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Anupama Pradeep

How to Choose the Best Traction Device while hiking in Snow?

The traction devices for hiking or trekking are like including snow chains or studded tires in the car for getting over a mountain pass. This is just only a small exception! There are several things which you need to know and consider while planning your hiking in snow. In simple terms, we can say that it is all about stability as well as solid grip. Check out the thread on your selected pair of hiking boots and you will see lots of surface area along with several grooves.

Imagine that you are wearing these kinds of boot spikes on ice or on snow. The grooves will be filled up with the stuff and there goes the traction. If you are tired of slipping, falling or fishtailing while being on snowy terrain, then try options like the best ice cleats so that you can enjoy the trip along with being safe and sound.


The winter hiking experts make use of three different varieties of traction devices which includes snowshoes, microspikes and mountaineering crampons. The mountaineering crampons, as well as microspikes, are utilized for providing better traction on the certain floor like packed and icy snow. However, snowshoes are designed particularly for offering to float on the upper portion of the loose unconsolidated snow.

What Are Crampons?

Crampons are just gaining more attention from its activity. They have categorized traction devices which are light in weight and are specially designed for winter walking.

The traditional hiking crampons are capable of handling glacier as well as snow travel, mountaineering along with usage in technical hiking (where you will need to bring along with you an ice axe). They are technically manufactured for mixed rock or ice trails or for the frozen waterfalls.

crampons for increased traction

These are the best and the hardcore choice for the hikers who will be involved in serious winter activities such as mountaineering as they will be providing the right traction with required hiking spikes which measure one inch or so. They are an important gear while travelling on ice or snow.

Use of Crampons

Crampons are not just used for ice climbing or mountaineering, but they are also utilized for a safe and secure travelling while being in ice or snow and for crossing ice fields, glaciers and for handling many other similar situations.

The best crampons will be having three major attachment systems used while in the making of the footwear and they may include hybrid, strap bindings and finally step-in.

Crampons for Hiking

crampons for hiking

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Since most of the ice climbers are choosing synthetic or leather-based boots, the semi-firm making along with the horizontal frames is the rule now.

Thanks for the most modern technology and designs which crampons have offered. They are light weighted and fit well and is available in all shapes and sizes.

Pros of Crampons:

  • They are custom made for hiking in special terrains like climbing, mountaineering and other robust activities.

Cons of Crampons:

  • Boots are required to be made specifically for crampon compatibility and hence their aggression, weight factor, rate tag and many other factors rule them out from the causal ones.
ice crampons for traction

Ice Crampons

The ice traction for shoes which is provided on the bottom portion of the boots is aggressive. The materials which are used for the construction are made for penetrating ice and hard-packed snow. When the traditional model ice cleats are used indoors on certain hard surfaces such as ceramic, tile, sealed concrete, linoleum etc. they cause slip and hence it is not safe to use in such kind of floors. In short, we can say that traction will keep you safe while being in outdoors (ice and snow).

crampons for traction in ice

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On the other hand, if you are using it in the right way, these traditional ice crampons for hiking boots will help the climbers or the Mountaineers to move safely and productively even in extreme winter conditions.

There are wide ranges of shoe spikes for ice activities, the only thing is that you must choose wisely based on your size and colour choice. Apart from these, there are various other models too which are preferred by many hikers.

Microspikes – What are they?

The microspikes are held as one for gripping ice using a rubber frame and some chains which surrounds the shoes. The spikes seem to be shorter for providing better mobility – the accurate amount of traction which is required for performing hiking trails. Similarly, unlike the crampons, they are flexible as well as light in weight - points to the fact that you can even make use of a set of microspikes while moving out into an icy neighborhood.

microspikes for traction in boots


Microspikes are suited for level trails other than for using in tackling around in steep mountain terrains. The small spikes will make the device more and more versatile along the chosen terrain. On the other hand, they won’t offer you the length or the strength you require for hiking in higher altitudes.

microspikes for traction in ice

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Apart from this, the level hikes are having fewer rocks as well as diversity on the journey itself. They are user-friendly and hence you don’t need to worry while you step into ice-covered or slippery areas.

However, if the terrains you are choosing are having different paths, then picking microspikes is not a good option. If you are residing in a snowy region, then you can make use of microspikes every day. Majority of the people are seen using them while shovelling sidewalks owing to its easiness in removing from your shoes.

Crampons vs Microspikes

If you are planning a trail which is somewhat more adventurous when compared to the average snowshoeing trails, then there are chances for a debate between microspikes vs crampons. Microspikes are considered as a less expensive alternative for the crampons.

Microspikes are manufactured with more number of chains clubbed with smaller spikes – have got six to ten spikes which range from ¼ to ½ inches. They are found to be more flexible and light weighted than the crampon and since they are not friendly with the uphill terrains which are having dense ice, they are meant to offer safety on the easier trails. However, keep in mind that they are never a replacement for the crampons on the shoes, particularly in the mountain territory.

The crampons are those life-saving devices while trekking in the mountains during winter seasons. They will give you that safety and comfort which is required for the uncertain icy footing. They are considered inflexible and are heavy too.

They are manufactured to be used with boots that are sturdy. Unlike the other devices, using crampons requires additional practices before you plan your first climb. Check with some experienced hikers and then start using it for avoiding unwanted injuries.

Things to Consider Before You Buy!!!

There are many things which you should give attention prior to buying traction devices for the very first time – either crampons or microspikes. The most important thing is to check with being fit. While you attach the device, it is highly important to note whether they are fitting snugly beside the sole of the shoes or boots.

The worst thing which can ever happen to a hiker while buying traction device is that the choice might get decisively planted in the ice or snow and there are high chances for the foot to slip inside the device itself. This might result in knee or ankle injuries which could really make you hard to walk.

Another important thing to check while placing the order is to know how well the traction device will stay on your foot. Also, check the security level of the locking mechanisms.

The device is easy to attach with the footwear, however, there are chances for the ice or the snow to get inside and accumulate within the locking mechanisms, thus resulting in the device to come out and fall off. The last and the final thing to do are to re-secure the device once you complete ten steps since they can come undone.

Foot Note!!!

As you start with your snow adventures, you might be in search for the best outdoor adventure store for buying your gear while walking through icy or snowy areas. Based on the kind of adventure which you are after, you can choose from the wide range of options that you can add up to the footwear to climb up the snow-topped mountain.

Before you choose, try to pick up the kind of traction device which is required for your activity, assess the level of elevation and check the technicality of the trail as well. The next thing to analyze is to know about the ice conditions of the trekking terrain and then decide the gear which you need to carry with you.

Choose wisely and enjoy hiking.

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climbing, Foot wear, high altitude, hiking, ice, mountaineering, snow hiking, top 10 review, traction

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