When it comes to getting a sure grip on ice, Kahtoola knows what's what. We've relied on their NANOspikes for years to get around the icy streets of our hometown of Anchorage, Alaska, where the freeze/thaw cycles are often a daily hazard. The NANOspikes are the smallest of Kahtoola's footwear traction devices, and at the other end of the spectrum – well, before their full-out crampons – are the MICROspikes, with 1cm long teeth designed for trail use.
The MICROspikes are basically mini-crampons with actual teeth instead of little nubs. Twelve stainless steel teeth – four under the heel, eight under the forefoot – are secured by stainless steel chain links that provide additional traction in hard snow. The rubber rand that goes around the shoe is soft and non-marking, and we found it to be highly secure. In years of on and off-trail use we've never lost a Kahtoola traction device, something we definitely can't say for other brands.
The chain links will occasionally ball up with wet snow if the conditions are just right, but you feel that happening and a quick knock will clean them off. For steep trails with combined ice and snow the MICROspikes are just what the doctor ordered. We keep a pair in our car for just-in-case use; we really don't want to be caught dealing with a roadside emergency while struggling to maintain our balance. And if you're pregnant and walking in the winter, extra traction is a must. Whatever the conditions, Kahtoola will put you on secure footing.