STABILicers Hike Macro Winter Traction Spikes are a traction device in the same vein as Kahtoola Microspikes and Hillsound Trail Crampons but with a very different binding and spike design. Instead of free-floating chains suspended from an elastomer harness, they have a sandal-like overshoe that slips over your winter boots or trail runners with metal cleats and spikes suspended underneath. This provides significantly more padding and insulation for your feet on long winter hikes because there’s an intermediate layer of thermoplastic elastomer cushioning between your footwear soles and the cleats.
Specs at a Glance
- Weight 27 oz/pair, size large
- Sizing: Multiple sizes for different shoe sizes
- Number of spikes: 14
- Spike Length: 1/2″
- Harness: Thermo Plastic Elastomer
- Cleats: Stainless steel
- Made in Taiwan
The STABILicers Hike Macro product is one step up in aggressiveness from STABILicer’s Hike XP winter traction device. Both products use hex-shaped metal cleats, like those used for traction with fishing boots, instead of the triangular “spikes” on Microspikes or Hillsound winter traction devices. The Hike Macro product, reviewed here, augments these with additional spike assemblies on the heel and forefoot, that are bolted in place by the metal cleats on the bottom of the overshoe. These spike assemblies are similar in appearance to Hillsound Trail Crampons in this respect.
I had high hopes for the STABILicers Hike Macro winter traction device because they have a front toe cover that slides over the toebox of your boots/shoes and keeps the front spikes aligned in use, insulates your toes from the cold, and eliminates any pressure on the top of your toes which can lead to friction and blisters. These can all be issues with the flexible elastomer harness used on Kahtoola Microspikes, Hillsound Trail Crampons Ultra, and Hillsound Trail Crampons.
The front toe compartment on the Hike Macros does a great job at keeping your toes warm and takes the pressure off the top of your toes while providing extra protection if you need to kick steps. The spikes, when new, are very sharp and really bite well into ice. There are two velcro straps to prevent the harness from being pulled off your boots by sticky ice or snow and the harnesses are foot-specific and labeled, left and right, which is stamped on the interior of the heel.
In an interesting twist, the forefoot and heel spike assemblies on the Hike Macro traction device are removable, if not needed, or replaceable if damaged. You can also upgrade a pair of the less aggressive Hike XP cleats and add spike assemblies to them, by unscrewing the cleats on the underside, adding the spike assemblies, and then screwing the cleats back on tightly. The various components are also available separately including:
- Spike upgrade/replacement assemblies (2 heel, 2 forefoot)
- Replacement hex cleats (set of 30)
- Replacement velcro straps (set of 2)
But the screw-in cleats securing the extra spike assemblies appear to unscrew themselves when torsional forces are applied to the Hike Macro harness, leading to partially unanchored spike assemblies or the complete loss of a forefoot spike assembly. I consider this a critical product failure (see picture below).
It doesn’t take much for the product to fail mid-hike. I was really quite surprised to have it happen to me climbing up a mountain trail in mixed conditions with thick ice, exposed rocks, and snow. While the cleats and spike assemblies are replaceable (for an added cost), this level of maintenance isn’t what you’d expect from a serious winter traction device ever.
While it’s well known that winter hiking gear comes to the White Mountains of New Hampshire to die, there isn’t anything unusually tough about climbing Mt Carrigain in December, where the Hike Macros came apart in our evaluation. In contrast, Hillsound’s and Kahtoola’s winter traction products are used quite widely here by hikers, they have an excellent durability record and can last for years without failure or the need for replacement.
DO NOT BUY the STABILicers Hike Macro Winter Traction Spikes Device. While the product has some attractive aspects, the cleats holding the spike assemblies to the Hike Macro elastomer harness unscrew themselves when the Hike Macro is subject to uneven and mixed surfaces including ice, rock, and snow. In hindsight, it’s obvious that bolting a rigid assembly to a flexible elastomer harness platform will exert enormous pressure on screw-in anchors and why a competitive product like the Hillsound Trail Crampon uses floating chains to secure their spike assemblies to an elastomer harness instead.
While I suppose you could add Loctite (a screw adhesive) to the bolts to help prevent them from falling out, there’s still the risk that they will unscrew and fall out when you’re in the field. A better product design would have used a permanent fastener to attach the spike assemblies that can not be removed ever, although there’s no telling if any metal anchor will sheer off with the current design. That’s why we encourage brands to test their gear before they start selling it.
I have contacted STABIL customer service and am still awaiting a response.
Disclosure: The author purchased this product.
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