This post may contain affiliate links.

Kahtoola Nanospikes Traction Device Review


Kahtoola Nanospikes are a lightweight winter traction device compatible with trail runners, most street shoes, and winter boots. They weigh about half as Kahtoola Microspikes and have much smaller traction points, resembling tire studs, that are designed to provide traction on trails covered with packed snow and ice.

Closeup of Kahtoola Nanospike Studs

They have an elastomer binding is very easy to get on and off, with reinforced eyelets to prevent tearing. However, Nanospikes are too small to fit over very large boots, such as mountaineering boots or large pack boots, and are really intended for soft-soled winter boots or trail runners with a less bulky “footprint.”

Kahtoola Nanospikes are a great complement to trail runners for winter training
Kahtoola Nanospikes are a great complement to trail runners for winter training

Made with tungsten carbide, each Nanospike has 10 studs, each 0.21 inches long, and can be worn interchangeably on the left or right foot. While small, the studs are very effective in preventing slips on ice and ice lightly covered with snow on fairly level trails. If you’re hiking or running up steep ice-covered slopes or snow-packed by the wind, I’d recommend upgrading to Microspikes instead because they have longer teeth and provide better traction.

Kahtoola Nanospikes DO NOT exert any extra pressure over the ties which can lead to blisters
Kahtoola Nanospikes DO NOT exert any extra pressure over the toes which can lead to blisters

Fitwise, Nanospikes exert very little pressure on the top of the toes and should not lead to blisters, a key variable you should always evaluate when purchasing traction aids that have a strap running over the front of your shoe or boot.

Kahtoola Nanospikes have a lightweight elastomer binding which is easy to slip onto shoes and small enough for easy storage when not in use

However, the spikes can be felt when walking on hard surfaces and can become uncomfortable over time if the soles of your shoes are soft or unpadded. I have to take the Nanospikes off after about an hour when wearing lightweight insulated hiking boots or trail runners because, unlike microspikes, they start to hurt the balls of my feet during long hikes. But Kahtoola Nanospikes are perfectly suitable for shorter duration walks or runs.

Shop at REI


Manufacturer Specs

  • 10 spikes per foot on all sizes
  • Spike material is tungsten carbide

Disclosure: Kahtoola provided the author with nanospikes for this review.

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.


  1. How do these compare against Vargo’s new titanium pocket cleats?

    • I’m reviewing the Vargo cleats now. But the major differences are weight, agressiveness, and bindings. The vargos are much lighter, more agressive in terms of spike length, but have a much less secure binding than the nanospikes. I honestly think the Vargo cleats compete more with microspikes than nanospikes, simply on the basis of spike length – at least as far as thru-hikers are probably concerned about.

  2. if i were to go out on the trail and was questioning if i need traction for my feet i wouldn’t sacrifice heel traction for weight, i was just on an outing where trail runners were shuffling along, getting down on there behinds and sliding down minimal descents because of not having the confidence in the traction device on there feet, i strolled along with a heavy winter pack with a lot of luxury items. there might be a market for people who only go out on trail with no elevation change or iced over road walking

  3. Hi Phillip, do you know anyone who has successfully transported these in their carry-on luggage?

    TSA site:
    Carry-On Bags: Yes (Special Instructions: Crampons are generally permitted in carry-on bags. However, TSA officers have the discretion to prohibit an item if they feel it may pose a security threat.)
    Checked Bags: Yes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *