The Kahtoola MICROspikes reviewed here were provided to this reviewer to conduct an honest review while using these for their intended use. Kahtoola received an Editor’s Choice Gold award in 2012 from Backpacker magazine which may say something about the quality here. They offer a 2 year warranty on the MICROspikes and uses include hiking, trail running (although we were taught never to run in the woods or we would trip on a root and fall down go boom!), and ice fishing. They weigh in at 11-13.5oz as reported by the manufacturer.
The first thing I will say about these upon receiving them, is the spikes are anything but “MICRO”! They are not full on crampons, but they are far above the typical ice cleats sold everywhere now. From looking at the website, they also have NANOspikes which are much smaller and likely designed for average driveway walking. Then on the other end they have full on crampons for winter ice trekking.
Upon opening the box I found a directions sheet that was in 8 different languages and had wonderful little pictographs as well. The MICROspikes were in their own nylon pouch which is a great little bonus. I do a lot of hardwater fishing (normal people call it “icefishing” and to have ice grippers in a nice bag to throw into my pack basket is a great way to keep things organized and protected. It’s a small thing, but huge in function!
The MICROspikes themselves are a blend of stretchy elastomer webbing and chains to connect that to the spike plates. The metal is all stainless steel. I will be interested to see how the transition from metal to elastomer will hold up over the long haul.
I tried them on my regular backpacking boots and they fit perfectly. They take some adjusting to get them positioned just right, but it didn’t take but a minute. Now the next question was would they fit my big pack boots I use to keep my feet warm while ice fishing? The directions imply they are more for hiking boots so I was concerned. I am happy to report that they DID fit my big pack boots!! Ideally though, a Men’s size 10 pack boot should use the size Large and mine are actually size Medium. So if there are any adverse wear issues, some of that could be because I likely will use them some on my pack boots and they might be pushed more than they should be, although they seemed to fit pretty good. It may depend on the style of boot and it’s profile.
Now given that I received these in November in Maine, it’s always a crap shoot what the weather will be. Doesn’t it figure it’s 45 degrees here and no ice or snow to be found? Even up north last week right up on the Canadian border where I was hunting we had 40 degree days and only a dusting of snow! Often times there is 2′ of snow up there and ice as well on the roads. I could have used those 10 years ago when I slipped on a road flat on my back. OUCH!!! Thank God for heated truck seats. I will do my second installment of this review just as soon as we get some ice around here.
Long overdue update!!! 3/20/16
Well it sure has been a strange winter in Maine! My main usage of the Kahtoola MicroSpikes in my life are to stay upright in the driveway when it becomes a sheet of ice and most importantly, to safely go icefishing. I must say, this has been an EXTREMELY short season for icefishing!! I only was able to go three times and the first two times the ice was snowy and did not require any traction devices. The final trip out I am VERY glad I had the Kahtoola MicroSpikes! By far, these MicroSpikes put to shame any other traction devices I have used. The type that have small carbide picks under the ball of your foot work somewhat ok on sheer ice as do the spring coil variety. The Kahtoola MicroSpikes give you the ability to walk around freely without fear of slipping at all and one can even run if needed! This comes in handy when a trap gets tripped and it bends sideways from a big fish taking it! You need to get to that trap FAST!
The MicroSpikes fit my backpacking boots perfectly. Normally I wear pack boots when I ice fish, but it was not too cold and I found that wearing the spikes picks your feet up a little off the ice so the cold doesn’t transfer to your feet as quick. The picture below shows how slick it was as well as my tracks across the ice while wearing the MicroSpikes.
As you can see below, my traps are set fairly far apart, so getting to them in a timely fashion is important. On a side note, this particular day fishing was not terribly productive. I normally fish this spot in the morning and with large bait. I failed on both accounts.
In closing I would like to say I am very impressed with the Kahtoola MicroSpikes at this time. I am hoping next year provides more opportunities to use them and see how they last. The metal to elastomer connections has me curious how they will last with heavy use. We shall see. Until then though, I would highly recommend the Kahtoola MicroSpikes for icefishing, around the icy driveway, and most hiking opportunities which do not call for toe picks or full crampons. Kahtoola makes those as well if you need them.