Traction is one of the most important parts of hiking in the winter. One false step on ice or snow and you are in for a bad day. I have tried a few different styles of traction but really like spikes. They are small, easy to get on, and provide a good boost to traction. Not all spikes are made the same though. So here are my thoughts on the Kahtoola MICROspikes.
As a disclaimer I would like to mention that I was sent a pair of Kahtoola Microspikes for review. I had already used these microspikes in the past when I was sent the pair to review. I was not compensated in any other way for providing this review. All opinions on this page are my own and based on my own experiences with these bags. This review is for general informational purposes. Your experience with the pants may be completely different. This page uses affiliate links. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Specs From Kahtoola
Before I get into my opinions, I like to share what Kahtoola has to say about their product. Plus, information directly from their website about the Specs. Kahtoola describes their MICROspikes like this: “Safely make icy, mountainous terrain your playground with a proven performer that keeps finding new ways to push the limits of outdoor gear design. Used by arctic explorers and everyday outdoor adventurers for over a decade, MICROspikes® are ready to help take your outdoor adventures to the next level.”
Here are a bit more on the specs of the Kahtoola MICROspikes.
|For Hiking Boots||For Insulated Boots|
|Small M 5-7, W 6-9||Small M 5-7, W 6-8|
|Medium M 8-11, W 9-12||Medium M 7-9, W 8-10|
|Large M 11-14, W 12+||Large M 9-11, W 10-12|
|X-Large M 14+||X Large M 11-14, W 12+|
Weight (Pair) of the MICROspikes
S: 11 oz
M: 11.9 oz
L: 13.1 oz
X-Large: 13.5 oz
5 in x 3 in x 2 in, 30 in³ / 13 cm x 8 cm x 5 cm, 520 cm³
Red, Black, Forest Green
Material and Features*
- Twelve Stainless Steel Spikes Per Foot – Strategically spaced, 3/8″ hard wearing stainless steel spikes provide a stable walking platform and bite into even the most stubborn ice and snow.
- Ergonomically Shaped Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) Harness – Features reinforced eyelets for increased durability, attaches securely to a variety of footwear and retains its elasticity down to -22°F (-30°C).
- Integrated Toe Bail – Keeps the toe from pushing through the front of the harness for added security while descending.
- Raised Heel Tab – Provides a secure grip point on the harness for easy on and off in frozen winter conditions with cold or gloved hands.
*All information from Kahtoola.com
What I Liked about the Kahtoola MICROspikes
Traction. I love to hike in the winter but not without good traction. That is first and foremost what I like about the Kahtoola MICROspikes. I really liked the durability and size and storage as well as the traction. Kahtoola is also giving back which always makes me happy to make a purchase. Here is a bit more of what I liked about the Kahtoola MICROspikes.
Grip and Traction
Traction is so important when hiking in the winter, spring or fall. The ground covers with snow and creeks ice over and creep over the trails turning the path into a large ice rink. Regular boots might help with some snow but ice is a entirely different beast. The Kahtoola MICROspikes make walking on ice as easy as walking on a dirt path a lot of the time.
The Kahtoola have 12 different spikes to help with grip. On the ball of the foot there are two spikes in front and back and two on either side. So no matter where your foot lands you have some traction and as your foot moves forward to step the different spikes will engage to make sure you keep that traction. The heel portion has two spikes in front and two in back. This keeps the traction as you land on your heel and roll towards the front and onto the ball.
It is a really good system that gives me confidence on every step across ice and snow.
I had bought a couple of cheaper pair of spikes off the internet before I finally found my way to the Kahtoola Spikes. The reason I had to get a couple of pair of the cheaper ones was because the cheap ones kept breaking. I hike in a lot of rocky terrain and sometimes rocks hide under the snow and ice. With the cheaper pairs I would hit one of these rocks and it would snap the metal chains making the spikes pretty useless.
Once I shifted to the Kahtoola MICROspikes, I haven’t had a problem with the chains breaking and I am still hiking in the same areas. The metal links just seem to be built a lot stronger and they can take a bit of abuse from hitting those hidden rocks.
The top is also really nice on the Kahtoola. A lot of times I won’t start with spikes on but will need to put them on somewhere on trail. The TPE harness has a good flexibility to get over my boots in a hurry but then snap back to shape to firmly fit on the top of my boot to keep the spikes in perfect position for the duration of my hike.
Size of the Spikes
The Kahtoola MICROspikes are 3/8 of an inch of stainless steel each. This gives them a good amount of penetrating power down into ice on the trail. What I really like about the spikes being this long is for all the times the ice is covered in snow. A lot of times you will be walking over snow and you need the extra length to dig into the ice beneath.
Another nice aspect of the longer spike is when you are just walking in loose snow with no ice. The snow will compact under your foot a bit allowing the spike to give good grip even in a few inches of snow. This separates the MICROspike from other, chain based traction devices that really don’t have the ability to dig deeper for added grip.
For those of us who hike a lot in the winter we know that space in the packs can always be a challenge. Layers of extra clothes and items like gaiters, gloves and hats, fill up every inch of the pack in the winter months. It is important to be able to keep items like spikes with you at all times as well as you never know when you might run into some ice.
The Kahtoola MICROspikes weigh only 11-13.5 ounces depending on what size that you have. They also pack down to a small 5 x 3 x 2 inches in a pouch that is provided so they won’t take up too much space in your pack. I also like to just clip them to a carabiner on the back of my pack. This works especially well if you are moving from ice to dry terrain so you don’t get anything wet inside of your pack as you take off the spikes.
I always love it when I can talk about companies that are giving back and trying to help the world in some way. Kahtoola is doing just that with their MICROspikes. In Januaray of 2023, Kahtoola announced the new Forest Green color of their MICROspikes. For every Forest Green pair sold, Kahtoola will donate 2% of sales to the 1% for the Planet® Impact Fund at National Philanthropic Trust.
“Our goal is to create products that make outdoor adventures more accessible and rewarding, and underlying that is the responsibility we have as a company to address the climate crisis to the best of our ability by minimizing our environmental impact,” said Danny Giovale, owner and founder of Kahtoola. “This product-specific initiative is one important way we can increase our efforts by doubling our usual 1% for the Planet commitment to support the efforts of this proven environmental organization.”
Really good to see a company doing something to help out and give back.
What I Didn’t Like
There isn’t much that I don’t like about the Kahtoola Microspikes but they will take my blogger card away if I don’t find something. The only thing I can think of is that with the strong and big spikes there is the possibility to have ice and snow ball up around the spikes. This happens mostly in the spring and fall where the ice is a little wetter. Ice can ball up around the spikes and needs to be broken off from time to time.
I think this balling can happen with any type of microspike but with the 3/8″ spikes, it seems that there is more area for the ice to bond to which can cause for bigger balls to form. Usually a couple of hacks with a hiking pole will take care of the balls and you can continue on your way.
Video Review of the Kahtoola Microspikes
I have also put together a quick video review of the Kahtoola Microspikes. If you prefer videos feel free to give that a watch and if you enjoy it, please subscribe to my YouTube channel. It is free to subscribe and you will be the first to know when new outdoor content is available.
Wrap up of the Kahtoola Microspikes
Kahtoola MICROspikes are an essential tool if you are going to hike in the winter. The spikes provide superior traction and are built really well. Most importantly they give me confidence when I am wearing them. I feel good about the traction. Plus, I feel confident that nothing is going to damage them on a typical hike. Overall, I think these spikes are a great product that will help anyone enjoy winter hiking a little bit more.
Highly Recommended. I won’t hike in winter without these in my packs or on my feet.
More from the Fat Man
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