Transform your running shoes into winter-ready treads with these tips

how to winterize your running shoes 15288592 1318306224875728 937102931771639406 o
Winter is here in full force and for many trail runners, that means stomping through snow and slippery ice. If you’d rather chase Old Man Winter down a frosty trail than log miles on the dreadmill, now’s the time to start thinking about outfitting your feet for winter running.

The two major things to consider when it comes to winter running shoes are traction and waterproofing. Enhanced traction will help prevent slipping on ice and potential injuries resulting from that, and waterproofing gear designed to keep your feet warm and dry is crucial to avoiding frostbite and hypothermia.

Oregon-based professional ultrarunner and 2014 100 km World Champion Max King offered some tips and tricks on the best shoe winterization methods to keep you on your feet this season.

Winter-specific running shoes

Before we dive into how to winterize your existing fair weather shoes, the easiest — but most costly — solution to running in the cold, wet, and possibly slick months is to buy a shoe designed by the manufacturer for such conditions.

“Buying a winterized version of a shoe has its advantages because usually they have a waterproof or water-resistant upper that doesn’t allow snow and water to get in,” said King.

how to winterize your running shoes 15540902 1333375606702123 4844526549568174932 o

Many companies are releasing winter versions of their trail running classics that look more like a bootie, such as the Salomon Snowcross CS, or the Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Mid.

The Snowcross offers weather protection through a waterproof bootie with a zip gaiter, and enhanced traction courtesy of nine carbide-tipped spikes.

The Lone Peak NeoShell Mid is Altra’s new winter shoe that takes the NeoShell low to new heights, using Polartec waterproof breathable uppers to keep feet warm and dry. These bad boys don’t come with spikes, but utilize Maxtrac rubber traction technology with TrailClaw lugs for a solid grip. All Altra running shoes also come with a built-in gaiter trap to attach an extra layer of weatherproofing.

A couple of winter shoe options that don’t incorporate a bootie, but do use waterproof materials and traction technology designed to prevent slipping include the Saucony Peregrine ICE+ and Inov8 Arcticclaw 300.

The new Saucony Peregrine ICE+ uses the same PWRTRAC outsole that provide the aggressive traction three-season Peregrines are famous for, but the ICE+ integrates Vibram’s cutting-edge Arctic Grip technology in high impact foot zones. Arctic Grip is specifically engineered to provide traction on wet ice and is so remarkable that it took home the Digital Trends Outdoors Best Product of 2016 award.

The Arcticclaw 300 comes in both regular and Thermo, which adds a Primaloft insulation liner to keep your feet extra warm. Both models feature 16 tungsten carbide spikes spread throughout the forefoot and heel of the nobby outsole. Inov8’s 4-finger polymer PROTEC-SHANK technology runs along the traction spikes to shield your metatarsals from additional impact.

how to winterize your running shoes inov8 arcticclaw 300 thumb 2

Although the weather-specific technologies used in designing winterized running shoes can drive up their retail price, keep in mind that you probably won’t be using them nearly as much as your regular running shoes, so one pair might last more than one season. The decision to purchase a new pair of running shoes made to handle ice and cold weather or modify the pair you’ve been running in all year is based on personal preference, and may vary depending on regional climates and runner’s lifestyles.

DIY Traction

how to winterize your running shoes yaktrax thumb

If you don’t want to buy a separate pair of winterized trail shoes for snowy adventures, there are plenty of DIY options to modify the same shoes you’ve been wearing all year. Tricks for improving traction range from simple screws from your local hardware store to ergonomically-designed over sole devices.

“Definitely, on icy days, one of the things people do up here is put sheet metal screws in their shoes,” King said. This is likely the cheapest and most simple traction option. However, steel screw wear down quickly, especially if you leave the trail to hit bare pavement.

A much stronger option is to look for screws made of tungsten carbide, the same material used to make cutting tools and armor-piercing ammunition. You may recognize it from your studded snow tires or the tips of your trekking poles.

“The carbide just holds up a lot better than the galvanized steel screw you get at the hardware store,” King said. “Those just wear down quickly, especially if you’re running on any kind of pavement. The carbide screws are a lot harder.”

Ice Spikes and La Sportiva Hobnails are two examples of carbide screws you can twist into your favorite pair of running shoes. Step-by-step instructions on how to screw your own shoes can be found here.

Carbide studs can also be found on over sole options, such as the Yaktrax Run and Kahtoola Nanospikes.

The Yaktrax Run flaunts the same steel coil-wrapped rubber web as the Walk model, but with a flat rubber platform in the forefoot embedded with removable carbide spikes. The ergonomically designed Yaktrax Run’s also feature adjustable straps to provide a custom fit, as well as reflective accents for increased visibility during short winter days.


how to winterize your running shoes outdoor research ultra trail gaiters thumb

Ice isn’t the only threat to winter running safety. Gently falling snow, or a layer of fresh powder can slowly seep into shoes both around the ankle and through a mesh upper, leading to cold, wet feet. Avoid this by adding a water-resistant gaiter to your mandatory winter running gear.

“If you’re running in the snow, a gaiter is pretty mandatory just to keep snow from getting in there and building up.” King said. “It can really soak the inside of your shoe.”

Outdoor Research Ultra Trail Gaiters are a water-resistant, breathable option made with rugged Cordura.

If you already own a pair of water-resistant gaiters, it doesn’t hurt to apply a fresh coat of Scotchgard to maintain their water repellency.

If you do find yourself with flooded footwear at the end of a snowy run, don’t worry, DryGuy makes several products designed to accelerate the drying time of wet winter gear.

Find the solution that works best for you

In addition to being the more affordable option, customizing your own pair of running shoes with winter features allows you to run in the shoes you’re already comfortable with and frees up space in your running shoe closet, but you’ll miss out on some of the latest rubber compound technology that could make the difference between a stride and slip on wet ice.

The key is to know how to stay safe out there and find a solution that works the best for you. Let your shoes help protect your body from winter hazards by upping your traction and adding an extra layer of water protection before you hit the trails!


We tried a pair of foam snowshoes, and now we're hooked

Crescent Moon surprised everyone when it released an all foam snowshoe last year, and now it’s back with a new and improved version -- which we've been testing for the past few weeks. Is it the most brilliant idea ever or the absolute…

Here are 19 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great small gift ideas), we've rounded up 19 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth keyboard.

The best iPhone 6 cases for style and protection

No one likes a bruised Apple. Scratches, scuffs, and cracks on a new iPhone 6 are enough to ruin anyone’s day. Check out the best iPhone 6 cases and get some protection on that shiny new smartphone.

REI drops prices on North Face and Columbia during its winter sale

Looking to shop top brands like North Face, Columbia, and more? REI is offering up to 50 percent off during a winter sale so you can save big on new jackets and hoodies. This deal will last until January 22, so take advantage on this huge…
Emerging Tech

Look forward to your morning commute with one of the best ebikes available

A proper ebike is perfect for commuting or a trek along the trailhead, with most offering pedal assistance and a long-range battery. As more brands offer their own take on this innovative way to get around, it's hard to distinguish the…

Here are all the best rain jackets on the market right now

From high-tech, lightweight shells to modern-looking, waterproof trench coats, check out our list of the best rain jackets built to keep you dry and looking stylish in any season.
Emerging Tech

Yamaha’s new app lets you tune your motorcycle with a smartphone

It used to be that if you wanted to tune your motorcycle’s engine and tweak its performance, you needed specialized tools and even more specialized knowledge. Yamaha’s new Power Tuner app changes that.
Emerging Tech

The best solar chargers for your phone, tablet, and other battery-powered gear

Looking for a gizmo that can help you charge your phone while on the go? Here, we've outlined the best solar chargers on the market, whether you're looking to charge your phone once, twice, or three times over.

Drink what nature provides with the best water purifiers

Looking for reliable water purification? Staying hydrated is important, especially when you are hiking or camping far from civilization. Check out our picks of the best water purifiers for your camp, backpack, or pocket.

Snooze soundly anywhere you lay your head with the best sleeping bags

A proper sleeping bag has the ability to make or break a camping or backpacking trip. Here are our picks for the best sleeping bags on the market to help you choose the correct bag for any type of outdoor adventure.

Nike’s Adapt BB shoes let you tighten your laces with an iPhone

The new Nike Adapt BB shoe comes with smartphone connectivity that allows the user to tighten the laces using a smartphone while providing the ability to adjust tension throughout the game.

The 10 best windproof umbrellas to help you weather the storm

The rains have come and they have no mercy. Can your current umbrella handle everything nature can throw at it? Here are 10 of the best windproof umbrella deals available now to help keep you safe and dry.

The best battery packs and power stations for use in the outdoors

If you want to keep your smartphones, tablets, and other devices charged while camping int he backcountry these battery packs and portable power stations are rugged enough to survive while providing plenty of power too.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!