How to Use Microspikes
Winter hill walkers use all kinds of equipment to help them scale mountains and hills, on difficult terrains during tough conditions. Typically, walking crampons have always been a must-have for those taking on challenging hikes in versatile conditions, but as with many things, the equipment required for such adventures are changing. The tool has been adapted as per the requirement of the user and micro crampons, or microspikes, have now become the go-to alternative for walking safely during the winter. As with most things, there are some that love them and some that hate them, but whatever your stance, they are certainly worth a try! We’ve put together a bit more information about micro crampons so you can learn a little more about the must-have accessory and decide for yourself whether to give them a go.
What are Microspikes?
Microspikes is a blanket term for a variety of products that can provide extra grip in snowy and icy conditions. This can be achieved via a combination of chains that line the sole of the foot and small metal spikes across the soles. There is a range of different models on offer, some of which offer little more than a small chain, whilst others could be described as very close to a full walking crampon, but most opt for the middle ground between the two. The kind of crampon you require will depend on the types of walks you are planning, but it’s always best to seek professional advice if you are unsure about anything at all.
The Benefits of Microspikes
The shorter spikes make for comfier walking on flat icy or snowy paths and most report them being easier to navigate and more comfortable to wear than a traditional walking crampon. The contraption can be attached and removed at speed and, crucially, they are able to be used on softer, lighter footwear than their more rigid counterparts, crampons. That means you won’t have to sacrifice the comfort of your favourite pair of shoes for your safety and the grip you experience throughout your winter hike. Here at LOWA, we have a large range of walking boots, including Gore-Tex hiking boots which would be the perfect match for microspikes. Interestingly, micro crampons can also be fitted to running or climbing shoes, making them a popular, versatile option for those with an interest in those fields as well.
Whereas walking crampons must meet a certain standard in regard to PPE, including minimum strengths of the frame, points and attachments, mini-crampons are not held to such standards. This means that whilst most reputable equipment sellers will ensure their products are well made, it can be difficult to predict whether they will last a full day, or maybe longer, out on the snowy hills. Micro crampons are, by their very nature, slightly smaller and host less aggressive spikes, therefore will be unable to provide as much grip as a walking crampon, and this is particularly noticeable with a sloping surface.
Are Microspikes Right for You?
As with many things, there’s no one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to recommending or advising against mini crampons. One of the core principles of hill walking is the lack of conventions and freedom to do what you want, so determining whether to opt for crampons or microspikes should be your decision and your decision only. It’s a good idea to try them out on a route you are familiar with or when conditions are not too dicey so that the repercussions of a broken spike are not too dire. Should you opt for micro crampons, it goes without saying that you should take them out for a spin a couple of times before heading up high in the mountains. If you’re looking for some wintry hikes that might be ideal for trying out your new microspikes, check out our recent blog post, the Best Countryside Winter Walking Routes in Scotland. As with most winter hill walking decisions, consider your route carefully before you commit to these contraptions and never be afraid to turn back if the conditions turn or you feel unsafe at any point.
Whether you’re sold on microspikes and can’t wait to take some out for a spin or you’re unsure if they’re right for you, we hope we’ve provided some more information to help you make up your mind. Check out our website for a diverse range of high-quality walking boots; the perfect accompaniment to any set of microspikes and all of your winter walks!