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
- 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 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.
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
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