Runners in SnowI often recommend to people who want to run outdoors in the Winter that they put sheet metal screws in their running shoes.

They are a more effective way to get some traction in slick conditions and cost a lot less than some other solutions such as Stabilicers or Yak Trax.

Can there be anything better?

Well, maybe.

The folks that make Ice Spikes sent some trial packages over to a friend of mine so I got to test some out (and they were nice enough to give a few sets away during my 1 More Mile for Sunshine Challenge) so myself and the other Trail Monsters have been testing them out for the past month and a half.

Here is the claim:

ICESPIKE™ is a simple, effective and lightweight solution to inadequate traction devices. ICESPIKE™ ends frustration with clumsy and cumbersome strap-on attachments. ICESPIKE™ ice spikes are easily installed on the sole of any shoe or boot. Each ice spike provides outstanding traction and is unsurpassed in hardness and durability. The ICESPIKE™ system includes thirty-two patented ice spikes and one precision ICESPIKE™ tool for installation. ICESPIKE™ is a semi-permanent non-slip grip shoe system that can’t fall off, break, get lost or left behind. Outfitted with ICESPIKE™, any footwear can be winterized into ice safety shoes or ice safety boots. Don’t be discouraged by winter ice and snow – with ICESPIKE™ you are always ready and able to navigate any conditions with confidence.

Click here to skip straight to my comparison of the two options.

To give the Ice Spikes a good and fair test, I wanted to compare them directly against a normal pair of screw shoes.

Since I had recently purchased 2 new pairs of my favorite trail shoes, I outfitted one pair with screws and one with the Ice Spikes.

The Ice Spikes come with a “precision ICESPIKE™ tool for installation”, which is basically just a screwdriver with a hex head.

A cordless drill is much easier and faster than using the screwdriver that comes with them, but I got to test both methods since the battery in my cordless dies after about 3 minutes of use and I made the screw shoes first.

A screwdriver is much more time consuming than using the drill. But, it works fine.

So, the next question is, how good is the grip of the ice spikes? They look much more aggressive than the standard #6 hex head screws that I normally use, but how much better grip can it give you?

Running Conditions

On dry pavement, they clicked and clacked the same as the sheet metal screws, but weren’t really noticeable under my feet. This is no different than the sheet metal screws.
Advantage: Both

In powdery snow conditions, both the sheet metal screws and the Ice Spikes provided plenty of grip and I had no trouble running through those conditions.
Advantage: Both

In sheer ice conditions, the real beauty of the Ice Spikes came through. While running next to friends using normal screw shoes during 1 More Fat Ass for Sunshine (a 50k run I organized at the end of the challenge) I had no trouble while they were still slipping and sliding around. Conditions were very slick. I also found I had no trouble lake running a few weeks ago despite the slick conditions, and have done quite a bit of slipping and sliding on the occasions that I’ve gone out with the normal screw shoes now that the ice is only patchy.
Advantage: Ice Spike

On non-snow covered trails, the sheet metal screws and the Ice Spikes seem to both dig up the ground; I’m guessing that the sheet metal screws are causing less of an impact but I didn’t look to closely on the few times I’ve run through open fields that weren’t frozen solid with either pair.
Advantage: Neither


When considering the cost, sheet metal screws are certainly much cheaper. If you buy screws by the hundred (which I do since I provide screws to the folks I coach when the roads are slick) then it costs about 50 cents to a dollar per shoe. If you go and just buy the individual screws, then it won’t cost more than $2 per shoe unless you are really getting ripped off. Ice Spikes cost $25 for an intro pack with 32 spikes and the screwdriver, or $15 for a refill pack of spikes, which comes to about $5 per shoe.
Advantage: Sheet Metal Screws


Now, that isn’t the whole story, of course…Ice Spikes are supposed to last longer than sheet metal screws, so depending upon how many you lose and how many miles you run, the effective price may actually be less.

Sheet Metal ScrewDuring this test, I did not lose any Ice Spikes and only lost 1 sheet metal screw.

However, at least 2 of my friends have lost most of their Ice Spikes. I think that a lot of that has to do with putting them into shoes that had previously had sheet metal screws in them.

As for why that is, my guess is that the screws were thicker so that is why their spikes got lost so easily.

I’ve only had them this one season so I can’t say with certainty yet if removing them and then replacing them will cause the same issue with the spikes falling out. I know that I’ve not had that trouble with normal sheet metal screws.

So, if you want to put something into shoes which have previously had screws, you are probably better off using sheet metal screws again. If it is a new pair of shoes, you can choose either without having to worry. If the shoes previously had Ice Spikes, then let me know how it works out for you, you’ll probably be fine with more Ice Spikes.
Advantage: Neither

Ice SpikesSo how fast do the Ice Spikes wear down compared to the sheet metal screws?

Is it realistic to expect to get the 500 miles their website claims they’ll last? How long do sheet metal screws last?

When I took these photos, I had about 90 miles on the Ice Spikes and about 79 miles on the sheet metal screws.

I’ve found that my sheet metal screws usually last around 100-150 miles depending upon which part of my foot they are on; now that the pair of shoes with sheet metal screws has around 115 miles on them I’ve already replaced about a half dozen screws per shoe and just haven’t found the time to replace the rest.

You can see in the pictures how much less wear there has been on the Ice Spikes. Even the ones that have seen the most wear are still providing plenty of grip. Based on what I’ve seen, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect 200-500 miles depending upon placement and the terrain you run on.
Advantage: Ice Spikes


So which are you better off purchasing, sheet metal screws or Ice Spikes?

        Sheet Metal Screws       Ice Spikes
Dry Roads: Good Good
Loose Snow: Good Good
Sheer Ice: Good Excellent
Frozen Ground: Good Good
Unfrozen Ground: OK OK
Lost Pieces    
New Shoes: Very Few Very Few
Previously Screwed: Some Many
Previously Spiked: (no data) (no data)
Expected Mileage    
On Average: 100-150 Miles 300-500 Miles
Trails/Snow: More More
Ice: Average More
Roads: Fewer Average
Expected Cost    
Low Mileage Winter: $1-$2/shoe $5/shoe
Multiple Winters: No Yes
High Mileage Winter: $2-$4/shoe $5/shoe

They seem to be pretty equivalent when you count the features, so you need to see what’s more important to you.

Both products will help you keep your feet when it’s slick, but Ice Spikes will provide more traction in the icier conditions.

From a price standpoint, sheet metal screws will probably be cheaper, especially if you don’t run very far during the Winters and can get through an entire season without having to replace any screws. If you rotate shoes or have different shoes for different conditions, then sheet metal screws will almost certainly save you money.

If you do run a lot, though, the Ice Spikes might be the better choice because even if they come out a little more expensive than the sheet metal screws, they will give you more even traction throughout the season and will save you the hassle of having to replace them constantly. As sheet metal screws wear down (providing less traction) and have to be replaced the price does begin to even out.

Sheet metal screws can be bought online at or by going to your local hardware store. You can learn more about Ice Spikes or purchase a set at their website: