View Full Version : Lighter Traction Preference/Comparison - MicroSpikes / Stabilicers / Yaktrax

12-08-2010, 12:48 PM
Hi Everyone,

I thought this might be a good topic for discussion...although it may have already been on this forum in the past.

I currently use Yaktrax for light ice traction on the trail. I purchased these, not to go hiking with, but instead to walk my two pugs on icy roads. When I started hiking, they seemed to work well, so I adopted them for this application.

More so than not, I've seen that most people reference Micro Spikes in their posts on the MWOBS forum. I checked them out at EMS, and they certainly look like they are a bit more aggressive than YakTrax and probably work better from a traction standpoint.

To go a step further, my buddy swears by his Stabilicers, although they look a bit clunky to me, and don't really conform to your boot sole like Micro Spikes and YakTrax.

So, here's the question to you, the forum members:

What do you use?

Have you ever been able to compare the two or three?

How do you like what you have (pros/cons)?

Any other helpful information you may have on them?

As I said above, I currently use YakTrax. They were somewhat inexpensive, $30 I think in season. I like how they are easy to put on my shoes and they conform to my boot so I don't even feel as there is anything on them. I have noticed that the coils are starting to wear down a bit and I may actually need to replace them soon (I use them a lot for walking the dogs). I've never lost traction in them, although I don't think I've really pushed them during use (steep incline on ice).

I'm looking forward to everyone's responses. If one seems to be preferred among the members, I may end up switching over from the YakTrax for hiking.


Jimmy Legs and Little d
12-08-2010, 01:21 PM
Hi Karl,
Once you have tried Microspikes, you'll never go back to Yaktrax or Stablizers. They are lightweight, easy to put on, definitely give you a more confident feeling on the ice, and we've never experienced any problems with them. Our vote: Microspikes.


12-08-2010, 01:41 PM
I agree with mr legs, and ms donna I have mircospikes they work great on icy rocks water crossings this time of year and they are well made and priced well. my girl has hill sound trail crampons which work just as well

12-08-2010, 11:28 PM
What do you use? Have you ever been able to compare the two or three?...
The summit uses crampons mostly but on lighter icing days, we do use YakTrax originals and Stabilicers originals to "run" out and get our precipitation can in the middle of the summit. I personally own a pair of MICROspikes and recently the obs has started using the Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro, a light, shorter spiked crampon

How do you like what you have (pros/cons)?
YakTrax Pros: Cheap, Light, collapsable, easy to slip on/off, provide good traction on flat surfaces of ice, can fit virtually any boot.
YakTrax Cons: They can break over time, they ware down over time a bit quicker than I would like, dont fit large boots, not that great at climbing steep pitches with ice, bad with the rocks up here.

Stabilicers Pros: Fairly light (although not as light as YakTrax), I have yet to find a boot they dont fit, provide good traction on flat and pitched surfaces, easy to repair, easy on/off
Stabilicers Cons: Velcro can be bad if ice gets in their when you take them off above treeline, foot feels loose at times in them at times.

MICROspikes Pros: Easy on/off, light and compactable, fit virtually any boot, good for moderate pitches of snow and ice, easy to repair and strong and can be repaired with zip ties in the backcountry.
MICROspikes Cons: Elastic can break over time (although I have great experiences with their repair dept), not recommended for steep pitches although I know people out there do.

Any other helpful information you may have on them?...
I have not tried the Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro but my boss and valley IT tried them this past week and raved about them enought for us to look into getting the summit staff some. He liked how light weight they were, their ease of on/off and were easier to use than full on crampons especially with their ratching system. If we get them, I will let ya know.

While talking to our friends at EMS N. Conway, one of them strongly said not to buy the YakTrax XTR (or "extreme" as they are called). He said that virtually every pair they had sold had been returned within days of wearing them as they blew apart. Now odds are people were wearing them up to the summit this time of year which is wrong in most light traction devices. But if a retailer is saying this, it says something. He was on even ground with us on the Microspikes and the Hillsounds.

But if anything, I think it comes down to what you are using the light traction for. If it is for walking around the city or your dogs, YakTrax originals or Sabilicers are great. They can even be used for some trail conditions. If you are hiking in transition season on most trails, MicroSpikes or possibly the Hillsounds should be what to aim for. If going up Mount Washington in the middle of December is in the cards, you might get away with the MicroSpikes or Hillsounds but these should be mostly used for the less steep parts with full on and sharpened crampons and ice axe somewhere in/on your pack. But to each their own so long as you get up and down safely and remove any traction device when glissading since I have even heard of a case of MicroSpikes causing a lower leg break. Rare but it can happen.

12-09-2010, 06:36 AM
We first had Yak Trax (originals, not pros). Didn't like them at all. No good for anything but packed snow.

I next got a pair of Stabilicers. Much better on ice but a pain to get on and off an a bit of a pain to carry (fine if hiking with a pack but not so great for keeping in a pocket for a winter walk). Fine on icy roads and such but never felt secure on icy slopes

We both got Microspikes last year and LOVE them. First test was on Cardigan in January. All the ledges above treeline were solid ice with nothing on top of it. We were very nervous at first not knowing how well the Microspikes would do. After about 10 minutes of walking on the ice we had total confidence (perhaps a bit too much). After using them the rest of the winter I can't imagine winter hiking without them any more. Perfect for our morning walks on the icy roads and in the woods near the house too. Easy to carry in a coat pocket.

Like Ryan says - they aren't a substitute for crampons for more serious winter climbing. We haven't had the need to invest in those yet but are looking forward to stepping up our winter hiking and we'll definitely get them when we do.

KD Talbot
12-09-2010, 02:08 PM
In my mind there is no comparison to microspikes. As Mark said, he tried the rest, now uses the best. I used stabilicers for years as a mailman. They sucked. I tried yaktraks. They broke the first time. I've had my micros a couple of years and they hold up well and work on all but the iciest sections. I would not depend on them for above treeline travel, but I would have them with me if conditions would allow their use.

I just picked up the Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro a few weeks ago and have not really used them, but I am impressed by their lightness and ease of putting on/off. I would recommend them for anyone who wants a light pair of crampons for hiking above treeline, NOT ice climbing.


12-09-2010, 03:54 PM
I got my microspikes last year for christmas and love them. They are great on the packed snow and ice. I hiked Jackson and Pierce with them last winter, although we needed snowshoes for Pierce as it got way too warm and we had a disasterous post hole session.

I also have a set of (I don't know what they are called) rubber pull over the boot traction. They have little metal 'nubs' on the bottom, probably 8 of them? My loving but misguided boyfriend got them for me when we hiked up into Tux a couple years ago. They worked ok, but I was less than happy with them when the snow got slushy. I did however find these to be incredible last month when I hiked up Garfield and there wasn't any snow yet, but lots of ice. The microspikes were too much underfoot when rock hopping, but the other traction I had was perfect. Couldn't really feel them underfoot but had no worries about slipping and wore them the whole way down over the rocks, stream crossings and mud. I will always have them in my pack now.

12-09-2010, 06:07 PM
crampons if it's steep or above treeline

snowshoes if it's soft snow

but most importantly flip flops are only allowed in the parking lot and are absolutely not to be worn on the beach.

12-09-2010, 08:07 PM
im not a big hiker but last winter i hiked up tucks with Brad and there was a lot of snow . i got a pair of microspikes and Brad also had them . as we were hiking they gave us very good traction and i was looking at other people with just boots and for every step they took they slid down 1/2 a step .
so i like them

12-10-2010, 10:05 PM

Thanks for the plethora of information!!! It is certainly helpful for me!

It seems the Micro Spikes are the definite winner...I think I will be investing in a pair this year.


12-13-2010, 06:09 AM
I have experimented quite a bit with the Microspikes, a Hillshound knockoff (called Mil-spec crampons) and regular old crampons. My first investment was the microspikes, which I liked and used daily on local hikes that had limited ups and downs. They work quite well on clear ice (I use them to run around on the lake) and they provide solid traction on packed snowmobile trails and wet spring ice. The biggest problem I have is that under extreme conditions they will "peel" off your feet (mostly to the sides). This can usually be avoided with some care, but traversing moderately sloped ice/snow can be somewhat scary. The safest method is to traverse sideways with your feet pointing upslope, preventing the spikes from peeling and better preparing you to fall onto your ice ax for a self-arrest.

Although not quite as tough in appearance as the Microspikes these: http://www.sportsmansguide.com/net/cb/mil-spec-plus-crampons.aspx?a=602151 seem to work very well because they have an extra strap that prevents the peeling mentioned above. I have not had to make any serious repairs in my use although I have heard of others who have (fixed with pliers though). They aren't quite as compactable as the Microspikes, but close enough. I only carry these for light traction now when I hike.

The full up crampon is useful and the general advice about treeline is reasonable, but I find that the crampons also work well on a packed but soft trail for the downhill trip. The crampons will dig deep into the soft snow and prevent sliding, but do not have the weight or bulk of a snowshoe. This use is limited, but often practical on the well used trails in the White Mountains.

In January I used Mil-Spec spikes for the summit cone of Mt. Chocorua since the ice was only 1/4 to 1/2 thick. The crampons would have been ruined and the Microspikes are too "peely" for the scramble up and down the summit cone. I used my full crampons for the hike down the Piper trail where the soft but packed trail snow covered the steep sections (between 1 and 2 feet of snow); allowing me to maintain a fairly fast pace for winter travel.