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From Kahtoola, "Just think – a pocket-sized ice traction system that makes any terrain, any time of year, possible. Kahtoola MICROspikes® Traction System aren’t just spikes that dig in – they’re your passport to anywhere adventure takes you. When you don’t need a full-on crampon, Kahtoola's MICROspikes® Traction System will get you where you need to go with ease and precision."
"Kahtoola MICROspikes® Traction System allows anyone of any age to get out and enjoy most any condition. Since there are no special straps, you can simply put your Kahtoola MICROspikes® Traction System in your pocket, purse or backpack and go. Just take them out and stretch them over your shoes when you need that extra grip - they're ideal for anything from wet rocks to slick sidewalks and icy driveways, or even the added confidence that comes along with extra traction on the trail. Adding our MICROspikes® Traction System to your gear stash means that you'll never be held back again by the most common day-to-day conditions. Pull on and go."
"MICROspikes® Traction System models boast a beefed-up elastomer, not to mention reinforced eyelets that connect the elastomer to your traction system down below - stronger than ever! Last but not least, Kahtoola has made putting on and taking off your MICROspikes® Traction System even easier with a new heel tab - pull on, pull off. Whichever direction you're headed, it's easy to get there!"
Kahtoola's MICROspikes® are available in 5 sizes in either black or red color. An optional stuff sack is available.
Spikes: 10 at 3/8 in.
Weight (sz L): 14.4 oz.
Harness Material: Elastomer flexible to -76°F
Initial Thoughts (11/01/12):
I have used lightweight traction devices for footwear before (Hillsound Trail Crampons), but have wanted to try Kahtoola MICROspikes® for comparison. Right off the shelf, I appreciated the environmentally friendly use of paper products only (no plastic packaging). The actual MICROspikes® feel very beefy (thicker elastomer and chain than Hillsound Trail Crampons).
Kahtoola offers the MICROspikes® in five different sizes and offers a guide depending on the type of footwear worn with them (shoes versus boots). I tried out the size large on my pac boots (men's size 10.5) and they fit great. The rear heel tab was very helpful in pulling the MICROspikes® on. This is one feature setting them apart from the competition. They felt secure on my boots without the need for any additional straps. Kahtoola lists the weight of the size large MICROspikes® as 14.4 ounces. The weighed in at 15.2 ounces on my scale, which is about 1 ounce lighter than comparably sized Hillsound Trail Crampons.
The Kahtoola MICROspikes® have five pairs of spikes strategically placed underfoot. They are shorter than Hillsound's Trail Crampons and as a result should be more comfortable walking on icy sidewalks around town. I suspect they will perform similarly well out on the trail. They are not designed for climbing, but should be perfect for hiking winter trails on rolling terrain. I look forward to trying them out this winter. The only thing I wish is that Kahtoola would include a storage pouch with the MICROspikes® instead of making them an optional accessory.
Initial Field Tests (12/06/12 & 01/17/13):
I have been able to put the Kahtoola MICROspikes® to the test on two separate occasions this winter. My first test was in 1-3 inches of fresh snow atop hard-packed snow and ice. I was wearing stiff climbing boots (La Sportiva Batura EVO) and found the MICROspikes® easy to put on in the cold. The design kept the MICROspikes® very secure on my boots for several miles of hiking. There was no sign of them ever trying to slip off my boots. Due to the snow conditions, I had minor snow balling under the front of my foot, but it would usually clear itself in 2-3 steps. I have noticed the same thing happening with Hillsound's Trail Crampons in similar snow conditions. It's not a big issue since the MICROspikes® are designed for more gentle rolling terrain versus climbing where snow balling underfoot can be a dangerous condition.
Me second test of the Kahtoola MICROspikes® was on a short snow hike my first time out after a leg and knee injury from a snowmobile crash. I wanted to have the most stability possible for my bad leg and the MICROspikes® were perfect for the job. The snow was frozen hard pack in the morning and wet in the afternoon. I was able to hike safely my entire trip without slipping or falling. On this trip I used the MICROspikes® on a pair of winter snow boots (Columbia Men’s Bugaboot Max Electric). They fit just as well as on my climbing boots and stayed firmly attached the entire hike. Like on my previous trip, they were comfortable and hardly noticeable except for improved traction.
My wife Katie has had the opportunity to test the Kahtoola MICROspikes® out as well. In comparing them to Hillsound's Trail Crampons, she liked they way the Kahtoola's fit more securely on her boots without the need for an additional strap over the top. They have proven to be a great tool in the snow and my only complaint is that a storage sack is not included.
Available from amazon.com.
Special thanks to Kahtoola for providing the MICROspikes® for review.