Editors' Choice Gold 2012: Kahtoola MICROspikes

Tackle slick terrain with confidence–and a light load.

Moderate alpine routes often cause a safety vs. weight dilemma: Carry conventional crampons (heavy!) for low-angle snow and ice, or go without and risk a dangerous fall. Happily, MICROspikes offer a middle way, offering lightweight traction for use with any type of shoe. Since they came out in 2007, our staffers have used the low-profile spikes from the Rockies to the Alps. The steel teeth—almost a half-inch long—“bite into snow and icy trails like a mini crampon,” says one editor who used them to climb Chile’s Volcano San Pedro. “And the secure attachment doesn’t slip or shift.”

They couldn’t be easier to put on: Simply stretch the well-marked, elastic red band over any hiking boot or lowcut shoe and go (the XL fits over one editor’s size 13 mountaineering boots). Just make sure your partner packs a pair. A pregnant tester wearing the MICROspikes felt plenty secure on a Christmas day hike along the icy Lion Gulch Trail in Colorado, but she was bummed when her husband opted for a shorter route because his rubber-soled boots weren’t cutting it. Bonus: The 2012 model is updated with an easy-on heel tab, reinforced eyelets, and an even more durable band. $60; 14.4 oz. (L); XS-XL; kahtoola.com