Stabil-ICERS from 32North

A few weeks ago, the sweet folks at 32 North sent me a pair of the Sport StabilICERs to try out and review on my blog. As a disclaimer for FTC considerations, 32 North sent these shoe grippy things free to me.

I’ve worn them a few times, and love that I can keep up with people like my buddy Erik in the winter snow, even though he’s much faster than me. I have to start this post by saying I am not a fan of YakTraks and I was a little skeptical of the StabilICERs because I thought they were similar. Boy was I wrong.

What I don’t like about YakTraks: They have coils and when I transition from snow-covered road to pleasantly cleared road (which happens frequently in Houghton), I slip and slide all over what should be fast, pleasant traction. On ice, they’re great, but Houghton doesn’t usually have a whole lot of ice (unless its between Christmas and New Year’s and you’re on Michigan Tech’s campus).

The StabilICERs are different. They are basically the idea of the Screw Shoe, only not a permanent adaptation to your running shoe. I like this, because I don’t always need screws in my shoes in order to run around town. Plus, I can use the same pair of shoes on the treadmill and outside if I want to without having to worry about getting yelled at by the staff at the gym for running on their new ‘mills with metal sticking out of my shoe (besides, that probably isn’t comfortable). And LASTLY, the StabilICERs are an add-on to the shoe, and I don’t have to worry about the screws poking through to my feet, puncturing my insoles, or anything like that. Sure, they add a little extra weight, but they are really not all that heavy (I’ll weigh them tonight and let ya know).

Had I bought the StabilICERs myself, I’d have ordered online through Amazon’s online store:

$39.95 for the Sport (size medium)
$6.25 for shipping
=$46.20

That seems a little steep, for just a winter-running adaptation. But, if I had bought screws and put them in my brand new trail runners, I would be sacrificing a $120 pair of shoes for only winter mileage, outdoors, and wouldn’t use them in the spring/summer on dirt trails. Hmmm… And, since I have a few different shoes I like to rotate through during winter training, it’s an easy swap to just take the cleats off my shoe and put them on a different pair (I can even put them on my boots!). I can see these Sport StabilICERs lasting a long time, too, because the rubber material is pretty tough (but flexible) and the cleats are replaceable!! Nonetheless, it is a steeper price point than many are willing to shell out. After looking around a bit online, I found them for $32.83 through Outdoor Pros and $31.85 through Walk on Ice. I’ve never shopped at either of these online stores, though… so I don’t know if they’re trustworthy or not!

Another cheaper option (besides putting screws in yer shoes) is to get the Lite version of the StabilICERs. These cost right around $20. Bonus is the upfront cost is about half of the Sport version. The downside? The cleats aren’t replaceable (they are replaceable on the Sport version) and they are for “light” use (…’so it wasn’t just a clever name?‘).

So, since Marg and I have made a regular tradition of venturing out in the cold and snow covered Houghton at least once a week for a good run, I thought I’d throw ’em on for a longer run yesterday. Our runs often turn into a vent-fest and stress relief extravaganza, so it was good to have traction to take away some of the anxiety. The hills make getting the aggression out a little bit easier, too- but the slick roads don’t always do the job (in fact, sometimes they make things worse).

This was my fourth (or fifth?) time wearing my StabilICERS, but this time threw them on over my trail running shoes. On my stability road shoes, the toe box is wider and it gets smushed by the rubber forefoot of the StabilICERS and leads to rubbing on my first metatarsophalangeal joint (ie. the outside nub of big toe). Ick! Today was: SUCCESS! No rubbing, no discomfort, except in my lungs as I tried to race up the hill in fear of missing Miss Marg. Uh, that was a bad idea. The stabilICERs worked nice on the snow-covered roads, tho, and dug in to get traction when I would have otherwise had my feet sliding sideways.

We ran west than east, on trail and road, and eventually called it quits around an hour and a half (our route). I then decided to take the StabilICERS on their ultimate test: Yes, I ran all the way down Agate (Houghton’s longest, steep street)… without falling.

They were awesome. I had incredible traction all the way down, even when I had to run into the snow bank because a car was coming up the hill (things you learn in Houghton: never trust a car to stop that is trying to make it up a hill. You can guarantee that the driver’s gas pedal is all the way to the floor and they are just givin’ er with their fingers crossed).

A near-future interval day is going to include the following workout:

-warmup in StabilICERs
-1 Agate climb with StabilICERs
-full recovery jog/walk
-1 Agate climb without StabilICERs
-full recovery jog/walk
-1 Agate climb with StabilICERs
-full recovery jog/walk
-1 Agate climb without StabilICERs

…where I will compare the times with and without the traction control.

If you’re in Houghton/Hancock and want to try out my pair of StabilICERs, stop by the Tri Training Session tonight (6:30-8pm) at the Portage Health main campus in Hancock. I’ll bring ’em and you can take them for a spin around the block. B.Y.O. running shoes!

NOTE: Baberaham tried out the StabilICERs tonight, and the verdict is in: He loved ’em! He’s not too psyched on ‘gimmicky’ stuff, but I convinced him to wear the cleats on his run outside this afternoon. First: he isn’t a fan of running outside in the winter. With his knee (previous ligament tear and replacement), he has a helluva time enjoying himself on slick and uneven terrain. So when I walked in the door after the Tri Training Session and asked him how his run went, I was excited to hear that he was really impressed with how great of traction he had on his run. Although he said he did notice the cleats toward the end of his run (mile 5), he really enjoyed using them and now wants his own pair. SWEET!

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8 thoughts on “Stabil-ICERS from 32North

  1. Excellent post! I’ve been looking at replacing my worn-out YakTrax and I’m seeing more & more people commenting on the StabilICERs.

    A couple of questions…

    – I haven’t been able to find a sizing chart – you got the mediums, what size shoe do you wear?
    – When I hit pavement with my YakTraks, they hurt my feet and I’d have to take them off & carry them. Have you tried these on pavement? How did they feel?
    – My YakTraks were useless on the snowmobile trail. Have you tried them on the snowmobile trail? How did they perform? And, most importantly, did you fear for your life of being run over by a crazy sled-riding out-of-towner? 😀

    • –I wear a size 9, and the size chart says I should wear a small… but the Medium is DEFINITELY perfect. I don’t think I could squeeze my shoe into a small if I had received those.
      –These do pretty well on pavement. They don’t hurt nearly as bad as YakTraks do, but I do notice that they’re there. The rubber allows them to move laterally, though, so they sort of “smear” under my feet while still maintaining traction. The knobs are small enough that they just feel like I’m running over rocks.
      –I wore these on the snowmobile trail. I don’t know if anything really “works” on snowmobile trails, but they don’t make my running any *worse*. Luckily we went running just before dinner time, so the snowmobilers were probably already at the bar!
      What size shoe do you wear? You’re welcome to try these out.

      • I just found the size chart.

        Your mediums would definitely be too big for me. I wear a size 7 and according to their chart, I’m an XS. Seems like I should probably do what you did and move up to the S.

        Thanks for the info!

  2. I hear ya on running in the snow and the conveniently hidden ice under it when you least expect it. I went the *drywall screw approach* and now have my loud ice running shoes. Ha ha. Ya gotta do what you gotta do! The dreadmill GETS OLD after awhile!!!

  3. Huh – I love my YakTraks! I do find them slippery on pavement, though, yeah. I also don’t find them at all useful on pure ice. They are great on the snowmobile trails I run on and whenever I do trails in the winter. Also great for slush or ice with some snow on top. Clearly my YakTraks are different from the ones everyone else has!

  4. I have the Pro. I was told that the normal version didn’t work as well (I don’t know why) and was liable to fall off your feet when running since it doesn’t have a strap across the top.

  5. How do you think someone with weak ankles would fair in these? I had 2 screws put in my ankle this summer and I’m still a bit apprehensive.

    Is the base platform wide enough? Or might it cause an extra roll risk?

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