Like modern metal cleats or grippers, bone or ivory ice cleats (also known as creepers or grippers) were worn on the bottoms of boots for better traction on slippery ice. Secured to the front end of a boot with a leather strap, bone or ivory cleats were used for a number of different outdoor winter activities requiring firm footing on icy surfaces. In Northern coastal areas, Alaska Native peoples used cleats while working on slick ramps where boats were launched, especially during the spring when the warm sun begins to melt the ice.
Today, a variety of metal cleats are available through retailers, marketed as gear to keep the wearer safe walking in the winter. Some of the better-known brands include IceTrekkers, Stabil, Yaktrax, Kahtoola, and Korkers. Heavy-duty and specialty versions of the original ice cleats, with more substantial metal spikes for digging into ice, are known as crampons, which are used in mountaineering and ice climbing.
St. Lawrence Island Yupik artist, Gift of Greg Quevillon, Anchorage Museum Collection, 1979.102.1ab
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