I 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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
During 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.
So 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|
|New Shoes:||Very Few||Very Few|
|Previously Spiked:||(no data)||(no data)|
|On Average:||100-150 Miles||300-500 Miles|
|Low Mileage Winter:||$1-$2/shoe||$5/shoe|
|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 Amazon.com or by going to your local hardware store. You can learn more about Ice Spikes or purchase a set at their website: www.icespike.com
I won a set of these in your 1 More Mile Challenge and have run with them 3 or 4 times. One of these was at the Holiday Lake 50K++ race where the trails were covered by at least 5 inches of crusty snow that later turned to mud in spots. Before the race I ordered a set of replacement spikes to share with a friend who was also running the race. Delivery was in 3 days.
We both felt that the traction was a big help, especially on the hill sections. I have used the sheet metal screws and these have a higher profile and a more open slot for a deeper, more aggressive bite.
I have lost 2 of the IceSpikes from the heel of my shoe. The 2nd one was at the same spot as the first, so I think the hole in the sole was to blame.
I am very happy with the IceSpikes and will use them over the sheet metal screws from now on. If I need to buy more replacement sets, I may look for a way to buy them in larger quantities.
Thanks again for my ‘super screw shoes’.
Being older, I have a fear of slipping on the icy surfaces. The metal screws sound like a great idea. do you have a pattern or just put them where you think you will need them.
It depends entirely upon the shoes what pattern I use. You want to avoid putting the screws in a thin part of the shoe or you’ll be running on the screw, and you want to avoid puncturing air pockets and things like that.
In general, I put 3-5 screws or spikes into the heels and 6-8 screws or spikes in the forefoot, mostly along the outsides of the sole.
The Ice Spike site has a good guide for where to position the spikes that is a lot more technical than I bother to be but is a great guide to start out with.
I’ve also got a video I made a couple of years ago about how to go about putting the screws in place:
If you haven’t already, check out IceBugs (http://www.icebug.se/Default.aspx?m=4) for winter running. I really like mine, and use mine for orienteering and not just running on snow/ice. They just announced a rep in the USA (lives in Vermont region, I think) so look for them making incursions into your neck of the woods soon.
Of course, putting in your own screws are darn cheap…
I really like mine, and use mine for orienteering and not just running on snow/ice.
I use a product that is really low profile but is extreamly effective. They are the Spiky Ice Cleat. Our whole running club uses them. http://www.spiky.com
it’s a good product, really holds up.
Jenny, those seem pretty similar to Stabilicers -- my guess is that they’ll work fine on icy roads but will have the same problems in snow and on trails.
Since I’d rather run where there’s no traffic (in general but especially when the roads are icy and narrow from ice and snow) that’s why I prefer the screw shoe/ice spike method over anything else I’ve tried.
I bought the Ice Spikes and after realizing that they would not work I tried to return them. Guess what…they blow you off! Only buy them if you are CERTAIN that they will work as the company does not accept returns.
I’ve never tried returning them. What was the problem, why didn’t they work?
I prefer Goat Head SoleSpikes. http://www.solespikes.com/ I have been using them for several years now. They come in different lengths and have a superior design than ICESPIKE.
I trail run near Halifax, Nova Scotia where we get a lot of icy conditions in winter, because of mixed snow and rain, and the trails are very rough with rocks and roots. I have tested both screw types on opposite shoes when trail running on icy conditions and the IceSpikes are noticeably better. Slid out twice on the shoe with regular screws. Way more confidence running on ice once I had both shoes with IceSpikes on them. I have also run on open ice on the lake with no traction problems. You can’t do that with regular SS screws. I was skeptical about the screws making that much difference, but was very surprised when I tested them out. The difference in cost is negligible if you want real traction running on ice. Totally worth It!
I have the answer to your losing screws from your shoes. I live in one of the snowiest parts of the country and have them on slip-on overshoes, tall boots, and running shoes. I use stabilicer screws on most, because I bought boxes of 50 of them when they were cheap. I wanted to try the ice spikes so see if they’re better. I’m and old person and cannot afford a fall, yet I meet my 100 mile a month walk and jog goal on my hilly rural road, year round. Here’s what I do. I mark the spots on the shoe sole lugs to put screws, with a Sharpie. I then use a bulletin board pushpin to make a pilot hole. It’s almost invisible. I then start screwing a cleat in, and once it’s in less than halfway, I put Crazy Glue (cyanoacrylate) on the screw, then screw it in until it’s snug. Then do another, and another. You get the idea. I have yet to have either type of screw fall out. I am walking/running on pavement at least half the time rather than the softer shoulder, and because our roads are plowed so frequently would expect wear to be more than it is. Neither screws wear down quickly. Personally, I think the Ice Spike screws grip a little better than the Stabilicers, because of the narrow slot, but cannot swear to it. Try both. Have never used common sheet metal screws. There are also Goat Head Sole Spikes which look even better but I’m satisified with what I have. Hope this helps.