Aaron

Jargon: Hiking Traction Devices

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Aaron

Traction devices are a piece of specialized gear where when you need them, you need them. There really isn't a suitable substitute for spiky things attached to your feet and designed specifically to grip in slippery conditions. That said, the frequency with which you use them – if you need to use them at all – will vary widely with region and season. The simplest and least expensive of these devices are the Yaktrax style that can slip over virtually any shoe. You could probably put them on over a pair of Crocs if you felt a desire to do so. These are ideal for sections of icy trail without many steep grades. They provide great grip at minimal weight and have little bulk. However, durability can be an issue –especially if you use them on trails with lots of rock pocking up through the ice or packed snow sections...

From Microspikes to Yaktrax to Crampons, in our latest Issue @Mark details the differences with tips along the way:

Jargon 37: What are Traction Devices?

How to Choose Between Hiking Traction Devices - Yaktrax, Microspikes, etc.

Issue 37 Page 1

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K. Urs Grutter

unfortunately, all those lightweight, cheap rubber-band devices usually fail more or less immediately. Tried many of them, most of them do slip off your shoe after a few strides and will barely serve a person anywhere - and I mean it. Even on icy pavement, they slip off your shoes, so don't waste your money on those - or at least read the reviews first, preferably the ones which were not satisfied with the product...

for any snow or ice travel, you will invariably need something to solidly strap on your shoes with non-elastic straps.

and mind the avalanche danger - the pic on page 10 of the TrailGrove should give you the creeps: a slope full of wet snow at such a slope angle is a real no go! The ice axe will not help you a bit when all the snow of that slope starts sliding and soon will be thundering down with you, beating and crushing you  to death in the middle of a white inferno!

such a slope is only safe early in the morning, when the snow is frozen solid to the ground and your feet will not make any traces. That's when you really need some crampons to cross such a field, so you won't slip.

Safe trips to you all!

Urs

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Aaron

Perhaps not too cheap, but in my experience the Kahtoola Microspikes are a great option, exceptional traction on ice and the fit has been good with my shoes and boots of choice - our full review. Mine are an older version though, and my understanding is that the newer versions while lighter, do have a thinner harness. Either way not for technical mountaineering and exposure...more just for additional traction on slick hiking terrain and trails to keep you on your feet. :) With the light weight in mind they are a nice option for trips where you might encounter such conditions...or you might not. Of course, every time I pack them for a multi-day backpacking trip it seems that only dry trails are encountered. :lol: 

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