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Winterizing your trail shoes

March 22, 2018

By Nick Whitbread

Hey Folks

This isn't a "How to", or "Should do", it's a "What I did" and why. 

I (Nick) have been visiting back in Australia for the last three months. In anticipation of only running in warm climates, I only packed the gear and clothing needed for warm weather running... on dirt.

On my way back from Australia I decided to visit a friend in Dawson City in the Yukon. I am in training for some races this year so I needed to be able to run outside. I was able to scrounge up some cold weather clothing to make due but I didn't have traction devices for my shoes? 

I usually use (this is not a paid endorsement) The Diamond Grip Icetrekkers. They work well, you can put them on any of your shoes and they usually last a while. I have 2 pair back home so I didn't really want to buy another when I arrived. I know Antonio and a few others that have used sheet metal screws drilled into the soles of their shoes instead. It's cheap and I found out pretty easy. After almost 50k in them they work pretty well too. 

This is how I did it. First I bought 12mm sheet metal screws with a hex head. If you want to know what that is in inches, don't grow up in Australia. I don't know, and the truth is they are probably too long but it's the shortest I could find. 

I marked on the sole of the shoes where I wanted the traction points to be, keeping in mind the thickness of the EVA foam at that point in the shoe so I didn't screw them right through the sole and up into the footbed (I totally did). I was also keeping in mind the fact that I didn't want them directly under the ball of my fore foot or under my heel. Basically anywhere I might land hard and have a potential poke through. 

I marked the spots to screw in the screws with a metallic marker and using the correct drill socket I drilled them in. It was a bit of trial and error. I had to move some because there wasn't enough foam to keep the screw out of the footbed and one or two would drill in and then pull out right away with the drill socket. All in all they went in pretty easily and the whole thing took less than 10 mins and cost about $18 (including drill socket $12).

After running in them on ice, snow and a small amount of pavement, I think they work great. The traction is good, I haven't lost any of the screws Yet. If I run on bare ice or pavement and land heavily I can definitely feel them more. The ones near my heel particularly. So I just avoid that type of terrain. I did this on an old pair of (again not a paid advertisement) Altra Lone Peak 3.0's. I would think twice before doing it to a brand new pair. This pair is on its last legs and the screws only needed to last the duration of my visit, which is two weeks. I have no doubt they will last well beyond that and probably these shoes. The good news is I will probably remove them and screw them into another pair down the line. 

So there it is, what I did. If you have a similar situation, or just want to save some money it may work for you too. Be aware you are screwing sharp things into the bottom of your shoes, pointed towards your beloved feet. You may end up with a screw in your foot. Antonio usually trims the sharp ends of the screws to minimize potential harm. I didn't have the tools available to do this. If you are a heavy heel striker I would not do this or avoid putting screws anywhere they might potentially end up in your heel. I can hear Antonio asking me if it's a good idea to be posting this sort of information in the first place so I'm gonna shut up right now. 

I hope this was helpful and/or entertaining

If you have done this yourself and you have any tips or tricks, please share them in the comments. We would love to hear your insight. 

Have a great run today

Image of sheet metal screws in the soles of altra lone peak trail running shoes
image of sheet metal screws used for winter running grip on trail running shoes
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