- Require no training to use like crampons
- Provide traction on pretty serious ice and snow
- Compatibility with all kinds of boots
- Lightweight to carry
While they do break if you’re hard on gear, you can also repair them fairly simply using cable zip ties or stainless steel jeweler’s wire. This becomes necessary if their chains rip through the holes connecting them to the elastomer harness or the chain links attached to their spikes snap and break free.
Both of these gear failures can happen on hikes but are field-repairable if you carry a few simple items. They’re also fairly durable so you can also keep using them indefinitely afterward or until you have to repeat the same fix.
Torn Elastomer Harness
Microspike and Trail Crampons have a stretchy elastomer harness that has reinforced eyelets around the perimeter. Chain links are threaded through the eyelets to connect the chain and spike complex below to the harness. However, the links can tear through the reinforced eyelets after much wear and tear or if you try to stretch the elastomer harness over a boot that’s too large.
The fix is simple. Simply run a zip tie through one of the large holes nearest the torn eyelet and the dangling chain link as shown above and pull it taut. It can help to cut off the extra end of the zip tie, but it’s not strictly necessary. To use, simply stretch the harness over your boot, as usual.
Broken Chain Link
Another common failure occurs when a chain link attached to one of the spike clusters breaks This happens to me several times every winter. The simplest way to fix this is to run a 3-inch length of stainless steel Jeweler’s wire through an intact link next to the broken one and the now freed hole in the spike cluster, as shown here.
You can pre-cut lengths of this wire and carry them in your pack to do a quick field repair. Once threaded, simply twist the wire and fold it down so it doesn’t interfere with walking. This is best done with a small set of pliers, but you can do it by hand too. This repair will last a surprisingly long time, even in rough terrain.
A Reserve Pair
Another approach is to buy two pairs of microspikes or trail crampons, use one pair, and hold the other in reserve at home. When the first pair breaks, you’ll have a fallback pair on hand for your next hike. Both microspikes and trail crampons are in such high demand in winter, that REI sells out of them, so having an extra pair around is often prudent.
In the meantime, if you bought your microspikes or trail crampons at REI and you’re a member, you can trade in the broken pair within a year of purchase for a new set under the REI guarantee. While the morality of that tactic is open to debate, it does provide REI with an incentive to force Kahtoola and Hillsound to make their products more durable, which would be good for everybody.SectionHiker is reader-supported. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.