Digging the Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System


This week, I dropped about $70 on the Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System. This handy pair of snow cleats (for lack of a better term) slips over running shoes or (many kinds of) hiking boots, employing a heavy duty rubber (think: bungee strap-like) elastomer band. Underneath is a rugged pattern of stainless steel chains and spikes.

I’d expected the set to cost half that (or less). But I suppose the purchase will more than pay for itself, if my new Kahtoola MICROspikes prevent me from falling and fracturing any part of my body. (Full disclosure: I had an REI gift card. So that was nice.)


I’m all for breaking the ice, when it comes to social interactions. But breaking it with my own body parts on the road, path, or trail is another thing altogether.

Midwinter running is tough, but the scenery is worth it.

Initially, I wasn’t convinced of the need for a winter traction system. But after tromping through the deeper, crunchier snow on the edges of several trails (then heading home with soaked socks and freezing feet), I decided to explore the idea more thoroughly.

This pursuit was also prodded somewhat by a running partner who was purchasing the same product to wear over her On-Running CloudVenture trail sneakers.

So glad. Hey, Hans Brinker I’m not! I’m more interested in trail running than speed skating – especially on the trails.

So I strapped my Kahtoola MICROspikes on over my Brooks Cascadia trail running shoes (Yes, I’m a fan of those, having had multiple pairs.).

First time out, I was amazed at the difference in traction and time. Instead of trudging along slippery spots, we were able to maintain a more consistent pace with steady footing, even in the shiniest, iciest stretches of the trail. Even on steep hills, both up and down.


Yes, cheaper winter traction systems exist.

For example, you can pick up a pair of the popular Yaktrax for about half the price, but we’ve heard mixed reviews on those. Yaktrax weigh about 4.4 ounces, compared to Kahtoola MICROspikes’ 11 ounces. Underneath, Yaktrax have stretchy rubber and little steel coils that tend to clog with snow. That can actually make them slippery, which really isn’t the purpose of wearing a traction system at all. 

 We’ve also heard countless stories of Yaktrax breaking after several wearings.

The Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System is available in a full range of sizes, from small to extra large, accommodating everything from a women’s 6 (or a kids’ 4) to a men’s 14. And they come in black or red.

Plus, Kahtoola MICROspikes come with a handy little tote sack, so it’s easy to keep track of them in my running pack (or in the car). That means I have them ready to go when I head for a winter run on any local trail system.


Word of warning: It’s always prudent to remove any type of snow traction system from your footwear before walking on concrete, wood planks, bricks, or other non-wintry surfaces that are too firm to allow gripping. That can damage the spikes and may make footing unsure. (And, of course, don't try driving or biking with them on. Who would, right? You'd be surprised, maybe.)

Related Items:

·        Bring on that winter running!

·        Cold-weather running: 10 ways to save face

·        How cold is too cold to run outdoors?

·        Let’s talk about long-johns.

·        Running gear: 12 key features of the best sports bras for runners

·        Running product review: SmartWool Women's Margarita socks



Image/s: Product promo photo – fair use / Personal photos – all rights reserved


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