How to Choose the Best Ice Cleats

Ice Cleats Comparison

I do not sell every ice cleat brand... there's no reason to. I sell what 10 years of experience has proven are the best ice cleats with features and benefits that fit the needs of the overwhelming majority of people visiting my store. Although the names of many of the ice cleats I recommend are often not ones you find across the Internet, they are manufactured by a company who has been producing ice cleats for over 35 years and serving large companies and industrial supply houses. I do not concentrate of off-road devices. None of these devices are suitable of ice climbing and I don't recommend any be used while removing snow from roofs.
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Product Price
/ pr.
Ice Snow Cleats Treads Straps Safe to
Wear
Indoors?
Safe
for
Driving?
High-Pro
Ice CleatsHigh-Pro Ice Cleats
$40.97 E E 26 Well-Positioned Non-Replaceable 2mm Tungsten Carbide Studs including Heal Spikes Aggressive &
Self-Cleaning
Wide, Proprietary Compound Stays on Shoes and Boots. Easy On/Easy Off No Yes (3)
Industry-leading, professional grade ice cleats with proprietary, patented features that deliver unparalleled protection from slips and falls in all slippery wintry conditions. These ice cleats have all the features I recommend you look. I recommend these ice cleats to anyone who does not mind taking them off and putting them back on when going in and out of doors. Excellent for all outdoor winter activities.
Grip-X
Ice CleatsGrip-X Ice Cleats
$44.97 E E 16 Well-Positioned Replaceable 2mm Tungsten Carbide Studs including Heal Spikes Aggressive &
Self-Cleaning
Wide Rubber Compound Straps. Velcro Ankle Strap Available at Additional Cost. No Yes (3)
Professional grade ice cleats with replaceable spikes that deliver excellent slip protection in all wintry conditions. The unique, patented method of attaching the spikes creates a much smaller "bump" making them extremely comfortable.
Spare Spike
Ice CleatsSpare Spike Ice Cleats
$24.97 E E 16 Well-Positioned Replaceable 2mm Tungsten Carbide Studs. These DO NOT Have Heal Spikes Provides Traction on Snow and Slush and is Self-Cleaning The Straps are Wide and Stay Securely on Shoes and Boots. Ankle Strap Available at Additional Cost. No Yes (3)
Consumer grade ice cleats with replaceable spikes that offer many of the features found in the professional ice cleats shown on this page. My only concern is the lack of heal spikes. But no competing ice cleats in this price category have them either.
Low-Pro
Ice CleatsLow-Pro Ice Cleats
$40.97 E G 26 Well-Positioned Non-Replaceable 1mm Tungsten Carbide Studs including Heal Spikes Aggressive &
Self-Cleaning
Wide, Proprietary Compound Stays on Shoes and Boots. Easy On/Easy Off Yes Yes (3)
These ice cleats are unique because you can wear them on most interior floors without damaging them or slipping. That's because the 1mm studs protrude just beyond the tread. When you stand on them both the tread and the stud make contact with the floor. They're also far safer to use in the city because they don't have to be removed before getting on and off of mass transportation, walking through train stations and terminals, and they provide better traction on non-ice and snow covered metal surfaces like sewer grates and manhole covers. These are the ice cleats for senior citizens or people with disabilities that can't constantly be removing them and putting them back on every time they go in and out of doors. They're perfect for deliver drivers. These are the most convenient ice cleats you'll find. While the 1mm studs provide excellent traction there is some trade-off because they obviously do provide the same level of protection as the 2mm studs. But if the choice is a reduced level of protection vs no protection the decision to opt for these ice cleats is a bono-brainer.
AltraGrips-Lite Low Profile
Ice CleatsAltraGrips-Lite Low Profile Ice Cleats
$50.97 E G 16 Well-Positioned Replaceable 2mm Tungsten Carbide Studs. Aggressive &
Self-Cleaning
The Straps are Wide and Stay Securely on Shoes and Boots. Ankle Strap Available at Additional Cost. Yes Yes (3)
All the advantages that apply to the Low-Pro Ice Cleats above also apply to AltraGrips-Lite Low Profile. The Low-Pro is actually a new and improved version. But I carry both because AltraGrips-Lite are available in XS whereby the Low-Pro does not. AltraGrips-Lite are all black whereby the Low-Pro has bright colors. Some people prefer the more subdued color on their shoes. If your size is available and color doesn't matter I would recommend going with the Low-Pro. The additional studs and improvements to the tread, straps and overall construction make them a better ice cleat.
Yaktrax ProYaktrax Pro Ice Cleats $24.95 E G (1) 1.4 mm Stainless Steel Coils None Strong, Real Rubber Straps are Secure. Comes with a Velcro Strap. No (2) No

The Yaktrax SkidLock System of hand wound stainless steel coils provides good to excellent traction on ice and packed snow. Performance deteriorates on very cold ice that is far more dense and they're not recommended for black ice.

There are not treads. So there is no benefit in deep, loose snow or slush. Although the price is relatively low, they are not as durable as the other type of ice cleats on this page. It is absolutely mandatory that Yaktrax users remove their ice cleats before going indoors where there's a smooth floor, like those found in a supermarket, because they are very slippery on this type of surface.

Senior citizens or people with disabilities should either consider other options on this page because the real rubber straps may be difficult to pull over your footwear. If you decide to go with Yaktrax, the Walk may be a better choice since the thinner elastomer straps are easier to pull over your shoes.

Yaktrax Walk Yaktrax Walk Ice Cleats $17.95 E G (1) 1.2 mm Stainless Steel Coils None Strong, Real Rubber Straps are Secure. Comes with a Velcro Strap. No (2) No

The Yaktrax SkidLock System of hand wound stainless steel coils provides good to excellent traction on ice and packed snow. Performance deteriorates on very cold ice that is far more dense and they're not recommended for black ice. The thinner coils compared to the Yaktrax Pro above do not affect performance. The Pro's thicker coils simply make them more durable.

There are not treads. So there is no benefit in deep, loose snow or slush. Although the price is relatively low, they are not as durable as the other type of ice cleats on this page. It is absolutely mandatory that Yaktrax users remove their ice cleats before going indoors where there's a smooth floor, like those found in a supermarket, because they are very slippery on this type of surface. I used these myself for years. As long as you understand and respect their limitations without exception Yaktrax can help keep you safe.

E = Excellent   G = Good   (1) Packed Snow Only
(2) Yaktrax won't damage most floors but they can be very slippery on dry, smooth indoor floors.
(3) Putting anything "extra" on your footwear while driving poses an additional risk that they will somehow interfere with moving your feet between pedals. The answer on the chart reflects the overall opinion of users that it's OK to wear these ice cleats while driving. But it's the user's ultimate responsibility to determine if they feel safe while wearing the ice cleats while driving.
The ice traction devices are shown from most aggressive to least aggressive in terms of traction on ice and snow. The most aggressive device is not always the best choice because you have to consider the total mix of slippery conditions you or your crew has to deal with most often. And depending upon where you live and your physical limitations you have to realistic about whether you'll actually use them. You'd be better off selecting a slightly less effective solution that is more convenient.
There is no one best type or brand of ice cleats to suit everyone's needs and no ice cleats can guaranty that you won't slip and fall. Choosing the best ice cleats... the ones that do the best job of limiting your risk of slipping on the ice... depends on several considerations. Taking the time to learn about ice cleats so you get the right ones and good ones is time well spent because just one fall can literally ruin your life. Choosing the wrong ice cleats can actually increase your chances of getting hurt. Choosing the least expensive bargain ice cleat can be the most expensive purchase you ever made if they don't work just once.
Ice cleats reviews often overrate marginal ice cleats because of reviewers' base frame of reference. Almost any ice cleat is noticeably better than no ice cleats at all. But when you hit that one set of circumstances that exceed a marginal ice cleat's limitations and you fall and injure yourself, all the other times it worked won't matter.

This can all be very confusing. So why guess? Call me at 1-888-205-4477 and I'll help you choose which one is best for you.

What to Consider When Selecting Ice Cleats?

Where You Live

  • Frequency of ice and snow
    • If you live in an area where it snows just about every day and you wear ice cleats everyday durability is obviously a major consideration for two reasons.
      • You may have to replace a lower cost ice cleat in the first season which essentially makes it more expensive than a higher cost, more durable ice cleat.
      • Depending on how late in the season the ice cleat fails it may be impossible to replace it which exposes you to the risk of injury.
      If you live in an area where you occasionally get ice and snow durability is less of an issue.
  • Do you get deep snow or is the problem ice and packed snow?
    • This is an issue because some ice traction devices are for ice and packed snow only.
  • Is the snow you get usually a wet snow... like the snow you get in the Middle Atlantic States? This is important because wet snow is more likely to create a suction causing your ice cleats to come off your shoes. So you would want an ice traction device that attached more substantially.
  • How cold does it typically get where you live? All ice is not the same. The colder the ice the harder the ice. Spikeless and gritted ice traction devices become less effective as temperatures drop into the low teens and single digits and may become totally ineffective at temperatures below zero. The best defense against slips and falls on extremely cold, dense ice is an aggressive tungsten carbide cleat that will penetrate the hardest ice.

How You Plan to Use Your Ice Cleats

  • If you're planning to use ice cleats for short, routine winter activities like walking to the mailbox, a short walk with the dog, or walking from your car across a slippery parking lot to the grocery store a light duty ice traction device will probably be OK regardless of how often you get ice and snow.
  • If you're planning to walk several miles every time you wear your ice cleats you need a heavier duty ice cleat or an ice traction device with replaceable spikes.
  • If you walk where there are frequent bare spots your ice cleats will obviously be exposed to more wear and you'll need a heavier duty ice traction device and/or one with replaceable spikes.
  • If you're planning to run or jog or participate in outdoor winter sports you would obviously want a very durable ice traction device
  • Will you be constantly going in and out of doors?
    • All but two ice traction devices that I'm aware of should be removed before going indoors.
      • Spiked ice cleats will obviously damage floors.
      • Spikeless ice cleats won't damage most floors but are very slippery on smooth, non ice and non snow covered surfaces. Examples would be the floors found in most stores.
      • Consider Altragrips-Lite Low Profile or Low-Pro Ice Cleats.
  • Will you be constantly getting in and out of your car or truck? You would obviously want an ice traction device that's safe to wear while driving.
  • Do you live or work in an urban environment?
    Cities present a whole new set of problems
    • The problem of constantly going in and out of doors... for example the train station
    • Getting on and off the bus or train because of the bare metal steps.
    • You have to be careful stepping off curbs and crossing streets because sewer and manhole covers are frequently not snow or ice covered which is dangerous if because of the metal on smooth metal contact.
    • Consider Altragrips-Lite Low Profile or Low-Pro Ice Cleats.
  • Will you be using them off road?
    • Stick with traditional spiked ice cleats with an aggressive tread that's good for deep snow and mud because spikeless ice tractions devices and prone to damage from sharp objects and can get clogged with leaves and sticks. Consider Grip-X Ice Cleats or High-Pro Ice Cleats.
    • NO ICE TRACTION DEVICE SOLD ON THE-PERFECT-PRESENT.COM is suitable for any sort of mountain climbing.
  • Is anti-sparking a consideration? Any ice traction device using either a metal spike or steel coil won't work. Consider Grips-Lite Gritted Non-Conductive Non-Sparking Ice Cleats that use a grit material for traction.

Your Physical Limitations

Types of Ice Cleats

Traction Methods

Spikes

  • Spikes provide the best traction because the more aggressive the point of contact the better the penetration into the ice. That's especially true of extremely cold ice which is much harder.
  • More spikes are generally better. But if you have too many spikes your weight is distributed over too many points of contact... like the bed of nails trick at a side show.
  • The distribution of the spikes is critical since you always want at least one spike to be in contact with the ice. This is especially true on uneven ice. Many devices currently available are terrible in this respect.
  • Look for a heel spike. Your heal is the first thing to strike the ground when you take a normal, natural step. If there's no heel spike your foot slips forward and out from under you and the other spikes never make contact with the ice to save you. Furthermore, once you lose traction is very difficult to get it back. Ice cleats without heal spikes force you to walk more flat-footed which isn't natural. Since it's not natural it's easy to forget... you accidentally take a normal... step and you could slip and fall. Carbon steel spikes are used to keep the price down. But since they wear out so much faster they need frequent replacement. So over time the bargain ice cleats actually cost you more and afford less protection.
  • Tungsten carbide spikes are far more durable and last several times longer than carbon steel spikes.
  • The shape of the spike is important. Some spikes... particularly non-tungsten carbide spikes... are tapered. They're designed that way because they're not as strong. But as tapered studs wear down they become less aggressive and less effective. Tungsten carbide studs are uniform and remain equally aggressive and effective throughout their life.
  • 2mm studs are best. 1mm studs will give you excellent traction if they come in contact with the surface. Sometime there's a thin covering of snow on top of the ice or the ice is uneven. The 2mm studs have a better chance coming in contact with the ice.
  • Replaceable vs. Non-Replaceable Studs
    • Replaceable studs obviously extend the life of the ice cleats. But they can be less comfortable because of the bump on the foot bed resulting from the mounting mechanism. Replaceable studs increase the chance of losing one or more while in use thereby increasing the chance of falling.
    • Non-replaceable studs are more comfortable and more secure. But obviously when they wear out the ice cleats have to be replaced.

Screws

Screws are a form if stud. They rely on an edge surrounding the screw head for traction which tends to wear smooth rather quickly. The good news is that they can be easily replaced. But while you should always inspect your ice cleats... no matter what type you have... few people actually do remember to check them before venturing out. After replacements, the screws are not as secure. If you loose one that's just the one that you might need the most to prevent a fall.

Chains

The ones I'm familiar with have a saw tooth gripping design are effective and durable but best suited for off-road running and hiking. But the area of contact with the ice becomes larger as they wear down and the traction decreases. Some chain designs have a roller barrel with edges. As the name implies, they have a tendency to "roll" especially on flat smooth surfaces.

Steel Coils

Some of the most popular ice cleats use wound stainless steel coils.
  • Wound coils provide hundreds of gripping edges more than studded ice cleats. The have to because the gripping edges are not aggressive. It takes tens if not hundreds of gripping edges to equal a single aggressive stud.
  • Stainless steel coils tend to wear down rapidly especially if the user frequently walks on bare spots not covered by ice and snow. A typical user gets one season of use.
  • While they won't damage most types of floors, this type of ice cleat absolutely must be removed before going indoors or on to most forms of transportation. That's because walking on a smooth dry floor while wearing this type of ice cleat is extremely slippery and dangerous.
  • Users must careful using them in a city because they're slippery when you step on a sewer grate or manhole cover that is usually not covered with ice and snow.
  • The initial cost is low although they require more frequent replacement.
  • Not suited for off-road use.

Gritted

I don't recommend gritted ice cleats for general use. Gritted ice cleats are for use in non-sparking, non-conductive conditions like for use around oil and gas operations.

Tread Design

  • Ice is not the only winter slipping hazard. Your tread design should be aggressive so that your ice cleats reduce the risk of slipping on all mixes of wintry slippery conditions including ice, snow, packed snow slush and black ice. The tread design must work with the studs to protect you. Many ice cleats offer no tread at all and rely on the bottom of your shoe or boot.
  • Look for self-cleaning treads. The studs, coils or whatever method of traction is used won't do you any good if the bottom of your shoe or boot is clogged up with packed snow and the studs never touch the ice. You want an aggressive, self-cleaning tread design that cuts through that layer of snow or your feet will go right out from under you.

Strap Design

The strap design is important. Here's why...
  • Ice cleats have to be easy to put on and take off. If they're not you won't use them. It's the one time you step out the door in a hurry and don't put them on is the time you get hurt.
  • Your ice cleats must remain aligned on your footwear for the studs and tread design to work properly.
  • Look for wider straps because the offer more gripping surface are to keep them in place.
  • The material should maintain it's elasticity over time.
  • The straps should remain flexible a very low temperatures so the ice cleats easy to put on and remove on the coldest days.
  • The ice cleats should stay securely on your footwear in deep, wet snow without having to rely on an additional strap across the top of the shoe. There's nothing wrong with the extra strap other than it's just one more thing to fiddle with when you're in a hurry. And there will always be times you'll have to take them off and put them back on. So you want things to be as easy as possible.

The Best Time to Buy Ice Cleats

The best time to buy ice cleats is when there's no... and no chance of... ice or snow on the ground. The absolute worst time to buy ice cleats is when there is ice and snow on the ground because you'll settle for just about anything you can get on your feet to stop you from slipping and getting injured. You risk life and limb and head out to the sporting goods or hardware store... if you can even get there... if they're open when you get there... to purchase anything they might happen to have. Often they're sold out.

It's common sense. You don't buy house insurance when your house is already on fire. It's the same thing except the risk is greater because it's to your personal well-being whereby the house is simply property.

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