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Hiking traction devices are just like putting studded tires or snow chains on your car to get over a wintery mountain pass.
Except on a smaller scale!
Not familiar with the idea of winter traction devices for trail footwear? It's all about solid grip and stability.
Look at the tread on a pair of hiking boots, and you will notice plenty of grooves and surface area.
But imagine these boots on snow and ice: the grooves fill up with the stuff, and there goes your traction.
So if you're tired of fishtailing, slipping, sliding, and falling when the trail gets covered in solid water (snow! ice! or both), consider your options for the best winter traction devices for your hiking boots.
Let's get the most serious option out of the way first: crampons.
You won't need these ice cleats unless you're doing something technical in high alpine areas, so I'm going to leave them out of our discussion of winter traction devices for hiking footwear.
If you want to read up on what they are, and when they are needed, go here.
I carry these winter traction devices for my hiking boots on my late fall through late spring hikes, which bring me onto snowy, potentially icy slopes at Mt. Rainier National Park and elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest.
What I love about Microspikes:
What I love less about these hiking traction devices:
So let's sum up the reasons these are my go-to winter traction devices for hiking on snowy, icy surfaces: They are portable, don't take up much room in my pack, durable, fast to get on and off, and won't let you slip and slide around when you're on ice, ice covered snow, or steep snow.
If you've ever fallen while hiking, you know that you never want to do that again. Microspikes to the rescue!
I also have a pair of Yaktrax, and here's why:
I use Yaktrax when I'm going for shorter, easier winter hikes with potential water crossings on snow covered ice.
I also use them when I go for my daily training walks around the neighborhood if I know that I'll be coming up against icy sidewalks, trails through the park, and snow packed fields to cross.
Dog walking in the winter might also be a good time to use these traction devices for your feet.
So to wrap up my recommendations for these hiking traction devices: Use them when the trail isn't too gnarly and the distance isn't too great.
Yaktrax come in three different versions (thus, 3 different price points, beginning with a pair under $20 U.S.). Check them out if your type of hiking isn't taking you into technical terrain or steep trails.
When you're fairly certain that you'll face snow, ice or both on your next winter hike, do yourself a big favor and bring along some good traction for your hiking boots.
Heck, even if you have no idea what the trail will be like, bring along a pair of these hiking traction devices. They're lightweight and easy to stash in a pocket of your pack.
Falling down is an unpleasant and potentially dangerous experience (says the voice of experience).
Need more winter hiking tips? I thought you might ;)
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