View Full Version : Microspikes - pros and cons

03-19-2009, 09:44 PM
I got my first pair of microspikes this year. I've had crampons for many years, but often they seem like overkill, and I've also tried the old-style instep crampons. My first take on the microspikes was that they were great for steep packed surfaces and maybe slightly icy surfaces--you didn't waste any extra energy backsliding on your way up. But now I'm beginning to think they're great for uphill and not so great for downhill. Going down packed snow, they stop your foot dead with each step--great for security but not great for going down quickly with that great shuffling/sliding motion that you can use in winter. Not only that, but they seem to do a number on my calf muscles. Something to do with the braking action that's forced on your legs. My last winter hike I ditched them on the way down and went much faster, had no sore muscles after.

Anyone else have similar experiences?

03-20-2009, 06:23 AM
I have been using them up and down on packed snow and some ice. On hard ice they work but don't feel stable to me as the points can move. I feel less tense after going down with them. I have not come down from HoJo's as fast as I did the other day in years. I like the solid footing they give.

We have snapped the chains on 2 of them using them on very solid ice - our frozen road.

03-20-2009, 06:53 AM
Alex and I LOVE microspikes! Of course, I hear they're no substitute for full crampons on steep cones above treeline...but for our purposes this winter, they've been fantastic. Absolutely no complaints here. And I love that they come in a junior size.

As for going downhill -- we often take them off if we want to slide. Good thing about microspikes is that the come off and on very easily.

Jimmy Legs and Little d
03-20-2009, 02:06 PM
Love them too. We bought ours last winter and didn't have any problems with them. I would much rather hike in microspikes any day than crampons (as long as the trail warranted them). Over the years a long day on crampons can be miserable especially when snow would ball up underneath them. Didn't use the micros on our trip last month; every trail needed to be snowshoed.
little d

03-21-2009, 08:09 AM
Yeah, on the whole I think microspikes are a great invention. Don't weigh much, easy to use. I think for me the question is when to use them and when not to use them, if you are going down packed snow. I descended the Falling Waters trail with them a few weeks ago, and I think there I would have been better off doing a boot glissade in most places. For some reason my calf muscles got fried on that trip, and the constant braking action of the microspikes was the only reason I could think of. Don't think it was the uphill part, since I had been doing some other fairly steep uphills on recent trips.

03-21-2009, 08:42 AM
well, as ya know I am fan of the microspikes.....helped out great during my hike up Bear mtn. Wish I had more chances to use them this year....silly Spring, melting away the snow :)