In Search of Better Traction
Recently, we have been doing one or two winter hikes per year, but we are hoping to become more serious winter hikers and take advantage of the countless trails in New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and beyond. In order to become more serious winter hikers, we needed more serious winter gear and one of the most critical components to our gear arsenal is traction. Without proper traction on the icy and snow-packed trails, our hiking options would be limited and steeper trails would be a nightmare. We had both used various traction devices in the past but were never totally sold. Either the spikes themselves weren’t long enough to effectively grip packed snow or the rubber harness would pop off our boots while hiking. We asked around and did our research and determined that our best bet were Kahtoola Microspikes. On the spectrum of Kahtoola products, these fall somewhere in between the Nanospikes and the Hiking Crampons, which is exactly what we were looking for.
Over the past weekend, we took the microspikes out on two test runs up to Lake Solitude and Mt. Tom in New Hampshire and we could not have been happier with how well they performed on the trails. Over a foot of snow had fallen a few days prior to our hikes, but they had been well-traversed so that the trails were firmly packed and did not require snowshoes.
Each foot has twelve 3/4″ stainless steel spikes, with eight in the front and four in the back. They were perfect for gripping the tightly packed snowy surface and even better on the icy patches. Our friends who accompanied us up Mt. Tom had two different brands of traction devices that, while they ultimately got them from point A to point B, were definitely less effective on the steeper sections of the trail. The effectiveness of the microspikes was most evident on the descent of Mt. Tom where much of the trail was essentially just a bobsled track. In many instances we chose to simply slide down the trail because that’s just way more fun, but when we descended on foot, walking down steep, slippery sections of trail was no more difficult than walking across the sidewalk. The spikes gripped deeply into the snow and provided tremendous stability. Furthermore, they fit perfectly and comfortably and we never had any issues with them popping off our boots or getting snow packed in between the spikes.
Even though we never took them off during either of our recent hikes, the fact that they are lightweight (11-14 ounces per pair) and come with a drawstring pouch make them easy to pack away in the event that you need to switch to snowshoes or bare-boot at any point during a hike. Obviously, having only used them twice, we can’t speak to their durability or longevity just yet, but everything we’ve read and observed lead us to believe that they will stand the test of time. Not to mention the two year warranty doesn’t hurt.
Overall we were thrilled with our new microspikes and would highly recommend them to anyone looking for some new traction devices for winter hiking.