Here is an OR for the call. Now may I have a cookie, I mean a bonus
point please? ;-)
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By Raymond Estrella
February 24, 2009
NAME: Raymond Estrella
LOCATION: Orange County, California, USA
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)
I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in
many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and
average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to
lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike
hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a
freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I
am usually with my wife Jenn or brother-in-law Dave.
Web site: www.yaktrax.com
Product: Yaktrax Pro
Year manufactured: 2007
MSRP: US $29.95
Size: XLarge, fits shoes sizes 14+ (see below for more info on this)
Stated weight: N/A
Actual weight (pair): 5.1 oz (145 g)
Size folded up for travel: 3 x 4 in (7.6 x 10 cm)
The Yaxtrax Pros are a compact traction device made to improve
stability on slick and icy surfaces.
They are made from heavy duty natural rubber that is said to stay
flexible to -41. The 0.2 in (5 mm) thick rubber strands are woven into
a kind of basket that will stretch over shoes and boots. The strands
of rubber that go across the sole, or bottom, of the footwear have
been wrapped with high strength, abrasion resistant 1.4 mm (0.06 in)
These coils with what Yaktrax calls their SkidLock design, are made to
cut into a frozen surface, or grab the solid surface through water to
keep one upright and mobile in bad conditions.
To put them on the toe of the footwear goes into the front of the
Yaktrax. Then gripping the thick pull tab at the back of the Yaktrax
it can be stretched over the footwear. The sides then need to be
pulled up to make sure they go around the footwear properly.
To keep the cradle of rubber and coils in place on the footwear a 0.75
in (1.9 cm) nylon strap is attached with a buckle to one side of the
Yaktrax. It is run through a slot on the opposite side, then pulled
over the bridge of the foot and attached to itself by means of sewn on
It can be difficult to get them on over large boots, but in my
experience it is quite easy to get them off. I just pull the tab
gently and like a giant rubber band they POP off my boots.
I keep the pair stuck together and folded in two for storage. By
slipping a section of rubber over one another it keeps them from
unraveling. Here is how they look in this manner.
I have used, or at least carried, the Yaktrax Pros a lot in the San
Gorgonio wilderness and Mt San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness area.
The hikes in these areas range from 5000 to 11500 ft (1500 to 3500 m)
elevation. Temperatures will get down to 10 F (-12 C).
There have been much too many to individually list but here a couple
memorable trips I used them on.
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah: This was a one night trip with the
camp elevation at 8,000 ft (2,438 m). The daytime temperatures were
from 36 F (2 C) and a nighttime temperature of 5 F (-15 C). There was
snow on the ground from a trace amount to almost 3 ft (1 m) drifts.
The white snow setting off the orange rock was beautiful.
Stretching the boundaries of how they should be used I wore them on a
15 mi (24 km) winter peak bagging trip to the Mt Baldy area. We
summited Timber Mountain, Telegraph Peak and an unnamed peak in one
day. Conditions ranged from dirt trails with some snow on the approach
to frozen snow/ice fields, hard frozen ground and rock. I did not
carry a thermometer but will guess the temps to be from 30 F to 60 F
(-1 to 16 C).
I was given the Yaktrax as a surprise by my wife back when we were
dating. She bought them for me based on my boot size listed in my
reviews as US Men's 11. According to the chart, a size Large Yaktrax
would be right. My first use of them was on a two day trip to Bryce.
The main trails and heavily used trails were packed down by traffic
and got very slick and icy. I immediately put the Yaktrax to work,
only taking them off when I got into deep snow in the canyon bottoms.
Then the snowshoes would go on.
But they were too small. It took all my strength just to get them over
my boots. Once they were on they were so tight that if I traversed and
put my weight on the side of my foot the Yaktrax would pop off my
boot. It was pretty irritating but I kept using them for the trip.
Thankfully she had purchased them from REI. Once I got back from that
trip REI exchanged them for a size XLarge. These worked great. I have
never had an instance of the Yaktrax popping off since.
They work very well for snowy trails that will support my weight.
Rather than keep my snowshoes on I can slip the Yaktrax on and make
much better time without the tripping hazard of snowshoes on a hard
I have gotten pretty good at putting them on and taking them off,
although there is a short learning curve. The colder the weather, the
harder it is to put them on as the rubber is not as pliant and my
fingers are stiffer. I find it easier to do bare-handed rather than in
My brother-in-law Dave had been watching me bring the Yaktrax on trips
that I felt did not warrant crampons, yet I might want some traction
on, for some time. He finally bought a pair himself. On his first trip
with them we did the climbing trip to the Mt Baldy area mentioned
earlier and pictured above. It had been very warm and I expected most
of the snow to be gone, and what little was left I expected to be
shallow mush. I decided that we would probably not need crampons and
Dave foolishly listened to me. We did bring the ice axes just in case.
What we found was solidly frozen areas of snow cover. It sounded like
rock as our poles (or axes later) would strike down.
We put on the Yaktrax to negotiate some big snow fields that needed to
be traversed downwards to hit a saddle that was the location of the
trail to two of our peaks. It was very steep.
NOTE: Yaktrax does not intend these devices to replace crampons.
The Yaktrax gripped the frozen surface quite well. I let my ankle roll
to keep as much contact with the surface as possible. I found that if
I hesitated after planting my foot, before transferring all my weight
to it for the next step, the coils would bite into the surface better.
Dave just watched me for a while as I slowly made my way across. Then
I stepped into an area that had about two in (5 cm) of fresh snow over
the hard under-layer of ice. That floated the Yaktrax away from the
surface resulting in me taking a fall and making a self arrest. Seeing
this Dave chose to forgo the traverse, instead climbing up to find
buttresses that had the tops melted free of snow and ice that would
take him where we were trying to get to. I stubbornly continued on
using the Yaktrax until I made it to clear ground.
I hate to admit it but I had two more falls. But it was not the fault
of the Yaktrax which had performed mightily in some conditions that
they were not made to handle. And through it all they never popped off
my boots although I watched them for signs remembering that first
They have held up quite well. I have worn them on exposed rock and the
long concrete ramp at Mountain Station (the hardest part of a trip to
Mt San Jacinto State Park some say) many times. I see no major wear on
the steel coils. They are understandably scratched and pitted a bit.
While I will not use them for any further mountaineering trips I will
certainly keep my Yaktrax Pros around for more reasonable pursuits for
a long time to come.