We liked this products versatility and that it brings elements from extreme winter gear into everyday lifestyle use.
Yaktrax Run is the first-of-its-kind winter traction product designed specifically for runners. It fits over running shoes, giving added control and confidence on snow and ice. The asymmetrical shape is designed to match the contours of the foot, just like high-end running shoes. The combination of flexible coils and stainless steel spikes provides excellent traction in a variety winter environments. Yaktrax Run includes patent-pending swappable spike pods, a fast and simple way to adjust the spike length for different conditions. And the open, intuitive shape is easier to put on and fits better on the shoe.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
Yaktrax makes traction products for walking and running in slippery winter conditions, like ice and snow. Facing aggressive competitors eating into their market share, and an important patent about to expire, they needed protectable product innovation to stay ahead. Yaktrax asked us to investigate winter traction users and how they use the products, and identify new opportunities. When our research and design team identified winter runners as an under-served category, we were tasked with developing the perfect traction product for running in ice and snow.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
Through user forums and observational research with users of various skills and ages, the design/research team discovered several shortcomings in today’s traction products. Users complained that aggressive spikes made walking in urban environments awkward. Runners complained of discomfort and foot fatigue caused by bulky products. All traction products were difficult to put on and looked bland and utilitarian. The team also discovered an important user segment whose needs were largely ignored: winter runners. The perfect traction product for runners would have to: - Provide excellent traction performance in a variety of conditions. - Be ergonomically optimized to be comfortable and minimize foot fatigue. - Fit securely onto various styles of running shoes and stay in place through long runs. - Look the part.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
The design/research team traveled to Minneapolis, MN to conduct user forums and observational research. They talked to users and non-users of traction products in various categories, including elderly, runners, dog walkers, hikers, and hunters. The team observed the users walking and jogging on glare ice, packed snow, and icy parking lots. They learned how and why the products were used, and identified shortcomings, pain points, and un-met needs in today’s products. During the design process, round after round of die-cut forms and shapes were tested to perfect the fit and function of the design. The designers sought an asymmetrical, ergonomic design that would fit securely onto the shoe and feel natural under-foot. Refined prototypes were sent to avid endurance runners in Utah, Colorado, Michigan and Pennsylvania to test in extreme winter conditions. Testers used a training diary to record their feedback and insights during use. Products were tested to failure to identify potential durability issues. Their feedback helped to validate the design concepts, and informed the refinement process.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
Yaktrax Run is the first traction product designed specifically for runners. With this product, runners can continue to train and compete in winter months with safety, comfort, and confidence. They can access more terrain, and explore further. - The design is asymmetrical and ergonomic, matching the contours of the foot, to minimize foot fatigue and increase traction performance. - The unique combination of steel coils for packed snow, and removable spikes for ice provides traction in various winter running conditions. - The design team developed patent-pending swappable spike pods, a fast and simple way to change the spike length for different conditions. Each product includes a set of pods with short spikes (for urban environments) and another set with longer spikes (for off-road trails), so users can choose the best traction for their activity. Because all of the spikes are contained in one pod they can be swapped quickly. - The open, intuitive shape is easier to put on and fits better on the shoe. - New branding created by the team is co-molded into the elastomer for clear visibility - The dynamic, sculpted design stands out from the pack - The product features reflective elements for safe running after dark - Extensive user testing with prototypes in the mountains of Colorado and the streets of Minneapolis confirmed the durability and long-term comfort Yaktrax Run quickly earned placement in major outdoor retailers like Dick’s and REI, earning raving reviews from winter runners everywhere.