Sunday, May 11, 2008

Stabilicer Sport Product Review

Winter traction while running on snow and ice is always a big discussion in this neck of the woods.

Here was my review of the Stabilicer Sport from February, 2008:

I've been pondering my options for improved traction during outdoor winter runs for the last few months: buying some 3/8" sheet metal screws to put into an old pair of shoes, YakTrax, microspikes, etc. Like all things in life, there were advantages and disadvantages to each option: cost, convenience, durability, having a power screw driver (I do not), whether or not they actually work, etc. At the recommendation of another winter runner, I decided to head over to REI and check out the Stabilicers. They were getting rave reviews as the best traction device on the REI website too!

Well, the most beefed up model of Stabilicers seemed incredibly heavy and not very flexible. Not exactly conducive to running. An REI employee mentioned that the beefed up model really wasn't made for running, but more for working outdoors or wearing over heavy boots. I ended up with the Stabilicer Sport, which was a lighter, more flexible pair that was supposedly intended for running.

I had a chance to take them for a short test run at Bredesen this afternoon - beautiful running weather: sunny, 14 degrees above zero, not too windy, fresh snow on the path. I got to try walking across smooth ice where Nine Mile Creek had frozen over too.

The good:

*Can be worn over any pair of running shoes without having to drill holes in the soles. Today I chose my Gortex Salomon trail shoes, for longer runs I may prefer my lighter weight road shoes.
*Don't have to spend a lot of time putting them on.
*They stayed on my shoes very reliably.
*Great traction running on snowy trails; pretty good traction walking on smooth ice.
*Can take them off of the shoes for driving, walking indoors on nice floors, etc. - without having to take off the shoes.

The not so great:

*They cost about $40.
*Another runner mentioned the screws in his pair didn't last very long and weren't "typical" so they couldn't be replaced by going to the local hardware store. Instead, you've got to pony up another $5 for a small bag of their replacement screws.
*Even though they slip on and off any pair of shoes, they don't slip on and off very easily. You've gotta stretch, tug, pull, jam, swear, etc to get the things on your shoes.
*The stretchy rubber that you need to stretch, tug, pull, jam, and swear at seems kinda flimsy.

Bottom line:

It's great having some traction for winter running, and so far I'm not sorry I bought them. If I had a power screw driver, making my own screw shoes would probably be just as effective and cheaper.