Sunday, November 29, 2020

INOV-8 MudClaw G 260 v2 Review: The Special Forces in your Shoe Army!

Article by Marcel Krebs

Editor’s Note: We are thrilled to bring you Marcel’s first review for RoadTrailRun. Marcel lives in Germany and is an OCR racer. His bio is below. He will also be translating the review to his native German. 


Inov-8 MudClaw G 260 v2 ($185 / €165.00)


Inov-8 says: “The world's toughest shoe for the world's toughest muddy mountain runs and obstacle course races.” 


While marketing claims sometimes are wishful thinking, Inov-8 really hit the nail on the head with this remark and also made clear which niche this shoe is intended for: extremely muddy and soft terrain - this is where Inov-8 shoes excel.  


When doing OCR races not only just for fun but one becomes more serious, there is almost no other brand beside Inov-8 which is so much well-spoken of in the field. Why? Because Inov-8 is synonymous for grip. Therefore, I have competed in several models of Inov-8 shoes for OCR racing and training. Nonetheless, during the past couple of years, Inov-8 has become almost out of focus for me because the fit was just too narrow for me and the midsoles were just too unforgiving on my calves and knees. Unfortunately, one does not become younger as the years go by…;-) 

But after having tried the fantastic Inov-8 TerraUltra G  270, I was more happy to test the brand new MudClaw260 V2. I was positively surprised...

Pros:

Snug and precise fit while also accommodating wider feet

Fantastic grip

Durability. Graphene for longevity in the outsole and a dense upper which is enhanced in key areas such as at the tip of the shoe


Cons:

Small field of application; even when doing OCR on a regular basis, you will think twice even if the course is that muddy that you need such an extreme grip at the cost of minimal shock absorption 


Neutral

Weight. For “what you get”, the weight is fine. But the extreme 8mm lugs come at the cost of increased weight.


Stats

  Official Weight : 260g / 8.17 oz  

  Samples: 313g / 11oz for an EU 43 (US10)

Midsole Stack Height: 8.5mm / 4.5mm;  Drop 4mm

Available now. $185 / €165.00

Thursday, November 26, 2020

ASICS Trabuco Max Multi Tester Review- Rock and Roll for Trails! Lively Ride, Big Cushion & Superb Protection

Article by Adam Glueck, John Tribbia, Jeff Valliere and Sam Winebaum

ASICS Trabuco Max ($140)


Introduction
Sam: The Trabuco Max is ASICS 1st all new modern trail shoe in it seems ages. So long, that in the past when we inquired about trail runners, ASICS told us they had not much if anything to show or test. The wait is over!   

With the Trabuco Max ASICS rolls out, and yes rock and roll is part of the ride here, an all new platform for trail running shoes based on their recent Guide Sole technology currently found in the road Glideride, Evoride, and Metaracer. 

Guide Sole is a geometry designed to Improve propulsion by optimizing efficiency (primarily for heel strikers) by keeping the angle of ankle dorsiflexion (flexing ankle up) and plantar flexion (flexing toes down) constant during the gait cycle with a stiff sole while using the forward rocker to propel toe off. The idea is to reduce energy loss at the ankle joint and shift the body forward. 

In the Trabuco Max, unlike its closest road comparison the Glideride, there is no hardened EVA plate used to create the front rocker effect. An interesting choice as many trail shoes have hardened EVA plates for rock protection. Yet the Max remains a stiffer shoe with the rocker immediately noticed on try on. The rocker is created by the shaping of the midsole in molding with the outsole adding some rigidity as well. Obviously our testers who often go into rocky technical terrain were interested in the protection, agility, and stability of this approach,



With a midsole stack of 28mm heel, 23mm forefoot we have plenty of Flytefoam cushion, clearly putting the Max into the  more max cushion ultra worthy category with shoes such as the Speedgoat, More Trail, and others. And unusual again for ASICS, no massive heel to toe drop here with a 5mm offset and there is no GEL in the mix. The outsole is ASICS Grip, a new one for our testers with the rubber in an aggressively sharp multi directional  lug array profile of approximately 4mm lugs.

The upper with quick style lacing is a soft pliable engineered mesh with structure provided by the overlays and gusseted tongue connected near the laces so not via an elastic arch strap. There are front and rear gaiter attachments.

Lots of new to consider here for our team and especially Guide Sole and Flytefoam in a trail shoe. The team set  out to test  the Max in New Hampshire and Colorado. The testers accumulated over 150 miles on all kinds of terrain from rocky technical terrain, typical Northeast trails mix of rocks roots and slippery, on snow, along more mellow forest trails, dirt roads and Western single track and technical trails and even pavement.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

RoadTrailRun Holiday Savings Guide!

 
RoadTrailRun receives a commission on purchases at the stores linked below.

Your purchases help support RoadTrailRun. Thanks!

The Guide will be frequently updated during the Holidays!

Running Warehouse US
Savings on all Garmin Fenix 6 and 6 Pro Series ($150 off) Forerunner 245 and 45 ($50 off)
Savings on Run Shoes, Apparel, and Accesories    
Running Warehouse Gift Cards $25, $50, $100, $200! SHOP HERE

Running Warehouse EU Black Friday Week Deals SHOP HERE


Salomon Holiday Sale SHOP HERE


Gore Wear up to 50% off SHOP HERE


$80 Savings on Jaybird Vista Earbuds  SHOP HERE

 

 Kogalla UltRA Ultra Trail Light 
15% Discount by entering code: RoadTrailRun
A RoadTrailRun all time favorite! (RTR Review)

Savings on Odlo Blackcomb, Black Diamond Z Poles & Lamps, Rudy Project & More
Shop Gear.com HERE 









See our 2020 Gift Guide for Runners CLICK HERE

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Initial Video Review Brooks Launch 8 & Launch GTS 8. Solid at $100. A/B Tests to each other & to Launch 7

Video Review by Sam Winebaum

Brooks Running Launch 8 ($100) & Launch GTS 8 ($100)

The Launch 8 and the Launch GTS 8 or "Go-To-Support" version release January 1st with both are $100 and both lose weight over their predecessors the Launch 7 and Ravenna 11.
Launch GTS 8
I detail the shoes and compare during A/B tests between the two Launch 8 and to the Launch 7.
Full Multi Tester Review soon!
Launch 8

Watch the Video Review and Comparisons (11:49)

Read reviewers' full run bios here

The product reviewed was provided at no charge for testing. The opinions herein are the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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Your purchases help support RoadTrailRun. Thanks!

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Monday, November 23, 2020

ASICS GEL-Nimbus Lite 2 Multi Tester Review: Smooth, Steady, Modern, and a "Safe Date"

Article by Sam Winebaum, Jeff Beck, Peter Stuart, Sally Reiley, and Derek Li


ASICS GEL-Nimbus Lite 2 ($150)

Introduction

Sam: The 2nd edition of the Nimbus Lite is really the 1st edition of a lighter, modernized, more nimble Nimbus daily trainer with the same stack height as the regular Nimbus. The Lite 1 was for many of us a flexible, fast and fun shoe which in the end, due to its fit and very flexible forefoot, was limited in its versatility to those faster shorter runs for many of our testers


The Lite 2 has a completely new broader midsole geometry but with the same bouncier flavor of FlyteFoam as Lite 1 as well as a more integral outsole design. Despite its broader platform, it loses about 0.25 oz / 5g in weight. It’s new upper, generous in volume at true to size, is notable in being made from more than 80% recycled material while the midsole has 15-20% cellulose nanofiber from repurposed sugar cane manufacturing. As with all 2021 packaging is 100% recycled materials.


Derek: I missed testing the Nimbus Lite 1, and just reading the input from the other testers, I would tell this was very different from the usual Nimbus. Sam as already done a detailed introduction of the materials involved. I’ll just add that this iteration of Flytefoam is the same as what’s used in the MetaRacer, so really, there’s no reason not to give this a try.




Pros and Cons

Pros:

Sam/Sally/Jeff/Derek: Consistent and somewhat bouncy under foot feel front to back, well matched outsole and midsole

Lots of cushion and softer than usual for ASICS trainers

Very stable (neutral) landing rear to midfoot from broad platform

Now clearly a daily trainer class shoe.Nimbus Lite 1 was not as supportive up front and could get tiring 

True to size somewhat generous fit

Peter/Sally: 

Great looking upper, soft and comfortable. 

Stable and fun ride

Sally/Sam

Immediately comfortable, very accommodating fit for higher volume foot

Excellent marks for sustainability with 80% of the upper and 15-20% of the midsole recycled or repurposed materials , (hopefully) a trend-setting eco-friendly design approach using recycled materials


Cons:

Sam/Sally: 

A bit broad and stiff feeling at midfoot despite smooth transition, took a few runs to breakin

Forefoot could use a bit more pop

Big fans of Nimbus Lite’s very flexible somewhat loosy goosy, thin faster feeling forefoot may miss it

Premium priced and likely durable but not a super exciting ride, despite great looks.

Peter/Sally/Sam/Jeff/Derek: 

Ride could be bouncier/more exciting

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Testbericht: ASICS GT-2000 9 - Weniger ist manchmal mehr!

 Article by Nils Scharff

Link zu allen RTR-Testberichten: HIER


ASICS GT-2000 9 (140€)

Einleitung

Der ASICS GT-2000 ist für mich schon immer ein sehr unaufgeregter Schuh. Er steht oftmals im Schatten seines großen Bruders, dem Kayano. Neue (und teure) Technologien halten in der Regel zuerst im deutlich teureren Kayano Einzug. Falls sie es überhaupt in die günstigeren Stabilitätsschuhe der Japaner schaffen. Doch manchmal ist weniger auch mehr. Und vor allem wenn es um überbordende Stabilitäts-Technologien geht, können diese nach meiner Erfahrung beim Läufer eher Probleme verursachen, als zu helfen. Ich überproniere selbst leicht am rechten Fuß und habe mich bisher immer stabilen, aber weniger stark eingreifenden Schuhen am wohlsten gefühlt. Einer meiner Allzeit-Favoriten ist der Brooks Ravenna 9. Der GT-2000 könnte genau in diese Kategorie fallen. Wie meine Erfahrung in ASICS stabilem Dailytrainer waren und ob er vielleicht sogar den Ravenna herausfordern konnte, könnt ihr im Folgenden erfahren.


Pro & Contra

Pro:

Sehr weiches und bequemes Obermaterial!

Super Flexpunkt im Vorfuß!

Genau das richtige Maß an Stabilität und dabei trotzdem unaufdringlich!

Starke Vibrationsdämpfung!

Nicht butterweich, bietet aber trotzdem sehr viel Schutz!

Mutmaßlich sehr langlebig!

Contra:

Ich würde mir ein wenig mehr Esprit in der Mittelsohle wünschen!

Viel zu dicke Zunge!

Grenzwertig breit im Vorfuß!


Tester: Nils Scharff

Ich bin 30 Jahre jung, gebürtig aus Kassel, verheiratet mit einer wunderbaren Ehefrau und mache seit mittlerweile 5 Jahren Heilbronn und seine umliegenden Weinberge laufend unsicher. Ich habe schon mein ganzes Leben lang alle möglichen Sportarten betrieben, oft 5-7 Mal die Woche. Neben dem Laufen sind seit einigen Jahren das Klettern und Bouldern meine Sportarten. Als Läufer sehe ich mich seit erst drei Jahren. Begonnen hat alles mit einem Firmenlauf, in den ich nicht ganz unvorbereitet starten wollte. Ab dem Punkt habe ich einfach nicht mehr aufgehört. In 2017 waren es „nur“ knapp 1000 Laufkilometer, in 2018 das Doppelte, 2019 schon das Dreifache. Wichtig während all dieser Kilometer sind mir, egal ob auf Trail oder Straße, vor allem das Abschalten und die Bewegung in der Natur. Auf dem Laufband oder mit Kopfhörern werdet ihr mich nur sehr selten antreffen. Ich bin in der Zwischenzeit vier Marathons gelaufen, die PB von 3:14:49h habe ich dieses Jahr trotz Corona im Rahmen eines #stayathomemarathons aufgestellt. Im Wettkampf laufe ich grundsätzlich alle Distanzen von 5km (17:32min), 10km (37:32min) über Halbmarathon (1:25:07h) bis eben zum Marathon. Nachdem jedoch alle meine geplanten Wettkämpfe diesen Sommer abgesagt wurden, habe ich mich etwas umorientiert und zu meinem ersten Trail-Marathon angemeldet. Deshalb standen zuletzt mehr Berge, Trails und Trailschuhe auf dem Programm.

 

Daten

Gewicht:

  Offiziell: 281g (Herren US9) / 221g (Damen US8)

  Testschuh: 287g (Herren EU 44 / US 10)

Sprengung: Herren 10mm (Laut ASICS: 12mm Vorfuß / 22mm Ferse; Laut Runningwarehouse: 19mm Vorfuß / 29 mm Ferse - Nachmessen ist wie immer schwierig! Ich komme dabei inkl. Innen- und Außensohle jedoch deutlich näher an die RW-Werte oder sogar noch darüber!)

Release: Verfügbar im Fachhandel für 140€

Diadora Mythos Blueshield Volo Review

 Article by Michael Ellenberger and Jeff Beck

Diadora Mythos Blueshield Volo ($135)

Introduction


Pros: 

Michael: More nimble and flexible than it looks (and hey - it looks good!)

Michael: Nice balance of cushion and agility 

Michael: Durable and solid, it’s sure to be a mileage hog’s dream

Jeff: Plush comfort all the way around

Jeff: Durable outsole, midsole, and upper, this is a big mileage shoe


Cons:

Michael: Slightly firm without any real spring

Michael: Finicky lacing, especially around the tongue and ankle 

Michael: Sizing quirks (go a half-size down)

Jeff: Uninspired ride

Jeff: Fit is off in every dimension


Stats

Approx. Weight:: men's 10.5 oz / (US8.5 most will size down so US9 approximate) 

Samples: 10.3 oz / 292g  (M8) 11.2 oz / 316g (M10.5)

Stack Height: Total stack unlisted, 11mm published drop

Available now.  $135

Friday, November 20, 2020

ASICS Trabuco Max Initial Run Impressions Video Review: ASICS Finally Strikes Strong in Trail!

Article by Sam Winebaum

ASICS Trabuco Max ($140)

I take the January release Trabuco Max ($140) for a 1st run on my test trail with some road loop and they were fast!

At at light 10.15 oz / 288 g with a stout 28mm heel / 23mm forefoot stack of cushion they have ASICS Guide Sole technology first seen in road Glideride, Evoride, and Metaracer which of course I was curious to see how it translated to trail!

Full multi tester written review soon at www.roadtrailrun.com

Watch the Video Review (9:40)


Read reviewers' full run bios here

The product reviewed was provided at no charge for testing. The opinions herein are the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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Thursday, November 19, 2020

2020 Trail and Road Run and Hike Traction Round Up Reviews

By Jeff Valliere

I tested multiple traction options including some new 2020 options from Kahtoola and Yaktrax. In summary with the detailed reviews below I conclude for varying terrain and conditions:

  • For hilly or mountainous, snowy or mostly snowy surfaces, Kahtoola Microspikes, Black Diamond Distance/Access or Yaktrax's Summit, Traverse and especially Ascent are the way to go.  The Ascent is probably the top pick here.

  • For hilly or mountainous, snowy surfaces that turn to ice and mixed with dry ground like we have in Boulder, Salomon Spiked shoes, La Sportiva Blizzards, Hobnails and especially the new Kahtoola EXOspikes, probably the most versatile, economical and effective of the bunch.

  • If you live in flatter areas, the 3/8" points on Microspikes may be a bit much (though could be helpful for efficiency if running on snowmobile trails).  In most case though,Hobnails, or Kahtoola Nanospikes would suffice.  Nanospikes are also especially convenient for flatter, icy road runs because you can put them on your favorite road shoes and take them off if needed, adding to their versatility.  EXOspikes also a great pick here (again, the best in my opinion), along with Blizzard, Salomons, Hobnails or even the Black Diamond Blitz.

Backstory:

In the late 90's through 2002, I just took what the trails had to offer, mostly seeking South facing dry slopes or just going slow and taking my chances on trails covered in ice and snow, occasionally knocking the wind out of myself or spraining a wrist.  In 2003, I discovered the wonders of screw shoes, drilling 3/8" sheet metal screws into an old worn out pair of trail runners.  This worked remarkably well and was inexpensive, but the screws were high maintenance, either falling out occasionally or becoming dull rather quickly, requiring frequent attention and replacement.  Even so, this opened up a whole new way to trail run in the winter.

In 2008, I purchased my first pair of Kahtoola Microspikes and this was another game changer, allowing the flexibility of putting them on any shoe for just about any kind of slippery condition.  I used them for running on the local peaks when there was snow/ice and for hiking/mountaineering in the high mountains.  I did discover though that over time, when running on lots of rock and dry trail, they dull and lose their effectiveness on ice.


Then Icebugs came along and I found these to be ideal when snow coverage is spotty, as is often the case here in the foothills above Boulder.  Our mountain trails, at least the ones that I frequent the most, are often north facing and shaded, but we get warm enough temperatures during the day, the snow melts some, then combined with plenty of foot traffic for compaction and freezing temperatures at night, we get some impressive stretches of bulletproof ice.  Unfortunately, by the time this bulletproof ice sets up, 1/3 to 1/2 of the trail is intermittent bare rocky ground.  This is where Icebugs excel, as they are extremely durable, stay sharp over a long period of time no matter the abuse and the sharp studs get good grip on the ice (when the ice is particularly hard, they may slide, but it is more controlled).


With an ever expanding array of traction now on the market, there is no real reason to run on a treadmill, bail on a run, run somewhere you would rather not, or most importantly, take unnecessary risks.  Below is our ever growing list of traction options, options for any condition no matter your preferred terrain.



Kahtoola EXOspikes:

$59.95

Sizes XS-XL (5-14)

Weight: 7.3oz / 208g per pair (size M)

Ideal Use: Packed snow and ice, mixed terrain



The Kahtoola EXOspikes are new for 2020 and at first glance from above, look like traditional Microspikes, though looking underneath and we are looking at a whole new concept.



While traditional Microspikes are durable and grippy on various snow surfaces, they are limited to that, snowy surfaces.  The EXOspikes however fill a niche as they excel on a wider variety of surfaces, provide better grip on ice and do not become dull.



Instead of chains, the 12 tungsten carbide tipped studs are connected by a TPU traction matrix that is extremely durable and more abrasion resistant than steel.  I have run many miles over varied terrain and often on rough trails mixed with plenty of rock and hardly see any wear, just some very minor scuffing.  Additionally, I have never experienced snow balling underfoot in wet snow, such as I sometimes do with Microspikes, in part due to the TPU traction matrix which sheds snow better, as well as the smaller spikes.



The Tungsten carbide tips have a concave bevel, such as on a ski pole tip, to provide better grip on hard icy surfaces.



There are many great traction options out there and the right traction device will largely depend on the conditions/terrain/day, but I have found the EXOspikes to be the best all around option for the typical conditions here in Boulder, Colorado, where in the Winter, on almost any given run on our foothill peaks, will encounter hard ice, packed snow, bare dirt, plenty of rock, all on steep gradients.  


I have really taken to spiked shoes, but they can be less than ideal if there is a long, dry approach and you are limited to that specific shoe.  Microspikes are great when the trail is continuous snow from bottom to top, but otherwise if the conditions are mixed, you have to make the decision of putting them on and taking them off as warranted, or just running over rock, which dulls the points and makes them less effective on slippery surfaces.  With the EXOspikes, you do not really have to make that decision, you just put them on and never really have to debate the surface that you are running on, as the studs are low profile enough to not feel too awkward underfoot and I do not worry about wear and tear.  


The tungsten studs give excellent bite on hardened ice and even when steep.  On recent runs on Green Mountain where there was a nice coating of black ice, I witnessed quite a few people struggling and even a few falls, where I insisted that go straight to REI to purchase a pair.  


The best $59.95 one will spend on Winter running gear and FAR less expensive that a visit to the emergency room.


Shop for Kahtoola Exospikes and their other traction and gaiters at REI
HERE
Shop for Kahtoola Exospikes and Kahtoola traction at AMAZON HERE

Yaktrax Ascent

$60


The Ascent is very similar in design, functionality and quality to the tried and true Kahtoola Microspikes, however, the spikes are a little longer and most notably different in having rows of spikes wrapping forward up over the toe (which are very reminiscent of rows of shark teeth), that provide maximum bite at toe off, which is especially useful on steep climbs, which are ideal for continuous snow, steep snow and all mountain use when you need that extra bite.


The rubber is thick, durable and all of the connection points are well constructed.  The chains underfoot are thick and durable and I expect that these will hold up well under normal wear and tear on mountain trails.  Performance is excellent on steep terrain, hardpacked snow, ice, etc…



Shop for Yaktrax Ascent and all Yaktrax at Yaktrax HERE

Shop for Yaktrax traction at AMAZON HERE


v

Yaktrax Traverse

$50


The Traverse is similar in design to the new Ascent, however the spikes are lower profile and do not feature the bonus row of spikes over the toe.  Don’t be fooled however by the lower profile spikes, as they provide surprisingly good traction, even on steep, snowy icy trails.  

 

The Traverse can also very easily perform double duty for all around use on slick roads, sidewalks and local trails as they are low profile enough to not feel awkward underfoot. I also like that they are very light and compact, so I can easily stow them in a waist belt or vest pocket when not in use or to bring along just in case.


Durability thus far is good, however I lean suggest using the Traverse primarily on packed snow/ice and limit travel over rock and bare ground.



Shop for Yaktrax Traverse and all Yaktrax at Yaktrax HERE

Shop for Yaktrax traction at AMAZON HERE



Black Diamond Distance Spike

$99.95


The Distance Spike features a similar design to the Microspikes, Yaktrax Ascent and Traverse, but are unique in that they have an integrated toe cover and are very light. Being so minimal and light, they ball up small and can easily be stuffed into pockets so that you hardly know you have them along.  

The spikes on the Distance are on the smaller end of the spectrum, slightly larger than the Traverse and smaller than Microspikes.  They are sharp and provide great grip on packed snow and ice and like many chain/spikes, are best suited for continuous snow or packed surfaces.  The toe covering is nice to keep snow and moisture from penetrating the mesh of non waterproof shoes, but the top most edge can cause a bit of pressure across the top of the foot if using a shoe with a more minimal upper.  Additionally, there is a nice pull strap at the heel to make them easier to put on and take off.



Shop for Black Diamond Spike Traction at REI HERE


Black Diamond Access Spike

$74.95


These are nearly identical to the Distance spike, aside from the fact that the Access Spike has a more traditional rubber elastomer over the toe vs. the cloth toe cover fo the Distance.  The rubber weighs a bit more than the cloth, resulting in a 26 grams per pair weight penalty in size large, but the difference is negligible.  

I personally find the Access to be more comfortable and since the spikes/chains underfoot are identical to the Distance, find them to be a more sensible purchase.



Shop for Black Diamond Spike Traction at REI HERE


Black Diamond Blitz Spike Traction Device

$39.95


The Blitz are ultra minimal, with just 6 spikes in the forefoot (same size as Distance and Access) and none at the heel..They are very light and easy to pop on/off.  

Of course, with no traction in the heel and less points in the forefoot, traction is not as good as the aforementioned, but still very good to bring along if you just have short section of slippery to negotiate on the trails, or a great option for slippery, but more level surface running.


Shop for Black Diamond Spike Traction at REI HERE


La Sportiva Blizzard with Added Hobnails

$199 for Blizzard, additional $49 for hobnails

Full review here


While quite pricey, the Blizzard might be my favorite and reliable option when the trails are mixed with hard frozen ice and just about anything else outside of very loose snow.  With the addition of the pronounced and sharp hobnails, grip on ice is near death defying.  The shoes are warm and comfortable and dry with built in gaiter.  While not light, they run very light and certainly lighter than most lighter winter shoes when you consider having to add a traction device to them.



Shop for La Sportiva Blizzard at Running Warehouse HERE

Shop for La Sportiva Hobnails at REI HERE

Shop for La Sportiva Blizzard at Backcountry HERE



Salomon SpikeCross 5 GTX ($185) & SnowSpike CSWP ($215)


The SpikeCross 5 GTX and SnowSpike CSWP are also both fine choices for extreme winter running.  These shoes both feature the same outsole, with deep, sharp and aggressive lugs, 12 of which are capped off by carbide studs for additional traction.  

The carbide studs provide assistance on ice, but I find that for very steep, bulletproof ice, the studs are a bit too minimal for confidence inspiring bite, so I limit the use here for softer snow conditions and lower grade ice where they perform wonderfully, or when I will be in very mixed conditions.  The CSWP with the built in gaiter is one of my top picks for cold days with fresh snow.



Shop Backcountry for Salomon SpikeCross HERE SnowSpike HERE

Kahtoola Microspikes:

$69.95

Sizes Small-Xtra Large

11-14 oz./Pair

Ideal use: Steep, rugged trails and off trail with packed snow and ice.


I began using Kahtoola Microspikes back in October of 2008 and was an immediate fan.  They instantly transformed the way I viewed the mountain trails/terrain in winter as a runner and mountaineer.  They are very high quality, light, easy to use and provide amazing traction without being cumbersome.  On countless occasions I have stopped people I have seen slipping and sliding on the trails and instructed them to go buy Microspikes after their hike. 


There have been several revisions along the way since 2008, each newer version changing just ever so slightly, but this latest version has added two additional points in the heel and have dropped an ounce per pair.  The rubber is thinner on this newer version vs. the previous, accounting for the weight loss.  The thicker rubber on the previous version seems more resilient and durable to me, but time will tell if that is truly the case or not.  Kahtoola has also done away with the metal connecting rod at the toe of the shoe separating the front chains.  In my opinion, this rod helps to distribute the pressure in the toe.  I did not notice a significant difference, but have heard of people having issues with this.  I think some of it depends on the type of shoe, thickness of the upper and thickness of the toe bumper.


When sized correctly (if on the fence with sizing, size down a size), Microspikes stay on remarkably well and are quite secure when running at any speed on any angle frozen terrain.


Running with confidence on hard ice, covered by a dusting of snow.


Here I have the Microspikes on my Saucony Peregrine 7.


With 12 x 3/8 inch heat treated stainless steel (sharp) points on each, Microspikes grab amazingly well on steep trails covered in packed snow and ice.  These points are long enough to provide great traction, but are not so long that they become a liability.


Here they are mounted up on my La Sportiva Mutants and seem almost made for this shoe.  When using Microspikes, I tend to lean toward more substantial shoes (such as the pictured Mutant, Brooks Cascadia or my Salomon XA Alpine).  I find that a more supportive, thicker soled shoe with a substantial upper and toe bumper aids a bit in comfort.  If the upper material is too thin, the strap can be a bit constricting in the toe, which can be especially noticeable when it is cold and circulation is key.  A thicker outsole/midsole also helps prevent any foot fatigue from feeling the chains underneath.  This is rarely a problem, but I have noticed mild discomfort/foot fatigue when wearing Microspikes on too minimal of a shoe on harder surfaces.


Microspikes also come with a handy tote, ideal for storage and not ripping up your running vest when stowed.


Microspikes are an essential piece of gear for the majority of trail runners and hikers in snowy, mountainous regions.  In the Front Range of Colorado, we get a fair amount of snow, that is constantly transforming from soft, fluffy powder, to a ribbon of packed snow, to icy snow, slushy snow and then eventually a layer of bulletproof ice.  I find the Microspikes to be absolutely ideal when the snow is in the compacted phase, where the spikes grab the surface almost like velcro.  


I also use them often for winter mountaineering in the high mountains, on packed trails where snowshoes are overkill and on the steep slopes above treeline, off trail with patchy snow, or even steep loose softer terrain where the spikes with bite in and add security and confidence.


I have found longevity to be outstanding in previous versions, easily getting several seasons of hard use out of them.  The points will wear down over time if you used them on mixed terrain (rock, pavement), but if you have a bench grinder, you can extend the life of them with a quick sharpen.  I have found that there is enough metal on the points where I can sharpen them twice before there is no longer enough metal to restore a point, but this is over the course of years.  If you use them on snow and avoid rock, you should be able to extend the life of them significantly.  I expect the lifespan of this newest version to be comparable to previous iterations and I have heard very good things about Kahtoola's customer service and 2 year warranty.  


Microspikes are worth every penny and the fact that they often sell out by mid winter is a testament to their popularity.


Shop for Kahtoola Exospikes and their other traction and gaiters at REI HERE
Shop for Kahtoola Exospikes and Kahtoola traction at AMAZON HERE

Kahtoola Nanospikes:

$49.95

Extra Small-Extra Large

Ideal use:  Lower angle icy sidewalks, icy roads, moderate trails with ice and packed snow.  Also great for casual use, snow shoveling, dog walking, etc...


Kahtoola Nanospikes are similar to the Microspikes in design and purpose, but instead of 12 x 3/8 inch spikes, have 10 x tungsten carbide studs, similar to what you would find on a car tire.  These studs are remarkably durable and by staying sharp and having a precise point, effectively bite into hard ice.


The Nanospikes are slightly less flexible and take a bit more finesse to put on your shoe than the Microspikes, but after a bit of practice, becomes easier and easier.  Putting them on a shoe with a lower profile tread helps as well.



The Nanospikes have a very secure fit and a shoe with a substantial upper is highly preferred.


The 10 carbide studs are secured to traction plates, 6 on the forefoot plate, 4 on the heel plate.  While not a big deal on flat, consistent surfaces, I found the plates to feel a bit rigid and awkward on uneven terrain.  I think the Nanospikes would perform a bit better if the plates were slightly more flexible and compliant.  I also feel they could use a few more studs in the center of the forefoot, as that expanse of hard plastic can feel a bit slippery underfoot on uneven terrain.


The traction plates have ridges on the inside of the plate to help create a no slip interface between the plate and the outsole of the shoe.


Nanospikes are not effective in snow, but worked well on this iced over trail with just a dusting of powder.

One minor issue I had with the Nanospikes was the configuration of support in the toe.  If using on a somewhat minimal shoe with a thin upper, they dig into the toes and can be quite uncomfortable, if not painful.


Nanospikes also come with a tote sack, but I found it difficult to put them back in, even when attempted in the warm comfort of my house, much less outside with cold fingers.  Since the spikes are so minimal, I just stuff them in my pack or running vest without worry.

Shop for Kahtoola Exospikes and their other traction and gaiters at REI HERE
Shop for Kahtoola Exospikes and Kahtoola traction at AMAZON HERE


La Sportiva Hobnails:

$54 for 18 hobnails + installation tool, $24 for 10 Hobnails replacement kit

Ideal Uses:

Consolidated, well packed snow, icy trails and especially on quickly changing mixed conditions where one would not want to be bothered putting on Microspikes, taking them off, or risk dulling supplemental traction on rock and bare ground.  Also great when trails and roads get coated with freezing rain.

The beauty of the La Sportiva Hobnails is that you can install them in a variety of different shoes and not be constrained by a specific model of shoe that has built in studs.  However, the shoe that you choose should have large enough lugs and the compound must be sturdy enough to withstand the forces put upon the studs when running in mixed terrain.


It just so happens that many shoes in the La Sportiva lineup are ideally suited for this.  Here I have installed them on perhaps the best winter running shoe on the market, the La Sportiva Crossover GTX.

The hobnails are easy to install with the tool, but care must be taken to center them perfectly, as there is very little, to any leeway.  You can see below that I transplanted the center hobnail one lug back, as I botched it once, tried again with no luck and then that lug no longer seemed strong enough.  All of the other 17 hobnails went in easily on the first try though.

The La Sportiva hobnails are the biggest studs that I have seen and they are very effective in getting grip on hard ice, even on high angle terrain (15-20 degree trails covered in sheet ice is no problem).  The hobnails are described as "high end" metal studs, but I am not sure if they are carbide or not (as used on studded snow tires).  They seem very durable regardless.


I really like having studs when I know I'll be encountering a little bit of everything, as is so often the case here in the foothills above Boulder.  A typical run will start off on pavement or dry trail, then intermittent hard ice, rock, more dry trail, more ice, then snow, then more rock, then back again.  I don't worry about the studs becoming dull and they are minimally intrusive on dry ground (just a bit of scratching).


My only real reservation on the hobnails is the price.  At $54 for only 18 hobnails, that seems like a lot to me.  Although they work great, having only 9 hobnails per shoe seems minimal enough that I have to strategically think about each footfall and be sure that I am landing quite centered.  It works out most of the time, but occasionally I have a momentary lapse in attention, where I forget and I then spin out a bit.  I would ideally like to have double that amount and would especially like a few hobnails for toe off on steep terrain.

Shop for La Sportiva Hobnails at REI HERE

Shop for La Sportiva Blizzard at Running Warehouse HERE

Shop for La Sportiva Blizzard at Backcountry HERE


Yaktrax Summit

$90.00

Sizes Small-XL

18.5 oz. per pair (size medium)

Ideal use: Steep, rugged trails and off trail with packed snow and ice


Yaktrax is one of the earlier pioneers in the traction game with models for walking and running (like the Yaktrax Pro) that feature a coil over thin rubber bands criss crossing underneath the outsole, providing moderate traction on moderate to mellow terrain.  I have used some of these earlier versions (though still available) and found them to be OK for casual use, jogging on snowy streets/sidewalks, walking the dog, etc... and they are really popular with mail carriers.


When used on steeper, more mountainous terrain however, the Walk and Pro versions flounder and are especially delicate.  Any use on varied terrain and your days are numbered.


Enter the Yaktrax Summit, a huge step up for Yaktrax, as the Summit offers top notch traction and durability for steep, icy, technical all mountain terrain and is in direct competition with the Kahtoola Microspikes.

The Summit is unique in that the 12 x 3/8" carbon steel points are positioned upon flexible plates in the heel and forefoot (4 in the heel and 8 in the forefoot) and secure with an adjustable Boa cable system.  The plates on which the points are attached offer greater ease in positioning, stability and double for anti balling when the snow gets wet and compacted.



Performance:

The Yaktrax Summit performs extremely well on steep packed snow and ice when running or hiking, are stable, secure, comfortable and versatile.  They are very easy to put on and take off and though I have not used them long enough to speak to their durability and longevity, they are very high quality and well constructed, so I anticipate years of use.  The anti balling plates work in colder conditions, but when the temperatures warm and the snow gets tacky, snow does ball up under the plates.  When conditions like this occur, I'll usually just remove them in favor of just a heavily lugged outsole anyways, so I find it to not really be an issue.

Shop for Yaktrax Summit and all Yaktrax at Yaktrax HERE

Shop for Yaktrax traction at AMAZON HERE


IceSpike ($30, 32 spikes and precision tool)

Sam: Tried and true for decades for running and work traction (even the North Slope of Alaska),  Ice Spikes are cold rolled steel with sharp facets similar to far less durable sheet metal screws and are easy to install and remove with the included tool. They provide great all surfaces traction without being in the way on hard ground. I have used my initial set for many years. I constantly shift them between shoes as their screw in profile accommodates all kinds of road and trail run shoes and somewhat better in that respect than Sportiva Hobnails


Shop for IceSpike HERE


Recommendations:

So, which is the right choice for you?

  • For hilly or mountainous, snowy or mostly snowy surfaces, Kahtoola Microspikes, Black Diamond Distance/Access or Yaktrax Summit, Traverse and especially the Ascent are the way to go.  The Ascent is probably the top pick here.

  • For hilly or mountainous, snowy surfaces that turn to ice and mixed with dry ground like we have in Boulder, Icebugs, Salomon Spiked shoes, La Sportiva Blizzards, Hobnails and especially the new Kahtoola EXOspikes, probably the most versatile, economical and effective of the bunch.

  • If you live in flatter areas, the 3/8" points on Microspikes may be a bit much (though could be helpful for efficiency if running on snowmobile trails).  In most case though, Icebugs, Hobnails, or Kahtoola Nanospikes would suffice.  Nanospikes are also especially convenient for flatter, icy road runs because you can put them on your favorite road shoes and take them off if needed, adding to their versatility.  EXOspikes also a great pick here (again, the best in my opinion), along with Blizzard, Salomons, Hobnails or even the Black Diamond Blitz.

The products in this article were provided at no charge. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.


Jeff Valliere's Run Bio

Jeff is a former pro cyclist who now runs and climbs the mountains of Colorado. He has been top 5 Masters, top 25 overall, at the Pike's Peak Marathon several times, finishing 3d Masters this year. Jeff loves vertical accumulating more than 500,000 vertical feet per year, has climbed all the 14's and 200 of the 13's and has held FKT on several.  He often runs and climbs at night. Passionate about the sport but also the gear he has reviewed hundred of shoes for various magazines and sites and participated in product testing for many brands. He has twin 8 year old daughters who keep him ever busier yet.

 Read reviewers' full run bios here

The product reviewed was provided at no charge for testing. The opinions herein are the authors'.
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