Monday, 18 March 2013

Kahtoola Microspikes Review

I had been looking at buying a pair of crampons to take with me on winter hikes, but I had foreseen a few problems. Firstly crampons are expensive, even the cheapest good looking pair are retailing for around £80! Secondly, you can look like your taking things a bit extreme taking on a hill in crampons - admittedly they are great if your going to be climbing ice, crossing ice filled routes or in constant deep snow. But like the average hiker, your probably going to come to point where you need to remove your crampons because your suddenly on rocky or shale type terrain. Plus they can be a bit of a pain, making a hike in a winter wonderland a trickier than need be affair. And thirdly and simply, crampons are a bulky item to transport, taking up some serious room in your rucksack, the time has come for an alternative.
 So after trawling various outdoor stores and on-line retailers I came to the conclusion there was only one option for what I needed - and that was Kahtoola Microspikes. Very much recommended from friends and other outdoor types these seem to have established something of a thumbs up from even the harshest of reviewers.
 photo DSCF1851_zpsb4da8e9c.jpg  On first glances I have to admit I wasn't impressed. Number one there red, they look a bit like your making a statement by having something of that colour on your boots. Second the spikes are attached to a snow chain that looks a bit flimsy. But to be fair they are also an eyebrow raiser, I put on my hiking boots and put the Kahtoola Microspikes over them. I bought mine in a large size which according to the website was my size for a size 10 boot. They fitted surprisingly snug, almost like they were made specifically for my boots, and they stretched fairly easy too across them without feeling like they could be kicked off. So, they seem great at home but how have they performed in the great outdoors?...
These are absolutely fantastic to pack into your rucksack, they scrunch right down to fit in those side pockets or perhaps in the lid. They are also lightweight to carry, you really can't notice them in your pack when hiking. 
 They are marked left and right so you can't get mixed up, and they are easy to get on even on the hill... photo DSCF1848_zpse7e86910.jpg Right, lets go hiking...  photo DSCF1849_zps677e6ddf.jpg Feeling good... photo DSCF1853_zpsa3216211.jpg
In deep snow they are a comfort preventing slipping and helping make a quicker pace... photo DSCF1869_zps2cdce03b.jpg
Onto rockier terrain the Microspikes again were a comfort to be wearing, stopping the worry of slipping that you would get just in your boots... photo DSCF1861_zps3137b8c8.jpg It takes a bit of time to get used to wearing something like this, you get the feeling that your going to slip because your on ice, but then you realise your already on ice and your walking like your wearing shoes on Tarmac. These are a real revolution... photo DSCF1876_zpsb3d6aae9.jpg
They made easy work of sheets of ice on the hill and made me feel confident you could take on some fairly tricky terrain. I don't think they are an alternative to crampons, by any means, especially on more serious terrain, but these certainly are a great choice for hill walking in winter.
 After the walk they packed back down nice and easy into my rucksack ready for the next trip to the hills in this seemingly extended winter. I can't wait to get back out there just to test these out again. I couldn't recommend these higher, and retailing around the £45 mark these are a steal for what they do - go get them now!

5 out of 5 stars


earthenmagic said...

...awesome review! ~ nothing like road testing a worthy product! ~ cheers! ~ dear kindred brother!...(0:

afootinthehills said...

I've found them excellent but in some conditions they can ball up so care is needed.

That said I wouldn't be without them, but in true winter conditions in Scotland(like those we've had this year)I wouldn't go without my crampons.

Geoff Edwards said...

I've had my Kahtoola Microspikes for 3 years and I can honestly say they are the best piece of gear I've bought in nearly 50 years of going to the hills.

Fell Finder said...

Thanks for the comments! I agree, these are not for serious icy routes, but they are great for walking the hills in winter without lugging around crampons. Have a look at this video for using them

Anonymous said...

I know someone who's used them when out dog walking on icy urban pavements this winter and swears they've made a huge difference; particularly on dark mornings when the snow and ice had become compacted.

Good review Steve.

Fell Finder said...


Yes they are good on the pavements where other brands fail. It's quite amazing how good these really are, where visually they seem to look a bit flimsy.

Thanks again.

Stephen Rabone said...

They're a most useful product. I've used them in Scotland on snow and flattish ice and after I'd come off the snow also found them excellent on really slippy boggy grass!

My wife and I wore them on winter paths around Zermatt in Switzerland. We'd used our Yaktrax going uphill which give a good grip on paths but coming down swopped to the Microspikes. Other walkers on the icy paths with big drops were looking nervous. With the spikes it was almost like walking on a normal path.