Winter Footwear and Traction Devices
For winter running, there is no such thing as poor footing, just poor footwear choices!
I get a lot of questions about winter running, footwear and traction devices. Being someone who sticks to the trails all winter, I’d like to share with you my go-to footwear winter choices.
Trail Running Shoes:
Be sure to wear shoes that have an aggressive outsole for winter running. Regular road running shoes and even many trail shoes just don’t give you the traction that you need, and/or keep you upright.
The La Sportiva Mutant outsole is the best sole that I’ve found for winter running. These soles grip the snow extremely well and are good in most winter conditions, even without the addition of other traction devices. The same outsole as the Mutant can also be found on the La Sportiva Uragano GTX, and Tempesta GTX.
I particularly like the Uragano GTX for winter running because the upper is made of Goretex so is waterproof/breathable to provide more protection from the snow/cold, while it also has a built in gaiter to prevent snow from getting in your shoes. They are also an ideal choice for snowshoe running!
On days when there is a lot of ice on the trail, or if you like running on frozen lakes like I do, I would highly recommend La Sportiva Hobnails. Hobnails are screwed into your trail shoes and give you the grip on ice like what you would find with track spikes. I have used sheet metal screws in the past (#8 with 1/2 inch hex head) and screwed them into my outsole, but the grip that you get from hobnails is far superior…especially on icy ascents/descents.
Kahtoola NanoSpikes are another option that have a similar carbide tip as Hobnails and can be slipped on and off as conditions require.
The La Sportiva Blizzard GTX is a new winter trail running shoe that has built-in hobnail spikes for exceptional traction (note: these should not be worn with snowshoes as the hobnails will damage the snowshoes)..
Snow and Ice:
When more snow has fallen or there is a combination of snow and ice on the trail (especially ice under a thin layer of snow), I’ll reach for my Kahtoola Microspikes. Microspikes are a running crampon and give fantastic traction when you are running in conditions where there might not be quite enough snow for snowshoe running, but still slippery conditions. Microspikes are great for running on hardpacked packed snowmobile trails too.
After a good base of snow, it’s time to go with Dion Running Snowshoes so that I can still enjoy the trails, even in deeper snow. The great thing about Dion Snowshoes is that there are 3 different cleat options, so depending on the snow conditions, you can choose the type of cleat that you need on your snowshoes that day (cleats can be changed easily within seconds). Standard Cleats are versatile for many conditions, but great for packed snow, Deep Cleats are more suited for deeper snow or off trail, and Ice Cleats are great for icy conditions or if there are some exposed rocks.
So, don’t let winter conditions keep you off the trails. You can still enjoy the same great trails that you run on during the summer as long as you choose the proper footwear and traction devices.
(revised November 21, 2019)