Home / Gear Reviews / Winter Hiking Gear / Yaktrax Summit Winter Traction System Review

Yaktrax Summit Winter Traction System Review

Yaktrax Summits - a grey rubber harness attaches the spikes to your footwear
Yaktrax Summits – a grey rubber harness attaches the spikes to your footwear

The Yaktrax Summit is a burly winter traction system that’s in the same league as Kahtoola’s Microspikes and Hillsound’s Trail Crampons. Compatible with soft-soled winter boots and hiking shoes, the Summits have 12 triangular spikes that attach to the underside of your footwear using a rubber harness, coupled with a Boa closure system to ensure that they don’t pop off your feet when your shoe soles flex.

Specs at a Glance:

  • Weight 19.4 ounces/pair
  • 12 triangular spikes each, 3/8″ long, carbon steel
  • Sizing
    • Small fits women’s shoe size 6.5-10 / men’s shoe size 5-8.5
    • Medium fits women’s shoe size 10.5-12.5 / men’s shoe size 9-11
    • Large fits women’s shoe size 13-15 / men’s shoe size 11.5-13.5
    • X-Large fits women’s shoe size 15.5+ / men’s shoe size 14+

Each of the Summit’s spikes are 3/8″ inches long and provide plenty of extra traction to keep you from falling on ice or slipping and sliding when hiking on broken out trails covered with packed snow. They’re attached to a natural rubber harness which wraps around the sole of your shoe or boot, as well as a toe cup and heel counter that lock the crampon to your footwear. Blue plastic plates between the spikes, called “anti-balling plates”, prevent wet snow from clumping to the spikes under your feet which can make hiking very awkward when it occurs. You also find these plates on full mountaineering crampons, for the same reason.

The steel lace of the Boa closure system helps keep the rubber harness from popping off your boots
The steel lace of the Boa closure system helps keep the rubber harness from popping off your boots

The Boa closure system is used to keep the Summit from coming off during use. A steel lace is threaded through the front toe cup and the sides to the Boa closure (a twist knob) located on the back of the heel counter. To tighten the steel lace, you push the knob in and turn it clockwise. To release, you pull the knob back which will loosen the lace. It’s pretty straightforward.

The Summit works exactly like you’d expect it to, providing good traction on packed snow and ice. You can’t climb anything vertical with it because it doesn’t have front spikes, but it’s usually sufficient for hiking up low angle rock ledges covered with intermittent patches of ice and wind slab. For steeper and icier surfaces, an ice axe and full crampons are still advised.

Yaktrax Summit Winter Traction

Weight
Durability
Binding
Traction
Comfort
Ease of Use

Good

The Yaktrax Summit is a burly winter traction system that's in the same league as Kahtoola's Microspikes and Hillsound's Trail Crampons. Compatible with soft-soled winter boots and hiking shoes, the Summits have 12 triangular spikes that attach to the underside of your footwear using a rubber harness, coupled with a Boa closure system. However, they can be difficult to put on while wearing gloves.

Shop Now

Performance

Your mileage may very, but I’ve found it very difficult to put the Yaktrax Summits on when hiking, especially when I’m wearing gloves. I can’t do it while standing on one leg (I have to sit down) and it takes two hands to do it. The problem isn’t the Boa closure system, but the grey rubber strap, which is hard to position at the right height around my boot soles. It sits much lower down on the soles themselves, unlike the elastic strap on the Kahtoolas or Hillsounds, which wrap around the top of your footwear.

This is a showstopper for me because there is usually no place to sit down on my hikes and I don’t like to expose my hands to bone chilling cold because I’ve had cold injuries in the past. While the features on the Summit, particularly the anti-balling plates, are very nice to have, I am more comfortable using my Hillsounds or Kahtoolas, which I can reliably put on while wearing gloves and by standing on one leg.  My full mountaineering crampons are also easier to put on than the Summits, which would fine except for this one difficulty.

Disclosure: Yaktrax provided the author with a sample product for this review

Written 2017

Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.

See Also

6 comments

  1. I have the same issue with Yaktrax Pro and Run models. I don’t encounter ice much in NC, but I carry both of those because the company provided them free for review. They work fine, but I have to sit down on a log/rock, take off my shoes, and stretch those suckers to secure them. Fortunately in NC when it’s icy like that it is between 10-30F and my hands won’t die. Otherwise I couldn’t imagine using these in real winter conditions.

  2. In addition to your comment on the ability to put them on, the price is more than either Katoolah or Hillsound. I will be surprised if these catch on.

  3. I’ve been using one pair of Kahtoola’s Microspikes for years now on many a burly hike after breaking several pairs of Yaktrax under less than strenuous circumstances in quick succession. And the Yaktrax slipped out of place an awful lot.

    Looking at the Yaktrax Summit, while they seem like they’d not slip as much as previous versions, I see many points of potential failure. The Kahtoola’s are simple, cheaper, easy to use and are tough. I doubt I’d switch to the Summits based on previous experience and concern about them breaking.

  4. Before i knew of the Yaktrax, i bought the LL Bean version of this adjustable style of microspike last winter (L.L.Bean Boa Traction Footwear). Similar design, similar price, though i was lucky to snag a pair on sale. Differences i can see are that the Bean’s lack the anti-ballling plastic parts; the Bean’s tightening knob is on top of the boot and not at the heel; and the Beans have dual, thin steel cables where the Yaks look to have a single one. And the Beans are red. User reviews on the Bean site are mostly positive.

    I got them late in the season, so i only took them out a couple of times on day hikes, but they performed well—stayed put, felt solid, etc. I didn’t have any issues putting them on. Time will tell on durability.

    My concerns with the Boa system: I wonder if the knob might freeze up if snow melts into it then refreezes. And, since it’s plastic, one would have to be careful not to clip it with the spikes on the other shoe or bash it on a rock.

  5. It looks like the Boa cable could pick up a lot of twigs and sticks if the snow does not fully cover them.

Leave a Reply

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