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Hillsound FreeSteps6 Winter Traction Device

DESCRIPTION: Winter Traction Device
WEIGHT:340g (size large)
MSRP: $39.99

There isn’t a better proving ground for a traction device than a trip to our local Manitou Incline. I’ve had most types of traction devices and I’ve used all the ones I have on that stupid hill. It isn’t a place you want to take a tumble. Although it is better since the renovation which took place last year, I’d still rather stay upright

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Pulling these out of the box in the Incline parking lot, the first thing I notice is how similar they are to another type of traction device I own. A huge difference is the price however, as the Hillsounds cost about half as much as the other ones.

There’s a solid feeling rubber harness, a few spike clusters positioned at different contact points, and only metal underfoot. The last point is crucial if you want them to last. I strap them over my trail runners and start off towards the pain train. Walking in them is comfortable. My shoes feel a little tighter due to the secure rubber but not uncomfortable. I have a hard time noticing them once I start off, which felt a little weird. I’m thinking to myself, do I really need these?  I can’t feel them, and I don’t feel like I’m sliding. I keep trucking up the never ending steps and catch up to an ultra-running looking fellow. Once I catch up to him the question if I needed these is very clearly answered. He is much fitter looking than me but I caught up to him and I figured out why when he slid 8 or so steps down right past me. My favorite part of him sliding past me was the awkward eye contact we made as he did it. He had a less aggressive trail running traction device on and they weren’t doing a thing for him. He was very quick to ask what kind of traction device I was wearing when he got to the top.

To put a little more test on these I went down the actual incline for the first half, and then ran down Barr trail for the second half. Zero slips on the way down which is better than I do on an average dry day.

Pros:

  • Price- just over half the MSRP of a very comparable set up
  • Secure- not heavy for this type of device, although there are lighter ones on the market
  • A specific heel plate with spikes that seem to aid in downhill travel
  • Comfortable and hardly noticeable with solid traction
  • Great stability in forward and lateral movement, they didn’t roll to the side of the foot like I’ve experienced with other types

Cons:

  • Appeared to be a little extra balling of snow under foot. It cleared quickly and did not seem to affect performance at all.

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Scott Simmons
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