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Yaktrax vs Microspikes: which is better?

A climber crossing a snowy peak
With snow and ice on the way to our trails and running routes, you might be looking for extra traction so the cold weather doesn’t slow you down (Image credit: Buena Vista Images)

With snow and ice on the way to our trails and running routes, you might be looking for extra traction so the cold weather doesn’t slow you down. For snowy and icy foot pursuits, there are two main contenders when it comes to traction under foot: Yaktrax and Microspikes. So which is better? We take a look at Yaktrax vs Microspikes to help you decide which is the best option for traction when you’re in action. 

Yaktrax vs Microspikes: what are they? 

Yaktrax and Microspikes are both brands of traction footwear that slip on over your hiking boots or hiking shoes to help keep you upright and moving fast on icy surfaces and to dig in to power you forward on snowy uphills.

Yaktrax are lightweight grips made from elastic rubber and steel coils that you pull on and velcro tight over your boots or running shoes when moving upright on packed snow and ice. Named after the Tibetan yak, you can wear them in temperatures as low as -40C/-41F. They come in a variety of models for different activities such as Walk and Run and now backcountry-focused options like Summit.

A hiker stands in snowy terrain looking at the mountains

Yaktrax and Microspikes are both brands of traction footwear that slip on over your footwear to help keep you upright and moving fast on icy surfaces and to dig in to power you forward on snowy uphills (Image credit: Manuel Sulzer)

Microspikes also slip on over your footwear, but are comprised of thermoplastic rubber, stainless steel spikes that bite into ice and welded stainless steel chains to provide traction in snow, a bit like a crampon. They work in icy conditions and packed snow as well as rocky terrain, and the rubber retains its stretch in temperatures as low as 22F/30C.

Both of these options are lightweight, they will grip against snow and ice keeping you upright and moving and they are both pretty easy to slip on over your boots.

Yaktrax vs Microspikes: which is better? 

There’s a few obvious features to each product that might make it preferable to the other. For example, Yaktrax are much more affordable and work better for road running in slushy conditions whereas Microspikes would dig into the tarmac and slow you down. However, Yaktrax break more easily and don’t stay on the foot quite as well as Microspikes. Microspikes are much more sturdy and durable, they stay on your feet better and the spikes definitely cut deeper into the ice to provide better traction, but they come with a heftier price tag and aren’t suitable for running in.

The question really comes down to what you plan to do in them, and where. If you’re walking, hiking or running on thinner packed snow, slush, or variable terrain where you might be crossing sections of pavement, then Yaktrax are the way to go. They provide enough traction to keep you moving on the slippery sections but you won’t have to pause and take them off each time you encounter tarmac.

A woman runs on a snowy trail in Autumn with yellow aspens behind her

If you’re walking, hiking or running on thinner packed snow, slush, or variable terrain where you might be crossing sections of pavement, then Yaktrax are the way to go (Image credit: Jordan Siemens)

For walking, hiking and trekking in deeper packed snow and ice, and terrain where you might have to cross rocky sections, Microspikes are definitely more tenacious. They simply dig down deeper into snow and ice which prevents you from sliding and gives you the traction you need to push off and keep your momentum on the uphill.

Neither option will help you when it comes to deep, powdery snow where you’ll want snowshoes, but they are both good solutions for packed stuff. Neither takes up much space in your backpack so once you’ve made your decision, keep them as part of your kit for late autumn through early spring and you’ll be prepared for any slick conditions you encounter on the trail. 

Yaktrax vs Microspikes comparison chart
YaktraxMicrospikes
Average Price£30/$40£45/$58
MaterialsSteel, rubberStainless steel, thermoelastic rubber
DurabilityBreak easilyHighly durable
TerrainThin packed snow, slush, ice, tarmacPacked snow, ice, rock
ActivityRunning, hiking, walkingHiking, walking, trekking
Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Adventure.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.