Microspikes Alternatives

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terrysrunning
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Re: Microspikes Alternatives

Post by terrysrunning » Thu Dec 03, 2020 11:44 pm

Jeff Valliere wrote:
Thu Dec 03, 2020 8:30 pm
I have put in many miles (testing and reviewing) on the new Kahtoola EXOspikes since last January and are a great option to add to the Winter traction quiver. With 12 tungsten carbide studs, these are my #1 pick when the trails are packed, icy and or mixed conditions, alternating between bare ground/rock/snow/ice like I often encounter in the foothills above Boulder. I have really beat on them and aside from some expected scuffing, I have found them to be exceptionally durable and the studs stay very sharp.
I've been considering something less aggressive than microspikes for my running in that area myself. I've always stuck with microspikes because even though something lighter would work 99.9% of the time, there are 2 spots going up Fern Canyon (locals will know which ones I'm talking about) that sometimes get pretty bulletproof. I've seen people turn around there using other systems while I was fine going on with microspikes. Does anyone have any specific experience in those spots or similar with the EXOspikes or various hobnail-type stud systems?
The only reason I am considering something different is because there's often enough icy spots to make it safest to wear the spikes the whole time, but also enough rocky parts to dull them more quickly than I'd like. So it might be nice to have something else in the quiver.
A little anecdote about the value of them, though. Few years ago I did Fern Canyon to Bear Peak with my girlfriend. I'd gotten her a pair of Kahtoolas for herself, but she forgot them, so I let her use mine and I carefully went without.
On the way back down, there was a long dry section on Shanahan Ridge and the spikes were annoying so she took them off. When we got to the Cragmoor connector, she didn't bother putting them on before the steps because we were only a couple hundred yards from the car and she was in a hurry to get down and didn't want to stop to mess with them. Second step down, she slipped on the ice and broke her ankle. A few thousand dollars in deductibles that it cost to try to fix that can buy a LOT of microspikes. And if it happens to you, that 20 bucks you saved getting the knockoff won't seem like such a genius idea any more. Her ankle still isn't right and might never be again...
Point being, if you can find something just as good, for less, good on you. But I wouldn't skimp on quality for a week's Starbucks budget.
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justiner
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Re: Microspikes Alternatives

Post by justiner » Fri Dec 04, 2020 12:44 am

I've been getting by this season with shoes with built in tungsten alloy spikes (LS Blizzard GTX) and it's been a great experience. They won't do well on pure ice, but hard-packed snow is well within their limits.

I did try out attempting to get screws in shoes to pop out less with a dab of Aqua Seal, but found no real advantage to doing that. I think on a stiffer sole (like a boot), screwing shoes would work even better.

Playing around with LS's own hobnails, they also work well. Similar to the built-in carbide tips on the Blizzard, but less prone to be ripped out than a screw. More expensive, though.
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Re: Microspikes Alternatives

Post by Squirrellysquirrel » Fri Dec 04, 2020 8:30 am

polar wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 7:33 pm

One interesting design on the Chainsen Claw is that they have three extra points that go up the toe of the shoes. I feel like they would be fairly uesless, it's not like I can front point my way up pure ice with these things. However, I have climbed some fairly steep stuff by microspikes' standards, so maybe these front points can offer more traction on steep snow? Only time will tell.
The front points seems like they could prove useful, no? Especially on *steep* icy terrain? I usu don't toe-hike up hills, but have done so to quickly peck up a small drainage with ice axe. Maybe this adapted feature could grip and pull weight like that for a quick ice related move?

I've use the Kahtoola microspikes for years; generally I like the traction they provide for winter/icy trail start conditions. I've lost numerous single- microspikes to deep snow conditions, choppy descents, or sticky snow that can pull them off; so I keep the single, buy another pair, keep the single for backup... and eventually, yes, I've managed to loose at least 4 singles over the years, which really isn't that bad considering how often I hike.

What I don't like is the "balling factor" with sticky snow conditions with microspikes of all brands. :roll:

Recently invested in the Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro. It's like an intermediate between crampon and microspike (claws aren't as big as a crampon), but offer significantly better traction for both icy and sticky snow conditions than microspikes' kitten teeth quality; it has this plastic plate that prevents snow from sticking to the bottom and it really does work for the most part. Like certain crampon models, it also has straps that go over the top of the boot to keep them on in deep snow conditions; they also come with these great orange blocking bits that keep them locked on for extreme snow sifting. Not as heavy as crampons (and certainly not a replacement either for technical ice climbs, prefer Charlet's Moser for that type of climbing), but these can get me by more easily than microspiks on high-up glassy stuff, which means that I haven't had to switch from mircospikes to crampons yet for that type of trek. So far, so good for a more aggressive footgear without the drawbacks. About the same price as the Kahtoolas, too.

https://hillsound.com/products/trail-crampon-pro
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Re: Microspikes Alternatives

Post by Jay521 » Fri Dec 04, 2020 8:57 am

I have my original pair of microspikes that I purchased who knows how long ago - maybe 7-8 years? I have worn down the spikes and sharpened them once. Probably won't get another sharpening out of them and will actually have to buy another pair. I do use them a lot in the winter and even in summer conditions if I think they would help - I used them on the 1000' of scree to 13,000 on Pyramid. Maybe I'm just easy on stuff? My 07 FJ Cruiser now has just short of 250,000 miles on it and I've done next to nothing on it as far as necessary repairs.....

Or maybe I just happened to get an exceptional pair?
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Re: Microspikes Alternatives

Post by Will_E » Fri Dec 04, 2020 10:57 am

I've been going through a pair of microspikes a season (using Hillsound), I use them a lot in mixed terrain rather than constantly take them on/off, the spikes just wear down until they gradually become less effective.

I had one pair flat out snap, the rubber completely split. I had them in the front seat floorboard of the car where they got kind of warm, stretching them around my boot immediately after parking cause the rubber to just snap. I think they didn't like the quick change in temperature from in the car to outside.
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Jeff Valliere
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Re: Microspikes Alternatives

Post by Jeff Valliere » Fri Dec 04, 2020 12:37 pm

Terrysrunning, I have run Bear Peak many hundreds of times and know every section you are talking about well. The final ~1,000 feet above the saddle on the Fern Canyon route can become a certified luge run and as you know, for the ice to get that severe, that means a lot of freeze/thaw, which also means a lot of bare ground and rock in other spots. Using Microspikes and the like is of course helpful, but then you are faced with the dilemma of frequent on/off (sorry about your girlfriend), or just pushing through and dulling them, in turn making them less effective on the ice. The only traction solutions where I have truly felt good with when things get lugey are the EXOspikes, La Sportiva Blizzards with additional hobnails, Salomon Speedspike (discontinued unfortunately) or a new out of the box set of Microspikes, or a freshly sharpened pair (I bought a bench grinder just for this).

That said, I have STILL had days where conditions on upper Fern, perhaps combined with a little bit of not being totally on my game that day, I have paralleled the trail in softer snow and hung onto trees to get down. In recent years, when conditions are at their worst, I'll ascend Fern and descend either Shadow (generally S. facing and much less icy), or West Ridge, or avoid it entirely.

Justin, hobnails on Blizzards is the best!

I have published a review of many of the currently available traction options linked below if interested.

https://www.roadtrailrun.com/2020/11/20 ... ction.html
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justiner
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Re: Microspikes Alternatives

Post by justiner » Fri Dec 04, 2020 12:46 pm

Nice writeup, as always Jeff!

Here's some more info on screw shoe'ing:

https://justinsimoni.com/2020/10/02/mon ... crew_Shoes

Also see this part of this video:

https://youtu.be/XFKulLJviHM?t=530

If you go to McGuckin here in Boulder, they have a whole little drawing just for "Winter Running" that'll have the screws you need.

Fern can be a PITA, up top right after the saddle, as well as down low, where you can find actual ice flows. Mircospikes AND poles are pretty useful. Sometimes, that's just a uphill only section for me.
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terrysrunning
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Re: Microspikes Alternatives

Post by terrysrunning » Thu Dec 10, 2020 10:39 am

justiner wrote:
Fri Dec 04, 2020 12:46 pm
Fern can be a PITA, up top right after the saddle, as well as down low, where you can find actual ice flows. Mircospikes AND poles are pretty useful. Sometimes, that's just a uphill only section for me.
It is usually uphill only for me any more. Even in good conditions and myself being a pretty solid tech/downhill runner, the limiting factor is breaking my face, so I can't run down hard enough for it to be a workout. Hence usually W Ridge. They all have that "sections of bulletproof ice followed by bare rock" thing going on though sometimes.
And thx for the reply Jeff!
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Jorts
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Re: Microspikes Alternatives

Post by Jorts » Thu Dec 10, 2020 12:03 pm

I've had luck with icebug pytho. They even work well on ice. Charged down Chubby Texan's Demise on Mt Royal in Frisco a few nights back and had no issues on the combination of ice, dirt, and packed snow. Probably similar to the shoes justiner's referencing.
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Re: Microspikes Alternatives

Post by TomPierce » Thu Dec 10, 2020 12:25 pm

Jorts wrote:
Thu Dec 10, 2020 12:03 pm
I've had luck with icebug pytho. They even work well on ice. Charged down Chubby Texan's Demise on Mt Royal in Frisco a few nights back and had no issues on the combination of ice, dirt, and packed snow. Probably similar to the shoes justiner's referencing.
There are a few similar running shoes out there. For years I've been using a pair of Asics winter running shoes with short spikes/studs factory-installed in the sole. They even came with a track spike wrench to replace the studs when they wear out. I only use them when it's totally snow packed and/or icy on my neighborhood evening runs, but they work really well and despite having to frequently cross sections of dry road/sidewalk the spike/studs show no sign of significant wear. Maybe they are made of a harder metal? Anyway, they work well for me.

-Tom
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