Review: Kahtoola MICROspikes

In preparation for a recent trip to the 2012 Festi-Vent sur Glace in St Placide (Quebec), we did a lot of research on the various types of slip-on shoe spikes… The traditional rigid crampons were a bit much for my needs since I only see ice a couple times per year, and we were conscious of both cost and overall size/weight for travel.

After actually trying on a number of different styles and reading the available reviews, we finally decided on the Kahtoola MICROspikes.

In our own research, we found that the most common complaints for slip-on traction systems included:

Slippage – particularly with up and downhill (sloped) use, users reported that many of the available traction systems had a tendency to move out of place or even come off completely.

Durability – some of the available designs have spikes or teeth embedded into the rubber sole and as we saw with the system my teammate Steve de Rooy used (No-slip ice grip by Hot Headz) in St Placide, these embedded teeth can actually break off… He actually lost several of the teeth on BOTH of his, BUT the MICROspikes run about $59.95 and for just $15 Steve got through the weekend and didn’t slip once.

Per the Kahtoola website:

Kahtoola MICROspikes® Traction System – Multipurpose, Pocket-Sized Ice Traction Gear

Just think – a pocket-sized ice traction system that makes any terrain, any time of year, possible. Kahtoola MICROspikes® Traction System aren’t just spikes that dig in – they’re your passport to anywhere adventure takes you. When you don’t need a full-on crampon, our MICROspikes® Traction System will get you where you need to go with ease and precision.

Our MICROspikes® Traction System is a slip-on that lets you travel safely and quickly across ice, scree, snow-covered driveways, wet rocks and anywhere else you just need a little more traction. An independent study of online reviews found that 4 out of 5 consumers rated the Microspikes traction 5 Stars.

What’s new for 2012?

We’re glad you asked. Since these handy pieces of ice traction gear need to travel where you travel, we’ve brought in the reinforcements. This year’s model boasts a beefed-up elastomer, not to mention the reinforced eyelets that connect the elastomer to your traction system down below – stronger than ever! Last but not least, we’ve made putting on and taking off your MICROspikes® Traction System even easier with a new heel tab – pull on, pull off. Whichever direction you’re headed, it’s easy to get there!

How does the Kahtoola MICROspikes® Traction System Work?

This is the best part – the MICROspikes® Traction System is one piece and yes, they can fit into your pocket. Just slip the spikes over your shoes and the built-in toe bar and flexible elastomer will keep your spikes in place, even when walking or running downhill. If you’re a wintertime runner, our spikes are an ideal take-along for any run. Don’t let winter slow down your stride when you come across some ice. grab your spikes and go – there’s nothing out of reach.

Well, all that SOUNDED good… But there’s nothing like a real user field test!

As you can see, I was able to easily put the Kahtoola MICROspikes on with just one hand (sorry for the shaky footage), the action demonstration was on a patch of smooth ice (you can see the shine to it) and fairly well replicated the type of abuse they saw for the better part of our three days in St Placide… Even on a decent sprint across the ice, I couldn’t feel any movement (instability) and traction was 100% solid on both smooth and uneven ice.

No signs of damage by the end of the weekend… These were everything we’d hoped for, a perfect score with no complaints at all.

While we didn’t have the opportunity to review or test them, we also saw quite a few Yaktrax Cleats (under $20) in use as well… These use a coil system instead of spikes or cleats, and folks seemed to be pretty stable on them – although for some proper jumping around, I’d have to go with real spikes.

Most of us may not see ice flying very often but when you DO, you’ll want to be equipped – choose wisely!

Until next time, be safe and have fun!