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Spiked (Studded) Ice Cleats

Why Spiked Ice Cleats Give You the Best Traction

The most important factor for traction and safety on ice is penetration. Penetrating the ice depends on the aggressiveness of the traction method.

Aggressive traction methods become even more critical

  • in frigid temperatures when ice becomes denser. Therefore, ice cleats that work well a 28°F might not work as well or at all at 15°F. Here's another way to understand this idea. A low-quality or dull nail will work just fine for penetrating soft pine and be useless for hardwoods like oak.
  • on steep hills. An ice cleat that works on flat terrain can't handle slopes with the increased g force.
What makes these situations worse is that you build false confidence in your ice cleat's ability to provide traction in all situations. Spikes provide the best traction because of the more aggressive the point of contact the better the penetration into the ice.
Studded Ice Cleats

Place your hand against the bottom of an ice traction device with steel coils. Now do the same, for example, with a HIGH-PRO Ice Cleat. What does your common sense tell you?

Of course the HIGH-PRO is better at penetrating ice. The traction provided by just one aggressive spike on the HIGH-PRO substantially exceeds the combined grip of the steel coils on both the right and left ice cleats.

Spike Design

The shape of the spike is important. Some spikes, particularly non-tungsten carbide spikes, are tapered. Non-tungsten carbide spikes are designed that way because they're not as strong. However, as tapered spikes wear down, they become less aggressive and effective.

Tungsten carbide spikes are uniform and remain equally aggressive and effective throughout their service life. 2mm spikes are best. 1mm spikes will give you excellent traction if they come in contact with the surface.
Sometimes a layer of snow covers the top of the ice or ice is uneven. Therefore, 2mm spikes have a better chance of coming in contact with the ice because they're longer than 1mm spikes. Lastly, 2mm spikes last longer.

Number of Spikes

More spikes are generally better. However, if you distribute your weight over too many points of contact, it's like the bed of nails trick at a sideshow. The spikes (or studs) don't penetrate the ice.

Spike Distribution

The spike distribution is critical since you always want at least one spike to be in contact with the ice. Spike distribution is especially critical on uneven ice. Many ice cleats are terrible in this respect.

Heel Spikes are Critical

Heel Spike Look for a Heel Spike. Your heal is the first thing to strike the ground when you take a normal, natural step. If there's no Heel Spike to contact the ice, your foot slips forward and out from under you. The other spikes never make contact with the ice to save you. Also, once you lose traction it's tough to get it back.
Ice cleats without heal spikes force you to walk more flat-footed which isn't natural. Since it's not natural, it's easy to forget. If you accidentally take a normal step, and you could slip and fall.

Spike Material

Tungsten carbide spikes are far more durable and last several times longer than carbon steel spikes and tens of times longer than steel coils.

Replaceable Spikes

Replaceable Spikes
  • extend the life of the ice cleats;
  • can be less comfortable because of the bump on the foot bed resulting from the mounting mechanism; and
  • increase the chance of losing one or more while in use thereby increasing the chance of falling.
Non-replaceable spikes are more comfortable and more secure. However, the ice cleats obviously have to be replaced when spikes wear out.

Ice Cleats With Replaceable Screws

Screws are a form if spike. Manufacturers make screws from tempered carbon steel. They rely on an edge surrounding the screw head for traction, which tends to wear smooth rather quickly. The good news is that you can easily replace them.
But while you should always inspect your ice cleats no matter what type you have, few people do remember to check them before venturing out. After replacements, the screws are not always as secure. If you lose one, that's just the one that you might need the most to prevent a fall.

Ice Cleats That Use Chains

The ones I'm familiar with have a gripping sawtooth design are effective and durable but best suited for off-road running and hiking. However, the area of contact with the ice becomes larger as they wear down and the traction decreases.

Some chain designs have a roller barrel with edges. As the name implies, they tend to "roll" especially on flat smooth surfaces.

Chains can become a tripping hazard and can trap debris.

Wound Stainless Steel Coils

YAKTRAX are the most popular ice cleats in the United States and use wound stainless steel coils. Here are some crucial things to consider regarding spikeless traction cleats.
  • Wound coils provide hundreds of gripping edges more than spiked ice cleats. They have to because the gripping edges are not aggressive. It takes tens if not hundreds of gripping edges to equal a single aggressive stud.
  • Coiled Ice Cleats are not effective for deep snow, slush or black ice and become less effective as temperatures drop, causing ice to become denser.
  • Stainless steel coils tend to wear down rapidly, especially if the user frequently walks on bare spots not covered by ice and snow. A typical user gets one season or less of use.
  • While they won't damage most types of floors, you must remove this type of ice traction cleat before going indoors or on to most forms of transportation. That's because walking on a smooth, dry floor while wearing this type of ice gripper is extremely slippery and dangerous.
  • Users must be careful using spike-less ice cleats in the city because they're extremely slippery when you step on a sewer grate, manhole cover or smooth, hard surface like marble or bricks.
  • The initial cost is lower than professional ice cleats. However, ice cleats with steel coils require frequent replacement.
  • Not suited for off-road use.
  • Not suited for environments where sparking is an issue or climbing is required.

Gritted Ice Cleats

I don't recommend gritted ice cleats for general use. Gritted traction devices are for use in Non-Sparking, Non-Conductive conditions like for use around oil and gas operations, grain elevators, electric and gas utilities, and explosives. Gritted ice cleats are far less effective than spiked ice cleats especially on extremely cold, dense ice.

Crucial Ice Cleats Sizing Advice

  1. You can go by the shoe sizes. However, the shoe or boot size can vary significantly for the same foot size. Option two below is a better way to select the correct size.
  2. Measure the length of your shoe or boot. Measure the bottom from the tip of the sole to the base of the heel. Measure on "the flat", don't wrap around. We want the length. Then, find the size on the sizing chart with the Footwear Length Range, which spans the length of your footwear. Measure carefully. Measure twice. Our goal is to get you the right size on the first try to make you as safe as possible as soon as possible.
Ice cleats sizes are unisex and fit men's and women's shoes and boots according to the sizing charts.
Always try your ice cleats on when you receive them for two reasons.
  1. You want to be ready for the bad weather. Be sure to find out you need a size exchange before the ice is on the ground.
  2. I can't do free size exchanges for ice cleats that you have used because I can't resell them.

What should I do if the length of my shoe or boot is extremely close to the breakpoint of a size range? Should I choose the next larger size? For example, assume the length of your boot or shoe is just under 12½". You look at the specific size chart for ice cleats you're buying. Assume for this example the Medium has a size range of 11½" to < 12½" and a Large is 12½" to < 13" For regular shoes and work shoes, stick with the smaller of the two sizes you're considering. Choose the bigger size if you plan to use your ice cleats on heavier winter boots.

I plan to use the ice cleats on my shoes and boots. But they're different lengths. What should I do?

If the difference in length is small, order the size for the larger boots. Purchase the optional Ankle Strap to use when you use the ice cleats on your shoes. The ankle strap will make sure they stay on. If the difference in length is significant, you may need two sizes of ice cleats. That's because you want the ice cleats to be snug so they stay on your footwear and aligned.

I have a large company. There's no way I can measure everyone's footwear.

I understand. Go by shoe sizes. I'll be happy to exchange sizes later on. However, please make sure you haven't used the ice cleats outdoors.

Is the measuring technique 100% accurate?

Nope. It's accurate most of the time. Measuring is far superior to go by shoe size.

ICE BEAST™ Ice Cleats Sizing Tips

ICE BEAST™ Ice Cleats run large. Therefore, if you have a normal winter boot and your shoe size is close to the minimum of a size range, choose the next smaller size. If you have a large, bulky boot, stick with the size chart.
Ice cleats sizes are unisex and fit men's and women's shoes and boots according to the sizing charts.
Always try your ice cleats on as soon as you receive them for two reasons.
  1. You want to be ready for the bad weather. Don't wait until the ice is on the ground to find out you need a size exchange.
  2. I can't do free size exchanges for ice cleats that have been used because I can't resell them.

I have a large company. There's no way I can measure everyone's footwear.
I understand. Go by shoe sizes. I'll be happy to exchange sizes later on. However, please make sure you haven't used the ice cleats outdoors.
Ice Cleat Ankle Straps
Winter Walking Ice Cleats fit securely on most shoes and boots. Most people do not need or use the Ankle Strap. However, Ankle Straps add an additional level of comfort, knowing your ice cleats will stay on your footwear. It's more critical to consider Ankle Straps if you

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