Protect yourself from slips and falls on ice and snow
Icy roads and pavements can make it difficult and dangerous – not to mention unpleasant – to get around in winter. But Iain points out that he and his wife have enjoyed walking even in the coldest, slippiest weather this winter (2021) because they have used ice grips.
There are various styles available, and all have their own advantages and disadvantages. None should be worn indoors (as they will damage floors), and although they are pretty durable, walking on hard surfaces such as non-icy pavements or roads can significantly reduce their longevity. Different sizes are available to fit different boot or shoe sizes, and although manufacturers claim that they are suitable for any style of shoe, my feeling is that they are best on substantial outdoor shoes or walking boots.
None of these are truly suitable for serious off-piste walking or mountaineering: you need proper crampons for that purpose, however for walking on normal tracks and trails, as well as pavements, they are very effective.
These are “Yaktrax” – a brand name – that consist of stainless steel wires wound round a rubber structure that stretches onto shoes or boots. The model illustrated also has a Velcro strap over the front of the foot for added security, although other variants are available. Other manufacturers also make similar items, although we have been told by someone that bought a set that they seem to be less durable than the originals.
We like: Lightness, good grip on ice. Boots can be put on or taken off without removing the grippers.
We don’t like: They are slightly tricky to put on if you are wearing your boots (so it is best done with your boots off). Longevity may be reduced if they are used in dry conditions due to the springs cutting into the rubber.
There are various makes of these, with various numbers and sizes of teeth that grip the ice or snow, and various prices. Many of them look very similar (made in the same factories in China, it would seem). The ones pictured are the Freesteps6 from a Canadian company called Hillsound.
We like: Remarkable grip in ice and hard-packed snow. Good grip in softer snow. Easy to put on (although care is required to get them sitting properly on the sole of the boot).
We don’t like: Potential damage to the uppers of footwear where the chains sit. Not an issue on the boots shown, as they have rubber protective surfaces. One of the chain links broke on a cheaper pair that I had previously.