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Thread: Shoe Spikes

  1. #1
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    Default Shoe Spikes

    On a club hike Sunday some members had installed Stabilicers on their shoes for the snowy hike. The conditions were snow on ground with a slushy dirt trail with hills and some with short steep areas plus a bit of hard surface. There was no ice or black ice. Does anyone have any experience with these in various situations? What effect might they have on a dirt trail maybe making them even muddier?, Damage exposed tree roots? Might they get packed with wet snow, ice and become ineffective and heavy?

    I use a pair of trekking poles with great effect.

    Any thoughts?

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    Stabilicers, Yaktrax, microspikes--whatever you call them or whatever brand you choose--can be lifesavers. If you hike in winter weather, you should own a pair, and carry them with you if there's any possibility of packed snow or icy conditions. It only takes a minute to put spikes on your boots, and half that time to remove. Why risk breaking a wrist or an arm when falling on a hard and rocky trail, or worse, cracking your head? Spikes don't generally pack snow and become heavy like some snowshoes, and you are hardly aware of having them on if they are well fitted. Best of all, compared to most other winter gear, spikes are relatively inexpensive: $20 for micro spikes at Costco, and under $50 for more hardcore trail traction systems at REI. Purchasing, carrying, and taking on and off as conditions require is a no-brainer!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tailwinder View Post
    Stabilicers, Yaktrax, microspikes--whatever you call them or whatever brand you choose--can be lifesavers. If you hike in winter weather, you should own a pair, and carry them with you if there's any possibility of packed snow or icy conditions. It only takes a minute to put spikes on your boots, and half that time to remove. Why risk breaking a wrist or an arm when falling on a hard and rocky trail, or worse, cracking your head? Spikes don't generally pack snow and become heavy like some snowshoes, and you are hardly aware of having them on if they are well fitted. Best of all, compared to most other winter gear, spikes are relatively inexpensive: $20 for micro spikes at Costco, and under $50 for more hardcore trail traction systems at REI. Purchasing, carrying, and taking on and off as conditions require is a no-brainer!
    You sound convincing. Thanks. The trail in question was slushy dirt with roots that might get caught in the spikes and trip me, maybe?

    Our other trails which are rail-trails and (of course) parking lots and pavements with puddles that might have frozen or have a glaze of ice and covered with snow. You're right, the price is good and I'll consider a purchase.

    Stabilicers have pretty good reviews, with sizing being a situation. comments, experience?

  4. #4

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    The conditions you describe can be slippery but traction devices like microspikes or similar are a bit too aggressive and can be more trouble then they help. Microspikes are best used on packed snow or actual ice.
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    We always carry and often use Kahtoola brand microspikes all winter, not 100% sure what you're asking, but sure, we use them on mixed terrain all the time, meaning on an icy, packed trail there very often dry patches all over the place I rarely bother taking them off. I'm amazed at how long a pair will last, though after 6-7 years of very heavy use, the points are pretty rounded off and it's probably time for a sharpening; you can do this once, probably not twice. I sharpened an older pair once, this pair needs it now (I lost my older pair, they never wore out).

    Crampons ball-up snow faster than microspikes, I typically never have any issues with snow buildup on microspikes.

    Amazing devices, Kahtoola spikes. I can't speak for other brands, but I'm sure many of them perform just as well.

  6. #6

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    The Hillsound trail crampons work almost exactly like the Kahtoola's. I've got a pair of each. The only significant thing I noticed is that the Hillsounds are a bit more aggressive for steep ice. Last year on Mt Madison in New Hampshire, I was the only one wearing Kahtoola's and was immobilized once the ascent really began on significant ice. I had no choice but to switch to full blown crampons. The other three in our group were able to continue in their Hillsounds, though each of them admitted afterwards that by the end they wished they'd also switched over.

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    I have thought about trail damage ever since they came out. Stabilizers were sort of a rare bird and were not spikes. But microspikes broke it open and made it a needed piece of gear. Over the years I have been looking for damage from them. While I have seen some roots that seemed badly scared, some scratched rocks, and some indents on wood bridges, I have to say that overall damage has been a lot less than I thought it would be.

  8. #8

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    I have a pair of Yaktrax's and multiple sets of Kahtoola microspikes. I've never tried the Stabilicers.

    I've had the Yaktrax's come off in heavy snow and didn't notice when it occurred. I found them a couple of weeks later when the snow melted. I've never lost the Kahtoola's and never had an issue with them packing up. I've walked hundreds of miles on spotty trails alternating between rock and mud and ice with little wear. I use them for snowblowing and ice fishing. Highly recommended.

  9. #9

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    Kahtoola microspikes will work in mud and wet leaves if you're so inclined to carry them---although a good boot with a lug sole will work well enough.

    The biggest negatory to microspikes is using them in typical wet snow which we get in the Southeast mountains. 80% of the time our blizzards dump wet snow vs 0F powder snow. Wet snow is terrible when using microspikes as the snow globs up the bottoms on the spikes and you're hiking on 5 lb balls of snow underneath each spike---ergo You will fall. Removing these globs is a nagging every-other-step process.

    And don't forget or discount your hiking poles---they have spikes too---the useful titanium tips. These grip the snowy ground and ice etc and aid in balance of course.


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    As noted there is a variety of traction devices out there suitable for varying trail conditions. As far as trail damage goes, anytime you have muddy winter conditions is a good time to choose an alternate trail, like a rail trail. Freeze/thaw cycles in early and late winter, combined with any kind of foot traffic leads to considerable trail damage. FWIW, Stablicers are a nice middle ground between Yaktrax and Kahtoola microspikes. They stay on, provide decent traction, but won't dig up the living room floor quite so badly!

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    I've been out in all various conditions.

    For mudd and slushy conditions just good tread and trekking poles. Like you said you've had great effect with.

    But when things ice up you really can't beat the kahtoola spikes.
    They stay in place, tight, snug. It does give you confidence after awhile walking on solid ice even steep grade ,icey rocks,roots.

    But when things snow up... never mind that's another thread,topic....

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    Kahtoola microspikes will work in mud and wet leaves if you're so inclined to carry them---although a good boot with a lug sole will work well enough.

    The biggest negatory to microspikes is using them in typical wet snow which we get in the Southeast mountains. 80% of the time our blizzards dump wet snow vs 0F powder snow. Wet snow is terrible when using microspikes as the snow globs up the bottoms on the spikes and you're hiking on 5 lb balls of snow underneath each spike---ergo You will fall. Removing these globs is a nagging every-other-step process.

    And don't forget or discount your hiking poles---they have spikes too---the useful titanium tips. These grip the snowy ground and ice etc and aid in balance of course.

    I have never walked with that gear,,,Soooo
    but ridden a horse many a mile in same,,, picture a horses foot,, shod its like an upside down bowl, with the rim of the bowl folded inward.
    Same same,, they end up with big balls of snow in middle of foot.
    Get some PAM original cooking spray,,, clean your shoes then give them a good spray of PAM on areas that wouldnt touch ground on a hard surface... The snow doesnt stick

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dropdeadfred View Post
    I have never walked with that gear,,,Soooo
    but ridden a horse many a mile in same,,, picture a horses foot,, shod its like an upside down bowl, with the rim of the bowl folded inward.
    Same same,, they end up with big balls of snow in middle of foot.
    Get some PAM original cooking spray,,, clean your shoes then give them a good spray of PAM on areas that wouldnt touch ground on a hard surface... The snow doesnt stick
    I've heard of using PAM on spikes and crampons to dislodge snow and some people say it's rubbed off fairly quickly during a day of snow hiking---so repeated applications may be necessary---meaning Do I have to carry a can of PAM with me on every winter trip????? What's an extra pound or two . . .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    I've heard of using PAM on spikes and crampons to dislodge snow and some people say it's rubbed off fairly quickly during a day of snow hiking---so repeated applications may be necessary---meaning Do I have to carry a can of PAM with me on every winter trip????? What's an extra pound or two . . .
    Yes you do have to carry Pam with your spikes!

    And consume whatever you don't use on your spikes..

    It'll help with the tipi (tp) , trips ....

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    I found spraying my microspikes really didnt make a lot of difference. The snow is abrasive and over the course of the day it wears off. I have also tried silicone and even a teflon additive silicone.

  16. #16

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    Like everything else, traction devices are made for a certain range of conditions, the trick is selecting the type of device for anticipated conditions.

    Yak-Trax are not, in my view, designed for much more than going out of the house for mail or perhaps shoveling a driveway given their relative frailty. I have used Yak-Trax in what I would consider to be fairly easy terrain in winter, both in snow and ice and have not completed a hike with them without parts of them breaking. Certainly not the results from gear one may need to prevent a nasty accident.

    Stabilicers I have found fairly good on packed snow trails, but I can't seem to keep the screw lugs in the platforms long. Though while they remain anchored they are fairly effective in conditions they are designed for. I would not consider these functional on steep trails with ice or other surfaces that a fall would lead to an uncontrolled slide. I would consider them functional on fairly tame, gentle terrain.

    I have both the Katoola and Hillsound Microspikes as each of these has features I find better for different conditions. For high elevations where thick ice is present, I will use the Hillsounds. They have a more aggressive bite and the spikes are a little longer than the Katoola's, though on terrain that is not ice covered I find myself tripping over exposed roots with the more aggressive spikes. For ice/snow covered trails, walking on lake ice, and general hiking I use the Katoolas. I have found the clumping of snow as it warms up can be reduced using a commercial silicone spray on the chains that position the spikes along with the spikes themselves. The silicone does wear off the spikes, but does not wear off the chains as quickly, providing clump-free service for most of a day.

    Crampons are, in my view, are dangerous especially for those with little experience in technical climbing. If one does not have experience with working across iced traverses and other technical maneuvers on unforgiving and dangerous surfaces, I would not recommend these. I have seen people gore themselves with the toe spikes and find themselves rim-rocked in conditions they climbed into but could not retreat. For general winter hiking purposes micro spikes should be fine.

    Though not mentioned, snow shoes, specifically shoes designed for trail use, I find most comfortable to walk around on for hours on end. Even micro spikes with their grip can slide as each foot pushes off the surface for the next step and becomes annoying. Groomed trails allow small snowshoes to be used conveniently with reduced effort over a day. I do keep a set of micro spikes in my pack when snowshoeing on the off chance I find myself stuck in icy, unforgiving terrain.

    As an aside. If one finds themselves on a groomed trail of snow and ice, it's a good idea to have snowshoes on so post holing in the middle of a groomed trail is avoided. Post holes, for whatever reasons, tend to attract snowshoes to them and can cause falls and injuries. In some places like the Catskils and High Peaks area in NY State, post holders can get tickets for not using them on groomed trails.

    There are many traction devices that can be used during the winter months, from lightweight consumer grade for marginal conditions to heavy-duty professional grade footgear that requires other equipment to successfully and safely use. With these choices its up to the hiker to determine which type is for them and when/where/why to use them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Traveler View Post
    Like everything else, traction devices are made for a certain range of conditions, the trick is selecting the type of device for anticipated conditions.....
    Excellent summary; I don't quite agree with the "crampons are dangerous" part, but agree on everything else. I suppose for rank beginners crampons are not a first choice. I do see lots of ripped trouser legs from beginners using them in my mountaineering classes. I suppose there is occasional blood there too...

    We use a lot of "technical snowshoes" here out west, like the MSR Lightning Ascents, which have a serrated edge around the entire perimeter. Great for icy conditions and side-hill traversing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    Excellent summary; I don't quite agree with the "crampons are dangerous" part, but agree on everything else. I suppose for rank beginners crampons are not a first choice. I do see lots of ripped trouser legs from beginners using them in my mountaineering classes. I suppose there is occasional blood there too...

    We use a lot of "technical snowshoes" here out west, like the MSR Lightning Ascents, which have a serrated edge around the entire perimeter. Great for icy conditions and side-hill traversing.
    That must be the MSR snowshoes that I have. The serrated edg
    es , and the binding allows for movement which at the end of the binding also has spikes sort of like crampons, also like the extensions you can add on. Like you say great in all kinds of conditions be it snow or ice, hills, hillsides.

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    Crampons are no more dangerous than firearms. That being said, I have ripped pants with them.

    Stablicers are excellent for icy conditions. Not snowy, muddy or any other conditions, but ice. I have used Stabilicers extensively in the ADKs where a snowshoe or boot won't grab and a crampon is too much.
    Be Prepared

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    I have been using the Hillsound upgrade to Katholas called their Trail Crampon since they came out https://hillsound.com/products/trail-crampon. Hillsound also makes a Kahtoola clone called the Freestep https://hillsound.com/collections/cr...raction-device. I prefer the Trail Crampon as it includes a velcro strap over the top of the boot. I find this strap is very important as inevitably the chains will at some point in hike catch on something and without the strap its easy to just keep walking leaving the crampon behind. I am a trip leader on occasion and it happens usually at once a trip and generally it happens at the worst time like controlled sliding down a slope. I have found orphan katoolas out on the trail. The one plus with Katoola are they typically are red in color. A lot easier to find them in the snow. I think Hillsounds standard color is black but they may offer red as an option.

    Hillsound also sells a Trail Crampon pro, that is a borderline crampon, probably overkill for a normal hiker but handy in more marginal conditions. They are not true crampons as they do not have front points and for folks with larger boots the lack of center crampons with flexible boots means they can be hard on the arches after using them for awhile.

    The Hillsound Trail Crampons are better on ice than Kahtoolas. The trail crampons are going to ice up marginally faster than Kahtoolas due to the rigid plates but I find that when I start having issues with the Hillsounds the Kahtoolas are soon to have issues.

    I agree the MSR type snowshoes are great if there is enough snow but they also will ice up under the bindings on occasion. The Lighting Ascents fell out of favor in the whites due to durability issues (some folks returned a couple of pairs under warranty and one or two convinced MSR to give them an older model similar to the Evo Ascent (used to be called a Denali Ascent). BTW the models with Ascent in the name have televators that make climbing steep slopes in winter much easier. I havent heard about any defects on the Revo but they havent been out that long. Note the whites and the ADKs seem to be where good snowshoes go to die so durability issues in the whites is on the extreme end.

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