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What are Microspikes?

If you’re taking a trip out into the cold, cold wilderness this winter, ice and snow are going to take a toll on you. They slow you down, make your legs sore, and can be absolutely miserable to deal with. Traction devices- products that help you stay upright in snow and ice- are an absolute must for any hike in wintery conditions.

MIcrospikes are the simplest and most casual traction device. They provide excellent grip on most slippery surfaces and are great for hiking, backpacking, and even running in the snow. Learn more about what microspikes are, and why you should consider grabbing a pair like the YakTrax Diamond Grips, below!

what are microspikes

What are Microspikes?

So, what are microspikes? The term generally refers to the footwear equivalent of tire chains. They wrap around the bottom of your shoe and are made of metal chain links. In snow and ice, the metal will dig deeper into the ground than any rubber shoe sole would. This has an immense and noticeable effect on your ability to walk safely and confidently on snow and ice.

Microspikes are easy to put on and take off, and they’re far less intense than other traction devices like crampons and microspikes. People use microspikes for hiking, trail running, and walking on snow and ice.

What Are Microspikes Best For?

crampons are better than microspikes for climbing
Crampons like these are perfect for climbing steep routes on ice and snow.

Microspikes are ideal for any hikes or walks on flat ground or light inclines. More serious traction devices like crampons and snowshoes are undeniably more effective in intense conditions, but they’re also bulky and expensive. If you’re doing hikes that don’t involve loosely packed snow (low risk of post-holing) or steep climbs (where crampons are a must), microspikes are the way to go.

How Much Do Microspikes Cost?

A pair of very basic microspikes, meant for running in the snow or getting around in city environments without slipping, costs less than $30. Because I’m a big fan of Yaktrax, I’d recommend the Yaktrax Pro Traction Cleats. They won’t slip off of your feet when you’re moving quickly, and they’ll handle light-moderate conditions perfectly.

More intense microspikes, meant for outdoor adventuring, can cost as much as $80. If you’re doing any winter backpacking, something like the Yaktrax Diamond Grips or the Black Diamond Access Spikes. The Access Spikes are pretty hardcore, probably my first choice for any serious trips into the snowy wilderness. The Diamond Grips, on the other hand, are perfect for moderate-heavy hiking but might not be enough for truly intense hikes.

snowshoes are great for lightly packed snow
Snowshoes are expensive, bulky, and necessary. However, if you’re not at risk of post-holing, you’re better off with microspikes.

The Bottom Line: Microspikes

Microspikes are the perfect traction device for mild to moderate hiking and walking in winter. They’re best-suited to flat/light inclines in tightly packed snow and ice. If you’re heading out in the snow anytime soon and don’t want to bring bulky snowshoes, microspikes could be a great way to stay light and keep moving. Thanks for reading!

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