The first big snow has fallen, and our region’s surrounding hills and mountains again are covered with ice and snow. What that means is we all have to switch gears a little, and need to rethink our running attire and running gear – including proper traction devices.

At the end of last winter, Jen and I decided to go up to the Mount Sentinel Beacon for the first time in a couple of years. It sounded like a great idea. After all, it was a great, sunny day. However, the higher-elevation and north-facing trails were snowy and quite icy, and thus, very slippery. So we put on our duenorth spikes – the only running traction device we had until then. Those little spikes are great for running on mostly flat, icy sidewalks and streets, but were no match for the steep, slippery trails we encountered that day, nor are they really meant for any of our western Montana hills and mountains.

The footing was tough going up, but especially on the downhill, I immediately noticed the limitations of those little spikes, as I was sliding, sometimes uncontrollably, with many very close calls of falling. Then, on a long, downhill stretch of pure-ice, the device gave out. Now I had no more traction on one foot at all… The “run” turned into a quest of survival. We eventually made it down the mountain, sometimes by means of sliding on our behinds or whatnot. It wasn’t pretty nor a satisfying workout to say the least.

The very next day, I did something I should have done years ago: I purchased two sets of Kahtoola MICROspikes from the Runner’s Edge, of course, and also replaced my DueNorth, Tungsten Carbide Spikes for safe running on wintry streets.

Only five days after our first, not-so-safe adventure to the “Beacon”, Jen and I went back up there, but this time with our brand-new Kahtoola MICROspikes. WHAT A DIFFERENCE! Instead of widely, and at times awkwardly, traversing any ice patches, we actually ran on them. Surprisingly, only minutes after strapping them on to our shoes for the first time, ever – very quickly and easily I must remark- we forgot we even had them on, and didn’t care on what type of wintry surface we were running. No more slipping and sliding up, and especially not coming down. It was fantastic!! This time, our workout was fun and satisfying.

The Kahtoolas are like tire chains for your feet!

Now, after all the snow we have received lately and the many storms that will roll through Montana for many months to come – which, undoubtedly will turn our hills and mountains into a winter wonderland, but also into more treacherous, icy running conditions – good traction devices are needed for quite a while. I don’t have to remind anyone that our winters are long, and, there’s always next winter, right?

So, if you are thinking about going on any hilly trails anytime soon, let’s say in the next five months or so, and you don’t have the right traction devices yet, take a closer look at the Kahtoola MICROspikes the next time you come on in to The Runner’s Edge, and never miss another workout due to bad weather or bad footing.

A wise man, who was active 365-days-a-year once told me that. “Vo, there’s no bad weather, only bad preparation and bad gear.” He was so right about that, and his words still hold true today!

The Runner’s Edge has a great line-up of traction devices, from the casual walker, to the urban pavement runner, and even to the more adventurous mountain conquerors. However, no matter which device you’ll use, please always use caution and common sense…

Whether you like to run, hike, walk your dog, shovel your driveway, or go sledding, I recommend any of the tractions devices we, The Runner’s Edge, brought in for you for this winter, and, for deeper snow and very icy terrain, whole-heartedly recommend the Kahtoola MICROspikes. They are very easy to use, are well constructed, and could be one of the best investments you’ll make for your winter running.

Happy trails!

~ Vo

Vo von Sehlen, Runner’s Edge employee – Photographer/Media Operations