by Diane Spicer
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:
Microspikes do have a few drawbacks:
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!
18 stainless steel spikes on the Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra keep your feet solidly attached to the trail, despite icy conditions.
The two year warranty should reassure you, especially if you'll be pulling these on and off frequently during the winter season.
A nylon carry bag is included, a nice touch, although a resealable plastic bag would also work to keep grit and moisture out of your backpack.
What I love:
Not convinced you need the Ultra?
I also use 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.
So you might find that Yaktrax are the best option for your wintery conditions, and never need to trade up to spikes.
So to wrap up my recommendations for these hiking traction devices:
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.
And keep them handy to use around home, too, when you need to grab the snow shovel or walk the dog or toddler on an icy sidewalk.
A pair in the car gives you confidence wherever you drive in winter conditions, too.
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 an outside pocket of your pack.
Falling down is an unpleasant and potentially dangerous experience (says the voice of experience).
It's also cheap entertainment for your trail buddies, but who cares about them!
Think only of yourself here:
The trail looks way more pleasant when you're upright and all of your parts are functioning.
Need more winter hiking tips?
I thought you might ;)
Hiking Traction Devices
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Photo credits: All photos on this website were taken by David Midkiff or Diane Spicer.
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