How to Make Your Own Shoe Ice Cleats


Mother Nature doesn't have to throw a wrench in your running routine. For right around $4, according to Coach Jenny Hadfield in a December 2009 issue of Runner's World, you can turn the shoes you already have into winter-ready trainers that will improve your grip when the trails and roads turn icy or snowy.

Do-It-Yourself Shoe Ice Cleats

Evaluate your shoes. Because this technique involves lodging screws into the sole of your shoes, you'll have a trickier time doing so if the sole is overly flimsy. Plus, Jenny Goelinitz in Running Times Magazine's web-only edition reports, some soles don't accommodate screws well because of their tread patterns, and once the shoe has been transformed for the winter, there is no going back; it must be dedicated to winter running.

Select the right screws. Hadfield reports one of the benefits of the home-made ice cleat is you can go to the hardware store and pick up all you need (as opposed to store-bought items that essentially do the same thing and cost $20 and up). But you can't buy just any screw. Ultrarunner Matt Carpenter of suggests sheet metal screws that are either a 1/4-inch, 1/2-inch or 3/8-inch in length. Pick shorter screws for flimsier soles.

Apply the screws. Using a cordless drill, embed the screws into your shoe--and this is the most important part--with the pointy side of the screw going into the sole first. You'll want to have the flat head of the screw exposed, because it's the head that gives your shoes traction, according to Carpenter.

Drill until the head of the screw just touches the rubber sole. You don't want to make the screws too tight, according to Carpenter. If you tighten the screws too much, the head of the screw may not be exposed enough on your sole to adequately make contact with the ground and, in turn, provide the traction you need.

Put each screw on the raised portion of the sole. Applying screws to the smooth areas of the sole is pointless, because the head of the screw wouldn't be able to touch the ground as you ran, so it would be like you didn't have extra support on your shoe.

Repeat. Carpenter reports there is no set number of screws required to make ice cleats. He does mention runners using 16 to 19 screws. But the most important thing is to make sure you have all parts of the shoe covered (including the heel) on the tread or raised portion of the shoe.