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Thread: Microspikes

  1. #1

    Default Microspikes

    I am curious about other folks experience with microspikes. I have found them to be heavy and of little benefit on snow plus on anything steep they tend to slide out of position. They are of some help for me on ice. I am considering a NOBO on the CDT and will appreciate personal experiences. My use has been in both the Sierras and the Winds in heavy snow years

  2. #2

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    I have used them on icy rock slides with some success. Agree about the snow, in fact I ended up with these giant snowballs clumped around the bottom bits.

  3. #3
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    I don't share any of your negative experiences. It may be they are to big for your shoes. Mine don't slip around at all and I frequently use them in steep terrain where other people are resorting to full-on crampons. I find they provide great traction in almost all winter conditions with the few exceptions of truly hard water ice where they can be a little sketchy compared to real crampons or soft granular snow that snow that slides on itself and the spikes aren't long enough to grab snow deep enough to stop sliding when it's really steep.

    As for heavy, they are lighter than any other comparable options. Heck, snowshoes are even heavier, but that doesn't mean they aren't frequently worth the weight in winter conditions.

    As for balling up, I've only ever seen them ball up badly in slushy conditions and that was on other peoples' feet because I wasn't wearing mine, because my shoes do find without them in slush. If you fight lots of balling up, you might try spraying the chains down with either silicone spray or some furniture wax to reduce the tendency to stick to snow.
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  4. #4

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    I've used microspikes for years and swear by them. Their weigh is a non-issue given their benefit and I usually have them in the pack from December through April in the Northeast even when I am planning to use snowshoes. My experience matches nsherry61's, I find they provide good traction in conditions I would expect to find on most trails in winter and are a very dependable footing enhancement.

    If they are slipping off during use you may need to get the next size down to address that. I have seen people use spare boot laces to tighten the fit but do not know if this is a good long term solution. They are not designed for technical climbing of course, but for trail conditions I have not run across much they could not manage well and pretty much remain in place on the boot.

    I will use these devices on ice and when there is hard packed snow on a trail. I avoid using them when post holing is a consideration and will change to snowshoes. There are few things as annoying as some idiot leaving 2' deep ankle breaking traps every few feet.

    I have experienced some clumping, usually when walking on snow that is melting from direct sun or slush that is close to the freezing point. The metal chain and spikes can be below freezing and allows snow to contact freeze on those surfaces, building a clump. I use a silicone spray on them periodically and have not had that problem for a while. If you are having clumping problems, it may be best to remove the spikes until you leave those conditions until you can treat them with silicone, or furniture polish (never considered using that myself, but sounds like a great idea).

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Traveler View Post
    .. If you are having clumping problems, it may be best to remove the spikes until you leave those conditions until you can treat them with silicone, or furniture polish (never considered using that myself, but sounds like a great idea).
    Or periodically knock the clumps off, versus spraying silicone everywhere outdoors.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by AllDownhillFromHere View Post
    Or periodically knock the clumps off, versus spraying silicone everywhere outdoors.
    Or maybe just use silicone spray properly.....

  7. #7

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    Here in the Northeast the have become standard gear for late fall thru late spring in the mountains. The newer generation of MicroSpikes is a bit lighter then the originals. If you want a more secure fit check out Hillsound spikes. They have a strap that goes over your foot to help in securing them.

  8. #8

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    Clumping can be sign of poorly fitting microspikes, If they are fit correctly they should not hang loose from the boot when you lift your foot up. The rubber part should be up past the widest part of the sole. The Hillsound version comes with velcro straps that connect to the rubber on either side and runs over the top of the boot. This can be snugged up to keep the spikes from hanging loose it also prevents the microspike from coming off when it gets snagged.

    No matter what brand, if the temperature and snow is stickly, they are going to get snow stuck on them. Usually if it starts sticking on microspikes it not very long before it starts sticking on the boots themselves.

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    Not all brands of microspikes are equal. From following hiking forms I get the impression that hikers are generally happy with Kahtoolas and Hillsound. I have Kahtoolas and find them really helpful on icy trails.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Traveler View Post
    Or maybe just use silicone spray properly.....
    Where does the silicone on your boots end up?

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    Quote Originally Posted by AllDownhillFromHere View Post
    Where does the silicone on your boots end up?
    In the environment. Duh. It's the same place my poop, my auto exhaust and all the various industrial manufacturing byproducts of pretty much everything I'm wearing on my person, including my cotton underwear ends up.

    The same place the silicon in all the rocks around me ends up in it's various chemical forms.

    In the end, a bit of silicon spray on the chains of my microspikes a couple times a season isn't what I would consider undue environmental impact. If silicon bothers you, use wax instead, manufactured either by honey bees or an industrial petroleum distillery.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by AllDownhillFromHere View Post
    Where does the silicone on your boots end up?
    Pretty much the same place everything used for grooming, sun protection, washing of clothing and body, insect repellents, processed food waste, spit, petroleum based chemicals from pavement surfaces, urine and its varied content, fecal and its varied content, and other assorted things we touch, carry, or drop from ourselves when we are in the woods, which stays there a while before it breaks down. Tending to these things properly won't eliminate all of our contamination of a forest, but does help.

  13. #13
    Registered User Fireplug's Avatar
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    Never seen them on the trail. When I came across a icy spot I just walked beside the trail

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fireplug View Post
    Never seen them on the trail. When I came across a icy spot I just walked beside the trail
    This has to be a joke.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AllDownhillFromHere View Post
    This has to be a joke.
    Notice that he's from Florida.

    I find it kind of wierd when I see someone on trail during new england winters that isn't wearing microspikes.
    Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarcasm the elf View Post
    Notice that he's from Florida.

    I find it kind of wierd when I see someone on trail during new england winters that isn't wearing microspikes.
    You only need to wear them once on an icy trail and you realize their worth very quickly.

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    The Kahtoolas changed my relationship with winter. Up here in Nova Scotia we do not get much snow by Canadian standards (usually a few inches on the ground) but with our temperature always hovering just under the freezing point we have tons of ice after every snow. Couple that with kms of exposed granite and I've found the microspikes to be a most awesome hiking tool. YMMV depending on terrain and climate but for my tiny corner of the world they let me hike through the year.

  18. #18

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    They really have opened up winter hiking in the whites. I swear Meetup pays a commission to the manufacturers. Unlike Crampons who tend to shred equipment and on occasion people microspikes are inherently intuitive, jut put them on an start walking with better traction. The only major issue is overconfidence, for most folks they can climb up a steep slope easier than they can descend. I have assisted folks in the past who have done this.

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