Icers are perhaps one of the most overlooked, and unknown, pieces of equipment for hikers and just general winter time walking.
Also known as snow traction cleats, they are a very simple concept, yet a totally awesome device that increases your safety when walking on ice. The concept of icers is much the same as chains on tires. They are simply claws of some sort that are strapped to your boots. These claws dig into the ice as you walk upon it, giving you greater confidence and safety. Never underestimate the amount of the safety increase you get from feeling more confident. We often second guess ourselves and wind up making mistakes because of a lack of confidence.
There are many kinds and they are not limited to just back country use. Many people have adopted them for the cities as well as the country. Many sidewalks ice up during the winter and therefore people have started making icers for city walking. However, in my opinion, they are of the greatest value in the back country. When there is a lot of snow, we can wear our snowshoes but that time where there is not a lot of snow is the time to wear icers. It is at this time of the year that we also encounter the greatest danger of slipping simply because we may have a small snow storm and while there is a lot of ice, we cannot see it because of the light dusting on top. We know there is not enough snow for snowshoeing, so we often decide to hike instead.
Other things to consider about Icers
Another thing that many people do not think about is the fact that icers can also be useful in almost any season. If you are a thru-hiker, like myself, you have definitely encountered times where you have been hiking a cliff, or in steep terrain, and it starts raining. This results in very slippery inclines and when having to climb rock faces, you wind up slipping all over the place. I have been in some situations where the only way I could get up certain terrain was to take off my boots and socks and climb in bare feet. This, of course, is less than optimal because you need to put your socks and boots back on after the climb and your feet are muddy and it’s raining. So, you wind up with dirty and wet socks and boots. Not very fun. If you have a pair of icers with you, you can simply put them on and in most instances they will provide enough grip to climb almost anything. Mind you, it will wear the claws down rather quickly on rock, but at the price of these things, it really is not a big deal.
I was one of those hikers that you seen slipping and sliding all over the place until I discovered icers. You seriously would have laughed at some of the ways I traversed certain terrains before I purchased a pair. I am a bit of a contortionist now thanks to those adventures, which is not a bad thing but also is not a good thing for your body when carrying a 40 pound pack. Because of the fact that I have hiked both with and without, I can definitively say that these are a must have when it comes to back country hiking of any sort.
The icers I am using in the video below are the Avventura Outdoors Icers, or trail crampons. Gotta love them! 🙂