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Best Microspikes for Hiking Safely in Snow and Ice in 2024

A list of 7 best hiking microspikes and winter traction devices, including ice cleats, ice grippers, shoe spikes and the most frequently asked questions answered!

best microspikes for hiking in snow

As a team of experienced hikers, we understand the importance of having reliable microspikes for winter hiking. When it comes to hiking uphill or downhill in firm snow during the coldest of months, safety becomes paramount.

We’ve spent hours researching and testing various products to determine the best options on the market.

Our testing procedures include evaluating the durability, grip, comfort, and ease of use of each product.

For those seeking to improve their winter traction, we have compiled a list of the top 7 best hiking microspikes for 2024.

We will also discuss the distinctions between spikes and hiking crampons and address the most frequently asked questions about hiking spikes.

Our Top Pick for the Best Microspikes for Hiking

Short on time to read the full article? No problem – here is our quick recommendation for the top pick amongst the microspikes we have reviewed in this article.

Kahtoola MICROspikes

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Kahtoola MICROspikes Footwear Traction
Kahtoola MICROspikes Footwear Traction

Why Kahtoola MICROspikes are the best?

1. 12 spikes made of hardened steel

2. Welded steel chains and durable harness with patented technology provide the strongest traction

3. Used and trusted by professional Arctic explorers

Customers swear by them in their reviews:

All Reviews 4.8amazon logoAmazon 4.8
Overall Rating
4.8 2629 reviews

1. Kahtoola MICROspikes

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Kahtoola MICROspikes Footwear Traction
Kahtoola MICROspikes Footwear Traction

Last but not least on our list of the best microspikes for hiking is the Kahtoola Microspikes Traction System: it’s made of 12 heat-treated steel spikes, strategically placed for maximum traction on rugged or slippery terrain.

There are 8 spikes at the forefoot and 4 at the heel. This design makes it perfect for climbing a steep hill even if the trail is full of ice and rocks, because of the extra traction you get around your toes.

The chain is made from the same heat-treated steel as the spikes, and they are welded together, so the links are very strong.

It’s very easy to put on and use, as it has a raised heel tab you can pull back, and an integrated toe bail that gives some extra security during use.

The only thing of note as a downside to this set is that the elastomer used to make the rubber ring could be made as strong as the rest of it.

Sport Type Sporting Goods
Brand Kahtoola
Material Synthetic

What we like

Intelligent spike design

Heat-treated stainless steel spikes

Best traction device option for going uphill

The chain is very strong and durable

What we don’t like

× The elastomer rubber is the weak link

2. Black Diamond Spike

Black Diamond Distance Spike
Black Diamond Distance Spike Traction Device

Black Diamond is a very reputable brand that does some of the best shoe spikes for snow and this specific model is one of our favorite microspikes for shoes on this list.

It features heat-treated stainless steel spikes, with 8mm each. The chains are also steel, and the rubber ring is made from a dual-density elastomer that is even stronger than the regular elastomer.

The fitting design of the Brack Diamond traction device is great, and it can fit perfectly in trail runners or even running shoes.

The spikes sit on different spike plates, and those are aligned to the anatomy of the feet: it can be a viable option for running with snow or ice in the way. This is clearly an option made for athletes, so it may not be affordable for the majority of avid hikers.

Sport Type Running
Brand Black Diamond
Material Stainless Steel

What we like

Extremely durable heat-treated spikes

Dual-layered elastomer ring band

Fits most shoes, including trail runners and sneakers

Anatomic spike design

What we don’t like

× Expensive

3. Cimkiz 19 Stainless Steel Shoe Spikes

Cimkiz 19 Stainless Steel Shoe Spikes
Crampons Ice Cleats Traction Snow Grips for Boots Shoes Women Men Kids Anti Slip 19 Stainless Steel Spikes Safe Protect for Hiking Fishing Walking Climbing Mountaineering

The Cimkiz hiking microspike attachment is the number one bestselling winter traction device on Amazon, with more than 5000 reviews which is why it easily made our list of the best microspikes for hiking.

It’s made of solid steel and works with a chain and rubber ring system that attaches around the hiking shoe.

In our testing, we found that the metal spikes on these microspikes provide excellent traction on icy terrain, allowing hikers to confidently navigate slippery trails.

The ice spikes are half an inch, and the attachment itself comes in three different sizes, that fit most shoes: medium, large and extra-large. They fit in your pocket when not in use, are unisex, and come in many different colors.

Sport Type Hiking Walking Fishing Jogging Climbing Mountaineering
Style All-season
Brand Cimkiz
Material Stainless Steel

What we like

Stainless steel spikes and chains

TPE rubber ring

Many colors to choose from and match your shoes

What we don’t like

× Chain integrity issues, links may be weak

4. Hillsound Trail Crampon

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Hillsound Trail Crampon
Hillsound Trail Crampon - Ice Traction Device/Crampons, 11 Carbon Steel Spikes, 2 Year Warranty

Hillsound’s micro spikes for winter hiking come with 11 carbon steel 2/3 inch spikes, which are generally considered to be more resilient and of better quality than most other manufacturers.

Hillsound is so confident about the quality of the spikes and they offer a 2-year warranty against any damage. The chains and the rubber rings feel very solid, and they have an elastomer harness system on top of the rubber ring for a better fit.

The Hillsound trail crampon features a highly functional and broad spike plate that provides exceptional traction on the most challenging hiking trails, based on our product testing. It is available in a variety of sizes but comes in only two colors: black and red.

However, some people reported that the chains may rust and consequently break if not cared for properly.

Sport Type Multi-Sport
Brand H Hillsound
Color Black
Item Weight 0.99 Pounds

What we like

High-end carbon steel spikes

Broad plate design

Many different sizes to choose from

What we don’t like

× They are not rust proof

5. MIRACOL Ice Cleats

MIRACOL Ice Cleats
MIRACOL Ice Cleats, Snow Grips Walk Traction Crampons with 19/23 Anti-Slip Stainless Steel Spikes for Boots Shoes Hiking Walking Jogging Mountaineering, Fit Men Women Kids

Made with 19 diamond-shaped, steel spikes, MIRACOL Ice Cleats features a chain-only design, without a sole plate underneath.

The slip-on design of these snow grips, which function like a sock over your shoes, proved to be incredibly convenient during our testing, making them a great choice for those looking for lightweight winter hiking gear.

Most of the people reported positive feedback after using these ice cleats for shoes on trails with snow and thin ice.

They come in three different sizes, and four colors to match your shoes. It offers a one-year warranty for its hiking microspikes.

Sport Type Climbing, Mountaineering, Fishing, Hiking, Jogging
Brand MIRACOL
Material Stainless-Steel

What we like

Easy to use, practical take off/put on the system

Durable spikes

Chain-only system

Very light

What we don’t like

× Feel cheap

× Chains may be noisy

6. Yatta Life Heavy Duty Trail Spikes

Yatta Life Heavy Duty Trail Spikes
Yatta Life Heavy Duty Trail Spikes 14-Spikes Ice Grip Snow Cleats Footwear Crampons for Walking, Jogging, or Hiking on Snow and Ice

This option by Yatta has a heavy-duty design on its hiking spikes in extreme terrain. It comes with a functional and unique spike design, capable of folding in half and being very portable that way.

We’ve used this product extensively and have found that the elastomer rubber ring is incredibly durable, making it ideal for hiking in extreme temperatures.

The steel spikes are also strategically placed to provide maximum traction, giving you confidence while hiking in slippery conditions.

The chain is extremely solid, making the whole piece very durable. Some people reported that some of the spikes are not as strong as the chains, and could break. It comes with a convenient carrying bag.

Sport Type Climbing, Running, Fishing, Hiking, Jogging
Brand Yatta Life

What we like

Made from stainless steel and elastomer

Excellent traction

Unique spike design

Very portable carry bag

What we don’t like

× Spikes are not as strong as chains and they might break after longer use

7. Yaktrax Spikes for Walking on Ice and Snow

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Yaktrax Spikes for Walking on Ice and Snow
Yaktrax Spikes for Walking on Ice and Snow (1 Pair)

Yaktrax Spikes is a lighter version of the microspikes technology, designed for the everyday hiker. This is one of the best winter traction devices because it’s very durable and the spikes are made from tungsten carbide, one of the strongest materials on earth.

While they look like ice grippers for shoes more than the traditional shoe spikes for snow, they have seven tiny spikes in total, focused on the heel and the toes for better traction overall.

Because of this, it’s the most lightweight on this list, and will not hinder winter hiking in any way, shape, or form.

The Yaktrax spikes feature a minimalist and practical rubber ring system that is available in two sizes to fit most hiking shoes. This design makes it viable to run with these spikes on.

Trying this product revealed that it is great for park or light trail use, as the small spikes provide decent traction on icy or snowy paths. However, for more challenging hikes or steeper terrain, hikers may need to opt for larger spikes.

What we like

Very durable spikes made of tungsten carbide

Very lightweight

Can be used for running

Ideal for trails and walk-in icy parks

What we don’t like

× Not suited for extreme conditions

× Spikes are smaller than in other options

Do I Need Microspikes?

Yes, you need microspikes when hiking in difficult terrain, and when walking on thin ice and snow. You do not need them to be in your shoes at all times, however, only when the terrain gets rough.

Things to Consider Before Buying Microspikes for Hiking

micro spikes for hiking
Photo Jorge Láscar @ Flickr

Hikers that enjoy winter hiking find that purchasing microspikes is an excellent investment. They provide excellent traction on snow-packed trails and add an element of safety to your adventure by preventing you from slipping.

Microspikes are easy to use because they attach to the bottom of your regular hiking boot. When purchasing traction microspikes, consider the following items.

Durability

Yaktrax Spikes
Yaktrax Spikes

You want to choose a product that will hold up well in your hiking environment.

Since microspikes are a bit of an investment in your hiking gear, you will want ones made with quality steel or another equally strong material that will last at least through a few winters without needing to be replaced.

Weight

Look for microspikes with a lightweight design. You will often carry your spikes in your hiking backpack so you are prepared if you encounter a snowy or icy trail.

Lightweight microspikes prevent you from weighing yourself down any more than you need. You also want them to feel lightweight on your feet after attaching them to your hiking boots to help avoid leg fatigue.

Spike Length

hiking microspikes

The spike length that you need really depends on the terrain and type of traction that it requires.

The longer the spikes, the better the traction you will have on slippery surfaces such as snow, ice, and sleet because it allows your foot to dig in deep as you step.

If you are hiking up a mountain trail, you will want to use ones that have longer spikes because the slipping hazard is greater with this type of steep terrain.

Easy of use

As you decide which spikes to buy, consider the ease of use of the product. You will want to purchase a product that you can easily take on and off of your boot without assistance.

You may also want to consider ones that include a storage bag that allows you to easily pack them away when not in use.

Material

Most microspikes are made out of stainless steel, providing a strong and long-lasting product. Some newer products use materials like carbon steel or titanium.

In addition, you will want to make sure that the strap that attaches them to your boot is a high-quality material as well, such as polyurethane. A strong, well-constructed strap will prevent them from slipping off or breaking while you are hiking.

Type of Grip

Most microspikes on the market use metal spikes to provide traction and grip. However, some options use stainless steel coils wrapped in rubber to provide traction.

These types of microspikes are not recommended for serious hiking, but for regular walking on shallow snow or firm icy surfaces (such as sidewalks), they do a great job.

Size

To ensure comfort and safety, you will want to make sure that you select the correct size microspikes for your foot. Although sizing varies by brand, you want to ensure that whichever ones you choose fit snugly and are not loose on your foot.

If you are between sizes, many companies will recommend sizing down rather than up. Keep in mind that the type of shoe you intend to wear them with will also affect the fit.

Crampons vs Microspikes

CRAMPONS VS MICROSPIKES

The main difference between crampons and microspikes is the size and how aggressive the sole spikes are.

While microspikes are very useful when winter hiking on regular trails where ice and snow are in moderate amounts, the crampons for hiking are more useful when climbing Mount Everest, for example.

Crampons were first developed for hunters, mountaineers, and climbers. Their purpose was to help them navigate very difficult terrain during the winter season when a lot of ice, snow, and other obstacles were present in the way.

The best use for them is when you are hiking in steep, hilly terrain or if enormous amounts of ice are in your path.

Microspikes, on the other hand, are more modern, and cheaper. They were designed to function similarly to crampons but focused on the modern hiker and climber.

They are usually just as effective as crampons on a trail with ice and snow, but may not be enough for some of the extreme terrain found in the wilderness.

How Do I Install Microspikes?

There are three steps required for the installation of the microspike equipment on your shoes:

  1. Sit down and put your foot up, in an angled position. The microspikes will not be properly fixed if attached if your foot is down;
  2. Align the microspikes in the proper position, with the rubber attachment facing up, and the spikes facing the ground;
  3. Slip the microspikes as if they were a sock, going with the rubber ring first until it’s secured and fixed onto your shoe.

The Verdict

Black Diamond Spike

Black Diamond Distance Spike
Black Diamond Distance Spike Traction Device

Microspikes FAQs

What Are Hiking Microspikes?

Hiking microspikes are metal spikes that you can attach to the sole of your boots, or are incorporated into your boots, which will help by providing more traction when you’re ice climbing or hiking on icy or snowy terrain

Are Microspikes Effective?

Microspikes are very effective, as they break the ice and grip your boots to the ground, giving excellent traction for your walk and more friction so you do not slip and fall.

How Do You Use Microspikes for Hiking?

You use microspikes by attaching them to the sole of your boot, usually with the help of a rubber ring that goes over the boot itself. You just attach the microspike and continue walking the trail, with additional traction in ice or snow.

Can You Run On Icy Trails in Hiking Spikes?

Absolutely yes, some hiking spikes are made for winter trail running and you can do so by attaching them to your shoes. They will help by giving an extra grip on your boots and preventing you from slipping on icy trails.

Are Microspikes Adjustable?

Yes, some microspikes systems can be adjusted for better usage, or have the spikes replaced entirely should you need to. The chain system can also be adjusted, tightened, or loosened, according to each of the manufacturer’s specifications.

Last update on 2024-02-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API