Kahtoola MICROspikes – Down and Dirty

Last night I arrived home from a rainy run to find my pair of the just released Kahtoola MICROspikes had arrived. Kahtoola describes the Microspikes as “pocket-sized traction” and that’s about right. The newest addition to the product category that includes Yaktrax and STABILicers, the Microspikes are lightweight devices that you slip on over your shoes to provide traction on ice or snow. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any snow or ice last night… but I DID have the first substantial rain in Arlington in two months! You guessed it, mud testing!

Kahtoola MICROspikesA pair of the new MICROspikes from Kahtoola.

Out of the box, the Microspikes look like a pair of hole-filled rubber circles attached to a set of spikes interlinked by chains. You’ll quickly notice that there are no straps or buckles or or ties – you just slip them on. Although I’ve never used similar systems and did not read any instructions, it was quite easy to figure out how to put on the Microspikes as the front of each one is conveniently enough labeled “front”. With the spikes hanging underneath the rubber, all you do is slip the toe of the shoe you’re wearing into a small slit where the rubber is labeled “front” (raised arrows also point you to the front) and then grab the opposite end, pull back and then up over the heel of your shoe. When you are done securing the front and rear of the Microspikes, be sure that all remaining edges of the rubber portion of the Microspikes are pulled up over the sides of both shoes.

In order for a running traction device to be useful I need to have confidence in it. I need to know that (1) it’s going to provide traction and (2) that it’s not going to spontaneously come of or shift excessively. I’m happy to report that unlike some similar systems I’ve heard about (cough, yaktrax, cough, cough), no matter how aggressive I was in turning or stopping, I didn’t have any problem with the Microspikes coming loose or even shifting. They definitely felt secure – the aspect I was most interested in testing off the bat. As far as traction goes, the 3/8″ spikes gripped hard on anything I could throw at them, but were unobtrusive enough that I didn’t have to alter my stride all. (I’ll have to wait to see if the spikes are long enough to alter my stride on a harder surface like ice.) Although the Kahtoola website puts the weight of Microspikes at 10-15 ounces each depending on size, I’m guessing that’s per pair rather than per shoe as I didn’t notice the weight at all in my short test run.

All in all, I’m very impressed with the Kahtoola MICROspikes out of the box and am looking forward to some icy runs in the Shenandoah this winter.

Don’t want to take my word for it? Read the comments for some in-the-field… or more fittingly on-the-ice experiences. [1/6/09 update: You can now read iRunFar’s Kahtoola MICROspike review as part of iRunFar’s series on winter running traction devices.]

You can pick up the Kahtoola MICROspikes at Amazon.com

You can also pick the Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System at Backcountry.com. (On sale for as low as $44.21 – 10/8/08)

[Updated 10/25, 9 p.m. – Having now looking at the information the Microspikes came with, I can now confirm that a pair weighs in at 12.5 ounces combined. Perhaps, most impressive is that the rubber stays flexible down to -76 degrees Fahrenheit … may I never test their limits of flexibility.]

There are 12 comments

  1. KC

    Another very informative review. I know a lot of folks like the yaktrax; I just used screws (which came out after a while). I might just have to purchase a pair. So you'd use them in really muddy conditions, say like HAT last year?

  2. Trail Goat

    Thanks, KC.I only rag on yaktrax because some of my fellow running club members have had less than ideal experiences with them. As far as screwing one's shoes , it remains a cheap and effective way to add tracking to winter trail runs. One problem with screwing shoes is traction if you have to hit the roads or encounter rocky sections of trail not covered by snow. With something like the MICROspikes or yaktrax or stabilicers, you can take them off when you leave the frozen surface and throw them in a pack or pocket.I would not normally wear the Microspikes in muddy conditions. I only did because I was excited to try them out and the rain provided me wit a better testing ground than dry ground. Generally, a good pair if trail shoes can handle most mud. I've had great luck with the Montrail Highlander (soon to be Zulander).

  3. kris

    Have you had a chance to use the MICROspikes in packed snow or ice yet? I've read one review that says they ball up too easily, but no one else has mentioned that particular problem.

  4. Trail Goat

    Kris,I have not had a chance to test the Microspikes out in the snow yet. We've had all of about two inches here in the DC area so far this year. I'll be sure to post something when I get to use the Microspikes in some real action.

  5. banjolady

    i've walked up mini frozen waterfalls in them. i love them on ice. on bare rock they're a little wobbly. they stay on well and are nice and light.i was able to mostly put them on myself despite having had a rotator cuff repair and hiking with a sling since the surgery.

  6. Bryon

    banjolady, thanks for the real life review. I, too, was amazed by how easily they went on, but yet stayed in place so well! Hopefully, there'll be a little bad weather before this lame winter i s over in the DC area. Bring on the ice!Good luck in your recovery from surgery.

  7. kris

    I picked up a pair of MICROspikes a few weeks ago to use in the Utah snow (of which we've had plenty). I've only used them a couple of times, but I've found them to be quite stable and grippy on packed snow and ice. Unsurprisingly they weren't as good in loose snow and powder since the spikes (which are "micro" after all) aren't deep enough to dig down in the stable snow underneath.I've been quite pleased with them though, and even ended up buying a second pair for my wife.

  8. Trail Goat

    Kris,I'm jealous that you get to use your MICROspikes in Utah's snow, but thanks for sharing your experience. There's no better testimonial than a current user going out and buying another pair!

  9. Trail Goat

    Mike,Thanks for sharing your review. It was good to finally see the Microspikes in action. Unfortunately, with a yard full of blooming daffodils and forsythia, it doesn't look like I'll get a chance to try them out this "winter."

  10. Jeff W

    These are a great addition to my winter disc golf gear. Although most courses have cleared tee pads, having confidence in my stance on snow & ice covered fariways has greatly improved my winter game.

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