During the winter season and at high elevations, you might find yourself hiking an icy trail, and hiking on ice or packed snow increases the likelihood of an accident and injury. The best way to maintain your footing and avoid a fall is to wear crampons or microspikes.
If you don’t know where to start, don’t worry! We found five of the best crampons and microspikes for you to consider.
5 Best Crampons Reviewed In This Post
- Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System
- Hillsound Trail Crampons
- EnergeticSky Traction Ice Cleat Spikes
- Unigear Traction Cleats
- Uelfbaby Crampons
did you know?
While it is believed that the Vikings first used crampons during the 10th century, they were first professionally designed by a British mountain climbing aficionado, Oscar Eckenstein.
The Kahtoola MICROspikes are one of the best crampons we have come across. Their flexible, ultra-light features make them an excellent option for ice ascents, icy sidewalks, steep mud terrains, snowy footpaths, and mountain descents.
Although they are a bit pricey when compared to other crampons, they offer superior performance, resilience, and reliability. They are an ideal option for ultralight hikers who are planning to climb light while enjoying the security and safety of hiking on top of muddy and frosty conditions.
According to information from Kahtoola, they offer a 2-year warranty while offering them in red and black color.
Each foot has 12 rigid stainless-steel spikes that measure about 3/8-inches in length. You can use them with your soft-soled shoes if you like, especially during the spring season.
These crampons are very flexible thanks to their horizontal frame that ensure they adapt well with every step you make in your soft-soled shoes.
You will not have to change them when you transition from steep, rough terrain to a smooth and level path.
In reality, you can wear these ice cleats when you are starting your climb and keep them on until you reach your journey’s end.
Apart from being abrasion and rust-resistant, their stainless steel composition also makes them strong and weather resistant. They incorporate a durable elastomer at the top side, which assists it in maintaining flexibility even in freezing temperatures.
A good pair of Hillsound Trail Crampons are one of the essential pieces of equipment we recommend for all mountaineers and recreational hikers.
In the course of our research, we realized that the Hillsound Trail Crampons are some of the best microspikes for handling icy terrain because of its cleat design.
Apart from weighing a mere 1 pound each, they have spikes distributed evenly that ensure you get the best feel and stability. Also, they have longer spikes that assist you in getting a deeper grip and penetration into the ground.
You will find them easy to wear even without prior experience, thanks to their flexible plate system that offers excellent grip and firmness while ascending or descending.
The plates are securely fastened by Velcro straps, which allows them to bend with your foot with every step you take, providing consistent traction and comfort.
Designed with enhanced robustness and sturdy spikes, this ice cleat is the new and improved version of the original product by EnergeticSky.
Their advanced design and traction say it all. When I tried going for a hike with it, I noticed it distributed my weight evenly, giving me more traction on ice and other conditions.
With these mountaineering crampons, it is possible to avoid any foot injury due to the silicon cover, and as an upgraded model, it comes with more robust and high-quality stainless-steel spikes. The silicon material is highly elastic while maintaining a durable, rigid form.
According to information from the company, they come in three different sizes: medium, large, and extra-large. Their silicone cover allows them to stretch and fit the feet of all age groups without breaking or tearing.
Additionally, they give you the leeway to perform different activities on different terrains safely and securely, thanks to its high elasticity and more robust welding chains.
Furthermore, they provide full sole coverage, fitting most male and female footwear. Their upgraded design comes with better spike distribution, which offers better grip and longer-lasting service.
As one of the best ice cleats in the market today, EnergeticSky Traction tries to suit all your climbing needs by incorporating 10 to 19 stainless-steel spikes.
When I tried this crampon, I noticed its delivery of superior performance, especially on slick trails. I also noticed it offers a comfortable wear experience that allowed me to have it for the whole day.
Extreme mountaineering requires microspikes that can handle severe weather conditions as well as harsh terrain. The Unigear Traction Cleat is one of the best mountaineering crampons – if not the very best – you can find thanks to its advanced durability and efficient build.
It is designed for frosty surfaces where traction and grip are critical. If you are planning to trek on an icy winter route, you might want to consider this product as it provides the needed grip to ensure your feet remain on the ground.
Its 18 spikes are evenly spread across, with 12 of them being on the front while 6 of them at the back. The spikes are ½-inch long and are well distributed to ensure dynamic traction at multiple stress points.
What’s more, the chains and claws are made of heat-treated, stainless-steel material to endure extreme environments and coniditions.
One other thing that makes the Unigear Traction Cleats stand out is its overall fit. It comes in different sizes, so you do not have to worry about not finding one that fits you. And they are easy to wear – just stretch and slip them on any of your favorite hiking shoes or mountaineering boots.
The 19 spike Uelfbaby crampon is an ideal option for those who have an active lifestyle outdoors and in the mountains.
With this crampon, both experienced hikers and newbies can trek safely from one place to another during winter seasons.
The Uelfbaby is made of stainless steel spikes that are meshed by steel chains. The manufacturers of this product took time to design it to fit easily on any shoe. It’s a one-size-fits-all crampon, with an adjustable velcro strap to keep your microspikes tight and secure while you hike.
Also, it has parts that are built with an elastomer material, which helps it stretch to fit over your boots hassle-free. The Uelfbaby also has ergonomic plates that play a significant role when it comes to added stability and durability.
From my experience, I found Uelfbaby to be one of the most flexible crampons in the market, and it was comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, remaining secure on tough inclines as well as level, ice-covered trails.
In my opinion, the Uelfbaby Crampons are some of the best ice cleats for frosty and snowy environments because of their durable material and adjustable fit.
After our analysis, we found the Kahtoola MICROspikes to be the top choice crampon in the market today in spite of its price tag.
One of the things that make this crampon stand out is its durability and its anti-rust features. It incorporates elastic materials that make it fit easily on footwear without any hassle, and the spikes are tough and tactically placed for extreme grip.
If you are looking for a top-of-the-line crampon for icy terrain and snowy mountains, I recommend the Kahtoola MICROspikes.
Guide For Buying The Best Crampons
If you live in a snowy state, the winter season can only mean two things: 1) You are going to stay indoors in hibernation mode; or 2) You are going to gear up and conquer the nearby mountains.
If you are like me, you will settle for the latter. During the winter season, there are few trail runners, no crowds, and hardly any mountain bikers to distract you from your mission. Winter is the perfect time to find solitude in nature.
To ensure you have a safe and satisfying experience in the mountains, even when the footpath is covered by ice and snow, you must wear footgear with the proper traction – and crampons are the best tool to keep yourself upright and moving.
Remember to test your new crampons before you hit the trails. Check for a secure fit on your shoes or boots, and make sure you know how easy they are to put on and take off.
Here are a few features you should consider when buying your next pair of crampons:
Whether you are planning to walk or run on snowy or frosty terrain, you need to ensure you have a flexible pair of crampons so that your foot placement is not compromised.
Flexibility in the crampon design is critical for rocky terrain. Your crampons should be flexible enough to fit and move dynamically with your footwear without slipping off.
You will want to settle for a more rigid crampon if you are planning to undertake intense ice climbing and mountaineering.
Almost all crampons are built using metal spikes, a fastening system, elastomer harness, chains, claws, and sometimes rubber and leather.
For a lighter walking experience, you might want to settle for a crampon that is built using natural rubber, since it can be durable while retaining elasticity.
This is the most significant feature you should consider in your crampon. The longer the spike, the more purchase you will get on the ice.
Keep in mind, however, that longer spikes can throw off your balance. And the longer spikes may require more work per footstep, as they are harder to pull out of the ice.
Smaller spikes tend to be more suitable for walking, light activities, and jogging on fairly level terrain.
At the sole of your crampons, you will see your spikes, Different pairs have different shapes.
The shape of the spike determines how much stability and grip you receive from your crampons. As we have learned from more experienced mountaineers, the sharper and thinner the spike, the harder it will be to lift your foot and the less pleasant your experience will be. You want to find a balance between traction and mobility.
Different spike angles are designed for different purposes. For instance, if the spikes of your crampons are long and sharp like knives, they are built for vertical ice climbing.
On the other hand, if the spikes are blunt and broad, they are better for mountaineering.
When you are planning for a hiking expedition, weight is a crucial factor. Since winter hiking shoes and boots are already heavy because of added insulation, you should consider lighter crampons.
A bulky, heavy crampon will add to your overall weight and cause greater fatigue, which might affect your potential to reach your destination and stay safe on the trail.
Whether or not you plan to become an avid mountaineer, finding a durable pair of crampons is super important to your success. The last thing you want is for the spikes on one foot to break or slip off at a precarious step.
For this reason alone, you may find it worthwhile to spend a little extra on a set of higher quality crampons, to ensure that they will be both dependable and long-lasting.
Just like your trail shoes, your crampons should be comfortable to wear. For comfort, consider the way the harness is designed and the materials used, and take into account the adjustability of your crampons.
Portability and Storage
Remember that when you are climbing mountains, the conditions of the trail at the bottom may be wildly different than the conditions of the trail at higher elevations. You may encounter soft, level ground at the base, but then discover snow and wind-slicked sheets of ice above the treeline.
Plan ahead, and remember that you might not wear your ice cleats the entire hike and will need to store them in your backpack. And, this is especially true for thru-hikers, who will encounter all sorts of conditions on the trail over days and weeks, and possibly even seasons.
Wintertime is one of my favorite times of the year to hike. The air is clean and fresh; the trees are mostly bare, allowing a broader field of vision; and there are fewer hikers on the trails, allowing me to enjoy the solitude of a long walk in the woods.
I reviewed these five products because I want to help you experience the same joy in winter hiking that I enjoy, and I hope I’ve guided you to the best microspikes, crampons, or ice cleats available. If you have any tips, tricks, or recommendations, let me know in the comments!