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Gear review: Yaktrax XTR traction devices

Yaktrax XTR traction devices
Deb Stanley

For years, Yaktrax were known as the twisty wire traction devices. No one called them by their model names -- walk, run, pro. They were just called Yaktrax.

Now Yaktrax is making spikes.They're called XTR for Extreme Outdoor Traction.

Much like Kahtoola's microspikes, Yaktrax XTR features a thick rubber band that goes around the outside of your boot with a series of metal spikes underneath your boot.

How do they compare? Several hiking friends hiked to a frozen lake in Rocky Mountain National Park to try both out. They put microspikes on one foot and the XTR on the other foot.

Both products go on and off your boots easily.

Everyone agreed that both products made them feel like they could walk across the frozen pond with confidence. They didn't slip, they didn't slide.

Some thought the XTR blades were sharper and the band around their foot was tighter, but that might be because the XTR's we used in this test were new and the microspikes were a year old.

So let's talk about the differences.

The Yaktrax XTR has two differences -- steel plates under the foot to prevent snow buildup and a nylon storage bag/carrying case.

In my testing, snow built up under both the microspikes and the XTR. However, the storage bag is a nice "extra." While microspikes sells a storage bag for $10, it's free with the XTRs. It's not a big deal at the beginning of the day when your traction devices are likely hanging on a caribeaner on the side of your pack. But when you take them on and take them off several times a day, at some point, the devices are going to be wet and possibly muddy. It was nice to put them in a carrying case, instead of making a mess hanging on the side of a pack or inside a pack.

REI lists the XTRs for $50, microspikes for $64.95.

Learn more on the Yaktrax website and the Kahtoola website.

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