With winter approaching, I'm considering stocking up on some winter accessories for my 2020 Forester for the times I will be driving up the local mountains to go skiing. In general I am a conservative driver, and if the local mountains are being dumped on I'll stay at home. However, with mountains being mountains, I know that anything can happen while I am out and about.
I understand that snow chains are not recommended for AWD vehicles1 . But I have recently become aware of snow socks which seem to be OK for use an AWD vehicles. However, I am not sure how much value2,3 they supply, and whether they are deemed as a suitable replacement for chains by my DOT (New Mexico).
Currently I have fairly new Michelin Defender 2s on my Forester, which I know don't have the best rating for driving in snow. I am also not going to be buying snow tires, as given where I am (where there is typically only snow in the mountains) and the amount of driving I do in the snow they wouldn't make a good investment for me.
So how much benefit could I see from Snow Socks? And are they deemed a legal replacement for chains (when chains are mandated regardless of vehicle type)?
I am not 100% sure why chains are not recommended for AWD if they are applied to all 4 wheels. However, I have seen comments referring to physical clearance of chains with respect to an Outback.
I saw a comment elsewhere that said snow socks don't make for safe driving in snow, just slightly safer driving in snow.
I've also seen comments that suggest driving snow socks when not on snow can easily damage them.
FWIW I found a random YouTuber who has tested both snow chains and snow socks in actual snow, and in a previous video, tested various types of snow chains. I found his videos to both informative and amusing, but they don't quite answer my questions.
And from my Forester's owner's manual
Tire chains cannot be used on your vehicle because of the lack of clearance between the tires and the vehicle body.
When tire chains cannot be used, use of another type of traction device (such as spring chains) may be acceptable if use on your vehicle is recommended by the device manufacturer, taking into account tire size and road conditions.