Gear of the Week: Hillsound FlexSteps

Keep your footing on snowy trails with these packable spikes.

Our take Mini-spike traction should be known as the 11th essential during shoulder season in cold climates, and FlexSteps are the most packable full-sized version we’ve used. Their 18, 1/5-inch stainless steel spikes are large enough grip on slick ice but small enough that they won’t trip you up in snow-free transition zones. The FlexSteps pack down to the size of a softball in their included stuff sack, and at just over 12 ounces you’ll barely notice them in your pack. 

The details The rubberized toe and heel plates are separated by two strips of stretchy rubber, allowing flexibility and hassle-free fit on everything from trail running shoes to bulky leather boots; one tester even secured them in place while standing on one leg and shouldering a 25-pound pack. A hook-and-loop strap over the top of the foot never came loose , even when we repeatedly broke through thick snow crust in the Pacific Northwest.

Trail cred “On the ice-covered rock steps near the top of Beckler Peak in Washington’s Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, the FlexSteps provided me with plenty of security and kept me moving at a steady pace,” one tester says.

12.3 oz. (pair M); XS-XL; Buy Hillsound FlexSteps now for $55