For winter hiking footwear, you will want to consider purchasing some hiking spikes or traction cleats. Also known as hiking microspikes, these essential types of winter traction devices help you achieve the best grip on icy surfaces even when wearing only your trail runners.
Our hiking experts reviewed many different types and price levels to help you find the best microspikes with great traction.
After hiking all types of winter conditions and icy trails, our hours of thorough testing and analysis provided a list of the seven best microspikes for hiking on the market.
Keep reading to discover our research-based top options for excellent traction in snowy conditions and frozen ground.
Our Top Recommended Microspikes for Hiking
(1) Kahtoola EXOspikes
The fairly aggressive spikes on this set are aluminum nanospikes instead of traditional spikes. There are 12 spikes per foot (each 0.29-inch) that allow for three types of traction.
We found that the unique design of these Kahtoola microspikes allowed them to efficiently shed soft snow when walking, and they were also more lightweight than stainless steel spike options.
Our team of winter hikers used them on steep terrain, icy sidewalks, and backcountry-packed snow trails. Make sure to review the sizing chart for the Kahtoola EXOspikes before ordering.
- Durable straps that stay on well with a variety of different footwear.
- Industry-first TPU lugs are highly durable and more abrasion resistant than steel.
- Reinforced eyelets allow the elastomer harness to remain lightweight and still strong.
- Some customers say they run small and do not fit well over their desired footwear. Make sure to double-check the sizing chart before ordering your standard size.
We recommend ordering a size up from your usual size if you plan to wear them over heavier mountaineering boots. Overall, they are durable microspikes and should last several seasons.
(2) Kahtoola Microspikes
If you need something a little more heavy-duty to get you through areas of ice and deep snow, Kahtoola microspikes make a great option.
We like the distribution of the 12 stainless steel spikes to help with even traction regardless of the position of our foot. The elastomer shoe harness attaches the device to the footwear and remains flexible even in the coldest temperatures.
They’re a little higher cost than some other brands, but we trust the Kahtoola name, which makes some of the best crampons microspikes for hiking around, and found that they hold up well and are made with good quality materials.
- Easy to put on and remove when needed, even with gloves on.
- Includes a storage bag to pack them in when not in use.
- Wide variety of sizes to meet the needs of different sizes of feet and various footwear.
- Some conditions (such as heavy and wet snow) can cause snow build-up under the foot.
- Kahtoola microspikes are heavier than some of the other available options on the market.
These traction devices are one of our go-to options for trail runners and backpacking during winter.
(3) Black Diamond Access Spike
The 14 stainless steel spikes on this durable pair of microspikes provide the ultimate level of traction and stability in icy and wintery conditions. We found that they held up well even in rocky terrain.
We like that these winter traction devices are lightweight even though they are well-constructed, which makes them easily packable for day hikes and other adventures. We recommend using these for mountain hikes or winter trail running.
Even though the spikes are only 8 mm in length, they provided as much traction and stability as the ones we’ve tried with larger spikes. The shorter spikes also helped a bit with the issue of snow packing underneath.
- Heat-treated steel spikes resist corrosion and wear.
- Optimized 8-mm length spikes provide enough traction and resist packed snow build-up underneath.
- Great for trail running, hiking, backpacking, and other winter activities in icy conditions.
- Extremely durable build that provides excellent traction for many seasons.
- The heel webbing loop helps you easily put them on and take them off.
- Not as affordable as some of the other options on the market.
- A newer product, so it does not have years of testing behind it.
The fit is also very comfortable, and the mesh toe cover helped them to feel secure in different shoes. Although they are comparable to the Black Diamond Distance spikes, they are a bit less expensive.
(4) ICETrekkers Diamond Grip
ICETrekkers Diamond Grip microspikes are a bit different than other types of microspikes on the market.
Instead of steel spikes to help grip the deep snow and ice, they are made of aircraft cables that allow these winter traction devices to provide a grip in all different directions.
One of our favorite features about these microspikes is that they are self-cleaning. We never experience snow or ice buildup underneath, which helps significantly with slippery surfaces.
We’ve used them on ice and backcountry snow trails and they held up well and prevented slipping on both types of terrain.
- Comfortable walking on mixed terrain and with different shoe types.
- Self-cleaning design helps provide excellent traction as you walk and reduces snow buildup.
- The rubber shoe harness stays flexible and secure even in the coldest conditions.
- The compact design makes them easy to pack.
- Not as durable as some of the other microspikes on the market.
- Tend to be heavier microspikes than some of the other options.
They also transition quite well from snow and ice to bare pavement and make a great choice for avid winter hikers and trail runners. Also, some winter runners reported it as being their favorite traction device.
(5) Yaktrax Pro Traction Cleats
Another good option for great traction when hiking, walking, or trail running on ice or tightly packed snow is the Yaktrax Pro Traction Cleats.
These microspikes use ice cleats instead of spikes to provide extra traction and prevent slipping on these winter hiking surfaces.
One of the best things about these microspikes is that they are perfect for everyday use and easy to take on and off when needed. They are also ultralight.
We like using these to gain traction on winter days when running errands because we can easily remove them and place them in a coat pocket or purse and there are no sharp spikes to get in the way.
- Ice cleats provide excellent traction on a variety of slippery winter surfaces, including ice and softer surfaces with deep snow.
- Lightweight and easy to put on, and remove, and the right size to easily store.
- A great option for someone looking for a spike-free design.
- Not as durable as some other options on the market, and some users say that they had issues with breaking more quickly than other models.
If you’re looking for a pair of microspikes for a treacherous winter hike or steep hills, we recommend choosing a more heavy-duty option with longer spikes.
However, if used for light walks on hard surfaces, running, or around-town activities, the Yaktrax Pro Traction System makes a great option.
(6) Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra
The design of the front of the microspikes has them divided into two sections which increase your mobility on any type of winter adventure.
If you plan on doing some serious winter hiking or hitting up very snowy and icy trails, you will find that the Hillsound Trail Crampons will undoubtedly meet your needs. These crampon-style microspikes have carbon steel spikes made to last.
With serious winter hikes can come serious fatigue. The Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra addresses this issue with its ergonomic plate system, providing the best traction possible and reducing fatigue.
- Elastomer harness and durable strap fit over various hiking boots and provide a secure fit without slipping off or needing adjusting.
- The spike length is excellent for easy hiking through thick ice and steep slopes or technical terrain.
- Best option for avid hikers who like to hike snowy and icy trails in the winter.
- These microspikes are heavier than others on the market and may way down your backpack when hiking.
The large spikes have a winter traction level you can’t beat, making these our favorite best microspikes for mountains and other backcountry areas where you need to wear rugged shoes.
7) Kahtoola NANOspikes
These Kahtoola nanospikes provide great traction for hiking, taking a walk, and road running on slippery terrain during icy conditions.
Because these reliable traction devices are compact, they are easy to carry and slip on quickly over your running shoes or hiking boots. Overall, they are some of the best hiking microspikes on the market.
We particularly liked these for road running during the winter, as they allowed for an easy transition between icy and dry pavement and made it easy to get up and down inclines without affecting our stride.
They also worked great on flat gravel trails.
- Best for everyday use.
- Sturdy and durable design that holds up well under typical use.
- Easy to put on and take off, and clean.
- The compact design makes them easy to carry with you for use when needed.
- Not intended for deep snow because it can cause slipping on deeper snow and thin black ice.
We did notice that they lose some of their effectiveness if used in areas where there is snow accumulation, so we wouldn’t recommend using them for more intense or strenuous technical hikes.
Are Microspikes For Hiking Worth It?
Microspikes for hiking are worth it because they provide the ultimate traction needed to navigate the icy sections of hiking trails, mountains with icy terrain, and any other types of slippery conditions.
A winter traction device is an excellent investment if you are an avid hiker and want to continue your winter hikes without trouble.
Even if you are not an avid hiker, you may want to invest in a pair of microspikes if you live in an area that experiences harsh winter weather conditions.
You can put them over your winter boots, and they will provide traction on regular surfaces, such as roads where thick ice and shallow snow accumulate, ultimately preventing you from slipping and taking a fall.
What To Look For When Buying Microspikes
When considering the best hiking microspikes, you will want to look at the following criteria to help you choose the right traction device.
Type of Grip
Although most microspikes have metal or stainless-steel spikes that provide traction on icy surfaces, some of them, like the Yaktrax Pro Traction System, utilize an ice cleat design as the traction device.
Both types of grip work well, so you should choose the one that you find most comfortable. The best hiking microspikes will help you gain more traction on snowy and icy surfaces.
Ease of Use
You must find a pair of microspikes that are easy for you to put on and take off, especially if you plan on wearing them more on concrete streets or trail running than technical trails.
Try putting them on and taking them off with the shoes you will wear the most and see if you have any difficulty with the process.
Number and Length of Spikes
Microspikes for hiking options exist with both longer and shorter spikes, and both work well for the majority of winter hiking situations you will encounter, including icy city streets.
If you are hiking someplace steep like the Appalachian Trail, you would want to consider longer ice spikes instead of ice traction cleats, as they are best for the type of ice climbing you will encounter in these mountains and other similar areas.
Our experts have experience with all aspects of ice climbing and know that any more weight in the backpack slows down the process. None of us wants to worry about carrying anything extra, especially in icy terrain.
For this reason, the best trail crampon microspikes tend to be lightweight ones that we can easily store when we need to remove them for areas that may only require our winter hiking boots.
Lightweight hiking microspikes are some of the best winter traction devices that you can find to attach to your regular hiking shoes and provide grip whenever you go winter hiking.
Before choosing the best microspikes, consider the type of traction that you need based on whether you will hike or walk mostly on ice or deep snow.
You must find the best combination of durability, traction versatility, snow grips, and support while sticking to your budget.
Consider both the material of the microspikes and the Velcro strap when deciding which option to purchase. Stainless steel chains and steel coils are great options, as these winter traction devices are durable and resist corrosion.
Some newer options consist of materials like tungsten carbide, which makes for smaller spikes and weighs less than other types. Also, consider the stretch of the harness and whether it stays flexible in freezing temperatures.
Deciphering the different sizes of microspikes can be one of the most challenging steps when purchasing a new pair.
You will want to ensure that your snow grips fit over most boots or hiking shoes you plan on wearing.
Make sure to review the sizing charts for the brand you are purchasing and read customer input regarding the size of the traction device.
What Is the Difference Between Microspikes and Crampons?
The main difference between hiking microspikes and crampons is the material of the harnesses (metal body vs. rubber body), the length of the spikes, and the terrain on which you will use them. Both trail crampons and microspikes function as snow grips.
You can use both microspikes and trail crampons in snowy and icy conditions, but hiking crampons have large spikes to provide better traction on the most technical terrain, such as glaciers, frozen waterfalls, icy rocks, or snowfields.
Microspikes are best suited for moderately icy hiking trails, walking paths, or gravel packed in tight snow.
Our Recommended Product
Although the hiking micro spikes we’ve reviewed are all high-quality, durable, and provide additional traction during the winter, the Kahtoola EXOspikes stand out as the best microspikes for hiking.
These traction devices are backed by a well-known and trusted Kahtoola microspikes name and have just the right size hiking microspikes made out of tungsten carbide to make them compact and ultralight.
However, these microspikes for hiking remain versatile enough to provide excellent grip on walks and hikes.
We also like that they fit on various hiking boots and footwear, giving everyone the confidence they need to walk outdoors in icy areas securely.
You can walk on rocks in hiking microspikes, but you want to make sure that you have ones with steel spikes to give you a good grip on the rock without getting damaged.
Yes, snow spikes are necessary gear for hikes if you live in a snowy climate. The best microspikes for hiking help keep you stable and able to stand upright in ice or snow.
Yes, most microspikes can transition from ice and snow to pavement without any issue. Depending on the style, some may be noisier than others when walking on this type of surface.
The size of hiking micro spikes depends on the type of icy terrain in which you will wear them. Use longer spikes for more technical terrain and shorter spikes for trail running, hiking in normal winter conditions, and everyday errands.