One of the most common questions I hear is,
“What’s the difference between Yaktrax and Microspikes?”
They are built upon the same concept – to provide traction while hiking or walking on ice and snow. Both companies advertise this product as lightweight, easy to put on, and be used for everyday activities. However, as we look deeper into the differences we see that they are some big differences. Let’s compare the pros and cons for each.
(Photo courtesy Kahtoola.com)
- low elastic harness, which makes putting them on easy
- eyelet reinforcements and integrated toe bale
- welded, steel chains
- 3/8 inch spike length
- weight ranges from 11-13.5 oz (depending on shoe size)
- built to last for years
- can literally walk on a sheet of ice without slipping
- Price – $70
- Feet can get cold from the elastic squeezing your shoe
(Photo courtesy Yaktrax.com)
- easy to put on
- abrasion resistant 1.2 mm steel coils
- cheaper – $20
- good for running on roads, not trails
- ultralight, 2-4 oz (depending on shoe size)
- coils break easily after only a few uses
- the smooth, round coils don’t penetrate ice
- falls easily off boots
- newer models require an extra “safety” strap
This is what often happens with Yaktrax – broken coils and rubber straps.
In my opinion…
My first pair of an ice traction system was the Yaktrax back in 2007, which I bought from REI. I was starting to hike more in winter, and didn’t want to be held back from getting outdoors when ice covered the trails. I bought these because of the price – $20 is what I could afford at the time (think poor college student!). I didn’t know there were other options anyway. So, I took them out for their maiden voyage, and on the first uphill, they wouldn’t dig in enough and had me slipping backwards. Fortunately I was able to grab onto branches to keep from getting bruised or worse, breaking a bone from falling. I decided to keep going, I thought they maybe needed to break in. On the flat part of the trail they did fine, and thought, ok maybe these will do. But on another hill, I slipped all around, and decided to cut my hike short. I was bummed that I just spent this money on a product that didn’t even work!
I took them back to REI (thank goodness for their return policy), and told them what happened. They asked what I was looking for, and suggested I look at the Kahtoola Microspikes. Only problem for was the price. I waited until my next paycheck and used the money I got back from REI to purchase these. Almost 8 years later I still have the same pair. They are perfect for hiking any trail, and I often use them in place of snowshoes with the snow isn’t too deep. I’ve never had a problem with them breaking or preventing me from falling on ice. If you can afford to pay the higher price the first time you shop for something like this, I highly recommend you go for Microspikes – it’s well worth the money to keep you safe on the trails.
There are several other “off” brands that make a similar product, such as the Alps Ice Grips, IceTrekkers, or the Hillsound Trail Crampon, but I haven’t tried those out. If you are looking to hike in deep snow (more than 6-8 inches), then snowshoes are the way to go.
(Photo courtesy of Google)
The winner of the best ice traction system? Microspikes.
What has been your experience with ice traction systems?
Are Microspikes better than Yaktrax?
Related: Check out the 4 Must Have Items for Winter Hiking!
Like this post? PIN & Save it!