▶️ The Great Outdoors: Shoe traction devices to avoid slipping on ice

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When the sidewalks and running trails are covered in snow and ice, some people put traction devices on their shoes and keep going.

They come in many forms and they help walkers, hikers and runners get a grip in slippery conditions.

“Most people are familiar with the classic Yaktrax style that incorporates some of the coils that do a tremendous job on some of the packed snow or fresh dusting that we tend to get in Central Oregon,” said Colton Gale, manager of The FootZone in downtown Bend. “(Another) particular style incorporates a studded forefoot which does well in some of the ice and melt and refreeze that we get. This particular style straps on, hooks on the front of the foot then loops around the heel and then incorporates a strap over the top so it stays in place.”

Whether you are shoveling snow in your driveway, walking your dog around your neighborhood or running trails through the forest, there’s a shoe traction device that can help keep you on your feet.

Kahtoola is a brand that makes a more rugged plate underfoot. We’re getting these metal studs both in the forefoot and in the heel and a really secure strap over the top here. There’s less need for adjustment. It hooks on and stays in place incredibly well,” Gale said. “It works well in some of the ice we tend to get as we venture toward the springtime.” 

“They work. I keep going, no problem,” said a hiker we met on Pilot Butte. 

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Other people we encountered were slipping and falling on the same trail, wishing they had shoe traction devices.

“We usually do about 8-to-10 screws per shoe,” Gale said as he used a cordless drill to install Kool Kutter ice studs into a pair of shoes. 

The FootZone in downtown Bend stocks three kinds of foot traction devices. These products employ coils, studs or screws to dig into the snow and ice and give the wearer a grip.   

“We’ll most often do trail shoes because they already have traction. We tend to go between the lugs so that the metal piece still sticks up a little above that and you get that bite on the ground,” Gale said.

Studded shoes do make some clicking noises as you walk, but not nearly as pronounced as a set of studded snow tires rolling down the road on bare pavement.

“The screws we are putting in for free. This is a free service. We are doing our best to keep the rubber side down to keep Central Oregon upright,” Gale said. 

The Yak Trax, Kahtoola studded strap on devices and Kool Kutter screw-in studs average $50. That’s not much money to save yourself from injuries falling on ice.

“The biggest difference I would say with the stride changing is largely because you are noticing something different on the shoe. You aren’t feeling the ground quite as much. It feels like you are floating on top of the surface a little bit more. A lot of people will kind of drive their forefoot in a little more to make sure they are getting that tacky experience especially with studs in something like the Kahtoolas. Digging into the ice is going to be important, so we do apply a little more force but, by and large, things shouldn’t change all that much.” 

If you find yourself in an icy spot without shoe traction devices, trying walking like a penguin with your arms at your sides, take short steps and pay close attention to where you are going.

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