The MICROspikes are a slip-on traction
aid that fits over the shoe. They are relatively simple in
design, consisting of a red elastamor oval that stretches over the
shoe, and 8 spikes connected to the elastamor harness with flexible
chains. The elastamor harness is a rubbery feeling material that
gives enough to slip on easily, then rebounds to fit snugly against the
shoe. It has three cut-out areas at the front and two at the
rear. It is marked with raised lettering that indicates the
front, as well as small arrows on the sides that point toward the
front, and the brand name and size on the heel area. The chains
are about 3/8 in (1 cm) wide and attach to the
harness at 8 points via metal links that pass through circular-shaped
extensions from the main harness. The chains form a diamond
shaped pattern as they connect the spikes.
I found it interesting
that several different types and sizes of links are used to connect the
chains. Three sets of double spikes are located down the center
of the device, with one under the toe area, one in the arch area, and
one under the heel. Two single spikes are located to the side in
the ball of the foot area. The spikes are incorporated into
fairly substantial feeling metal plates of varied size, and are
approximately 1/2 in (1.25 cm) long. The spikes appear to be made
by bending the metal plate at a 90 degree angle, resulting in a
flattened shape that is pointed on the end (sort of reminiscent of the
style of can opener designed to pierce rather than open cans).
Although pointy, they are not sharp. A
thin curved metal bar connects the two chains on the front of the
MICROspikes. Below is a photo showing cross sections of the
front, rear, and the largest spike assembly which fits in the area
under the toes.
Trying them on:
surprised that the MICROspikes did not come with an instruction sheet
or booklet to tell how to put them on over shoes. They did come
on a hang card with the product name and sizing information on the
front, and when I turned it over, two small diagrams showed to pull the
elastomor over the front of the shoe first and then pull the heel
up. Putting them on is simply a matter of sliding the shoe or
boot toe into the front assembly and snugging the toe against the
curved metal bar, then stretching the elastamor far enough to pull it
over the heel and pulling the heel up high enough to make the chains
taut against the bottom of the shoe or boot.
The process is very simple and I find it takes only a little tugging on
the elastamor to even things up and make the chains fit tautly against
the soles. I really appreciate not having to fiddle with straps
or buckles. I also found they fit over all my hiking shoes and
boots, as well as over a pair of loafers I often wear in my work in the
real estate field, which includes among other things measuring and
walking around homes. This should make them handy in my everyday
life as well as for hiking.
Just yesterday we finally got a bit of snow, so I decided to try the
MICROspikes on a short 3 m (5 km) hike on some old seldom used dirt
county roads near home. Temperatures had been 20 to 30 F (-1 to
-7 C) or so for several days, dipping lower at night, so the dirt roads
were frozen solid with fine, dry snow on top. To access these
roads, I walk a short distance along a blacktop road, and opted not to
install the MICROspikes until I reached the narrow dirt roads. At
this point, I should mention that I took my dog Max (a mixed
breed whose mother was a Mountain Feist and Jack Russell Terrier
mix). Given his breeding (or lack of, some might argue), Max is
high energy and likes to pull when he is on leash. Needless to
say, I was having some trouble keeping my balance on the blacktop road
which was becoming coated with snow. Once I hit the dirt, I
walked a short distance away from the blacktop, having trouble keeping
my balance due to Max pulling, then stopped and put on the
MICROspikes. I was instantly amazed at how easy it was to keep my
balance while wearing the MICROspikes. I left them on for the
remainder of the hike, including the short distance of blacktop back to
the house, and did not slip once.
From my brief use, I'm really impressed with how well the MICROspikes
work, not only to prevent falls, but to make it easier to maintain an
even pace without worrying about balance or slipping and sliding.
I could feel the action of the spikes and to a lesser extent the chains
biting into the ground, and it made me feel confident about my foot
placement; enough that I even semi-jogged a short section to give Max a
little workout, and never once felt in danger of sliding or losing my
The MICROspikes were also very easy to slip over my shoes, even in the
field while holding my over-energetic dog on his leash. I was
able to simply bend over and pull them on over my toes, then work them
up my heels and make a minor adjustment to the elastamor on one side to
center them for best placement.
It was very simple to remove the MICROspikes when I finished my hike,
and to clean them I simply took them to the bathroom sink and ran tepid
water over them. Then I simply laid them on a towel and they air
dried within a few hours.
One concern that I have at this point is that my foot seemed to feel a
little fatigued after the 3 m (5 km), and I wonder if foot fatigue will
be a problem for longer snowy hikes. If so, I may find it
necessary to don the MICROspikes for the icier sections and remove them
for less slippery snowy sections, which I feel would certainly be easy
enough to do considering the simplicity of putting them on and taking
My only other concern is storing them in my pack. Even though
they aren't sharp, because of the possibility of the pointy spikes
catching on other winter gear I might have in my pack such as an
insulated jacket, or being shoved against my water bladder and
puncturing it, I feel it will be necessary to have something sturdy to
store the MICROspikes in. I think I have this worked out; I plan
to use a small square Zip-Lock plastic container, which the MICROspikes
will fit into, and which should serve to both keep the spikes away from
other gear and keep any dirt or snow contained if I decide to remove
the MICROspikes during a trip. This should be both an inexpensive
and lightweight (2 oz/57 g) solution.
This concludes my Initial Report.
Field Report - April 7, 2008
wore the Kahtoola MicroSpikes on two short (3 mi/5 km) day hikes on an
old semi-maintained dirt county road in western West Virginia.
Temperatures were in the 20-30 F (-7 to -1 C) range with about 1-2 in
(2.5-5 cm) of snow on
the ground. I also wore them on another trip in around 40 F
(5 C) weather on the same dirt county road after several days of heavy
which made the road coated in sticky to slippery mud. Elevation
was around 900 ft (23 m) for all these trips.
I also used took the MicroSpikes on a slightly longer day hike in Wine
Cellar Park near Dunbar West Virginia of around 4 mi/6.5 km.
Although there was around 2-3 in (5 - 8 cm) of snow on the ground, it
to be a sunny 50 F (10 C) day and the snow melted off the trail
itself. So on this trip, the MicroSpikes did not see any actual
use, riding inside my pack inside a small square Zip-Lock container
that I've been using to store and carry them in my pack.
In early April I took the MicroSpikes along on a rainy weekend trip to
the Damascus, Virginia area, with temperatures in the 50-60 F
(10-16 C) range. Originally I had planned a 2-night backpacking
trip, but I
got delayed leaving home, and the forecast was for very stormy weather
with possible flash flooding, so I wimped out and enjoyed two nights in
The Place Hostel in Damascus. I took the MicroSpikes along on an
11 mi day-long section hike between McQueen Gap and Damascus, even
though the day was warm, thinking I might have the chance to use them
on some slippery muddy sections since it had rained for several
days. The trail in this area is very well maintained, and drains
quite well, as well as not being very steep, so I ended up just
carrying them in my pack most of the day inside a gallon size Glad
zipper seal bag which I tucked inside the small square Zip-Lock plastic
container. This would seem a little overkill in most cases, but I
also use the plastic container as a mini-sink to put my contacts in, so
I did not want to get it grimy inside. This worked out quite
well, since it protected my other pack contents from the spikes, and it
was easy to pull the zipper seal bag out when I wanted to use the bowl
for other purposes. I did get the opportunity to use them for a
short blue blazed trail down to a water source I wanted to check
out. The side trail was fairly steep and covered with wet leaves,
so I pulled the MicroSpikes out, and it was nice to have the assurance
that I would not slip on the wet leaves and possibly injure myself.
Use and Findings So Far:
Any time I've used the MicroSpikes, I've found them very easy to slip
on and take off, even when I am standing, although that is just a
little trickier than putting them on while sitting on a log or sitting
in my car at a trailhead, due to trying to keep my balance as I pull
them on. Still, it's very manageable for me to pull them on while
The weather hasn't really cooperated with my schedule to give me much
snow at a time I could play in it, so I haven't had as much use on snow
and ice as I would have liked, but the few times I was able to use the
MicroSpikes under these conditions, I felt they gave me a lot of
traction. I've also found they work quite well for keeping me
from slipping on wet leaves and make it easier to travel in slippery
mud, especially up or down steeper sections.
I have found that wearing the MicroSpikes on drier soil or longer
sections of muddy ground makes me feel tired more easily since it does
change my overall balance due to the fact that all of my weight is on
the 8 small spikes. It's a feeling somewhat reminiscent of trying
to balance in high heels! I did find that it was entirely
possible to put one on backwards. I did this on my last trip, and
found it caused foot fatigue earlier, and just didn't feel 'right', so
was fairly easy to catch.
The MicroSpikes are very easy to clean - I simply run some cool to warm
water over them and most of the dirt washes right off. This last
trip, some was more embedded, so I took a small nail brush and scrubbed
the spikes lightly, which finished removing the dirt and leaf litter.
Conclusions so far:
So far I have walked in the MicroSpikes for a total of a little over 9
miles, and carried them in my pack on two day hikes, as well as in the
pocket of my Montbell U.L. Down Inner Parka another couple of
times. My impression so far is that they seem to be well designed
and a simple and
effective way to gain additional traction in snow, ice, or mud.
They are easy to slip on and off, and easy to carry along inside my
pack or jacket pocket, although I do feel more comfortable with a
plastic container to carry them in so that the spikes don't press into
other items I am carrying. In slippery situations they give me
more confidence and keep me from worrying about falling.
This concludes my field report. Please check back in early June
for final testing results and conclusions.
Long Term Report - June 3, 2008