The bottom line:
- I run in most situations in my double soled primal mocs. This includes in well crystalized snow up and down on moderately packed snow. More on this later.
- When I absolutely need additional, I now use Stableicers Lite. Why? Because they are the only traction device I've found that doesn't constrict my foot through the minimalist footwear. I use velcro straps over the top to help hold them on (they slip off otherwise).
Here's more details:
R and D with a solo moccasin maker in the Christmas season slows way down because he's filling Christmas orders! We're working on a possible wire and leather traction solution, but it remains in the pre-prototype stage for being too successful. Grin. Shameless plug: Chuck is great to work with and I highly recommend him if you are ready for a fantastic, quality, custom sized primal moc you can resole and will last forever. Connect with him at Mountain People Footwear.
I much prefer the leather sole to a rubber one (like Vibram's Cherry). Why? With proper primal running technique traction equals rubber soled shoes, yet is warmer, provides better ground feel, and allows the exchange of energy with the earth. Exchange of energy with the Earth? Isn't that a bit wacko? Possibly. But I experience it. I feel much more energized running with leather sole on any surface, but particularly on trails. The closest thing to a "scientific" explanation is that running barefoot or with leather allows for the exchange of energy/electrons with the earth, in which we release waste energy through the soles of our feet and receive renewed energy from the earth. I've tried multiple testing of this and, whatever the explanation, I simply feel better running with a leather sole.
Winter is hard on leather soles. Replenish them with Obenauf's Heavy Duty LP.
Snow type does make a difference. Like any shift in terrain, the type and temperature of the snow we run on makes a difference in terms of how we interact with it. As any skier using waxed skis knows, there are different waxes for different types and temperatures of snow. For leather soled folk, the wetter (ie, warmer) the snow, the less friction it has. Snow is slippery when wet. Increased traction is required on wet snow. On well crystalized snow (ie, temps 25F and below), I've found very few circumstances requiring additional traction (again using proper primal techniques (as a refresher: primal is the style/technique/experience of running or walking either barefoot or minimalist).
Running a winding, rocky trail downhill in primal footwear is mind altering delight. The concept/ technique for it is this: small, rapid steps that take you on the edge of the traction/friction equation. In essence, you run as close to the point of slipping as you can, but because your feet are moving so fast you have a LOT of traction when and as you need it. It's amazing how our feet and legs are made for this (the same is true of any steep/rocky terrain) -- our mind only has to decide the track of our travel, our feet and reflexes take care of the rest (I suspect this requires a lot of time learning the technique and building up the right muscle groups, but Wow! is it a fun payoff!). So, while the Stableicers are functional, and at this point the best I've found, they greatly hinder primal running an so the search continues. Hopefully our own research for a primal moc traction device will yield some results.