Winter Gear Modifications

The bikes are hung up, most of the trail shoes are put away, and the Wasatch has already had over 300” of snow.  We are off to a great ski season and everyone is hoping the big snow continue.

I am a self proclaimed gear-head and I am constantly looking for new gear and modifying the gear that I have so that it works exactly like I want (and frequently to avoid buying another piece of gear that would do the same thing).  With winter in full swing, I thought it was a good time to share my favorite gear modifications for winter which are my ‘screw shoes’ and ‘semi-split skins’. 

You can buy all kinds of winter running traction devices from Yak Traks to Micro Spikes to Ice Bug shoes.  All of these are great, but I don’t run that much on the trail in the winter so why spend the money on shoes/devices.  I got the screw shoe idea from Matt Carpenter’s web site.  Since I go through 5 or more pair of trail runners each year, I used a retired pair of Montrail Hardrocks as base shoe.  Adding anywhere from 12-18 1/8” (or as short as you can find) sheet metal screws to each shoe and using an electric drill with a socket bit, in just a few minutes you have a great pair of winter running shoes.

Part of being a gear head is also always trying to shave a few ounces off my gear.  The old adage is that you shouldn’t spent a ton of money on lighter gear when most people can shave far more ounces from their bodies.  I don’t have too many ounces to spare so I look towards my gear.

When Black Diamond came out with the Split Skins, I thought they were a great item for my Voile Drifters.  My calculations determined they would save me 8 ounces over traditional skins.  The problem with these skins is that you now have a strip of slippery nylon under your foot.  When you get on a hard skin track, the nylon causes a lot of slippage.  To counter this, I sewed a small strip of skin under the mid section of the skin to provide a little additional traction.  I have not weighted the difference, but my estimate is that this only added 3 ounces to the skins so I still have a 5 ounce savings.  Thanks to Mark at Voile, I was able to stitch the skin strips on with their machine rather than hand sew them with a sewing awl.

As I mentioned, we are well underway to a great ski season.  Check out Matt Hart’s You Tube Video of one of our ski days and Andy’s show of perfect powder.