Over the course of this blog I’ve written about footwear I don’t know how many times. This, to me, is getting kind of old – albeit useful as your feet get ya where ya go…
Anyway, this week is all about a serious piece of low-level tech that just may be my new favorite piece in my backcountry kit: microspikes!
First; the tech. Microspikes are made by Kahtoola, the company behind Nanospikes (who also happen to make full blown crampons too). They come in various sizes (see size chart below) which are either designed to go over low-cut and high-cut boot cuffs. Microspikes design is a stretchable rubber upper that goes over the top of the boot, which holds the chain-link system on the sole which houses the crampon-style pieces. With 12 total spikes per boot (8 forward and 4 back) and each spike measuring approx 0.75” in length, providing solid traction on ice and hard-pack snow without the risk of slipping. The rubber upper is also available in two colors for you fashionistas out there: maroon and black.
I purchased these as a precursor to tackling Great Northern; a mountain in NW Montana who’s trail is 4 miles one way with nearly 5k feet of ascent over that trip. Because of the location of the mountain, seasonal conditions are a big factor on the ability to conquer the mountain with minimal equipment, ergo the purchase.
Now, due to weather we cancelled this expedition, so expect an edit to this sometime mid-July. But, so far I have tested their compatibility with my boots and found they fit true. I picked up a pair of XL as I run a size 12.5 boot. The expandable rubber portion easily slipped over the toe and onto the ball of the boot and fit snug overtop. It didn’t feel as though they would jostle or move during impacts, but I didn’t test them (as it’s all dirt exposure around my house).
Also, I appreciate their low profile/impact to my kit. They include a small stuff sack that houses them and can be tossed just about anywhere in the pack or hung on the outside by it’s drawstring.
The stuff sack seems a little shoddy in terms of durability. The construction feels like non-rip material, but doesn’t have the hexagonal pattern or other confidence boosting traits. Guess we’ll see how they fair over time….
My only other initial concern is the link system holding the spikes in place. Having a background in materials and engineering, I was unable to see any welding or finishing touches applied to the links for increased durability. Each link appears to have an unfinished connection point, meaning they have an increased chance to flex and fail if forced in the wrong direction. Since I don’t know the gauge of the steel and don’t know the force required to bend a link, this seems like a minor fix that could have been easily rectified.
Otherwise, these seem like an amazing piece of gear to add to a kit for those of us who want to tackle early season peaks and summits. I think they will also prove useful walking around town in the winter season due to heavily iced conditions – well, at least here in Montana.
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Mahalo Friendos! Get out there and enjoy YOUR adventure!