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?