B.C. approves the use of ‘snow socks’ for truckers

DENVER, Col. – As of this past September, a new tire traction device has been approved for use on B.C.’s highways, permitting truckers to slip on some ‘snow socks’ to get through those icy, snow-covered roads.

One of the producers of this alternative to chains is AutoSock, a privately owned Norwegian research company that was established in 1998 and had its textile-based tire traction product approved by the TUV (Germany’s Technical Inspection Association) in 2001.

Chuck McGee, AutoSock’s president of U.S. distribution, said the need for something other than chains came about due to technological advancements in vehicles, such as ABS brakes and various traction control systems.

“We decided that there was an opportunity to use it (AutoSock) for trucks also because they have some of the same issues,” McGee said of the technological similarities between cars and transport trucks.

McGee said AutoSock had to prove that its product was able to garner as much if not better traction than chains, both for starting and stopping, as well as lateral control.

“You have a product that has constant road contact, so you’ve always got something on the road that is going to give the trucker traction,” he said, “whereas a chain, you have a link that hits the road, then you have a blank space.”

Jamie Hagen, a trucker based in Aberdeen, S.D., who pulls a food-grade tanker for Cliff Viessman Inc. in the Midwest and West of the U.S. and most of Canada, said he’s been using AutoSock for five winters now and couldn’t be more satisfied with the product.

“In my personal experience, I believe they are better than chains for grip on the highway,” Hagen said. “My (experience) is from the many times I’ve been on extremely slippery road conditions where chain users seem to be having troubles climbing the grade, and I had zero issues.”

Hagen said that in addition to AutoSock’s performance, their ease of use was very beneficial, but did point out that if there was a disadvantage to the new technology, it was that chains had more of an ability to dig, and could therefore better pull a truck out of a sinking or stuck situation than could an AutoSock.

McGee echoed AutoSock’s ease of use, saying a pair of chains takes around 45 minutes to install, while AutoSock takes just a few minutes.

“That’s a big deal for truckers,” he said, adding that a driver had recently been killed in Colorado while mounting tire chains when a car slid into him. “(AutoSock) creates a lot less exposure on the road. You just put them on and you’re ready to go.”

McGee said AutoSock is probably the most tested traction product on the market, and that one of its key features was that it worked with a vehicle’s traction control systems, while when drivers employ the use of chains, they are advised to disable ‘one of the better technologies out there.’

McGee said the maximum speed truckers can drive while using AutoSock was 20 miles per hour, or 32 km/hr, which he admitted was slower than the recommended maximum of 30 miles per hour when using chains.

As for the product’s longevity, McGee said one of the requirements from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) was that AutoSock stand up to use on dry pavement for 100 miles driving at the maximum recommended speed, which they did.

Thus far, McGee said AutoSock has sold about 2.5 million units worldwide, and that with more and more states allowing for their usage (in addition to the U.S. Postal Service), Canadian provinces, like B.C., were starting to take a look due to the ‘snow sock’s’ light weight, ease of use, effectiveness and compatibility with electronic control systems.

“One of the comments we had when we were working with CDOT,” McGee said, “one of their engineers said that if AutoSock had been invented before tire chains were invented, no one would even consider using a tire chain because (AutoSock) offers so many features that aren’t available on a chain.”

AutoSock will be distributed in B.C. through Fleet Brake, JPW Road and Bridge and Shift Products. For trucks, AutoSock ranges in price from $199USD to $226USD.

AutoSock (snow socks) for trucks.
AutoSock (snow socks) for trucks.

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A university graduate with a degree in English, I have worked in the media and trucking industries as a writer, editor, and now as western bureau chief of Today's Trucking and TruckNews.com. I have several years of management experience in journalism, as well as hospitality, but am first and foremost a writer, both professionally and in my personal life, having completed two fiction novels.

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  • 45 minutes to throw just one set of chains on????
    When I was hauling logs in steep country off Hwy we were putting chains on a couple times every trip because of altitude variations.
    When we were loaded we had to throw two sets on the trailer too.
    Two sets on the truck and two sets on the trailer took 20/30 minutes. We got good at it. lol. I can see this working okay on slippery roads but in deep snow they may not do so well.

    Anything that helps those highway drivers even a little bit is a good thing. They might even put these things on. lol.

  • Lol putting on a set of triples takes 5 to 7 minutes. How slow are u or what attitude do u have that it takes 45 minutes?

  • I don’t know I been on the hiway 15years I know there’s men and woman with more experience then me but I don’t think I would feel safe with that tire sock I have seen manny things happen on the mountain s fast things chang fast I have to say I would still run my chains even running a simple light load or a reg tandem load at 80 gross lb chains lock and grip tires so nice i feel safer with chains u couldn’t pay me to use that tire sock it’s not about getting it on your tire fast it’s about going home to your family after your trip

  • People don’t like change so why should we try something new. I think it’s great it will help people . But I still think you should carry a set of chains for back up.

  • I seem to remember super triples taking 5-10 minutes to install on loggers. We forwarded wood to a pit just out if the bush so had to take them off for pavement then reinstall them. Five trips a day…take them off and put them back on each trip…45 minutes??..puleeze!!!

  • How many chaining up/off sprain and strain injuries would be prevented by using this? And how much damage to fenders, flaps etc.. will be avoided from chains coming loose or off? You old timers who complain that people who can’t chain up need to quit driving need to own a trucking business and see it from the safety and cost perspective before you spout off and reveal how outdated your mindsets are. It’s about creating efficiencies and continuously improving. You’re either on board with that mentality or you very quickly become a dinosaur -extinct.

    • Hey regular guy. Like your name says your just that a REGULAR GUY. how about leaving the trucking and the chaining up to us not so regular guys. Go back to your desk. And push a few pencils.

      • Lol I love it new gen tends to be lazy do t wanna get those hands dirty , “all i have to do is drive right ”
        I’d chain my car or truck before putting socks on it no matter how long it took me obviously Regular Guy is a city boy lol

      • You get som old skipper
        s burnd oui agree with regular guy im 62 years old and i have twn trucks currently hauling through the rockies in bc and im after saving damage injuries and aswell also wear and tear on truck i agree that these would be ceap in mud ..so do not use in mud!!! If ur using on simple hwy the do work ive seen it and would never go back to tire chains for hwy driving

  • Having viewed “the sock” where do you get the TRACTION/GRIP from? Your “sock” may prevent splashing the vehicles passing you, but as I said, where do you get the TRACTION/GRIP when you really need it? I personally do not see any advantage if driving on level roadways from here to Texas, but the MOUNTAINS! You NEED CHAINS!

    • Have you tried it? been driving for 30 years and not afraid of change would love to try them and untill I do I won’t give a opinion. Unlike super truckers.

    • I drive the Canadian Rockies and have spent a few years in the oil patch and another few years logging.I’d like to know what they are made of and see the traction pattern. This pic doesn’t promote it very well. I know that triples have worked for a long time and saved my bacon over and over again,simple and to the point, I don’t believe they will work with b-train or trucks pulling jeeps or waggons ( quad type dump trailers and roll-off)……. Snow gets deep use those to get to a safe place to shut down,in my opinion.

      • They stick!! They stick and are light weight!! Ive drove the bc alberta run my whole life and i would have to say tgat these ate the cats arse

  • i have read all these comments on here. being afraid of new technology is just ignorant . I would love to be present when these drivers say they can put a set of chains on in 5/10 minutes that is about I minute per wheel when full chain up is required , IMPOSSIBLE . I am retired now with over 4 million miles under my belt and ran the rockies just about every trip west and could not chain up in that amount of time .lets see one of them post a video being timed doing it.

  • It still never ceases to amaze me how the internet has become a bitch session or the Online Jerry Springer Show for most people. This was supposed to be a comment section about the actual product not a shit slinging session in the school yard. Grow up! The product is interesting and might have a practical use in some highway situations but just can’t see it being a replacement for a good set of chains. Would be nice to see them in action and get a little more explanation on how and why they work.

  • After this same discussion one night in a truckstop, I was timed twice. Two sets of triples (4 chains) in under nine minutes. That feat was timed on two different occasions. Of course, my chains are hung up straight, with all hooks in their proper place. I haul heavy equipment on bush roads in the mountains of BC. I will leave the “snow socks” to the highway haulers that carry their chains in a bag.

    • 16 years driving pulling supers, in the patch, long haul in the mountains, etc….over 2 million miles now.

      When I’ve been chaining regularly, it’s easy to throw both sets of triples on in under 10 minutes with one drag chain on my trailer.

      My current out of practice and honestly lazy “do it right not fast” attitude that same job takes me 30 minutes tops…..

      when it takes me longer, it is ALWAYS because the last guy to use my truck hung the friggin things up in a tangled mess!! Then add anywhere from 15-60 minutes to de-tangle each chain…..

  • Did you whiners even read the article???
    It says right there that they work for HIGHWAY use.

    “In my personal experience, I believe they are better than chains for grip on the highway,” Hagen said. “My (experience) is from the many times I’ve been on extremely slippery road conditions where chain users seem to be having troubles climbing the grade, and I had zero issues.”

    And… chains have better ability to dig. They’re not for forestry roads!

    “Hagen said that in addition to AutoSock’s performance, their ease of use was very beneficial, but did point out that if there was a disadvantage to the new technology, it was that chains had more of an ability to dig, and could therefore better pull a truck out of a sinking or stuck situation than could an AutoSock.”

    Geez you guys!

  • I have been using these auto socks for the past 3 years. I was a total skeptic until i had to come out of a local sawmill that has a 9% hill for at least 3 km. I only had one set on and all i had locked in was my power divider. The hill was compact snow with very minimal sand. I was very amazed at the traction i had for just one set and with out full lockers. When i arrived at the pulp mill i scaled in at 61,580kg. I also have a set of factory stretched beetle kill tycrops. They impressed me enough to purchase another set, Thanks guys for reading my experience with these auto socks.

  • I am very curious on how these work for someone who has an injury or difficulty throwing chains. Yes granted with two good hands you could probably throw one set of triples in 20 minutes. I know someone who almost lost his left arm, now has limited use of that hand and for him to throw a set of singles takes him 45 minutes. If these can save him time because they are easier, and weigh less then I really hope they do work. He was told he wouldn’t do a lot of things in his life, including driving truck, but instead of sitting at home in self pity he’s back doing it over the highway to hell in BC!

  • Cats ass hard to get ahold to because of allot of you guts talking down to something u have no clue about yes try them..if ur stuck in your ways o well ur problem cheaper lighter more eficiant and less wear and tear

  • Like many of yous, I been everywhere from mining , loging roads with heavy haul and all highways north of Mexico. Triples have always been my go to traction support device of choice. I would be willing to try these on the smasher or kicking horse before expressibg dinosaur opinion. Maybe next winter.

  • Like many of yous, I been everywhere from mining , logging roads with heavy haul and most highways north of Mexico. Triples have always been my go to traction support device of choice. I would be willing to try these on the smasher or kicking horse before expressing dinosaur opinion. I do not feel worried about my manly, macho insecure ways (don’t care) Maybe next winter i get to embrace the latest traction technology.

  • I’d like to see a video of a stopped truck on smasher pull that grade, up and down at night with a covered road surface. If they are that good, I’d then buy.

  • To see how useless a tire sox was on a mountain highway with heavy snow watch the tv series Highway Thru Hell Season 5 Ep 2. The show is filmed in BC & Alberta, Canada. Main filming is done on the Coquihalla Highway during winter. A tow truck had to pull it up a hill.

  • I’ll cover a whole lot of you naysayers in one post… I have em, I use em, I love em…. And I have 25 YEARS of on and off road experience…. Note the following examples…

    The Smasher (Coquihalla hwy) 2 times last year, once with a tri axle trailer, 54,000 on, white out, heavy wet and slick… No problem…. Once with b-train, total weight 90,000, 4 socks on front drive, 2 on rear drive (because apparently I can’t count and I forgot two at home) it was -20, about 6 inches have fallen and the Smasher was icy as hell, went up the hill no problem, I even have to come to a stop when the guy in front of me started to spin out on his chains… put it in gear drove around him went up the hill like nothing… 10 minutes to minutes to takeoff… Brilliant
    ( I am friends with a driver that hauls bulk liquid on B- trains and he uses these as well, doesn’t even carry chains anymore)

    I also use these on the Kootenay Pass last year with no issues. I would not recommended for mud logging applications, nor oil and gas….. but for working OTR I don’t think there is anything better. I do still carry one set of triples just in case I get in a situation where I have slightly sunk, as I have not tested that with these yet.

    And as far as the comments about using these because the person is too lazy to throw chains… I would Hazard a guess that every single one of you was told by your father or grandfather to work smarter not harder… I will gladly throw chains when required, but why work harder than you have to?.. at just over $200 a pair, this is the cheapest and best new technology to come to trucking since disc brakes

    • Thanks for a comment from someone who uses them and likes them. I am a 76 year old highway including mountain semi driver and chains are getting harder to put on each year and I just got 2 bags of sock chains and will look forward to slipping them on rather than regular chains. I am a slip seater ( different truck each week) so don’t want to have to inspect the chains every time I get in a different truck and I can carry my sock chains with me when I leave that truck.

  • All you super truckers out there talking about 5 minutes to chain up triples give me a break I’ve been on the road in the patch and the bush by the time you pull them out get them on and tightened your looking at fifteen minutes easy and occasionally they give you a hard time so add a few more minutes it’s not a race to show that your better or faster then someone else it’s about getting it done right so that safety is the priority

    • 7 minutes for a pair of triples.

      This is only possible when
      1) they were hung up properly
      2) I’m nor stuck and on flat ground
      3) you gotta put a bounce in your step

      Totally possible!

  • I tried a set of AutoSocks this winter; I own/operate a standard three-axle tractor pulling a 53′ tridem flatdeck trailer, and carry chains but thought I would try the socks for the hell of it. They are fast to put on, light, and definately have better traction than rubber on snow/ice. For many places in the USA where they make you chain for what seems like nothing more than wet pavement, they are nice because they go on fast, don’t wear my tires as much, and you can drive at higher speeds I found and they hold up just fine (plus if they fell off, much less likely to damage anything than a chain falling off). However, they failed me on the Kootenay Pass (8% grade at 46,000 kg) even with all drive axles done and full lockers. Chains got me up. I never bought another set once they wore out, as I like standard chains and have done it enough that they don’t bother me, but maybe a set for the trailer/steers for extra braking and steering would be nice. Plus, for many companies and new drivers who aren’t confident with chains they would be good (although maybe those drivers should just wait it out). For me, though, it was neat to try them and they have their place, but I’ll stick to chains. Plus, they cost more per pair than a good set of singles and almost as much as triples and don’t last as long.

  • I don’t drive the same vehicles as you all, lets just say the cargo is precious though. I’m on the old school chains side. I drive steep mountain decents, don’t feel confidence under braking at all. Perhaps a nature of the beast issue, in comparison my load is insignificant to most here, unless terrain is equivalent? To me that would limit queries to loggers. My main query is do loggers use the socks on haul roads? I last drove 110 km on them, babying them as well as I could to try save them. On one of their sites it claims not intended for braking apps and testing results are for acceleration? I don’t need faster, rather safer. Chaining up is no problem, seems the best choice for safety factor. Get to who is more important at the end of your day?

  • What about for us cow truckers in the Midwest of US? We often get caught out gross 85-90k and they close the interstate because of ice and the resulting carnage. We often can’t just park and wait. Problem is with the cargo walking and shifting constantly, the trailer has a tendency to want to slide to the ditch from the road crown. That is why we often are seen coming down the middle of the road until about to top a blind grade. An 1/8″ of ice is much more of a problem than 6 or 8″ of snow for me. How about a pair on front axle of spread trailer and a sock on each pair of duals on drives? Any on steer axle? 1000 bucks for socks is much less than cost of folding one up or laying it over-even at 10mph. Probably about what the hook would cost if you were very lucky and just slid wagon down in ditch . If it comes a big snow , screw it, I ain’t going that way, but a 1/2″ of ice just outa the blue at 4 am is a common thing.