The Middle Ground between Yaktrax and Crampons
recently on North Hollow have vacillated between ice and mud, often in the
same day. This morning, it was the former, and while it was far from the worst
that we’ve seen in February, it was still dangerously slick.
Fortunately, it’s possible to conquer icy terrain with ease. One just has to gear up with MICROspikes.
Our introduction to this amazing footgear came just a few years ago. Someone thought it would be inspirational start out the New Year by hiking Camel’s Hump on January 1. Initially we were considering snowshoes, but one of our crew said no, pointing out that some of the steep sections on the trail up would be sheer ice. He sent us out to get MICROspikes, and we were immediately impressed, able to negotiate everything the Camel’s Hump trail threw at us that afternoon.
Basically, MICROspikes are like Yaktrax on steroids. They consist of an elastic attachment that goes around your boot, and a matrix of chains supporting a dozen little spikes. While they’re not as extreme as ice-climbing crampons, the traction MICROspikes provide is remarkable and will easily transform your ability to navigate on hardpack. On glare ice I have never even experienced a slip wearing MICROspikes, they just grip right in to provide outstanding stability. The spikes are just long enough to lock into the ice without making it difficult to walk – I tend to drag my feet sometimes thanks to my bad knees, but have no issues planting my feet with these.
For deep snow, snowshoes are still going to work better. But during most recent winters, we’ve found MICROspikes to be our go-to traction devices. This morning, two inches of ice, no problem!