One thing you can rely on in Anchorage, Alaska is frequent freeze-thaw cycles in the winter. It makes walking to school and work a challenge and sometimes outright dangerous. Also high on the suck meter is trying to get someone's car unstuck on an icy road while you're slipping around yourself. The solution is some kind of ice cleat, and we've found a great one for everyday use.
Kahtoola makes every kind of traction system for your feet short of full-on climbing crampons. We've long used their MICROspikes, which have little fangs on the bottom, and they're great for trail use but you definitely don't want to wear them anywhere you don't want little holes. Want you want for everyday use are the NANOspikes, which have very small tungsten carbide posts – they're not really spikes – that are fantastic for bare ice.
Here's the thing: there are a lot of traction systems that do a great job on ice. What separates them are two things: ease of use and reliability. The NANO spikes are tops in both. They go on easily and securely, fitting over the top and back of your footwear with straps that distribute the pressure evenly and gently. They also come off easily, if you're heading into an office building or home, and they come with a handy storage sack that they fold neatly into. Reliability has been great so far – we'll do some medium and long term updates later in the spring – and they seem built pretty tough. We've never had Kahtoola gear fail on us yet, so color us optimistic.
We'll throw in a third benefit: the NANOspikes are the closest feeling to not wearing traction devices on your feet. Some systems feel like they elevate your foot too much, and/or are unstable while walking. The NANOspikes are very minimalist, stay in place solidly thanks to the straps and the little traction nubs on the inside that go against your sole. The NANOspikes are our go-to traction system these days for everything short of serious off-trail or vertical adventures, and did we mention they even come in extra small for the little-feeted amongst us?