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When winter weather hits, it’s important to be prepared for icy and snowy conditions. One of the best ways to ensure your safety is to equip yourself with a pair of foot traction devices or “ice cleats”. These devices are designed to provide extra traction on ice and snow, making hiking and other outdoor activities much safer.
Here are our favorite traction devices for hiking, listed from most-aggressive to least-aggressive:
Kahtoola MICROspikes provide excellent traction on ice and snow due to their aggressive stainless steel spikes. These are our top choice for demanding conditions because the spikes have lots of “bite”. However one must be careful when walking off-trail because they can damage some surfaces such as boardwalks and interior floors.
Kahtoola EXOspikes are a lighter-duty option, similar to MICROspikes but slightly less expensive and less aggressive. The tungsten carbide spikes are still pretty aggressive on ice but they aren’t as long as the MICROspikes so they won’t bite as well in softer surfaces like slush.
Yaktrax Diamond Grip All-Surface Traction Cleats provide superior traction for walking in all winter conditions, from boilerplate ice to hard-packed snow and everything in between. Diamond Grips unique design makes them ideal for users who frequently transition between surfaces like rock, gravel, dirt, and concrete.
STABILicers Maxx 2 Heavy-Duty Traction Cleats are one of the few options that attach with hook-and-loop straps instead of stretchy rubber. They can be easier to attach and remove because you don’t have to stretch them over your boots, but they’re not quite as secure as the stretchy variety and the steel cleats are not as aggressive.
Yaktrax Pro Traction Cleats us a patented SkidLock coil system that’s lightweight, easy-to-use design makes it a great choice for those who need extra traction in cold weather conditions. These still provide useful traction on ice but don’t have as much bite on snow or other loose surfaces. They’re our top choice for cases when you need to walk off-trail such as on boardwalks because the springs are less damaging. They can be used on smooth hard surfaces such as concrete floors but one must walk very carefully, as they tend to slip on hard floors. The rubber is not as hard to stretch as the heavier-duty options so they’re a little easer to put on and take off.
Here’s a video from one of our winter hikes where our Kahtoola MICROspikes really helped out: