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.
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.
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.
|Materials||Steel, rubber||Stainless steel, thermoelastic rubber|
|Durability||Break easily||Highly durable|
|Terrain||Thin packed snow, slush, ice, tarmac||Packed snow, ice, rock|
|Activity||Running, hiking, walking||Hiking, walking, trekking|
Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Adventure.com. She is an author, mountain enthusiast and yoga teacher who loves heading uphill on foot, ski, bike and belay. She recently returned to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland after 20 years living in the USA, 11 of which were spent in the rocky mountains of Vail, Colorado where she owned a boutique yoga studio and explored the west's famous peaks and rivers. She is a champion for enjoying the outdoors sustainably as well as maintaining balance through rest and meditation, which she explores in her book Restorative Yoga for Beginners, a beginner's path to healing with deep relaxation. She enjoys writing about the outdoors, yoga, wellness and travel. In her previous lives, she has also been a radio presenter, music promoter, university teacher and winemaker.
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