It is no secret that it’s winter in the northern hemisphere. In Calgary we sometimes get spring in January and snow in August but even though it happens, the norm in December is for sub-zero temperatures. Winter hiking or even just walking around the neighborhood can land you on your rear end if you’re not careful and there can be added implications walking with a dog (as we saw on our hike of Jumpingpound Trail last month) or a child.
We are outside walking CB and Kona regularly and like to spend time on the slopes of Edworthy Park and the Douglas Fir trail even though the access from our house and the trail can be treacherous this time of year. The traction cleats we purchased after the Jumpingpound Trail hike have been very useful keeping us on our feet, so much so that I wish I’d bought a pair of these years ago.
There is approximately 60 m (200 feet) of elevation from the top of the escarpment to the Bow River valley, and the grade is quite steep along the Douglas Fir Trail as well as on the old trail we use to access the river valley. With the weather we’ve had it’s been icy to boot. I generally don’t write about product but I’ve made an exception with this topic because watching a friend slip on ice and land on their dogs head is upsetting to say the least, not just for them. Fortunately the dog was fine but it highlights how important traction is for safety while winter hiking for our best friends.
We purchased ICEtrekkers traction cleats because we saw someone else hiking in them last year but had forgotten about them until we hiked Jumpingpound Loop. ICEtrekkers makes three kinds of traction cleats; Spikes, Chains and Diamond Grips. We purchased the Diamond Grip cleats even though they were the priciest of the three ($44.99 CDN) as they looked to be the most versatile.
In lieu of chain or spikes, the cleats are comprised of pointy metal beads that rotate to keep them free of ice and snow. With these cleats we had no issues slipping on the ice and the usually treacherous stairs on the Douglas Fir Trail were surprisingly not so.
There are plenty of companies making winter traction cleats and there are better price points than what we purchased. Ideas have come a long way – these are definitely not the “rubbers” your Dad used to wear. Anything that will keep our buddies safe is a good thing and it’s unfortunate that we had to experience what we did to be motivated to buy a pair.
The only negative I have with the ICEtrekkers is that they were a little tough to pull on as they fit quite tightly – but I guess that’s a good thing as you don’t have to worry about them falling off on you and being hung on tree or fence post by a fellow hiker like we saw with this one.