Winter-like any other season is a great time to step outdoors and have a blast. In case you have ever gone hiking during the cold season then you know why microspikes are so valuable. For beginners, these traction devices are worn on hiking shoes to generate grip on ice and snow terrains. Likewise, the best microspikes for hiking increase the surface area of your feet. That will stop you from sinking or being stuck. These heaven-sent devices give you stability on uneven ground and keep you from slipping.
On another note, there is a wide variety of spikes to add to your hiking gear. You should be very specific about what you want to avoid choosing the wrong kind. This buying guide puts the best microspikes under the spotlight to help you narrow your choices. We will also highlight every nitty-gritty detail you need to know before selecting a great traction device.
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Pros and Cons of Winter Hiking
Winter hiking is a superb way to make the most out of what the cold snowy months have to offer. As much as it might be fun, it is not free of challenges. As for the positive end, hiking during winter grants you a quiet and more tranquil trail. Very few people have the guts to venture into the jungle in freezing conditions.
Other than that, this season offers hikers spectacular views. This includes snowy landscapes, cute frozen lakes, and bizarre ice formations among other stunning sceneries. Moving on, winter comes with different mind-blowing animal species you might never see during other seasons. Another benefit of winter hiking is the absence of bugs. You neither have to worry about the biting nor the buzzing of annoying flies or mosquitoes.
On the flip side, the season is extremely cold. To enjoy your winter hike, you must have proper clothing and the right pair of boots. All these are bulky considering that you might only need a shirt and a pair of shorts for summer. More hiking gear transforms into a heavier backpack.
Apart from that, there is the issue of short daylight. Therefore, you need an extra source of light before going out. Onward, the snow situation will wear you down physically. Low temperatures, multiple cloth layers, and a weighty backpack will harm your hiking speed. All the same, you stand a better chance to hike hassle-free with adequate preparation alongside the right gear.
Types of Traction Devices Used for Winter Hiking
Winter hiking bears many challenges one of the biggest being poor traction. To beat the odds, you need the appropriate traction tool. Here are four traction devices you can count on during a winter hike:
If you need a traction device that can sustain you on icy or snowy slopes, microspikes would be a great choice. They are composed of spikes held on a chain all fitted onto rubber that hugs onto hiking boots. Not only are they light but also flexible thanks to the chains. Similarly, they improve stability besides improving traction.
As the name suggests, snowshoes provide sufficient traction for areas with deep snow. They stand out for their large surface area. They distribute a hiker’s weight minimizing pressure on the snow thus preventing him or her from sinking too deep. This is vital in conserving energy and curbing injury.
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They are metal traction components composed of straps, spikes, and a plate. You have to connect crampons to hiking shoes or boots. Impeccable traction on steep and icy terrains makes them an ideal choice for mountain climbing.
IV. Yaktrax Traction Chains
This device features stainless steel coils, which bridge the trail to your boots. The series of interconnected steel coils increase the surface area to enhance stability. Secured by rubber heel tubs, you can put them on and off your hiking boots without breaking a sweat. Traction chains are your best bet in wintery conditions.
Importance of the Best Microspikes for Hiking
Microspikes are a must-have for anyone planning to go on a winter hike. They are very useful on frozen surfaces as they elevate traction. You just have to attach them to the bottom of your boot or shoe.
To add on that, they are fitted with steel teeth that bite into packed snow and ice to keep you stable on slippery surfaces. Apart from boosting traction, microspikes increase surface area. Walking through deep snow is a daunting exercise. You have to lift your feet higher with every step to clear the surface.
However, these devices increase the surface area of your foot hence distributing your weight and preventing sinking.
How do You Choose the Best Microspikes for Hiking?
Here is an exclusive guide on the factors to keep in mind when selecting the best pair of traction device for hiking:
Focus on the prevailing conditions
Ice and snow create different terrains. Small spikes might be impressive in snowy conditions but a nightmare on ice. Icy conditions require bigger spikes with the power to penetrate and grip seamlessly. At this point, you might have to find a hybrid if you need a traction tool that can handle all terrains.
Determine how fast you intend to go
One of the drawbacks of winter hiking is a reduced pace. This gets worse when you put on the bulky gear. The best way out of such a stalemate is to choose lightweight traction devices.
Know the frequency of use
If you are an ardent hiker, you might want to buy high end and durable product. Remember, even knock offs are still costly if you have to replace them after several hikes. Ideally, you need a solid, well-crafted microspike to not only deliver the desired performance but also serve you for a long while.
Mind the primary use
Winter hiking is a wide term. There are tons of activities and many terrains to explore. That is why you need to know what you need the gripping tool for and so on. Extreme activities like mountain climbing will require aggressive traction and extreme spikes. Trekking and less demanding activities will only need regular spikes.
Look at the price vs effectiveness
Price is a major driving force when it comes to choosing anything. In most cases, higher price points to a premium product. However, that is not always the case. Regardless of how pricy a traction device may be, keep your eyes on the features. Also, look into what other customers have to say about the same for feedbacks and reviews.
Things to Consider While Choosing Microspikes for Hiking
Microspikes are supposed to improve your grip on snowy or icy terrains yet still allow you to walk safely and comfortably. Below are aspects you need to consider when choosing these traction devices:
A great traction tool must be able to perform on different terrains and changing conditions. You need a device that is adjustable or adaptable enough to conform to different areas.
2. Grippy Traction
Grippy traction should be the greatest selling point of microspikes. You need a pair with uncommon grip to prevent sliding on slick snow or ice. A regular walk on ice only needs devices with minimal traction. On the other hand, technical climbs or walks on trick frozen surfaces demand aggressive spikes.
3. Good fit
Good fit and optimal traction go hand in hand. The better the traction device wraps around your hiking shoes the more grip and traction it will provide. Then again, if it wraps tightly, it will result in discomfort or even damage your shoes. In a like fashion, a loose-fitting pair will not make you surefooted. Therefore, get the right fit for a sure, stable, and comfortable step.
If you are to use traction devices often, you should choose a long-lasting model. Durability relies on the quality of construction and material. You might have to dig deeper into your pocket for a micro spike that will sustain you through several winters. Significantly, match the stiffness of the traction tool to the flex of your boots or hiking shoes. They need to be in harmony for effectiveness.
The ultimate traction tool should give you an easy time on and off. You need a pair that you can simply slide onto your boot and hit the road without a fuss.
Points are available in different positions, sizes, and numbers. Nevertheless, they should be in a strategic position under the sole to yield multidirectional traction. On top of that, appropriate alignment of the points is necessary for better support. As for the positioning, horizontally placed points are ideal for regular walking while vertically placed points are suitable for technical climbs.
The durability and effectiveness of the traction tool rely on the material from which it is made. Aluminum and steel are the most preferred materials for making microspikes. These two are light, sturdy, and long-lasting.
8. Frame Construction
Microspike frames can be rigid, semi-rigid, or fully flexible. All the designs have their specialty. The fully flexible frame construction gives you the freedom to walk unhindered. It allows you to climb or descent with ease too. Moreover, flexibility allows more movement, which keeps snow from building up under your shoes. A semi-rigid frame is slightly adjustable and versatile while the rigid frame is all about precision. The latter two are perfect for technical climbs owing to added maneuverability and support.
Your winter collection deserves a pair of these traction tools. To avoid a sprained ankle or worse, add microspikes to your arsenal. The expertly made devices ensure pleasant movement and keep injuries at bay. With a proper pair of these spikes, traction and stability will be the least of your worry. We all have different needs, which explain the diversity of the products reviewed on our list. Take your time to study them keenly and figure out whatever works for you.
Remember, the best pair should be of top functionality and compatible with your boot. Additionally, it ought to fit snugly and essentially make your life easy.