Gear Review -- La Sportiva A.T. Grip Hobnail Kit

The Gear Junkie: La Sportiva A.T. Grip Hobnail Kit
By STEPHEN REGENOLD

The entire city was an ice rink. A half-foot of new snow, followed by a freak warm spell with meltwater running on the sidewalks — then a refreeze — had swirled in to create the worst conditions imaginable for running outdoors.

But La Sportiva, an Italian company known for its boots and climbing shoes, had a solution. A new product, the A.T. Grip Hobnail kit, allows runners to add industrial-strength traction to their soles via the application of 20 screw-in spikes.

For the sake of this column, over three days, I ran about 25 miles on mostly glare ice. My dog, tethered on a leash at my side, slipped and crashed a dozen times. I fell down not once.

La Sportiva Hobnail Kit small.jpg

La Sportiva A.T. Grip Hobnail Kit

The $40 A.T. Grip kit (www.lasportiva.com) comes with its namesake hobnail spikes and a tool to screw them into rubber lugs underfoot. Large, razor-edge threads cut in and sank into the lugs on the sole of my test shoe, the La Sportiva Ultranord.

Once in place, the hobnails poke out less than a quarter-inch. But arrange the spike pattern right — I put a couple points up front, four on the midfoot, and three further back — and you can create a shoe that will rarely slip, even on glaze ice.

For my first attempt, I placed five hobnails on each foot, but traction was only just adequate. At home, I used up the remaining spikes, applying 10 hobnails to each shoe.

The setup was not slip-proof. I did slide and readjust for balance several times on the glare sidewalks around my home. But, as stated, I never crashed. The hobnail kit did its job of keeping me upright.

On pavement, the spikes crunch and grind. They will dull slightly after some use. A bit of cement is fine in between snow and ice, though they are not made for year-round use. La Sportiva includes its screwdriver tool so you can apply and remove the spikes as conditions demand.

La Sportiva Hobnails.jpg

The A.T. Grip Hobnails cost $18 without the tool

Be careful before putting the spikes in place. The hobnails are made to work on shoes with fairly thick soles and tread lugs. They could screw straight through the sole if you’re not watching. This potential scenario made my favorite trail runners, a thin-sole Inov-8 model, not candidate for the spike add-ons.

But with the Ultranords, which are a mid-weight, waterproof trail shoe, the hobnail kit did not disappoint.

For me, with this kit and the right clothing, cold temps and icy sidewalks no longer matter. Now, step aside and shut the door when I leave. I’m heading out for a run.

Stephen Regenold writes a daily blog on outdoors gear at www.gearjunkie.com.

Posted by Stu Marks - 01/16/2009 09:56 AM

The hob nails are a great idea and hats off to TheGearJunkie for letting them out. We are under a severe winter weather watch in Chicago (-17F at O’Hare International right now) and that means that whatever presip’ fell a few days ago is still lying around. By now, everything is packed ice one way or another. So, whether one is attempting some outdoor sports or just walking out to the garage, good traction on the ice might keep us from traction in the hospital.
stu at www.Adventure-Crew.com

Posted by Brock Foreman - 01/16/2009 10:19 AM

Those look cool, especially for trails. Here on the icy sidewalks and road shoulders of subzero, suburban Maine, I’ve logged about a hundred miles DueNorth’s grip straps. Six tiny carbide bits show almost no wear. Perfect for road running. Not quite as grippy as Yaktrax’s coil system, especially on snow, and they need a better toe strap. But much less road noise…click, click, click, click.

Posted by mcarl99 - 01/16/2009 10:30 AM

Sounds to me this would be the same as obtaining a short, wide threaded sheet metal screw from the hardware store. Cost: less than .50 cents. Hey, does anyone want to buy my new ice spike kit… only $10 bucks, I’ll even throw in a philips screwdriver.

Posted by Martin - 01/16/2009 11:08 AM

This is a neat add-on, but to add to mcarl99’s post ScrewShoes These work well and cost is minimal

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