Kahtoola Microspikes

Mini-Crampons
Kahtoola Microspikes
$59, 13 oz. (medium)
XS-XL (fit boots from youth size 1 to men’s 16, or insulated boots up to men’s 13.5)
kahtoola.com

Conditions on the Grand Canyon’s Grandview Trail were—as a ranger warned us when we picked up our permit—“treacherous” for our late-March backpacking trip. Hard ice and frozen snow covered the trail’s uppermost couple of miles, where you frequently traverse sloping ledges a foot or two wide, with huge drop-offs. “Microspikes are mandatory,” the ranger told us, and he was right. Without them, we’d have risked becoming tomorrow’s news—or, more likely, have aborted our four-day trip.

The ranger hadn’t recommended a specific model, but the Kahtoola Microspikes proved ideal. The stretchy rubber upper slides easily over most lightweight and midweight boots, and the 10 half-inch metal spikes below my forefoot and heel never slipped out of position. They bit very securely into ice and snow, hard and soft. They are lightweight and compact enough to not affect how you walk or present a burden to carry once you take them off. They’re not crampons for technical climbing (notably, they lack frontpoints), but they’re perfect for shoulder-season hikes in the Grand Canyon or anyplace where you need a little security on frozen ground.

—Michael Lanza