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Backpacker Magazine – Fall/Winter Gear Guide 2012

Gear Review: Yaktrax XTR

A bomber traction device that's durable and versatile.

by: Kristin Hostetter

Yaktrax XTR
Yaktrax XTR

Kristin's Picks
More gear favorites from the uber-tester
[instant traction]
Gear-testing trips often lead me into unknown winter conditions, and a good traction device can mean the difference between turning back and forging ahead. I like to carry this kind of traction device instead of crampons whenever possible because they’re lighter and easier to pack. The XTRs gave me ice-grabbing security on a February ascent of New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington. The plastic toe and heel plate under the 3/8-inch steel spikes prevented snow from getting packed into the bottom of my boots, making it easy to navigate the icy Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail. A bomber rubber gasket makes the XTR easy to get on and off, and it stretches to fit multiple shoe types, from low-cut dayhikers to alpine touring boots (up to men’s 14). $60; 12 oz. (m); S-XXL; yaktrax.com

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Star
wyatt
Dec 06, 2012

OK, now KH & BM are really confused. Although the Fall/Winter 2012 Gear Guide seems to be recommending the YakTrax XTR mini-crampons, if ones goes to the webpage for Kahtoola MICROspikes you'll see on the upper right hand side of the page, a small box that reads "Backpacker Magazine 2012 Editor's Choice Gold Award" with a yellow boot print. So let's see, Kahtoola gets the award but KH/BM is recommending that we purchase the XTRs? These products are priced the same and weigh the same per size.
XTRs have the anti-snow build up plate (good feature), and the MICROspikes have a nearly unbreakable polymer main band (great feature). So far the comment reviews favor the Kahtoolas.
BM was once so reliable and credible, perhaps they're celebrating Amendment 64 early?

Star
LazyLightning
Dec 05, 2012

I'm sorry part of my comment didn't get posted... My friend whom I do a lot of hiking with forgot their Kahtoola's on a recent trip and actually bought a pair of these XTR's (no kahtoola spikes were available). After 12 miles of semi rouged terrain, the XTR's were already showing signs of wear and breakage. I never post and I do appreciate the editor's reviews, but Yaktrax is a joke.

Star
LazyLightning
Dec 05, 2012

I have used the same pair of Kahtoola microspikes to hike to and from Phantom Ranch Grand Canyon for over 3 years now, without any slip or breakage. Far more what I can say about any Yaktrax. I've also used them in the Olympic National Park, and can say I've never had any problem with snow build up... Good luck, hope you enjoy buying a new set of Yaktrax every year.

Star Star Star Star Star
Becca Stubbs
Dec 04, 2012

Hands-down one of the most useful things in my fall, winter, and spring backpack for any kind of hiking in Colorado where the shady trails can be unexpectedly covered with layers of ice. The spikes aren't so cumbersome to trip you up, and will give you that extra stability when slipping could mean breaking an ankle. I've crossed frozen streams with slick ice without fear of falling many a time in these bad babies.

Star Star Star
wyatt
Dec 04, 2012

Actually thought MICROspike was a Kahtoola patented product. Microspike, kind of like Kleenex, we know what you mean. Did you do a side-by-side comparison between the YakTrax and the Kahtoolas? The anti-snow build up plate on the YakTrax is better, but the bombproof polymer main boot band is superior to the YakTrax rubber band.

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