With winter comes ice. And the slippery walking conditions created by ice can lead to falls and debilitating fractures. Many clients I speak with avoid walking outdoors during winter for fear of falling. It does not have to be this way. Well-designed ice cleats for boots or your shoes can provide the stability you need to walk with confidence through the winter.
But which pair of ice cleats for boots and shoes is right for you? I decided to ask a client help me do a video review of ice cleats for winter walking on ice and snow.
Later in this blog post you will find several extra tips on how to make winter walking safer if you use a cane. Finally, I provide a link to a great resource that reviews winter boots.
Jessica’s Search for Cleats for Winter Walking
Jessica is one of my clients. She was frustrated searching for a pair of cleats for winter walking that were right for her. She found that some of the cleats for winter walking she tried actually increased her instability on ice instead of making her more stable.
I suggested we get together and evaluate a three popular cleats for winter walking and share the results with you.
About Jessica: Winter Walking with Weak Hands and Feet
Jessica has a chronic condition that has caused weakness in her hands and feet. Although she is quite young, her hand and foot strength is comparable to some of my older clients. As a result, she is an ideal representative of how an older person would deal with the different ice cleats we tested.
Ice Cleats for Boots Evaluated
Jessica and I evaluated three different traction ice cleats for boots:
- Airgo Snow Grabber
- Stabilicer Lite Duty Serious Traction Cleats
- Yaktrax Walker Ice Grippers Run Traction Cleats for Ice and Snow
How We Tested Cleats for Winter Walking
Jessica and I tested three things when we evaluated the ice cleats for winter walking:
- Is it easy to attach and remove the cleats from a pair of winter boots? Like some people, Jessica does not have the grip strength to attach and remove certain cleats for winter walking. Her cleats need to be easy to attach and remove.
- Many people have to walk to a store and find it challenging to remove the cleats before they enter a store. We needed to see how stable the cleats were on a tiled floor. How stable is Jessica when she walks on a tiled floor with the cleats attached to her boots?
- Will Jessica be stable when she walks up and down an untreated, inclined ice patch with her cleats? This is the ultimate test for ice cleats: they need to make the walker feel confident when they encounter an ice patch.
Airgo Snow Grabber
Jessica was able to attach and remove the Airgo Snow Grabber cleats for winter walking quickly and with ease. The cleats are small and portable so she can take them in the car and attach them before she heads out for a walk.
They provide a snug fit and and provide an extra level of protection for your boots against the winter slush.
The Airgo Snow Grabber did not do well on the indoor tiled floor walk test. Jessica was quite instable as she negotiated the indoor walk.
The Airgo Snow Grabbers handled the outdoor inclined ice patch very well and were stable when walking on snow and pavement.
Airgo Snow Grabber Recommendation
The Airgo cleats for winter walking are the best of the three pairs that we tested and I recommend them for my clients.
Unfortunately, the Airgo Snow Grabbers have limited distribution and are not available for sale online. I recently checked and it appears that the product has been discontinued.
Why is it that the product you like and endorse is sometimes not available?
Stabilicer Lite Duty Serious Traction Cleats
Jessica found the Stabilicers easy to attach and remove. She also found them to be very stylish and portable.
However, like the Airgo cleats, the Stabilicers were not stable on the tiled floor. Jessica found that they elevated her more than the Airgo cleats — making them less stable on pavement — but they handled the ice patch test very well.
Stabilicer Lite Duty Serious Traction Cleats Recommendation
Although the Stablicer Lite were easy to put on, I cannot recommend these ice cleats for winter walking because they were not stable on either the tile floor inside the house or on the icy patch outside the house.
Yaktrax Walker Ice Gripper Review
The Yaktrax took Jessica the longest time to attach because she had to put the cleats on and then run a strap through a loop to secure the cleats onto her boot.
The Yaktrax were the least stable of the three cleats we tested on the tile floor.
The cleats are very different than the other two models we evaluated. The cleat bottom has studs on the front and coiled wire at the back. Jessica found that the coil caused her to slip when she made contact on the ice until the studs engaged with the ice and allowed her to regain her balance.
Yaktrax Walker Ice Gripper Recommendation
I cannot recommend the Yaktrax for my clients for winter walking for the following three reasons:
- Jessica found them difficult to put on.
- They were them unstable on indoor surfaces.
- The Yaktrax had difficulty on icy surfaces.
Where to Buy Ice Cleats for Boots
I cannot recommend a specific online (or offline) store to purchase high quality, well-fitted ice cleats for boots. I suggest that you visit your local sporting or, even better, outdoor equipment store to see if you can try on the cleats.
Fitting cleats to your needs can be quite complex and gets more challenging as we age. Our hands get weaker and we have a hard time getting the cleats onto our boots for snug fit.
I suggest you test the cleats as Jessica and I did in the video. Try the cleats inside and outside (on a patch of ice and snow).
Finally, examine the quality of the build. You want to make sure the cleats do not fall apart when you are using them because of shoddy workmanship.
Winter Walking with a Cane
Besides using ice cleats for winter walking, there are several other things you can do to make your winter walking a safer experience.
First, if you own Nordic poles, remove the booties to help you manage on the ice. The carbide steel tips are designed to help you grip ice.
Second, you can make walking with a cane safer by following these steps:
- Switch to Activator Poles with the carbide tips (remove the large rubber tips).
- Attach an ice grip tip to your cane. I recommend the Sunmark Two Position Cane Tip available at Amazon:
[Disclosure: I receive a small commission from Amazon if you purchase after clicking either of the links listed above.]
Rate Your Winter Boots
The Ontario Ministry of Health and and Long Term Care funded research by Toronto Rehab to evaluate different winter boots. This is a great resource for people looking to purchase safe boots for winter walking.
Ice and snow are a permanent fixtures of our winter. Considerice cleats for winter walking to guard against falls on icy patches and allow you to walk with more confidence on the winter walkways.
For more information, check out my Osteoporosis Guidelines.