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  1. #1
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    Default 2-13 start. Microspikes?

    I have microspikes for a couple years, but have not had to use them yet. Was out training and ran across a former thru-hiker. His biggest comment was to get rid of weight. I mentioned my bag will be heaver for winter, but then i'll have longjons, heavy sleeping bag, and microspikes to send home.

    His comment was don't take microspikes as you will get off trail if there is going to be a major winter storm. or if you want send them to the start of the smokies where you can't get off trail as easily.

    What are people's thoughts? good advice? or not?

  2. #2
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    sounds like 1 person 1 time experience, every year is different - is the weight saving vs a broken bone potential worth it to you?

    refreezing melt water can last weeks after a snow, so no, you will not "get off" until the trail is clear

  3. #3

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    The chances of needing them south of the GSMNP is slim. When you get close to Fontana you would have a better idea how the weather is trending and what the forecast is. Have them ready to be sent to you if it looks like it would be prudent to have them.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  4. #4

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    https://adventurefeetfirst.com/diy-t...in-your-shoes/

    For intermittent ice snow on maintained single track such as the AT these can work just as well with some mindful walking as a backpacker. Some outfitters along the AT also carry them. REI has $44 kits and $12 kits that contain the socket head/screwdriver/T bar wrench. Or, if wanting cheaper go to any hardware store or WallyWorld and buy some stainless slotted hex head self tapping screws. Screw in/unscrew as conditions dictate.

    DO carry the warmer sleeping bag down to maybe 0* if using inside an enclosed tent paying attention to the TOTAL warmth of your sleep system. Thermal bottoms will be appreciated with your start date. It's likely in the beginning you'll be going at a more moderated pace. If so it's prolly best to slow down with the extra bulk and wt.

    FWIW, not everyone heads into town at the first signs of COLD, snow, and ice. I would put myself in that category if I was starting an AT NOBO with that Feb start date. COLD, snow, ice, hail and sleet exasperated by winds, exposure, etc are things I'd have to expect in the mix of weather! OR, if expecting to head into towns at such signs expect slower overall headway and spending extra do re mi.

    Keep your extremities warm but don't overheat or perspire in the deep cold. With your start date and from what I suspect work your way into your AT thru.

  5. #5

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    If there's a doubt, there is no doubt.

  6. #6

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    We had lots of snow north of Neels Gap, but you just stomp through it (or get off the trail). Never thought we needed spikes. You're not in Colorado or the Sierra, this isn't mountain climbing.

    Staying warm is a much bigger concern than traction... don't minimize weight at the expense of staying warm in flipping February!

  7. #7

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    Funny, they look like mountains to me, though agreed it's not technical climbing which far more equipment than Microspikes would be needed. The advice "You'll get off the trail during major winter storms" is fine and good if you are aware of impending storms and have the time and inclination to get off the trail. But notification of weather isn't always possible when hiking long distances, never mind reaching a town in hopes of finding shelter. What happens if you are caught in one of these storms and have to walk out for shelter on ice covered trails and are not able to stay on your feet? In those conditions, and this happen to lots of people every year, the weight savings becomes inconsequential.

    Taking a slip and fall on a steep trail with rocks hidden by snow can be a minor incident or bone breaking and potentially lethal depending on conditions that only saves about 12-ounces for Microspikes. For what it's worth because I hike alone most of the time, I have a relatively low risk threshold when it comes to this kind of thing and would suggest traction is similar to warmth in terms of safety, being prepared for both will always add weight until seasonal changes make it clear the need for traction and heavier clothing has passed. It really comes down to risk tolerance and assessment of consequences resulting from failure. An added consideration for me is the embarrassment and potential costs in some places of summoning SAR due to not being prepared for seasonal weather and conditions.
    Last edited by Traveler; 12-01-2019 at 09:12.

  8. #8
    Registered User coyote9's Avatar
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    ‘17 NOBO. Took em, needed em, didn’t regret em. Will bring em along this time as well until I get to Damascus to ship em home.

  9. #9
    Registered User coyote9's Avatar
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    17 NOBO. Took em, needed em, didnt regret em. Will bring em along this time as well until I get to Damascus to ship em home.

  10. #10

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    If I did another thru there is no chance Id carry them. But it depends on your hiking style. Dealing with that kind of wet and ice and cold would be very hard while attempting a thru hike. Id be the guy bailing into town in those conditions, or doing slackpacks. Go light and you can go fast and far. It gives you more options. Go heavy and prepared and you will have what you need, but your risk of injury and frustration is much higher.

    Make sure you know what kind of hiker you are. From experience! Then decide.

  11. #11
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    For a February start, I'd probably throw them in the pack. I went years without owning a pair, but I've used them several times in the last few years and it's amazing how much they help. On a weekend trip and knowing the forecast I might skip it, but you've got several weeks where they could be useful. Send them back once you're sure your clear of any potential ice, but it's a reasonable weight penalty in the mean time (IMO).

  12. #12
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    Litesmith sells lighter options. Truth be told If I started that early I would be much more mindful of the impending weather and plan on being off trail if a snow/ice storm was rolling thru. I've kinda lost that gung ho attitude of barreling thru anything when it can be completely avoided by hanging out at a hostel for 2-3 days. I mean the cost of getting my microspikes and then mailing them somewhere is the cost of a night at a hostel. February on the AT in GA/NC? I'm only trying to hike in good weather lol. That's why so many March and even April starts catch up to February starters.

  13. #13
    Leonidas
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    Personally, if it were me, I would have them in a box at Fontana Lodge. That way you can decide before you go into the Smokies if you need them based on weather. I have seen several videos of ice on the trail there and knowing that the trail through a fair portion is a trench from personal experience. The ridge walk after Charlie's Bunion, no way I would risk that if it were icy and I didn't have traction devices. The only other spot I can think of is the sketchy decent into the N.O.C., if it were icy, I would probably want them there too.
    AT: 471 mi

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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by RockDoc View Post
    We had lots of snow north of Neels Gap, but you just stomp through it (or get off the trail). Never thought we needed spikes. You're not in Colorado or the Sierra, this isn't mountain climbing.

    Staying warm is a much bigger concern than traction... don't minimize weight at the expense of staying warm in flipping February!
    again, snow is not the issue, refreezing melt water is

  15. #15

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    I found a pair of "ice creepers" designed for ice fisherman which would be a good alternative to MicroSpikes. The main advantage is they are less aggressive then MicroSpikes and will work better on thin ice on rock. MicroSpikes work bet in packed snow so the spikes can sink in a bit. Their not that great on ice.



    Plus they cost less then $6 at Wally world. You'd probably have to order them on line if you don't live where there is ice fishing. Not a lot of weight savings, my scale say's their 14.4 Oz and the MicroSpikes are 15 something. But without the chains and sharp teeth, the creepers will be easier to pack.

    As you can see, I used them this morning as my driveway was a sheet of ice after the rain Sunday followed by 10 degree temps overnight. I hate when that happens!

    SAM_5038.JPG
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  16. #16
    Registered User Kaptainkriz's Avatar
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    Seems they are needed now: https://youtu.be/cBoe6CUDhzw
    Plaid is fast! Ticks suck, literally...
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  17. #17

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    As someone who has alot of experience using microspikes in the mountains of TN and NC---I can explain their strengths and weaknesses.

    PROS
    ** They don't take up much room in the pack and don't weigh all that much.
    ** They are easy to put on and remove even with a pack on---and can be kept attached to your sternum strap for quick access on changing trail conditions. See below pic.
    ** Often trails in the Southeast mountains are rugged and difficult even in boots with no snow or ice---and then a trail gets "compromised" with a winter storm and your hiking options start to disappear unless you have a good traction device, i.e. microspikes. In other words---they are carried as insurance to get you moving. This is especially true in two conditions---
    A. A steep trail in 1/2 inch or less of slushy-snow---the spikes will grip thru the snow into the mud beneath and keep you upright.
    B. On a trail that is frozen solid with ice, especially on rocks. Ice Chutes are lethal for backpackers without spikes, unless you want to spend all day on your butt sliding down inch by inch. I call this The Bung Abseil.
    C. The last scenario is severe cold in dry snow---with no chance of wet or melting snow. See cons.

    CONS
    ** Microspikes work terribly in wet snow of almost any depth---except the mentioned 1/2 inch or less (when they grip in mud). And wet snow is the predominant snow quality in our Southern App mountains. Bare leather boots with a good lug sole (not trail runners!) work much better in wet snow.

    Why? Because microspikes pick up globs of wet snow and you end up hiking on 5 lb balls of wet snow and will fall. And you can't kick the snow off every 2 steps as it'll drive you nuts.

    For backpackers who intend to stay on a trail and continue their trip and NOT bail into a town when Miss Nature punches you with a real winter storm---microspikes become part of your standard winter load. And if you really want to stay out on the NC/VA/TN ridges in deep snow---a snow shovel comes in very handy. Why? Because it allows you to set up camp in deep snow by clearing a tent site to the ground with the shovel. Stomping down a flat spot in two feet of snow does not work unless you like to sleep on ruts and divots---as Southeast backpackers do not carry snow shoes to make this process easier.


    You can wear your spikes on your sternum strap for quick on-and-off access.


    The beloved Voile XLM snow shovel---comes in real handy on a winter trip in deep snow. And it only weighs 1 lb.


    Still Life with Microspikes.

  18. #18
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    Walter,

    Aside of the Microspikes (a piece of gear I've learned about here in WB, and bought some last year) the shouvel is the next piece I'll get for my winter overnighters.

    But then, what are you doing about gaiters? Are snow conditions on your winter hikes such that snow doesn't fall into the the top of the shoes, and the lower part of the trousers all get iced over?

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo L. View Post
    Walter,

    Aside of the Microspikes (a piece of gear I've learned about here in WB, and bought some last year) the shouvel is the next piece I'll get for my winter overnighters.

    But then, what are you doing about gaiters? Are snow conditions on your winter hikes such that snow doesn't fall into the the top of the shoes, and the lower part of the trousers all get iced over?
    I bring alot of crap on my trips but funny thing is, snow gaiters are not a luxury item I ever use or ever bring. It's stupid I know but I'm so used to getting snow down into my boot cuffs and soaking my socks that it's not a real problem. In such conditions my "trousers" are rain pants over merino leggings---and the leggings are tucked into the socks---but wet snow doesn't do anything to the rain pants.

    Here's a pic of a typical high elevation ridge hike in some snow at around 5,000 feet. Gaiters would help, of course.


  20. #20
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    Tipi, you are often hiking in shorts and leggings. Are these the merlino wool ones you mention here? are they light weight, med weight? if its cold raining is it better to be in wool leggings or running tights?

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