The White Mountains of New Hampshire have been well known for their steep and icy trails during cold New England winters. There certainly wasn’t any shortage of ice on my hikes this February even though the Northeast’s snowpack was hurting. While it wasn’t uncommon to find hikers wearing unnecessarily heavy and aggressive crampons up on NH’s summits, I found the best solution for traction on this kind of terrain to be the new Kahtoola MICROspikes.
My MICROspikes tackled every type of dicey winter terrain, which definitely saved my ass on an overnight trip up on Mount Chocorua earlier in the month. They cruised through crusty snow, stuck on solid ice and still tracked well on rock. I put the spikes through the wringer with side-by-side testing alongside my friends with alternative (or no) winter traction products.
One of my friends wore chains on her boots, which worked well in the snow, but ended up being a huge disadvantage when it came to ice. Where she slid around on giant icy patches and ultimately slipped down a hazardous slope into the bushes, I walked across without a worry. Another fellow hiker forgot to bring any traction at all and fell behind on steeper sections, especially when it came to going downhill. He had to slide down the icy parts on his ass, while I was able to continue without any trouble. As I mentioned earlier, some other people donned crampons, which turned out to be a pain on the rocky ridgeline. However, my spikes were nimble enough to use while climbing over boulders on the final traverse to the summit.
I had used the older model of MICROspikes before, but had a few complaints about their design. I always felt like the elastomer was too bulky and never seemed to fit comfortably on my boots. Nevertheless, the design of the new MICROspikes significantly cut down on the weight and thickness of the elastomer and improved the way the spikes fit on boots with their new integrated toe bail. Even though the new harnesses are almost 40% lighter and are shaped to pack down smaller, the new MICROspikes are actually stronger than their predecessor due to reinforced eyelets built into the elastomer.
In short, the MICROspikes are a must-have for anyone going out on hikes in snowy and icy terrain, which we have no shortage of here in New England. They’re even handy for walking down the ice covered, urban sidewalk towards my office in the morning and they pack down into a little tote bag that’s easy to throw into a backpack or even a jacket pocket. Don’t go on another winter adventure without them. Make sure to snag yourself a pair here!