As an avid enjoyer of hiking and trail running, there was a time in my life when I would let winter get me down. I avoided icy trails like cracks in the sidewalk, almost superstitious of the perils they held. It wasn’t that I didn’t have traction devices at the time, it was that the trail traction technology out there felt heavy and cumbersome, not to mention hard to keep on my feet.
That’s not the story anymore, though—in fact, I often forget I’m wearing traction devices at all until I feel my titanium cleats dig into the snow with a crunch. If you’re in the market to go the extra distance this winter and you know the importance of lightweight, compact, and durable gear, you’ll want to check out the Titanium V3 Pocket Cleats.
A Brief History of Personal Traction Devices
Adding traction under our feet has been happening for hundreds of years. A lot of trial and error has evolved the technology from Ice Creepers installed on the heel of a shoe to all sorts of ice cleats, ice spikes, and shoe chains with easy “on and off” capability. The evolution of trail traction devices for winter is still moving forward, with the cutting edge focusing on lightweight, on-the-foot performance and maximum “forgettability” when stored in a pack.
Important Things to Look For in Today’s Personal Traction Devices
- Lightweight—any extra weight on your feet adds up quickly with each step
- Compact—easy to store when not in use
- Cleat Durability—can withstand the constant barrage of footfalls and mixed terrain
- Chassis Durability—frame can withstand cold temperatures and constant use
- Quick Mounting—easy ability to take on and off
- Security—Stays on your feet without constant adjustment
What is titanium?
Titanium is a “transition metal” with an atomic number of 22. Thanks to its many notable properties including a great strength-to-weight ratio, titanium is used across multiple industries including boating, aerospace, military, automotive, and outdoor camping equipment.
Why is titanium awesome for Pocket Cleats?
Titanium is Super Lightweight
Lifting any extra weight on your feet mile after mile really adds up fast. Titanium is 40% lighter than steel, making for a noticeable difference in your gait. Plus, when you take the pocket cleats off your feet, you still need to carry them, making a lighter item that much more valuable.
Titanium is Uber-Strong
Imagine the beating the bottom of your shoes get on any average hike or trail run. Titanium is used to protect pilots in military aircraft, meaning ice and the occasional rock is no match for a titanium cleat.
Titanium is Corrosion-Resistant
Who hasn’t put a piece of gear away wet after a challenging endeavor? With titanium products and cleats, there’s no need to worry about rust ruining your future travel plans.
When to use Titanium Pocket Cleats
Titanium Pocket Cleats are best used for a specific range of terrain with ice or snow. That means once you start hitting Old Man Winter dandruff you can begin to think about busting out the cleats. An okay rule of thumb for traction devices is the moment you feel your first slip, throw them on. If you don’t want to wait for that first potentially risky slip, here are some ideal conditions to utilize your Titanium Pocket Cleats:
After snow has sat on the ground and had the chance to melt, refreeze, and settle in—that’s when trails and running paths transform themselves into slippery passes. Pocket Cleats are absolutely made for this unforgiving terrain. The 1.3-centimeter spikes on the Pocket Cleats perform great even up to moderately steep, icy terrain.
Packed snow provides a great surface for titanium cleats to really grab. Whether it’s an undulating path of elevation change or a flat track hiding secret icy spots, Pocket Cleats enable you to push your boundaries further with more peace of mind.
Winter travel nearly always means mixed terrain. Rock fields, sidewalks, and dry surfaces can change your pace every few hundred feet in some cases—keeping your Pocket Cleats on in these situations will help prevent you from slipping on hidden patches of ice. Safe travel is always better than landing on your rear in front of your friends (or worse), and with the quick-fastening technology and durable titanium, being prepared is always best.
When Not to use Pocket Cleats
No Snow or Ice
Even if the weather is cold enough and the excitement of using your pocket cleats is overwhelming, just leave them in your backpack if there’s no snow or ice on the ground. Without snow or ice, you risk damaging your cleats, as they’re not made for long treks on rock.
Deep, Fluffy Snow
If you take one step onto the snow and suddenly you are up to your hips, you’d be better off with snowshoes opposed to pocket cleats. In those situations, buoyancy can be a bigger factor than traction.
Vertical and Very Steep Hiking/Climbing
While the 1.3-centimeter spikes can handle a moderate grade of icy climbing, if you find yourself going more vertical with your endeavors, especially if you start utilizing a rope and harness, you’ll want to be wearing more aggressive crampons compared to the lightweight Pocket Cleats. Crampons typically come with larger cleats, a heavier chassis, additional front spikes, and can only fit specific types of mountaineering or larger boots.
The lightweight design of the Pocket Cleats is geared specifically towards trail running. Side stability brackets prevent the cleats from slipping side to side, and by tying into your existing lacing system, the shoes and cleats become connected as one piece of gear with no slippage in between—meaning you can make more miles without making extra adjustments. The durability of the titanium cleats, and the 1,300+ pound breaking strength of the TPU coated nylon webbing, also ensure the Pocket Cleats will be your running partner for years to come.
Easy to store in your pack and even easier to forget you’re carrying, you’ll be glad you have the Pocket Cleats when you encounter an icy patch on your day hike. The Duraflex quick release cord locks make strapping in and out a quicker process than chewing trail mix, and the lightweight addition to your feet allows you to go further than your average day hiker. For dawn to dusk endeavors, the 12 mm nylon cord is reflective for added visibility on the trail.
If year-round snowy passes are on the trail in front of you, or you like to ditch the crowds by backpacking a bit off-season, Pocket Cleats can be an invaluable asset in your arsenal. At 4.8 ounces total (both cleats), even the staunchest gram counter can’t disagree with the great weight-to-utility value. The pack size of 5 x 4 x 3 inches (in a nylon stuff sack) makes the cleats easy to lose in your pack until you need them.
When winter comes around, tasks like walking the dog, checking the mail, and clearing windshields suddenly become more of a challenge. If slippery conditions are part of your regular routine, Pocket Cleats can help you avoid becoming another winter slippage statistic. For light, Nogeneral use that doesn’t involve miles of activity where the weight really matters, the more cost-friendly V3 Stainless Steel Pocket Cleats might be right for you.
Fitting and Adjustment Guide for the V3 Pocket Cleats
Pocket Cleats are one-size-fit-all and once properly fitted to your hiking or trail-running shoe, they are easy to put on by cinching the front strap and tying the backstrap into your existing lacing system. Before you can make this process a matter of seconds, the pocket cleats first need to be adjusted to your shoe. Here are the simple steps to do that:
- Slide the Pockets Cleats, cleat-side down, over your shoe lining the back cleat up with the sole of your shoe (the instep).
- Tie the backstrap into the eyelets of your shoe, using the same double-slip knot you use to tie your shoes.
- Position the front strap over the top of your toe box and cinch down.
- Flip the shoe over to make any necessary adjustment to the center strap. For the cleats to be properly fitted you want to look for the following:
- Put the back cleat in the middle of the sole (your instep)
- Center cleat between the back and front cleat
- Front cleat should be on or slightly in front of the balls of your feet
- Center strap should lay snugly against the bottom of the shoe
- If the one-time adjustment is needed on the center strap, undo the front strap and push and pull the center strap to adjust to the desired length.
- Once positioned correctly, cut the excess center strap from the front cleat with a pair of strong scissors.
- Lastly, adjust the side stability brackets so that they are located approximately ¼ inch away from the soles of your shoes.
And there you have it, a properly fitted shoe that can now be put on lightning fast. For more visual learners out there, check out this helpful video:
Extra Tips for Optimal Performance
A few extra nuanced tips and tricks for a perfect, never-needs-to-be-adjusted fit:
- Standing while tying the laces will reduce slack and help tie the Pocket Cleats on more tightly
- Side stability brackets on the side need to be pinching the indentation of the shoe between the toe box and heel
- Don’t make the front strap too long, and whenever in doubt, shorten the strap. Consider removing a cleat if your shoe size is smaller than Women’s 9 or Men’s 7.
- Tuck the front cord slack and front cord lock under your shoelaces to prevent snagging.
- Before cutting off excess center strap with scissors, try fitting the Pocket Cleats to any other shoes you might use them with.
Extra Advice for Running this Winter
Wardrobe is Key
Running in winter is all about the clothes you choose. For extra chilly conditions, you’ll want to cover all the exposed skin you can including hands, head, and parts of the face. Layers are the way to go, with a base layer ideally made of wool or any synthetic sweat control material.
Forget your Stopwatch: Focus on Not Stopping
Don’t worry about how fast you are going on a winter run, rather focus on making it to your set destination without stopping too much. The cold weather can catch up with you fast once you stop moving, making efficient route planning and mindful travel very important for winter running.
Have a Post-Run Plan
Don’t just wait around for the cold temperatures to catch up to you post run. Instead, change out of your running clothes and into your regular, warm winter clothes as soon as you can. Add a thermos of hot coffee or tea to the mix, and you’ll have effectively triumphed over the winter blues.