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Kahtoola Microspikes

Katoohla Microspikes

Kahtoohla Microspikes are ideal for mixed rock, ice, and snow outings for a number of reasons.

Unlike crampons, anyone can use them without any special training. Put them on and go. You don’t need to learn how to drive if you put tire chains on your car (remember those), and it’s the same with microspikes. Additionally, they work with shoes of all types and stiffness levels which is a real advantage over crampons which won’t work with trail running shoes or softer hiking boots.

Microspikes are just that – small triangles of steel attached to a flexible chain net that is secured to your boots by a one-piece rubbery strap. They’re also surprisingly comfortable for all day wear and don’t pop off your boots or footwear if they’re seated properly.

Microspikes only weigh 12.5 oz making them an easy piece of gear that you can carry with you all winter and into the spring. They’re a classic and at $69 a pair, they’re economical too. You can even buy two pairs, one for the trail and one for around town for your street shoes, where they are equally at home.

Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds. This post contains affiliate links. 

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22 comments

  1. You have great timing! My father & I were just debating the proper traction tool to use when snowshoes aren't appropriate.

    Thanks for the review.

  2. And now, Microspikes on steriods

    The spikes look just a bit bigger on these.

  3. Basically a strap-on crampon for soft boots.

  4. Nice to see this post about Katoohla. That's a company based here in Flagstaff, started by friends of my husband's. I haven't actually bought a pair of microspikes for myself yet, but I have a several friends who own and really like them. They use the spikes for running on city streets when things ice up.

  5. Deb! I've been thinking about you the past few days. I think I'm going to join a SAR group here in Central Massachusetts. Just have to get some CPR training and I'm going to sign up. Missed you.

  6. I've only ever used Yak Trax. They worked nicely, but wouldn't be good enough for hiking. Plus, I lost one when it slipped off my foot, soon after I got them, so that was kind of disappointing!

    That was a couple years ago, and since I don't do much winter hiking, I just did without. Recently I've been tempted to buy microspikes or something similar (well, ask for them for Christmas!), since I read a discussion about them at hike-nh.

    Can you give me an idea of how good the traction is when stepping on a snow or ice covered rock with a slope to it? How much of a slope will these help with?

    How easy are they to put on and take off when your hands are cold and you're standing in the snow?

  7. I've tried Yak Trax too and found them to be pretty lame. The microspikes are much more rugged and have a real bite to them in comparison, but still less than a strap-on crampon like the Black Diamond Contact Strap, which I also own.

    The microspikes are really easy to put on and take off. It's just like the video above. They also don't pop off very easily.

    Slope….so I wore microspkies when I climbed South Twin last week. This was a 1100 ft climb in 0.8 miles which is very steep for me. However, I was assisted by hiking poles and used my hands a lot to climb through the rocky sections of the ascent. I guess, I'm saying that slope is not the only factor to consider. For instance, I wasn't concerned about falling very far last weekend because there wasn't much of a runway between the boulders to slide if I slipped. If they weren't there, I'd have really wanted full crampons. I also has snowshoes with me in case I needed more traction on that hike, so the microspikes weren't my only option.

    Maybe another way to think of this is, under 3,500 ft in the whites (where you are), I bet you can get away with microspikes and poles most of the time in winter. Above that, I'd go with an ice axe, full crampons, snowshoes, and poles, but you need to really know your intended route to make that determination.

  8. under 3,500 ft in the whites (where you are), I bet you can get away with microspikes and poles most of the time in winter

    Thanks for the additional info.

    I mostly used Yak Trax to get around ski towns, to avoid slipping on sidewalks. I definitely wouldn't recommend them for hiking (at least not the model that I got) because they're not rugged enough, and I don't think they're sold for that purpose. I wouldn't categorize them as lame, but they didn't hold up as well as I'd hoped.

    Actually, the two NH hikes I've done have both been 4Ks. On both routes, there were sections where I've had to literally climb up using my hands and feet, so I know what you mean.

    Right now, though, I don't plan on doing winter hiking in NH – I think it would involve carrying too much weight for it to be enjoyable to me. However, in between seasons it would be nice to have something "just in case." Last weekend, when I encountered snow on Mt Tecumseh, I thought I might have to turn back if the going got slippery. Fortunately it didn't, but it would have been nice to have a little extra grip insurance. I will probably try the microspikes next year. That video is very convincing!

  9. A friend and I walked up a mix of snow, rock, and ice to the 10,000 ft level on Mt. Rainier. On the descent, my Yaktrax broke and/or wrapped uselessly around my ankles, but his Microspikes stayed put and performed admirably.

    I ordered a pair as soon as I got home.

  10. That's a heck of a testamonial!

  11. Anyone tried the Hillsound Trail Crampon?

    The traction looks a bit stronger…

  12. Would these Mircospikes fit on snowboard boots?

    Thanks,

    Mark

  13. That's a good idea. I can't see why not.

  14. Great all around traction devices from frozen moss to wet ice to packed snow. Great for running on frozen streets but have a tendancy to rotate when running a fairly steep downhill grade.

  15. i just tried the hillsound trail crampons. they worked well on ice and snow but seemed to oxidize when left in my car overnight after one wearing. i am writing to the company now to see whether they need special coddling. the kahtoola microspikes did not do this

  16. there are actually two models of hillsound trail crampons. I'll be posting reviews of both later this week – perfect timing.

  17. These appear to be the same exact product as MontBell offers.

    Also in this genre are the Kako IceTrekkers Diamond Grips

  18. I don't think so. Microspikes have spikes like mini crampons. Get out your ruler and measure the nubs on the icetrekkers. They look more like yaktrax, I think.

  19. I’ve owned and used my Katoolas for three years,now and the only problem is the stainless spikes are starting to wear down a bit. They fit my trail runners, hikers and snowpac boots equally well without having to adjust anything, just slip them on and go. They provide very good traction on mossy rock creek crossing, glare ice and snowy conditions.
    Snow does tend to ball up unless it’s real cold, like below 10 F.
    The stainless chains and spikes require no special care, but I do wash them off if I’ve been into any salt or icemelters.
    Yak tracs are not even in the same category as these mini crampons. Yaks are for street use and not serious winter hiking. Please stop comparing these two products.
    I have not used the IceTrekkers, so can’t compare products, but they don’t look like they would offer much traction an a snowy trail.
    If the snow is deep or the terrain is very steep, then crampons or snow shows are the way to go, but for most of the hiking I do, including Fall (slippery leaf covered trails and moss covered creek crossing) and Spring (Still icy trails and light snow) the Katoola microspikes are the only way to go.

    • Mine also wore down this year – this latest pair after just 1 season of use. They also started to fall apart, so I returned them to EMS, and they replaced them for free.

  20. Katoolah Microspikes are one of the “don’t leave home without ’em” items of gear for my wife and me, hiking and climbing in the Colorado Rockies. They are the perfect tool when there is enough snow and ice to make boot soles dicey, but where crampons would be overkill. Hardpacked snow, icy patches, scrambling over mixed rock and white stuff, they make a big difference on ascent and descent alike. We can encounter those surfaces year round. Best of all, Microspikes are lightweight, easy to ball up and stow in a pack lid, quick and easy to put on and take off over any footwear from trail runners to mountaineering boots, tough and durable, and very inexpensive for their enormous utility. Pretty amazing how they stay in place, regardless whether you are kicking steps, plunge stepping, scrambling, or motoring along over terrain that alternates from snow to ice to dirt to rock. I hope whoever invented and brought these to market makes a bazillion dollars – they deserve it!

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