You have to be physically fit in order to ski well, If running, walking or hiking are at the core of your fitness program, you'll be pleased to learn you can take them with you on your next ski vacation - even when the roads and trails are icy and covered with snow.
Winter traction systems come in a wide variety of products from simple accessories to high-tech systems that click into snowshoes. Two of the simplest products are made by Yaktrax and are made to slip over your running or walking shoes. The Yaktrax Walker is a flexible "web" that is made out of injection molded thermal plastic, wound with steel coils and offers over 10 times the gripping power of other systems that use spikes. A durable outer band surrounds the soles of your shoes and anchors the Walker in place during activity. Each time your foot makes contact with the snow, hundreds of sharp edges bite into the snow. The Walker is designed for use on all types of shoes and is perfect for getting around while walking or running on slick ice and snow covered surfaces. They're lightweight and can be tucked into your suitcase, backpack or even a briefcase.
Try the Yaktrax Pro, if you're looking for something more durable. Like their brother, the Yaktrax Walker, the Pro is a spikeless, lightweight traction system that is made with a durable, natural rubber mesh frame that is covered with high strength, 1.4mm steel coils. The Pro easily slips over all types of shoes and is held firmly in place with a Velcro strap over the instep of your foot. Two other inexpensive traction systems are the "Get a Grip Ultra" and the "DryGuy Grip-ons," available from Winters Warmth. Both systems feature Ice Diamond Carbide spikes that are embedded into a rubber tread, can be pulled over almost any type of shoes and replaced when worn.
A step up from the Yaktrax winter traction systems are the Kahtoola Snow Travel Systems. The most lightweight and economical system is the "Microspike." Microspikes are 3/8 inch long spikes made from stainless steel that are attached to a flex-chain, elastomer shoe harness. They can be attached to any type of shoes and are available in 4 unisex sizes from extra small to large. With their steel spikes, they're perfect for assaulting moderate hills that are covered with snow or ice.
For steeper terrain, the Kahtoola KTS Alum and the KTS Steel provide better stability under more rugged conditions. Like the other traction systems, the KTS Alum and Steel can be attached to almost any type of shoe but offer more support. The patented "LeafSpring" provides better support without sacrificing comfort. Each crampon has 10, ¾ inch steel points that provide superior traction without snagging on the snow. The KTS Alum is designed for lighter weight and the KTS Steel is designed for rough, rocky conditions and is more suitable for use with hiking and telemark boots. Despite their durability, they only weigh 1 lb. 7 oz.
Kahtoola also makes two heavy duty traction systems built for the backcountry. The "Flightboot" is a 22 oz. neoprene boot that is reinforced with Hypalon® and is available in sizes from youth's 1 to men's 14. On the bottom of the Flightboot, you'll find stainless steel cleats mounted under the forefoot, midfoot and heel. You slip them on like a traditional pair of boots and close them with a ratcheting buckle.
If you're planning on hiking off piste, the Flightboot can be clicked into the "Flightdeck TS" snowshoe frame to provide better flotation over deep or untracked snow. They're available in two models: the TS23 for running, walking and general fitness and the TS24 for hiking and exploring.
Hiking and running out in the wilderness can be a wonderful break from your ski vacation and a great way to maintain your fitness level while you're away from home. Try tossing one of these systems into your bag the next time you're head out for a Rocky Mountain high.