The Vargo Titanium Pocket Cleats are a new ultra light solution for winter traction. They are the perfect gear to enhance any winter hike or run on snow and ice.
I do a fair amount of mountainous winter hiking and running, so when I was offered the chance to review the Pocket Cleats, I couldn’t wait to get them on the trails. The cleats are made of a titanium alloy, high strength nylon webbing, and Duraflex fastener clips. A pair weighs less than 4oz., which blows most of the competition out of the water. All in all, a very simple and light product that promises lots of durability.
When the cleats arrived I had to do a little research on how exactly to adjust and attach them. They did not come with directions, however, Vargo has made a great ‘how to’ video for customers to ensure their product is used correctly. I have to admit the first time I tried the adjustments and took the cleats for a run, they did not stay put. The toe clip slid off and the whole cleat came loose. This prompted a conversation with Vargo to determine if the cleats were either the wrong size or adjusted incorrectly. Turns out, they were adjusted incorrectly.
Here are a few must-do’s for correct adjustment:
- Make sure cleat plate is under the center foot at the most narrow part of the sole
- When adjusting the side plates (the square metal pieces on the straps that say L or R), make sure these are no more than a 1/4″ from the bottom of the shoe. They should be on top of the base of the sole and coming into/under the arch of the foot on the inside, and not rounding the top of the foot on the outside. It’s very important to get these plates adjusted correctly as they provide a lot of stability and security for the whole unit
- Vargo clearly states ‘Pocket Cleats™ will not fit or work well with shoes that have extra-thick soles (“Fat Shoes”) or shoes with a non-hourglass shape’.
Honestly, the setup does take a little bit of time to adjust the straps to ensure the cleats sits correctly on the foot, but after the initial adjustments, they are easy to clip on and go, clip off and store.
Second round out on the trails I found a lot of ice and slick snowpack that were perfect for testing these bear claw-looking spikes. Heading up the trail I found the cleats to be extremely comfortable. I’ve tried other tracks that make my toes go numb because of the tight fit needed for the unit to stay in place. The Pocket Cleats clip over the top of the mid-foot and across the top of the toes. All I could feel was bit of pressure across the toes where the buckle lay, but no toe mashing. I was also worried that I might feel the pressure from the individual giant spikes while running. However, the design of the unit with the swinging arms and solid midsole plate create a very sturdy base that seems to disperse weight appropriately.
My Pocket Cleats had no trouble at all sinking their teeth into the ice that was the trail. It felt like walking on dry ground. There was that kind of solid traction both up and downhill. In other winter traction brands, I’ve found the wire and chain versions to be fairly useless on sheer ice. Needless to say, I was very impressed to walk so easily in these. I really liked how light and agile these cleats are.
To make it easy to take them anywhere, Pocket Cleats nest into their own carrying case. They will fit in any backpack pocket, hiking pants or jacket pocket, or even in hydration packs. I like that they have their own carrying case, but do wish the zipper was horizontal, not vertical, in order to repack the cleats more easily.
Pocket Cleats can be purchased on the Vargo website, and they come in three sizes: small, medium, & large, so men and women of all shoe sizes can take advantage of the gripping power of the Pocket Cleats.
I highly recommend the Vargo Pocket Cleats. They are compact, light, and work extremely well to keep you moving forward on any snowy icy terrain.