Best Microspikes for Hiking (Winter 2022)

Best Microspikes for Hiking (Winter 2022)

Traction is a result of the combination of the ground you’re walking on (think ice vs. sandpaper) in junction with the bottom of your shoe (think dress shoes or flats compared to hiking boots). For times when you are using boots with tread that maximizes traction but it’s not enough, you need to add something more to help keep you upright, especially in wintertime.

Those winter conditions like packed snow and ice can make walking tricky, and instead of pulling the good ol’ banana peel slip, consider purchasing some microspikes. Microspikes fall into the category of traction devices, which are products designed to provide additional traction in winter conditions. Other examples of traction devices are snowshoes and crampons, but we are going to cover the best microspikes for hiking here. These are best for nontechnical terrain (don’t go trying to hike a glacier) and every day use like walking around the neighborhood or going on a casual winter hike. We’ve picked designs that are easy to use and simple to get on and off using the attached heel loop.

5 of the Best Microspikes for Hiking

There are our picks for the best microspikes for winter hiking:

Product

Preferred
Use

Price

Kahtoola MICROspikes

Editor’s Choice

$$

Editor’s Choice

Black Diamond Access Spikes

Close 2nd Place

$$

Yaktrax Pro Traction System

Budget

$

Black Diamond Distance Spikes

For Running

$$$

Hillsound Trail Crampons

More Intense Conditions

$$

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Editor’s Choice – Kahtoola MICROspikes

Kahtoola is the go-to brand for microspikes for hiking, and we’ve chosen their MICROspikes® for our editor’s choice because of their well thought-out design and reasonable price. While they aren’t the cheapest on our list, they aren’t the most expensive either, and they offer the best of both worlds with quality and price. There are 12 stainless steel spikes that are strategically placed and ready to bite into snow and ice. The spikes are connected by welded stainless steel chains with a durable elastomer harness that retains its elasticity down to -22°F. The back tab helps for easy on and the pair includes a tote sack for easy storage and transportation.

Specifications

  • Stainless steel spikes and chains, elastomer harness
  • 12 points per foot at 3/8″
  • Weight per pair: 11oz (SM), 11.9oz (MD), 13.1oz (L), and 13.5oz (XL)
  • Warranty: 2 years limited
  • Good up to -22°F

Pros

  • 2 year warranty
  • Quality construction

Cons

  • On the heavier side when it comes to microspikes

Black Diamond Access Spikes

These Access Spikes from Black Diamond are a close second behind our editor’s choice, and meet similar quality requirements while still being a great price. They are also made of stainless steel spikes and chains, and actually have more spikes at 14 instead of 12. There’s an elastomer harness, heel webbing loop for easy on-and-off, and they fit most boots and hiking shoes. Although they have more points per foot and weigh less, they only have a 1 year warranty instead of 2, which can be a major consideration when purchasing microspikes.

Specifications

  • Stainless steel with elastomer harness
  • 14 points per foot
  • Weight per pair: 8.8oz
  • Warranty: 1 year

Pros

  • Quality construction
  • 14 points per foot

Cons

  • Lower warranty time

Yaktrax Pro Traction System

Yaktrax is another main name brand when it comes to traction devices, and there are many pros and cons of purchasing this pair over some of our other picks. These tracks are great for the casual hiker or walker, or someone who doesn’t put in significant mileage in icy terrain. Instead of using spikes, they incorporate a combination of hand-wound stainless-steel coils over natural rubber straps. They are super easy to use and put on, even in extreme cold temperatures, but aren’t necessarily designed to withstand more strenuous adventures. They are our most affordable pair by almost half, but also have much less durable construction where a significant amount of reviewers have had to return broken tracks within the first few wears.

Specifications

  • Stainless steel coils over natural rubber
  • Advertises 10x the gripping points over spike-based traction devices
  • Weight per pair: 5.76oz (small), 6.4oz (medium), 7oz (large), 7.2oz (XL)
  • Warranty: 90 days

Pros

  • Most affordable spikes
  • Perfect for casual winter walks

Cons

  • Coils provide less traction than spikes
  • Short warranty period

Black Diamond Distance Spikes

These Black Diamond Distance Spikes are one of the few sets of spikes that are specifically designed for trail running and include some different features than our other top picks. They have 14 stainless steel spikes per foot connected by a stainless steel chain, a rubber heel harness, and a softshell toe cover. They also have a front-point spike positioned specifically for optimal toe-off engagement. This gives the product better usability for running, a more secure fit, superior packability, snow protection, and additional weather protection. Their heel retention elastomer harness fits most trail running shoes, and they weigh only 4 ounces.

Specifications

  • Stainless steel spikes, elastomer heel, and softshell toe cover
  • 14 spikes per foot at 8mm in length
  • Weight per pair: 6.8oz each
  • Warranty: 1 year

Pros

  • Designed for winter running
  • Lightweight design with toe spike

Cons

  • Most expensive microspikes on our list

Hillsound Trail Crampons

The Hillsound Trail Crampon makes great winter traction devices that’s a mix between a crampon and spike. They are labeled as crampons, but are a less intense version that’s perfect for serious hikers. These crampons are made of heat-treated carbon steel spikes, chains, and an ergonomic steel plate system that reduces muscular fatigue and allows you to handle diverse winter conditions. Plus, they have a more secure fit because of the Velcro strap across the top of the foot that’s paired with a textured elastomer harness. While they generally have less spikes, the spikes they do have are longer.

Specifications

  • Carbon steel spikes and plate system, elastomer harness
  • 11 spikes per foot at 2/3″ long
  • Weight: 16.3oz each
  • Warranty: 2 years

Pros

  • Longer spikes for more intense conditions
  • Made of carbon steel

Cons

  • Heaviest spikes on our list

Thing to Consider When Choosing Your Microspikes

There are some things to take into consideration when picking out a pair of spikes that are perfect for your situation: intended use, price point, and the difference between spikes, crampons, and snowshoes.

Intended Use

Intended use is the #1 factor when picking spikes. Within the spikes category, there are varying levels of quality, price, and design. For example, the Black Diamond Distance spikes are specifically intended for winter trail running, the Yaktrax are designed for casual neighborhood walks, the Kahtoola (our editor’s pick) are great for hiking and more moderate use, and the Hillsound Crampons are for slightly more serious adventures. This is based on the layout and length of the spikes on the bottom of the traction device, as well as the quality of the construction. You should take a moment to think about what you will use your microspikes for most often, and pick a pair accordingly.

Price Point

When it comes to spikes, the higher the price, the higher the quality, and vice versa. Not all outdoor products are such highly correlated, but we have found this to be true for this category. While the Yaktrax are our most affordable pick, they also have the lowest rating paired with a significant number of reviewers saying they don’t last. On the flipside, the Hillsound are our most expensive option and they are also one of the highest rated products.

Microspikes vs. Crampons vs. Snowshoes

As already discussed, spikes are perfect for casual hikers and walkers, especially for low-angle slopes, winter trail running, and neighborhood walks. For serious mountaineering and more extreme winter adventures, consider upgrading to crampons. They are more intense versions of spikes that usually are much heavier, have longer spikes, and may even require special shoes to attach to. For deeper snow, you should look at snowshoes instead. They have a much wider base, which allows you to stay more afloat in heavier snow totals. They are better for low- to mid-angle, off trail hiking and walking.

Conclusion

While the Kahtoolah microspikes may be our top pick, you can’t go wrong with any of the suggestions on this list, especially if one of them suits your needs better than the others. Either way, they will be a great addition to your winter gear for hikes, neighborhood walks, or even just running to the store.

FAQ

About the Author

Derek Vitiello

My goal with my writing and Know Nothing Nomads as a whole is to share my passions of hiking, camping, and a love of the outdoors with our readers. Making the difficult and uncertain feel more approachable to people that might not know enough to feel comfortable taking their first steps into the wilderness is a driving factor for me. When I’m not writing you can find me on a trail, in a forest, or next to a river with hiking shoes on my feet and a fly rod somewhere close by.

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