The 7 Best Microspikes for Hiking in Winter (2023): And Why You Need Them

This post may include affiliate links, including Amazon Associate links. I may earn money if you click on one at no extra cost to you.

This post is also available in: German

Microspikes are a must-have piece of gear for winter hiking. 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.

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, if you plan to go in the backcountry, 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 and how to use them on your next hike and my favourite pair that ‘ve been using for the past five years and counting. I love gear that stands up 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 deeper snow,  or had spikes that kept bending and breaking.

microspikes for hiking in winter

Kahtoola MICROspikes are a fan favourite and have a loyal following. They have three different 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, 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.

Best Microspikes for Moderate to Difficult Winter Hiking & Mountaineering
Kahtoola MICROspikes Footwear Traction for Winter Trail Hiking & Ice Mountaineering
✅: BEST FOR HIKING IN HEAVY SNOW OR VERY LIGHT MOUNTAINEERING: The Kahtoola MICROspikes Footwear Traction are perfect for winter hiking, backpacking, ice-trekking, trail and more! With 12 spikes per foot that are heat-treated stainless steel and  3/8" long, these sharp spikes provide aggressive traction on icy trails and perform well in snowy conditions.
✅: TOUGH & DURABLE: The Tough TPU inserts reinforce key stress points, allowing the elastomer harness to be strong yet lightweight. The Kahtoola MICROspikes also feature an integrated toe bail and tough TPU inserts prevent the toe from breaking the stretchy elastomer harness.
Buy on Amazon
Best Microspikes for Hiking on Mixed Terrain Winter HIking on Packed Trails
Kahtoola EXOspikes Footwear Traction for Winter Hiking & Running in Snow, Ice & Rocky Terrain
✅: BEST FOR HIKING ON SNOW-PACKED TRAILS: The Kahtoola EXOspikes Footwear Traction are perfect if you plan on hiking on mixed surfaces, from packed snow to mountain terrain to snow-covered roads.  They're a super versatile microspike. The 12 spikes at .29" long,  per foot are designed with three levels of optimal traction to handle a variety of terrain and icy conditions.
✅: TOUGH AND DURABLE: The Kahtoola EXOspikes Footwear Traction feature an industry-first TPU Traction Matrix that is extremely durable and more abrasion resistant than steel. This allows the spikes to quickly shed snow, making your winter hiking easier and enabling them to adapt to a wide range of flexible footwear.
Buy on Amazon
Best Mirospikes for  Walking on Roads & Road Running
Kahtoola NANOspikes Footwear Traction for Icy Winter Road Running & Walking
✅: BEST FOR ROAD RUNNING AND WALKING ON CITY STREETS: Kahtoola NANOspikes Footwear Traction are a great choice for urban hikes, walks or runs on pavement or urban settings where the path or road is covered with hard-packed snow or ice. They feature ten spikes per foot at .21" long that provide plenty of traction for gripping icy surfaces.
Buy on Amazon
Runnerup for Best Microspikes for Backcountry Adventures
Hillsound Trail Crampon I Ice Cleat Traction System
✅: BEST FOR BACKCOUNTRY HIKING: The Hillsound Trail Crampon I Ice Cleat Traction System are designed to perform well in a variety of winter weather conditions. They're ideal for backcountry hiking, winter hiking on steeper slopes, and even glacier walking as they provide excellent grip on ice and snow.
✅: TRACTION: The Hillsound Trail Crampon I Ice Cleat Traction System feature a carbon steel plate system with 11 carbon steel 17mm spikes per foot. The hinged front plate system provides flexibility and stability on steep terrain and icy trails.
Buy on Amazon
Runnerup for Best Microspikes for Urban Hikes and Walking on Roads
Yaktrax Diamond Grip All-Surface Traction Cleats for Walking on Ice and Snow
✅: BEST FOR URBAN HIKES AND WALKING ON ROADS: Yaktrax Diamond grip all-surface traction cleats offer superior traction for walking in any weather condition, including icy sidewalks and streets.
✅: PATENTED DESIGN: Diamond Grip’S patented Diamond Beads feature hundreds of sharp edges t grip in all directions for maximum traction.
Buy on Amazon
My Personal Favorites
CAMP Snowline Chainsen Pro
✅: BEST FOR HIKING ON ICE AND PACKED SNOW: provide excellent traction on ice and packed snow to keep you from slipping
✅: MY FAVOURITE MICROSPIKES: The Camp Snowline Chainsen Pro are my personal favorites because they provide excellent grip even on steep slopes. They're super lightweight and pack up easily and don't take up much space in my hiking backpack.   I also love that they actually stay on your feet - even in deep snow. I've never had them come off no matter the terrain. I've had mine for five years, and despite regular use, they still show no sign of rust.
Buy on Amazon
Best Budget Microspikes
EnergeticSky Upgraded Version of Walk Traction
✅: BEST BUDGET MIRCOSPIKES FOR URBAN HIKES: While I definitely wouldn't take these on a more serious hike, they're great for extra grip on urban hikes or walks. Their 19 stainless steel spikes per foot move in different directions providing additional traction on slippery surfaces.
✅: CAN HANDLE THE COLD: The manufacturer claims they remain flexible until an incredible -60F. I personally won't be testing that out. Brrrrr
Buy on Amazon

Insider Winter Hiking Tip: Don’t wear your microspikes on dry sections, 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. 


hiking shoes with microspikes

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 ice so that you don’t slip. 

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 for you. 

3. When do you use micro spikes?

You should use them when hiking on packed snow that’s slippery 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 I put on microspikes?

Microspikes 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 them 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?

unlike hiking or trekking, mountaineering involves more equipment like crampons

Crampons, like the Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro are meant for more technical terrain like ice-climbing, mountaineering and backcountry adventures. They have more aggressive spikes that are much longer and stronger, providing a better grip on snow and ice, which you need to stay safe if you’re climbing up an icy mountain.

Microspikes provide a more light to moderate type of traction and are intended for easy to moderate winter hikes or, in some cases urban hikes.


Conclusion

Microspikes are one of the most important pieces of winter gear that you need when hiking in winter. Fortunately, they’re not very expensive and will keep you from slipping and falling, so they’re definitely a sound investment.

Check out our winter gear guide for more details on other gear you need and our article with 22 Winter Hiking Tips

best microspikes for winter hiking

Leave a Comment

outdoor holiday gift guide
outdoor holiday deals