It only took three and a half miles in my new MICROspikes to become completely transformed into a mountain goat! Seriously, I felt like some kind of super hero with these things on my feet.
I’ve always been curious about snowshoeing, ice-climbing, and other winter activities, but never thought it’d be worth constantly changing the accessories on my feet. Before investing in expensive gear like cross country skis, snowshoes, or climbing harnesses; I decided that spikes would be a good place to start. They’re relatively light weight and would fit in my backpack pretty easily; they’re also rather inexpensive compared to other winter gear. I dropped some hints and received a pair of Kahtoola MICROspikes for Christmas. Luckily, we finally got some snow that I could test them in.
I threw the spikes in my bag and headed to the Sourland Mountain Preserve; my favorite local spot for hiking and gear testing! The park has a lot of great trails and can be a bit crowded at times – I was counting on the slushy mess left behind from a week of hikers, fat-bike mountain bikers, and snowshoers to really figure out if the spikes would be worth the hassle of putting them on.
I started down the trail through the snow without the spikes so I could better gauge how well the Kahtoola’s really worked. After a quarter mile or so down the slushy Maple Flats Trail, I grabbed the spikes out of my bag, took them out of their carry pouch and threw them on the snow. I picked one up, figured out which side was the front (the side marked FRONT is the front) and was able to slide it on over my hiking boots (read my Vasque review here) without falling down. I slid the other microspike over my other boot and was ready to go. Success!
Within a few frozen yards; I found myself running up hill along the pipeline trail. Yes, running, up hill, on a few inches of half frozen, highly hiked snow. I couldn’t believe how big of a difference these little spikes were making! I left them on and continued South along the Ridge Trail.
The trails in the Sourland Mountain Preserve are full of stream crossings that would likely require me to hop along some rocks to cross; additional streams would need to be crossed via a series of foot bridges. I was convinced that these two obstacles would be the downfall of the microspikes; if I needed to continuously remove them and put them back on, I can guarantee that they would have just come off and stayed off.
The spikes felt rigid when walking on packed snow, yet were flexible enough on the chains to be able to cross the rocks without feeling like I was wearing baseball cleats on a basketball court. Since the foot bridges had a few inches of packed snow on them, the spikes felt the same as they did on the trail. In the end, the spikes stayed on until I got back to the parking lot. Overall, the Kahtoola MICROspikes performed better than I had ever expected; I would recommend them for use in hard packed snow and refrozen slush. Weighing only 338 g (size medium), the benefits are definitely worth the weight.
Even in my thirties, snow still excites me the way it did when I was a kid. Naturally, I love hiking in the winter, and am always eager to get outside in the snow, but the winter specific equipment in my gear shed was lacking a bit. I am happy to say that my new Kahtoola MICROspikes will now be an essential piece of winter gear, and hopefully lead to a new ice axe to review!
The products pictured and reviewed here were purchased for personal use; kevinspocket.com has no affiliation with Kahtoola.