Snow Socks vs. Snow Chains: Which are Better?

snow capped mountain with road

You might be thinking about picking up a set of snow chains or snow socks to keep your vehicle on the road this winter. While snow chains have been around for decades, snow socks have become increasingly popular in recent years. But what’s the difference between these two contraptions? And is one better than the other? Here, we’ll be pitting snow socks and snow chains to decide which is the best.

snowy roads warning sign

Snow Socks: Pro’s and Con’s

Thinking about trying something new and buying a set of snow socks? These relatively new devices are made from polyester fibers and are becoming more popular with snowed-in drivers as they look for an alternative to standard snow chains.

Pro’s

  • Snow socks are an inexpensive alternative to snow chains. A top of the range set of snow socks will set you back around $80 to $90. Generally, snow socks are cheaper than snow chains. 
  • Snow socks are popular as they tend to be much easier to install than snow chains. They come with an elasticated rim, which stretches over your tire. Then just move forward a couple of feet to fit the sock on the rest of the wheel. This reduces the amount of time you’ll out in the elements fiddling with your tires. 
  • As most snow socks feature no raised metal parts, you won’t cause any damage to your driveway or the road while driving.
  • Snow socks work great on low profile tires and vehicles with low clearance, as they require very little space and won’t damage your wheel arches.
  • Snow socks are made out of a polyester fiber, which absorbs water off the road surface and improves traction. Snow socks work especially well on vehicles with anti-lock braking systems.
  • In some areas, snow chains are illegal. As snow socks are unlikely to damage the road, they often don’t fall under the same regulations. If you’re unsure, contact your local authorities to check.
  • Most snow socks are machine washable, making them easy to clean and maintain. 
  • Foldable and easy to store in your car’s trunk or under a seat.

Con’s

  • As snow socks are made of textiles rather than metal, they tend to rip and wear away quicker than their metal counterparts.
  • Snow socks severely limit your speed on the road. Most snow socks recommend you drive between 20 and 30mph. 
  • One of the biggest negatives of snow socks is their effectiveness on ice. Snow socks will only improve traction slightly on ice, much less so than snow chains.
  • Against snow chains, snow socks generally provide less grip on snow and ice.
  • Snow socks tend only to be for use on smaller vehicles like cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks. If you have an oversized vehicle, you’re better off purchasing snow chains instead. 

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Snow Chains: Pro’s and Con’s

Pro’s

  • While snow socks are generally cheaper than snow chains, there isn’t much price difference, and some snow chains are actually less expensive. For example, a high-quality set of Peerless snow chains costs around $80.
  • Snow chains come in a range of designs useful for different vehicles. Snow chains made of cables are better for vehicles with low clearance, while chains with a diamond ladder work best with traction control. 
  • Due to their metal construction, snow chains are longer lasting than snow socks.
  • Snow chains generally have superior traction to snow socks.
  • If you’re driving in deep snow, there isn’t anything better than snow chains. Not only are snow chains better in deep snow than snow socks, but they also generally work better than winter tires. 
  • Snow chains are a superior braking distance to snow socks, especially on ice.
  • Snow chains are proven to work on all vehicles, including oversized trucks.

Con’s

  • Snow chains are more difficult to install than snow socks. If not stored correctly, snow chains can get tangled, which can be frustrating to fix in the middle of a blizzard.
  • If you don’t have enough clearance between your tire and your wheel arch when using snow chains, you could cause significant damage to your vehicle.
  • The links on snow chains are prone to breaking, which could damage your car and render the chains ineffective.
  • You’ll have to take off your snow chains whenever you’re driving on a gritted road with little to no snow. Driving on these surfaces with snow chains could damage the road, your snow chains, and your car.

Overall

So, are snow socks better than snow chains? If you’re driving on very little snow, and you’re worried about potentially damaging your car, you’re best off buying a set of snow socks. At the same time, anybody who lives in an area that experiences heavy snowfall should go with snow chains. 

Snow socks don’t provide much traction on ice or in deep snow. While snow chains can be tricky to install, it’s worth it not to get stuck in the snow. Before the start of winter, practice putting on and taking off your snow chains, so you can avoid any surprises while you’re out on the road. 

If you’re looking for superior traction, pick snow chains. If you’re looking for convenience and you’re concerned about damaging your vehicle, pick snow socks. 

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