Microspikes for hiking are a must-have piece of gear for winter and for arctic explorers. Hiking in winter is more difficult than at other types of the year. Hiking trails are often covered in snow and ice, making them slippery and slowing you down.
Table of Contents
But don’t let that put you off. I often find that hiking in winter is more beautiful than hiking in summer.
With the right winter hiking gear, including microspikes and snowshoes, your backcountry winter adventures and even in snowy conditions, it’s incredibly enjoyable.
Plus, you’ll run into fewer hikers than you would at other times of the year.
In this article, I share the best microspikes for hiking and how to use them on your next hike and my favourite pair that I’ve been using for the past five years and counting. I love gear that stands up, has a secure fit and doesn’t need to be replaced every year or two.
After experimenting with different types over the years, I discovered that some either didn’t provide excellent traction, wouldn’t stay on my feet in deep snow, or had spikes that kept bending and breaking.
Kahtoola MICROspikes are a fan favourite (one of the best choice) and have a loyal following. They have three different microspikes for hiking models depending on the type of terrain you’ll be tackling in winter.
Each pair of Kahtoola MICROspikes comes with a 2-year warranty. They’re constructed with an elastomer harness from durable TPE that remains stretchy in cold temperatures and icy conditions, all the way down to -22°F (-30°C).
And let’s be honest, when it’s colder than that, you won’t want to be outdoors. Or at least I don’t. Even though I’m Canadian, I don’t enjoy spending time outside when it’s THAT cold, even if it’s on a gorgeous winter hike in Banff.
Insider Winter Hiking Tip: Don’t wear your pair of microspikes on dry sections or as an everyday use shoes, even if it’s a short section. Take them off, and put them on again if you need to. Otherwise, you risk dulling or breaking the spikes.
FAQs About Microspikes for Hiking
1. What Are Micro Spikes?
Microspikes are small spikes designed specifically for walking or hiking in winter conditions and give you extra traction on snow and icy trails so that you don’t slip, making owing one of these as one of the best winter traction devices.
2. How effective are microspikes?
They’re incredibly effective for winter hiking, especially when it comes to icy terrain. They provide excellent traction on icy surfaces preventing slips and falls.
However, you need to ensure that you choose the right ones depending on the type of traction you need. Some with smaller spikes are only suitable in urban areas, while others with longer spikes are suitable for mountain trails and more technical terrain. Check out our guide to find the right ones that have good traction and at the same time meeting your needs.
3. When do you use micro spikes?
You should use them when hiking on packed snow that’s slippery surfaces, ice climbing on mountainous terrain or icy terrain. When used in combination with hiking poles, they provide excellent traction and significantly reduce your chances of slipping and falling.
4. How do winter hikers put on microspikes?
Microspikes for hiking are made of a flexible material that slips over your hiking boot. They’re easy to take on and off, and they fit over both shoes and hiking boots in a variety of shoe sizes.
5. How do I take care of my microspikes?
Taking proper care of them is essential for their longevity. One of the most frequent issues is rust, so ensure that you thoroughly clean and dry your pair of microspikes for hiking after each use.
It’s also a good idea to periodically check the spikes for damage, such as bent points that may cause discomfort while wearing them. If you find any, you can replace them with new ones for maximum traction and safety on winter hikes.
With regular maintenance and care, you’ll be able to use your microspikes for many years of winter hiking. I’ve had mine for over 5 years, and they’re still in great shape, despite being used on a weekly basis in winter.
6. Crampons vs microspikes. Can I use them instead of crampons?
Crampons, like the Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro are meant for more technical terrain like ice-climbing steep terrain, mountaineering and backcountry adventures. They have more aggressive traction spikes that are much longer and larger spikes, providing a better grip on snow and ice, which you need to stay safe if you’re climbing up an icy mountain.
Microspikes is a pair of spikes that provide a more light to moderate type of footwear traction (just enough traction) and are intended for easy to moderate hikes on winter months, or in some cases urban hikes. If that’s you then this type of stainless steel spikes might be the best option for you.
Related Reading: 7 Reasons Why You Need an Emergency Thermal Blanket On Every Hike