Useful non-photographic gear for photographers: ice cleats

Winter requires some special extra gear for photographers who venture out into the snow and ice.  Beyond the obvious (e.g., a good winter coat), there is one thing that photographers can use the most in some areas: ice cleats.

Why are ice cleats so useful, indeed necessary?  Because the treacherous terrain of winter requires something with extra grip on icy surfaces.  Where deep powder snow requires the use of snowshoes, the slick surface of ice in many places requires the use of ice cleats.  They provide the kind of grip that even good winter boots just won’t give you on an icy surface.  You might be able to make do by waddling like a penguin across a short span of ice, but without the cleats you won’t be able to get far on, say, the uneven surface of the ice shelf on the shore of a large lake (e.g., the hills of the ice shelf on Lake Ontario this winter).  So they’ll save your body and your expensive gear from a nasty fall.  They’ve certainly saved me from man a nasty slip on uncertain terrain.

There are several different varieties of ice cleats on the market.  I’ve been using ones called Icers, but there others out there like Yaktrax and Stabilicers. Any would work, but I can’t recommend getting one of these types of ice cleats enough, and winter landscape photographers should definitely pick up a pair!


Useful non-photographic gear for photographers: ice cleatsBill Hornbostel

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