February 14, 2008

Screw Shoes

Oh, the possibilities of a title for this post ;)
I've been pondering my options for improved traction during outdoor winter runs for the last few months: buying some 3/8" sheet metal screws to put into an old pair of shoes, YakTrax, microspikes, etc. Like all things in life, there were advantages and disadvantages to each option: cost, convenience, durability, having a power screw driver (I do not), whether or not they actually work, etc. At the recommendation of another winter runner, I decided to head over to REI and check out the Stabilicers. They were getting rave reviews as the best traction device on the REI website too!

Well, the most beefed up model of Stabilicers seemed incredibly heavy and not very flexible. Not exactly conducive to running. I think that may have been the model fellow North Woods runner Bryan reviewed on his blog. An REI employee mentioned that the beefed up model really wasn't made for running, but more for working outdoors or wearing over heavy boots. I ended up with the Stabilicer Sport, which was a lighter, more flexible pair that was supposedly intended for running.

I had a chance to take them for a short test run at Bredesen this afternoon - beautiful running weather: sunny, 14 degrees above zero, not too windy, fresh snow on the path. I got to try walking across smooth ice where Nine Mile Creek had frozen over too.

The good:

*Can be worn over any pair of running shoes without having to drill holes in the soles. Today I chose my Gortex trail shoes, for longer runs I may prefer my lighter weight road shoes.
*Don't have to spend a lot of time putting them on.
*They stayed on my shoes very reliably.
*Great traction running on snowy trails; pretty good traction walking on smooth ice.
*Can take them off of the shoes for driving, walking indoors on nice floors, etc. - without having to take off the shoes.

The not so great:

*They cost about $40.
*As Bryan mentioned, the screws in his pair didn't last very long and weren't "typical" so they couldn't be replaced by going to the local hardware store. Instead, you've got to pony up another $5 for a small bag of their replacement screws.
*Even though they slip on and off any pair of shoes, they don't slip on and off very easily. You've gotta stretch, tug, pull, jam, swear, etc to get the things on your shoes.
*The stretchy rubber that you need to stretch, tug, pull, jam, and swear at seems kinda flimsy. I don't see these things lasting very long.

Bottom line:

It's great having some traction for winter running, and so far I'm not sorry I bought them. But when the screws drop out of this pair, I'll probably go for buying a power screw driver, some 3/8" sheet metal screws, and making my own screw shoes - it's probably just as effective, cheaper, and I'll have a power screw driver.

1 comment:

Wayne said...

Good info, Kel. My 2cents: I bought the microspikes for the ability to take them off, thinking running with screwed shoes would be bad on dry pavement/blacktop (clickety-clack noisy, maybe causing damage by scratching, digging in, etc). Now that I've run on dry stuff with the microspikes, I figure I was worried about nothing. So even though the microspikes really do rock, I'd recommend people just screw their shoes (sorry, hope your blog doesn't get flagged now). I would think they'd only cause problems inside on nice floors, etc. :)