Updated August 29, 2011
Walking on ice and walking in snow is not recommended for fitness walks. But it is a fact of life in many places that you will need venture out when there is snow and ice. These slip-on cleats and shoe covers and poles can help you to walk safer on ice and in snow. Be careful out there.
I feel very secure with the Diamond Grip design. These are not dainty ice cleats. They are easy enough to put on your shoes when you need the traction and take them off when you reach a safe walking surface. You definitely don't want to wear them on a surface you don't want scratched.
Icebug footwear comes in over a dozen different designs for men and women, including fashion boots, running shoes, hiking boots, snow boots. Each has carbide studs in the soles so you will get a grip in snow and ice, even when you aren't expecting any. Yet you can wear them indoors as well. Snow and ice are accidents just waiting for a careless moment when you didn't put on shoe cleats. Icebug footwear remembers for you.
I like the Stabilicers heavy duty design because it uses velcro straps at the forefoot and ankle for a secure attachment of the ice cleats to your shoes. I find that easier to get into and out of, and haven't had difficulty with them slipping off the shoe as I have with some slip-on designs. The heavy duty Stabilicers come with replacement cleats if you lose one when walking on ice or snow. These have gotten me through some unusually heavy snowfall.
I add 4-wheel drive to my winter walking by using my Leki trekking poles. They have a carbide flex tip to get a grip on the snow, ice or mud, and small performance baskets to keep them from sinking too far into snow. You can use ski poles if you prefer, but I use my Leki trekking poles on summer hikes as well as winter walks. They have a 3-section design to compact down when you want to store them or carry them. They fit into my checked luggage for taking along when I am headed to a snowier or icier climate.
Snow Trax slip-on snow cleats have a design with steel coils under forefoot to grip snow. Ice cleats over the heel provide extra grip for ice walking and snow walking. My past experience leads me to prefer the ice cleats for traction rather than the coils. But these have the advantage of being sold in pairs at major retailers such as Costco. Having two pairs is great for families, or for keeping a pair in the car or at work and one at home.
Stabilicers Sport are a lighter version of Stabilicers. They have rubber grip at the forefoot and ankle to slip-on over your athletic shoes or dress shoes. On the bottom are eight ice cleats. These have worked well for me, but I tend to prefer the security of their strap-on Heavy Duty Stabilicers. The forefoot grip didn't fit my wider athletic shoes well, but they may work great for many casual shoes.
YakTrax were the first shoe chains I tried. They have a metal coil design to crisscross the bottom of your shoe. Their older designs slip on with rubber grippers at toe and ankle. But the new Pro design has a velcro strap across the forefoot, which I prefer. In a bout of icy silver thaw over snow conditions, I didn't get the performance I wanted from the steel coil grips, and the old design without the strap actually came off in a snow drift. I find that I prefer the cleat styles for shoe chains.
If you need to walk on unplowed sidewalks or walk on snowy trails, snowshoes teamed with trekking poles are a great combination. Today's compact, lightweight snow shoes are easy and fun to use. Most have crampons/grippers at the front and back to help in going uphill and downhill without sliding. The disadvantage here is they are less convenient to remove and carry with you if you reach a stretch of plowed sidewalk. But if your winter walking regularly means walking in deep snow, snowshoes are a great tool.
These were some of the first type of ice cleats that I tried. I found the sizing to be a problem -- I definitely needed a larger size for them to fit onto my walking shoes. They have ice cleats on the toe and heel. The slip-on design never felt as secure for me as one with velcro straps, especially when they were hard to slip on.
©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.