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Best Microspikes for Hiking

Best Microspikes

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This is a gear review about the Best Microspikes for Hiking, Backpacking, Thru Hiking, and Trail Running in 2023. Sometimes microspikes are known by other names such as  ice cleats, snow cleats, winter traction devices or ice spikes. Whatever you call them, they stop you from slipping over when walking in icy conditions.

Microspikes are a great addition to your winter backpacking setup. Just add some Lightweight Hiking Boots or Winter Hiking Boots, and Ice Axe and microspikes for hiking are you are ready to walk safely and comfortably on snow and ice terrain. Some people even use Trail Running Shoes with Microspikes for all-year running and thru-hiking.

Hiking Microspikes will give you more traction while walking icy trails, for soft fresh snow it would be better to use a pair of Snowshoes.

In this article, I have put together the best microspikes (also known as winter traction devices) that are available on the market in 2023.

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Best Microspikes for Backpacking 2023

The Best Microspikes for Backpacking in 2023 are:

Best Microspikes 2023 – Overall

Kahtoola Microspikes

Kahtoola Microspikes Review

> These winter traction devices can be used for thru-hiking, backpacking, trail running, or generally walking around on icy surfaces
> These products are easy to take on and off
> 2-year warranty 
> Check the sizing chart when purchasing this product to make sure you get the right size.

The Kahtoola Microspikes are very very popular on the thru-hikers Pacific Crest Trail Gear List or CDT Gear List. They are great on snowy and icy trails and are perfect to add to your winter backpacking setup. These microspikes don’t just have to be used for thru-hiking or backpacking, they can be used for everyday use as well as winter trail running.  

The Kahtoola Microspikes use a 10 spike design per foot with embedded tungsten carbide tip grips. Thus, these spikes will give you the ultimate winter traction.

The elastomer harness has reinforced eyelets and is wear-resistant. The Kahtoola Microspikes should be the only spikes you’ll ever need when it comes to running in icy and snowy conditions again.

I tested and used these traction devices when I Thru Hiked the Continental Divide Trail on the very snowy and icy sections in Colorado. They provide reliable traction and are very durable for use on mixed trails with rocks, shallow snow, deeper snow, and ice.

Overall, these are the best microspikes for winter hikes in 2023.

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Best Microspikes for Trail Running

Kahtoola Nanospikes

Kahtoola Nanospikes review

> Perfect for runners or thru-hikers
> Easy to take on and off
> 2-year warranty
> Consult the sizing chart when purchasing this product as some people seem to get the sizing wrong 

The Kahtoola Nanospike is ideal for anyone who wants an ultralight microspike for traction on snow or ice. These microspikes don’t just have to be used by winter runners or winter hikers, they can be used for everyday use as well.

They are perfect for trail running, backpacking, walking, or running on sidewalks or town/city streets that are either icy or packed with snow.  

This product uses a 10 spike design per foot with embedded tungsten carbide tip grips which offer good grip on ice.

The elastomer harness has reinforced eyelets and is wear-resistant. The Kahtoola Nanospikes should be the only spikes you’ll ever need when it comes to running in icy and snowy conditions.

Overall, these are the best microspikes for trail running in winter.

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More Great Microspikes for Hiking

Hillsound Trail Crampon

Hillsound Trail Crampon Review

> 2-year warranty
> The harness will fit around almost any shoe or boot
> A plate system is used to disturb weight, provide the best traction, and reduce fatigue.
> They are around 16.3 ounces and that extra weight may not weigh you down.

The Hillsound Trail Crampons uses spikes that are meant to last. With 11 carbon steel spikes that are around ⅔ inches in size, they give plenty of traction.

The spikes are evenly dispersed, and each spike has a two-year warranty. Thus, they are built to be durable and last. 

An elastomer harness is used, which will fit easily over a variety of different hiking boots and hiking shoes or bigger Winter Hiking Boots. A strap provides you a tight and secure fit, no matter the type of shoe or boots the harness finds itself on.

Also, a plate system is used for weight dispersion, traction, and to reduce fatigue, while walking through difficult terrain.

Overall, these winter traction devices work well.

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Kahtoola Exo Spikes

Kahtoola Exo Spikes Review

> Three different spikes can be seen on this product.
> The harness is lightweight and flexible no matter the weather or the temperature.
> The spikes and harness have been reinforced to provide maximum strength and durability.
> Some people find the harness is a little tricky to remove from your shoes.

Kahtoola is back on our list, with their EXOspikes. These microspikes have been designed to be lightweight and abrasion-resistant. This then allows the hiker to wear these Microspikes on a range of different terrains, such as mountain trails or even icy paths.

12 spikes will be seen on each foot, that has been precisely placed to achieve ultimate traction. The Tungsten Carbide tips bite into icy terrain well.

While aluminum steps will grip uneven surfaces. Finally, the TPU Lugs will grip and dig into any loose terrain you are facing. These are a great all-terrain set of spikes. 

A typical elastomer harness is used, with reinforced eyelets, which makes the harness strong but lightweight.

Overall, these are another great winter traction device that works well on all icy surfaces.

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Yaktrax Pro Traction System

Yaktrax Pro Traction System Review

> Spike-free design.
> The harness is made of rubber that is secured to your feet with thick rubber straps. 
> Easy To Use
> The rubber can break easily. It happened to me on the first day I used them and I’m not the only one.

The Yaktrax Pro Traction System uses traction cleats that will fit over your shoes easily and safely. This spike-free product is ideal for hiking, walking, or jogging on packed ice or snow.

This product uses stainless steel coils that are abrasion-resistant and do a solid job at providing grip on ice.

The harness is made from heavy-duty rubber and secured with more high-strength rubber straps. When I tested and used these microspikes on a trip up Mt Whitney in California I managed to break them within the first hour of use. They are not suited for steep terrain. but better suited as simple microspikes for hiking on easy terrain.

On the plus side, they are ultralight, easy to put on and take off, and because there are no sharp spikes they are easy to store inside your backpack when not in use.

Overall, these are a good pair of lightweight microspikes and well suited to most people wanting a lightweight pair of spikes. They may not be as durable as some as the others in this review.

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Black Diamond Access Spike

Black Diamond Access Spike Review

> 14 spikes per foot, all that is around 8 mm in length.
> Great traction in any uneven terrain
> The eyelets on the harness have been designed with dual density so that they are durable to last.
> Easy to put on and remove
> Quite expensive, and on the upper end of the market

The Black Diamond Access Spike is all about giving you the ultimate traction possible. You will notice 14 stainless steel spikes that are around 8 mm in length.

They give great traction across mixed terrain such as rocks, ice, and snow.

Everything about this product is centered around durability. The elastomer harness can adapt to any footwear that you choose to wear. While the eyelets have been designed with dual density elastomers.

Alongside this, a front spike has been specially selected for optimal toe engagement. The heel webbing loop also makes taking these spikes on and off easy. 

Overall, these are one of the best winter traction devices on the market in 2023 and well suited for use in the mountains.

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Best Backpacking Gear – Overall

Black Diamond Distance Spike Traction Device

Black Diamond Distance Spike Traction Device

> Durable
> Great traction in any uneven terrain
> Fabric on the front of the shoe adds another layer of warmth, even if it is very small
> Easy to use
> Not the cheapest traction devices

The Black Diamond Distance Spike Traction Device is similar to the Black Diamond Access Spike Winter traction device but it is lighter and comes with a material that covers the front of your shoes.

They are very well made and durable enough to last several seasons of use without having to worry about them falling apart in the backcountry. The way aggressive traction makes them a good compromise for use on thick ice and hard snow, rocks, steep terrain, and almost any other type of terrain with the exception of deep snow.

Overall, the Black Diamond Distance Spikes are the microspikes you buy when you want the most durable spikes for winter use.

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Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra

Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra Review


> Two-year warranty
> 18 stainless steel spikes and the three ⅔ spikes
> Stable when hiking on ice
> A puncture-resistant carry bag is included with this product. Making it easy to store these microspikes.
> Some people have had the side chains come apart after continued use. This is fixable, but something to be aware of.

Hillsound is back on the list with its Trail Crampon Ultra microspikes. This product is great on packed ice and snow.

The Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra uses 18 stainless steel spikes and three ⅔ spikes on the heel of the harness. And covered with a two-year warranty.

These are durable microspikes that fit onto boots easily and are well built.

Overall, these are another solid pair of lightweight hiking microspikes.

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Buyer’s Guide

Here are some things you may want to know to assist in buying microspikes.

Using Microspikes for icy trails
Thru Hiking in the hard packed and icy slopes often require microspikes

Microspikes vs Crampons

Microspikes are ultralight spikes that attach to the bottom of Hiking Boots and Trail Running shoes to assist with grip on icy terrain. They are usually easy to put on and take off and give quite a good grip on all but the most technical terrain or deep snow.

Crampons are a more serious set of traction devices better suited to steep ice and snow, especially in the mountains. Crampons can also be used for Ice Climbing and serious mountaineering, something that microspikes are not designed to do. They are essentially aggressive spikes from climbing and mountaineering.

Types of Microspikes

There are a couple of different types of microspikes.


Spikes have some that use tough metal triangle shaped spikes that bite into snow and ice to provide grip. These provide the best grip of the three types of microspikes.


The studs are the parts that stick out from the plastic base. These are usually lighter in weight and better suited to runners than hikers in the backcountry.

Metal coils

These are another type of microspike. Metal coils wrap around the base of the microspike and bite into the ice when you are walking over it. These are also lighter in weight but do not provide as much grip and are not as durable.


Kahtoola, Hillsound, and Black Diamond are well known for their durability in the backcountry. But one stands out, Kahtoola. They are able to take a little bit more abuse than the others.

During my first days of use of the Yaktrax, the rubber broke and become unusable. This happened when climbing Mt Whitney in June. Luckily, during the descent, the snow was soft which made for a much easier time than if it was icy.

durable ultralight microspikes for thru hiking
Happy to have durable ultralight microspikes when winter thru hiking

Ease of Use

Microspikes have one great advantage over crampons and other traction devices. They are easy to put on, even at 3am in winter conditions that make the temperatures well below freezing. They are also lightweight and easy to pack, when not in use.

Fitting microspikes for backpacking is quite easy
Microspikes are easy to use, even at 3am when leaving camp early


Ultralight hikers love microspikes for their winter traction device of choice. All the microspikes in this review are lightweight and suitable for winter hiking in all but very technical terrain.

Microspikes for winter backpacking on a pair of hiking boots
Lightweight Microspikes are popular with trail runners and ultralight hikers


In most cases, a pair of microspikes will be the cheapest winter traction device you can buy. Both Snowshoes and crampons are generally more expensive, more bulky, and heavier.


When the weather gets colder and ice and snow begin to form, that isn’t an excuse to stop hiking or running. Microspikes are the answer that you have been looking for.

They will provide you with stability and traction, so you no longer have to worry about falling or slipping over on uneven terrain. 

We have given you the best microspikes that you can get your hands on right now. Thus, it’s time to get your microspikes on and go for that hike or run in those difficult conditions.

The Best Microspikes for Winter Hiking in 2023 are:

Another one of the Best Hiking Gear Reviews from BikeHikeSafari.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Microspikes Necessary?

Typically, microspikes are worn on hiking trails that are covered with snow or ice. These spikes then provide you with a little more grip and stability while walking through.

They also work well on running shoes, in similar or icy conditions. Microspikes will make you feel much more comfortable and confident while walking in these slippery conditions. Thus, the chances of falling and injuring yourself is minimized. 

What Size Microspikes Do You Need?

This differs on the type of microspikes you have gone for and the type of shoe you are applying them to.

Each manufacturer will provide a sizing chart for their microspikes. Therefore, we suggest that you follow the sizing chart for the microspikes you are purchasing. 

Best Microspikes for Backpacking

BikeHikeSafari Gear Review Process

The author, Brad McCartney from BikeHikeSafari is a small independent adventurer and outdoor gear tester who owns and runs BikeHikeSafari.com.

BikeHikeSafari is not part of a large blog network and is proudly independent. All reviews on this site are independent and honest gear reviews of outdoor products by the author.

The author, Brad McCartney is a very experienced triple crown thru-hiker, adventurer, and bike tourer having spent 1000s of nights sleeping in a tent and sleeping bag (Read more). He was a manager of an outdoor retail store and is very experienced in what is important when using and testing gear for reviews like this.

BikeHikeSafari will never receive any money for reviews and they do not accept sponsored reviews on this website. All the comments about the gear reviews are from the author based on his years of experience. Hope this independent review was helpful for you.

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Chile.

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