Winter Running: Another Attempt at Traction

Winter returned with a bang in the Twin Cities.  A couple of Sundays ago, Old Man Winter dropped about a foot of snow on us.  This landed on not fully frozen ground, so the bottom layer was kind of mushy for a while, but then froze solid.  This provided a heinous base for driving and running.  I have a couple of pair of screwed shoes that have done very well for me over the years, and I have unsuccessfully tried Yaktrax as well.  During the summer I picked up a set of Polar Trax on sale at, and finally had a chance to test them.

Polar Trax Ice CleatsIn the last couple of years, I have switched to minimalist running, primarily in Vibram FiveFingers.  Winter weather hampers my usage of FiveFingers for traction and temperature reasons, so my Merrell Road Gloves are my primary winter running shoes.  I feel that the thin midsoles on the Road Gloves wouldn’t allow the screw technique, so I tried out the Polar Trax on them.  My initial run was about 6 miles on a mix of snow and ice-covered roads, sidewalks and gravel trails.

The traction offered by the Polar Trax is comparable to that offered by YakTrax and screwed shoes.  The primary difference between Yaktrax and Polar Trax being the durability.  In place of thin metal coils, the Polar Trax have metal chain and cables covered in traction sleeves.  They at least appear to be far more durable than Yaktrax.  Only time will tell.

Polar Trax Ice Cleats

Running on ice with the Polar Trax was like running on sanded or salted ice.  It wasn’t perfect traction, but it certainly beat the pants off of running on bare ice.  Putting the Polar Trax on and taking them off was simple and quick.  They do put slight  pressure on the top of the foot; we’ll have to see how this treats me in the long-term.

The only issue I have with them may have more to do with the shoes that with the Polar Trax.  Because of the thin and flexible soles of the Road Gloves, I could feel the traction cables under my foot.  The ball of my right foot found this irritating, but it’s nothing that stopped me from running.  At least for now, these offer an easy way to increase the traction of any shoe on icy and snowy roads.


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