Stay glued to the path this winter with the Vargo Titanium Pocket Cleats. If you enjoy winter as much as we do, why let your pace slip? As off-road runners, we’ve been fighting with many different variations of winter traction, and we haven’t found anything that truly passes the test. The idea of spending more money on new cleats seemed redundant, let alone a waste of cash. When we saw the introduction of the Titanium Pocket Cleats by Vargo, we were thrilled and knew we had to test these puppies out. Two weeks later, we received a set from Vargo and we were ready to hit the trail.
There are many traction products focused on winter running. We can’t say that we’ve tested them all, but the basic denominator is that they must have great traction. The Vargo Titanium cleats are comprised of three parts. First is the cleat section. These are made from three individual pieces of titanium that contain 8 gnarly spikes (6 at the ball of the foot, and two situated near the mid-sole). Second, the two arms are secured to the main body with a metal locking screw that allows for compact easy folding storage when not in use. Third, the Titanium Pocket Cleats attach to your shoes via three nylon straps and two d-flex acetal clasps. We are impressed with the fabrication, quality, fit, and finish along with the handy carrying case. Our initial impressions gets full marks. We did initially ponder about the placement of the spikes, but we were eager to strap these titanium pockets cleats on.
With the weather finally cooperating, we were able to dig in. To set up the Titanium Pocket Cleats we watched the instructional video as recommended by the folks at Vargo, that took a bit more time than we would have liked. We wanted to make sure everything was correctly fitted or they might not perform to the best of their ability. It’s nice to see Vargo recommends taking the time to set them, however, this can be a little bit of a hassle. It took us about an hour to make sure it was done correctly. Once installed, we were pumped to get running.
Getting to the path is about a 2 minute jaunt on cement sidewalks and multiply snow covered fields. On the cement, the cleats had a hovering sensation (sorry no hover board tech here), making each step feel a little unstable, which is totally expected from a cleat. No cleat is designed for cement, but inevitably you need to get from point A to point B. Once on the snow covered grass, they immediately dug in. When transitioning from snow to cement back to snow, the cleats front toe strap managed to work itself off several times leaving us a little disappointed. As we continued to test them we found that they are less than ideal on the cement, but can you blame them? After all, cleats are designed for ice and snow, and not cement. I still need to figure this dilemma out.
After the less than ideal path taken (we suggest only attaching them once you’ve arrived at your desired location), we finally were on our favorite snow covered trail. Our route, a 7 km jaunt through single track trails, consists of a variety of steep descents, off-camber single tracks, flat paths, and finished off with a couple of challenging climbs. Heading down the path, the cleats dug into the hard packed snow like it was nothing. We hit the first icy portion on an off-camber single track that borders on a small cliff, and once again the cleats performed very well. After performing on the flat packed sections, we came upon one of the many challenges, a steep icy downhill. The path was a combination of ice and snow, and was damn slippery. The cleats once again, with their aggressive tread, gripped like no other cleat we’ve ever owned. While on the decent the cleat did shift backward with the force, but they passed with flying colors.
After a few flat, uneven, and loose snowy covered sections, which they handled with ease, the true test was up next. I started to climb the hill portion of the path, to be honest we had our doubts because of the two strap design, but it proved us wrong. The accent on the hill was handled with ease as the cleats grabbed with each step. Once at the top, one of the cleats front straps popped off our toe. It was an easy fix, but a bit of a pain none the less. Once tightened up we were on our way back to home base.
– Excellent grip
– Finicky set up
– Occasional loosened up and slipped off shoe
Overall I was super stoked on how the cleats performed in almost all conditions. When called upon during super icy conditions they gave us the confidence unlike any other system we’ve tried. Vargo has done a stellar job on the Titanium Pocket Cleats utilizing the full strength and lightness of Titanium metal to their advantage. Although light and nimble, there were a few downsides to the cleats such as lengthy and finicky setup and occasionally loosening and falling off. Thanks again to Vargo for sending us a pair to test out, it’s innovative products like these that will keep us following Vargo for many years to come.