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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Gear Review: Microcrampons

When the conditions call for grip but not burly crampons, strap on one of these three microcrampon options and feel secure on ice and snow.

by: Katie Herrell

PAGE 1 2 3
YakTrax Pro
YakTrax Pro
STABILicers Sport
STABILicers Sport
Kahtoohla Microspikes
Kahtoohla Microspikes

[trail runners]
YakTrax Pro
The light weight, low-profile metal traction coils, and flexible rubber casing that attaches firmly with a Velcro strap across the center, top of your shoe (or light boot), make these microcrampons ideal for trail running or easy- to medium-level hiking. One tester confidently churned out sub-8:00 minute miles on a narrow, snow-packed trail that was riddled with the occasional icy spot. The metal coils wrapped around the rubber underside can get stuffed with snow, so when tromping through really deep or heavy white stuff something with a heftier spike setup, like Kahtoola, is ideal. The low-profile coils (metal wires wrapped around the rubber underside), are easy to toss in a bag without worrying about shredding neighboring clothing. While not designed for serious icy climbs or descents, these microcrampons transition with ease from snow to dirt to pavement without excessive clacking or catching on the various surfaces. They are also super easy to pull on and off, but after a heavy season of use be sure to inspect the coils because we experienced some breakage. Bonus: One tester found they gripped on muddy surfaces surprisingly well.

The Specs:
Price: $30
Weight: 5 oz./pair (M)
S - Men's 5-8.5, Women's 6.5-10.
M - Men's 9-11, Women's 10.5-12.5.
L - Men's 11.5-13.5, Women's 13-15.
XL - Men's 14+, Women's 15.5+.

PAGE 1 2 3

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Reader Rating: -


Chris Whitney
Mar 14, 2013

I have had two pairs of these Yak Trax Pro and used these to shovel snow on my steep driveway only to find out after 2-uses they fell apart. I wrote to Yak Trax, and they were kind enough to point-out that these are only designed to be used on snow, ice, or dirt not sidewalkds or any hard surface i.e. rocks. Don't kid yourself that you'll be able to wear them on trails unless they are completely snow or ice covered.

Star Star Star Star Star
Mar 12, 2013

No review for the Hillsound trail crampon!?!? In my opinion they are way better than the Kahtoola microspikes... Sad that REI don't have them.. But you can get at or EMS...

Kenny popp
Dec 03, 2010

Petzl has a 6 point crampon similar to my pair bought from campmoor a few years ago. they have helped us on the AT in January. They are not good when the snow is starting to melt as they then hold snow, but when there are lots of ice patches, they let you cruze on. they are also good since there are no spikes which could stick out the front to hit your ankle or boots, unless you step on your other foot. They are not too heavy for the help they provide. It would be nice if they had clips to allow them to be put on quicker. They do adjust to your boot.

Eric Nelson
Dec 03, 2010

Steve, I checked out the Hillsound Trail and it looks like a tame version of a real crampon. How much did they cost? Does the manufacturer sell them? I have no dealer within 400 miles of me. REI does not carry them, and that's about all I have within a five hour drive.

Jack Pittrof
Dec 03, 2010

Dec 01, 2010

I have a pair of Hillsound Trail crampons that have been great. Used them in Feb hiking in & out of Grand Canyon, and around the upper midwest during training hikes. They worked great, worked through thick ice & snow and felt very stable with 40lb pack. They're design is very similar to the Kahtoola's, I just liked the design of the Hillsound's better. They don't get a lot of press.

No question, they're not a replacement for mountaineering crampons, but for use outside of mountaineering the Hillsound's fit meet my needs.

Matt Lacuesta
Nov 15, 2010

I would compare the Kahtoohla Microspikes more the the Yaktrax XTR's. They are similar in style and size of spikes, and the XTR's have an anti-snow pack plate which I know is always a plus with regular crampons. The kind folks at YakTrax sent me a pair along with the rest of their traction products to write about and am excited to get out out of town (Denver) and into the mountains to test them out.

Matt Wofford
Nov 05, 2010

Little dissapointed that instep crampons were not included in this list

Matt Wofford
Nov 05, 2010

Little dissapointed that instep crampons were not included in this list

Oct 11, 2010

I have found it quite the contrary, the kahtoola's are easy to put on, and have provided m with great traction in almost every condition. Granted they will do nothing for you in thick powder, but I have used them on multiple ascents and they are one of the two things besides the ten essentials that I take on every hike.

They are so small and compact I don't even need a carrying case for them, I just have them in a quart freezer bag always on the top of my pack for easy accessibility.

I have had mine going into my th season now, and I hike primarily in the winter in the NW so after Feb, at least here in WA you don't come across a lot of thickpowder, just compact snow and ice. and in that these babies shine

Eric nelson
Oct 06, 2010

I really have to say that these are not crampons. If ice slope is even a little above about 5 degrees forget it. You'll just slide right down. They are great for slippery sidewalks or slushy trails with some ice one them but not for travel on forzen snowpack or glaciers. Spend the money and get real cranmpons.


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