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Reviews > Snow Gear > Traction Aids > Kahtoola Micro Spikes > Owner Review by Kathleen Waters

KAHTOOLA MICROSPIKES
BY KATHLEEN WATERS
Kahtoola logo
February 15, 2011

OWNER REVIEW

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Kathleen Waters
EMAIL: kathy@backpackgeartest.com
AGE: 60
LOCATION: Canon City, Colorado, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 4" (1.60 m)
WEIGHT: 125 lb (56.70 kg)

Living in Colorado and being self-employed, I have ample opportunities to backpack. There are over 700,000 acres/280,000 hectares of public land bordering my 71-acre/29-hectare "backyard" in addition to all the other gorgeous locations which abound in Colorado. Over the past 15 years, my husband John and I have also had the good fortune to hike/snowshoe glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in exotic locations, including New Zealand, Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley. My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. I use a tent (rainfly if needed). Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) excluding food and water.

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer: Kahtoola, Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.kahtoola.com,
MSRP: US $59.95
Listed Weight: 11.4 oz (313 g)
Measured Weight: 11 oz (312 g)
Colors Available: Red & Black
Color Reviewed: Red
Sizes Available: S, M, L, XL (size chart on website)
Size Reviewed: S
My Boot Size: 8 women's

Other details:

* Five sets of two (on small) 3/8 inch (0.95 cm) hardened stainless steel spikes
* Elastomer Harness - Elastomer flexible to -76 degrees fahrenheit (-60 C)
* 100% Recyclable
* Made in Korea

Kahtoola Satisfaction Guanantee - "If you are not 100% satisfied with a product you purchase from us, we will refund or exchange it at your discretion within one year of the purchase date."
MICROspikes
Picture Courtesy of Kahtoola

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

According to Kahtoola, MICROspikes are "a pocket-sized traction system that makes any terrain, any time of year, possible ... when you donít need a full-on crampon."

Red and shiny, my Kahtoola MICROspikes are eye-catching. Stretchy red elastomer forms a harness for my shoe or boot and is attached to the stainless steel chain and link system which creates a grid and positions the 5 pairs of spikes. That's all there is, folks! Seriously!

To elaborate and starting at the top, the colorful harness is made from a material that is flexible and very stretchy. Solid, 3/4 inch (2 cm) sides connect a wider back with an even slightly wider front. The rear of the harness which fits over the heel has two openings while the forward section has three larger openings. And just in case, which is the front and which is the back of the harness isn't immediately clear, Kahtoola has raised arrows along the sides pointing to the front and the forward section of the harness is also labeled - FRONT! A small same-color "Kahtoola" is marked at the rear or heel.
Front top view of MICROspikes

Attached to the harness via 8 small elastomer tabs - 2 on each of the sides and 1 both front and back - is a stainless steel grid of links, chains and the U-shaped spike plates. The pattern formed by all this hardware is three Xs with a pair of spikes at the toe, 2 pairs, one on each side, at the forefoot, another just a bit behind at the beginning of the arch and the last pair at the heel. The U-shaped plates are bent so as to have canine tooth-shaped protrusions at both ends. These are the MICROspikes and the whole reason for being!
Individual MICROspike

It does not appear there are any seams in the harness nor are there any welded parts in the grid system.

FIELD USE AND PERFORMANCE

In the past, I've used other traction devices that performed "okay" but really didn't work for me. They were too stiff and hard to get over my boots. I can remember one occasion where the thing went flying off into the Colorado River like a slingshot while I was attempting to stretch it onto my boots. Bye-bye!

So when I was given a pair of Kahtoola MICROspikes, I was leery, but having had very good experiences with Kahtoola snowshoes, I was game to try. And I'm so glad I did. The MICROspikes are in a totally different realm!

First off, the MICROspikes go on intuitively and without a lot of effort. Even with my natural klutziness, I can balance against a tree or something and one-handed, pull the harness on over my toe and snap it into place over my heel. I can even do it with my left-hand! And there is no worry about which MICROspike to put on which foot, no specificity here! Super cold weather hasn't affected the flexibility of the harness either, so even when it has been well below freezing, I can still get it to stretch over my footwear.

Removing the MICROspikes, I give a downward tug on the heel and once I've cleared the boot/shoe's sole, the whole thing just slips off.

As for footwear, I have worn the MICROspikes with various styles of shoes and boots, from a casual tennis shoe, to a trail shoe, all the way to my biggest, heaviest winter hikers. Granted, it requires a tad more effort to pull the harness over my Merrell Outbound Mid boots than my wimpy Nikes.

Simply stated, on the trails, I have great success with the MICROspikes. I quickly found that I didn't slip or fall on ice or packed snow and that gave me confidence. Now rather than tentatively braving a slippery spot, I hike right through it. I know this traction device with keep me grounded instead of on the ground. MICROspikes have made such conditions way more enjoyable!

Being relatively lightweight and low in volume, I can always find room in my pack for the MICROspikes if initial trail conditions don't warrant putting them on. I carry them in a zippered plastic baggie and keep them in a readily accessible spot in my backpack. Thanks to the ease in donning them, I can grab them and use them mid-trail, almost without stopping. (That's a bit of a stretch, reality-wise!) Then removing the MICROspikes, I just give them a quick shake to jar off any debris and put them back into the baggie to wait for the next icy patch.

I try not to wear the MICROspikes in any muddy conditions, but when it's unavoidable, a bath under some running water does the trick for cleaning them up and making them look brand new.

I also try to avoid wearing the MICROspikes on cement, black top, or bare rock. However, there have been a few times I've heard that telltale scrapping sound and knew I was on something I didn't want to be on with them. The MICROspikes do not work on rocks, they are very slippery then. If it is not convenient to take off the MICROspikes - say, it's only 3-4 ft (1 m) until I'm back on ice/snow - I walk verrry slowwwly until I'm through that section. Besides, I doubt abrasive surfaces are good for the spikes

So far, while I have noticed the MICROspikes have lost their initially super sharp points, I have not noticed any undue wearing down of the spikes or any other degradation of the grid links or elastomer harness. I suspect the spikes will continue to "round out" with time but for now, they still work great.

STAR ATTRACTIONS

1.) They WORK! No slipping while wearing these MICROspikes
2.) Easy to take off and put on. I don't even break a nail!
3.) Convenient to store and carry.
4.) Very durable. Have held up great!
5.) I like that Kahtoola contributes to1% of sales to help preserve indigenous mountain cultures worldwide!

MINOR DISTRACTIONS

1.) Nothing, nothing at all!

SUMARY

What's not to like about a product that does exactly what it claims it will do? The Kahtoola MICROspikes work, pure and simple!

Whenever and wherever there is ice or hard-packed snow, the MICROspikes keep me on my feet - well, as far as slipping goes, they aren't klutz-proof! The gripping is strong and reliable, no "oops" from the ice being too hard to gain purchase.

AND, I can actually get these things on my feet without killing myself (or others in the line of fire).

If they are not on my feet, there is no question, the MICROspikes are in my pack whenever I even THINK there might be icy conditions which in my neck of the woods can be year round. (I had to turn back on Mt. Elbert in Colorado because of ice in August! That was before MICROspikes.) And if and when they need replacing, I'll be sure to buy Kahtoola MICROspikes again.

Thank you, Kahtoola, for making such quality products.

Kathleen (Kathy) Waters

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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