didn’t think to try a pair until this year. (Thanks for the tip, WalkJogRun!)

I’m not going to lie: I was skeptical at first. Would these odd rubbery things with metal spikes that I just put on over my shoes really work like snow tires for sneakers? My first couple of steps felt a bit odd — especially when running on pavement since it was a lot noisier than your regular sole — but after a few minutes, I adjusted to the sound and the feeling, and I almost forgot I was wearing them. So much so that after my run I wasn’t quite sure they helped. I thought, “It wasn’t THAT icy”. But when I returned outside 15 minutes later without them to walk my dog, I promptly fell on my behind.

So yeah. I guess they work!

I’ve kept my ice cleats on for pretty much every single run since then and it has made a huge improvement in my winter running. While they’re definitely NOT ice skates — you can’t sprint across large patches of ice (I tried. I failed.) — they give you a confidence often reserved for the warmer, dryer months.

There are several different clips on the market. I tried Yaktrax ($40) and STABILicers ($39.95). The main difference I noticed after 4 runs of 3-5 miles each in each pair is, the Yaktrax are easier to put on and take off than the STABILicers since they’re held on by a velcro strap, the STABILicers are a slip-ons. (Personally, I only use my running shoes for running so I didn’t mind keeping my snow tires on at all times.) Besides that, though, they both did their job equally well — gripping onto the snow and ice and making me feel like a super human running downhills.

No more wipe outs (and bruised bum) for this gal!

WE WANT TO KNOW: what traction clip-ons or ice cleats do you use? What’s your favorite brand?

Written by Bianca Strzelczyk

Disclaimer: I was provided a pair of STABILicers, however, all opinions are my own.