Kahtoola MICROspikes Review
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Kahtoola has been making quality traction devices since 1999. They are nestled in the beautiful high mountain town of Flagstaff, Arizona which, in my humble opinion, is a very nice place to play in the snow. A couple of years ago, we had the pleasure of testing the Kahtoola MICROspikes, and while at the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City I was given the Upgraded version. I feel kind of privileged to be taking these bad boys out in my equally beautiful backyard – Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.
Kahtoola’s Upgraded MICROspikes Footwear Traction First Thoughts
From what I can see, these upgraded MICROspikes are kind of your middle of the road crampon, ice gripper, or traction device that seems to be quite versatile. Great for a variety of outdoor winter uses like hiking, climbing, ice fishing, running, and I’m sure others I just haven’t thought of yet. It appeals to anybody wanting to get out into the great outdoors while providing a safe and sound underfoot. I have had the opportunity to test these in a wide variety of conditions: hard packed snow, 6″ of fresh powder, slush, sheets of frozen ice, and some sandy trails cleared of snow by gusty winds. Kahtoola makes hiking crampons, as well as the recently reviewed, NANOspikes, which is a less aggressive version and caters to the trail runner (see review HERE).
I run quite a bit because of the health benefit, but also because I get to explore and see places many others never get to venture to. The Colorado Rocky Mountains have plenty of trails, hidden gems, and peaks for the taking with views that are absolutely stunning. I live in Denver, and within one hour drive, the foothills and nearby National Forests, State Parks, and 14,000’ peaks provide year round enjoyment of some amazing trails. 9 months out of the year, some decent trail shoes will get you where you want to go. It’s those other 3 months where Kahtoola’s Upgraded MICROspikes will come in great.
- 38% lighter elastomer harness – less weight, lower profile, easier to pack down.
- Reinforced eyelets – more durable construction, higher tolerance for wear.
- Upgraded toe bale – now integrated into elastomer for greater comfort.
They call them ‘Micro’, but when you take a closer look, you will notice some pretty aggressive spikes. There are 12 in all on each foot; 8 in the front and 4 in the back. The spikes are joined in tandem to work together, but with 6 sets of those, they can flex and bend as you tackle the ever changing terrain.
They come in a small black cinch bag to protect them, and more importantly, the inside of my hydration pack. I decided to add on a few extra miles to run back to our cabin which was on dirt and asphalt, and I was quickly able to take these off, put them the bag, and stuff them in my pack for the rest of the way home.
Performance of the Kahtoola’s Upgraded MicroSpikes
When I am not running on the roads, or trails, I will also take my running snowshoes out (see review HERE) to tackle the deeper snows while still being able to cover some ground, get away from the busier trailheads, and get in a killer workout. It’s that area in between where you NEED these simple yet effective running devices to get you where you want to go in a safe and effective manner.
Valentine’s Day provided the perfect opportunity to take Kahtoola’s Upgraded MicroSpikes out for a run. My wife and I had a baby sitter, and we were able to go explore beautiful Golden Gate Canyon State Park in Colorado. We have had snow the past few months, but with intermittent warm spells, the snow was quite light even up around 9500’ of elevation. This past week, we experienced temperatures in the 60’s, and guess what, most of the snow had melted. On the shadier mountain trails in the woods, much of the snow had melted and refrozen to provide for pretty dangerous slick icy conditions.
We started out in our trail shoes, but quickly encountered narrow frozen trails, and that’s when I put on my MicroSpikes. I’d say 1% of the trail was dirt, 10% deeper snow, 70% hard packed snow, and that leaves about 19% of treacherous icy trail conditions. Aside from the 2 exposed rocks I had to side step, my spikes worked beautifully. Perfect on the hard packed snow conditions, but where they really stepped up to the plate was the ice. Those few spots where the sun had melted the snow, and the nighttime temperatures froze it all into a sheet of ice is where I sped through with great confidence. Not a single mis-step, and the spikes dug in for me to be able to push off strongly.
Lastly, I took these out on some local trails after a snowfall of 6 inches or so. The packed snow below played a role, but I did sink a bit in all the fresh stuff. Factor in that I did have to cross a few paths and roads that were mostly cleared, the spikes did dig into my feet ever so slightly. If you know you are going to have to hit some harder surfaces, these may not be the device of choice, but I never had to worry about slipping or sliding at all no matter the conditions. And with the ease of taking these on and off, you can easily traverse many trails, roads, and paths.
Who the Kahtoola MICROspikes are for:
If the paths, roads, or trails are iced over or snow covered with at least a couple of inches Kahtoola MICROspikes will come in quite handy. If you are simply going for a walk in your neighborhood, they will definitely fit the bill. Taking them on the trails is where these guys will really feel at home because of the wide variations of conditions that could be encountered.
Final Thoughts on the Kahtoola MICROspikes
Kahtoola’s Microspikes are a perfect companion to battle any snow or ice conditions. They are small and light enough that you can put them on, or take them off at a moments notice as the road or trail conditions change. They are constructed with a rugged steel spike combination, and the rubber skeleton allows for enough stretch to slide them over your shoes. For more information on Kahtoola’s line of traction devices visit: www.kathoola.com, www.rei.com or www.amazon.com/kahtoola.