What's the best microspike choice?

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jdorje
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What's the best microspike choice?

Post by jdorje »

I've got a pair of Kahtoola's that have served me well for a few years. I've seen Hillsound also recommended in threads hereabouts.

I need to pick up a couple more pairs for friends (or give away my pair and get a new one for myself). And in shopping around, there seem to be a lot more options now, and many of them are a lot cheaper. Just looking at amazon, the Kahtoola is $62, while there are other brands from $15-40. Hillsound "trail crampons" are $50. Some of these vary in spike count (mine have either 10 or 12, and seem to get full coverage), material (okay most are "stainless steel", as they should be), or attachment mechanism. But for the most part they all just look like clones of each other.

Should I go for two more Kahtoola sets, or is a $25 one going to last more than 1/2 as long? Does it matter if I'm buying this for someone who's not really all that active? Anyone have experience with more than one brand?
"I don't think about the past, and the future is a mystery. Only the present matters."
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emcee smith
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Re: What's the best microspike choice?

Post by emcee smith »

FWIW,

I have owned Kahtoola's for a number of years but, recently bought the Hillsounds and used them in October on a snowy hike up Kelso Ridge. I bought the different pair as a friend was coming into town and I thought it a good chance to try something different.

On the way up, the Hillsounds seemed quite a bit more stable on the rocks than the Kahtoola's. I felt very comfortable on both rock and snow and thought I was in love. On the way down it was a different story. Note that it was snowing, wet and heavy and the ground wasn't frozen. As I was walking down the trail (on the flat part where there is quite a bit of dirt), I noticed that every 5-10 steps the snow/mud balled up within the "captured" spikes on the bottom of my foot. So every 5-10 steps I had to kick my shoes against a rock to dislodge them. After about 1/4 mile I took them off.

I don't recall having that issue higher on the mountain where it was colder, so I am hopeful that it was just a bad combination of wet snow and mud. I haven't tried them out since (haven't had the opportunity) but am interested to see how they work in colder weather.
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AyeYo
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Re: What's the best microspike choice?

Post by AyeYo »

I like that the Hillsounds have anti-balling plates. That's one thing the Kahtoolas fail at. They're absolutely worthless in packable snow, which makes up a lot of my hikes. I hardly even bother with them anymore. However, they do excel at slippery rock, dry snow, and soft ice - which gives them some limited use for me. They're still the best of anything I've tried.

The Hillsounds look nice for bare, flat ice, but I'm not sure what else. The huge anti-balling plates will make them slippery on soft snow, the spikes aren't large enough (like a real crampon) to provide any real purchase in consolidated snow, so unless you hit an extended icy patch of flat trail you don't want to just shuffle across, I'm not sure where they'd get used. Maybe someone that owns them can chime in.
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Re: What's the best microspike choice?

Post by justiner »

emcee smith wrote:bought the Hillsounds and used them in October on a snowy hike up Kelso Ridge [...] I noticed that every 5-10 steps the snow/mud balled up within the "captured" spikes on the bottom of my foot.
AyeYo wrote:I like that the Hillsounds have anti-balling plates.

Just pointing that out ;)


I like the Kahtoola microspikes, and I use their hiking crampons. They've made strides in making the microspikes lighter. Mostly, I run in them on very packed trails. It does what it says on the tin. The only time I get in trouble is if I try to use them going fast, downhill, on dry ground - then they break, so I try not to do that.
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gonefishing05
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Re: What's the best microspike choice?

Post by gonefishing05 »

i personally wouldnt worry about the snow building up on the bottom for a couple reasons:

a) even with anti-balling plates on the bottom, this will still be a problem in that really good snowball snow. i have this problem in both grivel g12 and black diamond seracs, both of which have anti-balling plates.

b) you really dont typically need spikes of any kind in this type snow, since if its that sticky, you should be able to kick perfect steps with your boots alone.

in a situation where you are passing between areas of sticky snow (where you dont need spikes) and ice/rock (where you want them) and you dont want to take them off and put them on repeatedly, just give the side of your boot a good wack with the shaft of your ice axe as you lift your boot forward to take the next step. it will knock most if not all of the snow from the bottom of your spikes and wont slow you down.

anyway thats what has worked for me in the past. hope that helps.
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polar
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Re: What's the best microspike choice?

Post by polar »

justiner wrote:
emcee smith wrote:bought the Hillsounds and used them in October on a snowy hike up Kelso Ridge [...] I noticed that every 5-10 steps the snow/mud balled up within the "captured" spikes on the bottom of my foot.
AyeYo wrote:I like that the Hillsounds have anti-balling plates.

Just pointing that out ;)
Only the Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro (pictured below) has the anti-balling plates. The other Hillsound products are basically Kahtoola Microspike clones with various modifications.

Image
"Getting to the bottom, OPTIONAL. Getting to the top, MANDATORY!" - The Wisest Trail Sign
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AyeYo
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Re: What's the best microspike choice?

Post by AyeYo »

justiner wrote:
emcee smith wrote:bought the Hillsounds and used them in October on a snowy hike up Kelso Ridge [...] I noticed that every 5-10 steps the snow/mud balled up within the "captured" spikes on the bottom of my foot.
AyeYo wrote:I like that the Hillsounds have anti-balling plates.

Just pointing that out ;)
I didn't see his post. Guess they're for looks only. :lol:
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jdorje
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Re: What's the best microspike choice?

Post by jdorje »

Well, I went with more Kahtoolas.
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cbrobin
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Re: What's the best microspike choice?

Post by cbrobin »

Kahtoolas are the microspike of choice for those doing the Manitou Incline in the winter. The Hillsounds look good. I'll try and ask people about them on the climb.
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