Microspikes for Hiking: 10 Things You Should Know
A few months ago, my friends hiked Mt Kenya.
And it got me thinking if it’s something I see myself doing in the future. Right now, I’m hiking other hills in Kenya to pace myself and see if it’s something I’d do, and how prepared I’d need to be. I’ve hiked Sleeping Warrior and Kijabe Hills this year.
The ascent is usually easy for me. However, the descent kills me and It always feels like fighting gravity and I’m about to topple and start rolling. So I did some digging and discovered microspikes for hiking. If you fear descents, imagine how it feels descending snow and ice? This is where microspikes come in.
Microspikes are lightweight traction devices for mountain climbers or hiking snowy and icy terrain.
1. Microspikes give you the right traction on Snowy and Icy Routes
Microspikes have 12 spikes per foot, with 8 at the front and four at the back. They are easy to set up and will give you the confidence you need on snowy terrain especially if there’s no snow in your country, and you’ve never experienced snowy routes.
2. Go with Microspikes if you have Flexible Hiking shoes
Flexible non-waterproof hiking shoes go well with microspikes as they stay on the shoes very easily. For large scale Mountain climbing, water-proof hiking boots are advisable.
In addition, non-waterproof and non-flexible hiking boots will probably require you to graduate from micro-spikes to Crampons. For simple to moderate hiking, go with Microspikes as they weigh less. For steeper snowy terrain, go with Crampons.
3. Microspikes are also great for muddy terrain and crossing on logs
While the Kenyan trails have no ice or snow, I found that most of the trains were colonial so there was little use of these trails. The soil was shaky when dry and wet and muddy when navigating river trails.
This was especially my experience on some parts of the Kijabe hills River line trail. They’re come in handy while navigating rocky, muddy terrains or when crossing rivers using logs.
4. They’ll Give you the confidence to continue with your hike
There were times during my hiking when I was not confident in the trail and microspikes could have served this purpose. The trails were rocky or too steep! If you’ve read my Kijabe hills post, you know that I’d not advise the River line trail not only because of the terrain but also because of the steepness.
Having Microspikes would have solved the issues I had with the trail. Luckily, the girls in my group would pace each other and we managed to finish the hike safely.
5. How Much are Microspikes and where can you buy them?
Originally, Microspikes were called traction cleats before intensive marketing by Kahtoola made the name Microspikes stick.
Kahtoola Microspikes start from $69.95 on Amazon and the Kahtoola website, while the Yaktrax Ascent traction cleats start at $69.99 on the Yaktrax website.
6. Can you bring microspikes on a plane?
There’s no reason why microspikes should be prohibited on a plane, but the TSA or airport authority are free to prohibit them at their discretion. In this #ASKTSA Twitter thread, Crampons without spikes are allowed on planes in carry-on bags.
Microspikes must be packed in checked bags! See this tweet and this TSA blog post on bringing microspikes on a plane.
7. Do they need sharpening or repair?
Yes, they do.
The easiest way to sharpen them is to use a file. Other sharpening options include using a grinding wheel or a Dremel with sharpening bits, but be careful you don’t overdo it. A file works great for Microspikes and a grinding wheel would do for Crampons.
Here’s a blog post with details on how to sharpen using a file.
8. What Size of Microspikes do you need?
Joe from Backcountry Banter suggests buying Microspikes that if you are between sizes, go a size higher. Otherwise, Kahtoola labels their Microspikes according to foot size, so you should be able to find your size.
When it comes to weight, they weigh around a pair of size medium weigh about 13.7 ounces (388 g) and you gain an ounce of weight if you up in size, and lose an ounce if you go down in size.
9. How to use and wear Microspikes
They’re pretty simple to use. Just slip them on your hiking boots while taking care of your fingers.
10. How long do they last?
This depends on usage. For example, in this blog post, you can see they’ve had their Microspikes for 6 years, used them for two seasons, and sharpened them after 6 years.
You can tell that once you invest in Microspikes, you’ll get value for your money.
Microspikes are a great investment if you plan to hike and explore the outdoors, hills or are interested in mountain climbing. If you are in Kenya, Check out Decathlon for hiking gear or Pach Hiking gear in Parklands.
For those outside Kenya, Kahtoola, Yaktrax, and Amazon are great places to start if you’re thinking of buying tracking cleats or microspikes for hiking.