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Reviews > Snow Gear > Traction Aids > Kahtoola Gaiters and Spikes 2019 > Test Report by Morgan Lypka

Kahtoola MICROspikes and Connect Gaiter mid
TEST SERIES BY MORGAN LYPKA

Initial Report - March 10, 2019
Long Term Report - July 5, 2019

TESTER INFORMATION
NAME: Morgan Lypka
AGE: 27
GENDER: Female
HEIGHT: 5’4” (1.6 m)
WEIGHT: 110 lb (50 kg)
EMAIL: m DOT lypka AT yahoo.com
City, Province, Country: Kimberley, British Columbia (B.C.), Canada

Backpacking Background: I started backpacking 3 years ago, when I moved to the Rocky Mountains. Most of my backpacking ventures are 1 to 3 days long, typically around Western Canada. I get cold quickly, and handle heat well. My backcountry trips involve hiking, trail running, ski touring and cross-country skiing. I am getting into kayaking, rock climbing and fly fishing. I camp with a lightweight 3-person, 3-season tent and am starting to hammock and winter camp. Decreasing my packed weight in the backcountry is a developing focus of mine (fitting everything was the first).

Initial Report

PRODUCT INFORMATION AND SPECS
Manufacturer: Kahtoola
Manufacturer’s Website: https://kahtoola.com
MSRP:  Footwear aka Spikes (including tote) - $69.95 USD, Gaiters - $49.95 USD
Colour Testing: Gray/Charcoal gaiters, Black spikes
Listed Colours, Other: Spikes - Red; Gaiters - Gray/Plum, Gray/Teal
Size of Spikes Testing: S (on the manufacturer's sizing chart equates to size US W6-9, EU W38-41 for runners, and US W6.5-8, EU W37-38.5 if wearing with boots)
Other Sizes: Spikes - Medium, Large, Extra Large; Gaiters - L/XL
Size of Gaiters: S/M (on the manufacturer's sizing chart equates to US W6-10.5, EU W36-41)
Listed Weights: Spikes 11.0 oz (312 g); Gaiters - not found online, Bag 1.28 oz (36 g)
Measured Weights: Spikes 11.1 oz (314 g); Gaiters 2.19 oz (62 g), Bag 0.42 oz (12 g)
Material: Spikes - stainless steel spikes and elastomer bands; Gaiters - water resistant nylon
Listed Lengths: Footwear - 1) Elastomers - not listed, 2) Spikes 3/8 in (1 cm); Gaiters - not listed, Bag 6.75 x 4.5 x .25 in (17 x 11.4 x 1 cm)
Measured Lengths: Footwear - 1) Elastomers 8.4 in (21 cm), 2) Spikes 0.5 in (1 cm); Gaiters 7.25 x 11.25 (mid width) in (18 x 29 cm), Bag 6.85 x 6.31 x 1 in (17 x 16 x 3 cm)

DESCRIPTION
The products I am testing are the black Kahtoola MICROspikes Footwear Traction with the MICROspikes tote sack, and the Gray/Charcoal CONNECT gaiters (mid length).

Footwear (Spikes)
  • Elastomer bands - described on website to remain stretchy to -30 F (-34 C).
  • Stainless steel chains and spikes
  • 12 spikes per foot
  • Heel tab - for removing spikes
  • Toe bale - to secure foot at front of shoe preventing it from pushing through harness
Gaiters
  • Drawstring cord with toggle lock at top
  • Hooks to connect gaiters to spikes
  • 6 hooks/gaiter
  • Layer of fabric behind zipper to keep out elements/for added comfort
Tote
  • Drawstring cord with toggle lock
OBSERVATIONS

On the website, I was not able to readily find the material of the gaiters, nor could I find their weight - there was a 'specs' page for the two other types of gaiters, but not for the Connect series. I found out that the material was nylon by listening to one of the linked videos. I found the videos to be informative and worth watching, as the descriptions of the products online were sparse. The MICROspikes bag listed on the website was different than the tote that I received - mine did not have a strap at the back, whereas the one pictured online does.

I noticed the heel tab to be a bit small - when I tried to pull it with mitts on my hands, I was not able to get enough of a grip on the tab to pull the spikes off my boots. The toe bale seems to be quite reinforced - it's much thicker than the elastomer bands and feels durable. With the elastomer bands being bendy, it was a bit finicky for me to put the clips on the first time. I initially also put on the spikes, followed by the gaiters, but in watching the online video, the system can be connected before putting on the spikes, due to the gaiter zippers. This made clipping the gaiters to the spikes much easier for me, and saved my fingers from fiddling with the set up in the cold. On the inside of each gaiter, there is a small elastic hook - of which I am not sure the purpose. I would potentially use this to hang out the gaiters to dry, but the hook is so small (0.5 in /1 cm).

I've put the spikes on my winter boots as well as my low profile runners - they were a bit tight on my boots, but fit, and the spikes were slightly loose for my low profile runners - I will trial them with both.



Package


Spikes and gaiters


Small elastic hook inside of gaiter

The quality of the products seems to be good - I have not noticed any major defects in the craftmanships of them. Some of the stitched ends to connect the clips to the gaiters are slightly loose/uneven on the gaiters.

Pros

Compact
Generally good craftsmanship
Useful videos on website

Cons

Spikes are heavy
Spikes are slightly large for small fitting/low profile shoes
Descriptions on website for products are sparse (but there are videos, see 'Pros' above)

Thank you BackpackGearTest.org and  for the opportunity to test these gaiters and spikes - please come back in 2 months time to see the testing progress.



Long Term Report

Location -  Mountain Pass of Continental Divide of Canadian Rockies, Alberta, Canada
Activity: Low Elevation Hiking
Trail conditions: Mostly packed snow
Length and Elevation Gain: 5 km (3 mi) with 100 m (330 ft) gain
Temperature and Weather: -10 C (14 F) and sunny

Location - Robinson Lake, Northern Idaho
Activity: Camping, gathering wood and walking around campsite (2 km/1mi)
Ground conditions: Muddy wet soil
Length and Elevation Gain: 1 night, 2 days
Temperature and Weather: 5 C (41 F), rainy

Location: East Kootenays, B.C.
Activity: Running x 3
Ground conditions - Ice, trail, paved, snow and gravel sections
Length and Elevation Gain: 5-10 km (3-6 mi) runs with ~200 m (660 ft) gain
Temperature and Weather: -10-0 C (10-32 F), sunny and overcast

Although not over too many kilometres or miles, I was able to test these gaiters and spikes on many  trail conditions. I fully trusted them on icy patches, even running downhill, and climbing uphill. I hiked up a grade of probably 17% of packed icy snow, and did not slip at all. During one of my spring runs where I was on the road for a bit, the spikes still fared well. Since the spikes are fairly large, I was nervous that I would be unstable, or that a spike would break. However, I felt fine while running and the spikes still do not show any wear and tear. To add to that, I haven't noticed any wear and tear on any portion of the spikes or gaiters yet.

   
Winter Hiking

I have winter runners with built in studs, so I was curious to contrast these with the slip on spikes. I would say that I was pleasantly surprised to notice that the spikes didn't feel as large as they are. I would probably still go to my studded runners for most winter running, as they are less bulky and lighter weight. From the photo below, you can also see how the spikes hung off of my small runners - this wasn't actually as noticeable to me during the run as I thought it would be - I was able to run normally and it didn't pose a safety concern. Even though slightly loose underneath, the spikes stayed snug on top. The gaiters were also slightly large for these runners, but they still did the trick. The cinch toggle worked great to secure the gaiters in place, so that they didn't twist on me at all.

Winter Running, with Loose Spike

While camping, I wore the gaiters over a slim pair of hiking shoes. They fit great, and really kept my ankles, bottom of pants and tops of shoes dry from the wet ground and wet brush and grass. It was a very nice surprise, and while I stayed dry, my camping mates all suffered wet feet/pants. The gaiters were dry the next day. Out of all of the trips, the gaiters and spikes definitely fit best on my slim hiking shoes.

Spring Camping - Great Fit Over my Slim Hiking Shoes (only gaiters on in photo)

In summary, both the gaiters and the spikes are valuable on their own - I see myself keeping the spikes in my vehicle for walking in town when it's icy out, and keeping the gaiters on hand whenever I am walking through wet brush. I am quite likely to bring the gaiters into the backcountry in the future, but unlikely to bring the spikes into the backcountry mainly due to weight. However, I still envision using the spikes on packed trail day hikes in the future.

Pros
Ability to use the spikes and gaiters separately
Ability to cinch up the gaiters to any size ankle/pant
Durability of product

Cons
Good fit only on the medium sized shoe (other fits were sub-par, but still effective)

This concludes my reporting series. Thank you Kahtoola and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to trial these versatile pieces in the outdoors.



Read more reviews of Kahtoola gear
Read more gear reviews by Morgan Lypka

Reviews > Snow Gear > Traction Aids > Kahtoola Gaiters and Spikes 2019 > Test Report by Morgan Lypka



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