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Spiky Plus Ice Cleats

Traction for Winter Hiking and Climbing

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

By Susan Paul, Associate Guide

Susan Paul crosses hard-packed snow on Pikes Peak, Colorado.

Spiky ice cleats used for walking on ice and snow-packed trails and sidewalks.

Photograph courtesy Doug Hatfield

Spiky Plus ice cleats are used for hiking on hard snow and ice on trails and slopes. The cleats feature small metal studs on a rubber harness which slips over your boot. The cleats, working like snow tires, bite into ice surfaces and provide a no-slip grip.

I tested the Spiky Plus, with spikes on both the heels and toes of my boots, on a ten-mile hike across the kind of terrain encountered on a typical December mountaineering adventure in Colorado. Knee-deep snow, frozen stream crossings, icy rocks, windblown sastrugi, and hard-packed trail provided a wide variety of opportunities to test the traction of the Spikys.

Description

  • Versatile ice cleats with four small metal spikes on the front and two on the heel of your boot.
  • The spikes are made of Widia steel by Krupp Steel Corporation in Germany. The steel is harder than tungsten or carbon steel so they last longer than other steel products.
  • The rubber harness is composed of 76% natural rubber and 24% high-grade synthetic rubber. Its "stretch ability factor" is 650% so it can be stretched 6.5 times its original size without damage.
  • No straps or buckles to fasten.
  • Price: Spiky Plus $29.95; Spiky Sling $24.95
  • For more information: Spiky

Pros

  • The Spikys are easy to put on and take off your boots. There are no buckles or straps to deal with and no adjustments to make--they simply slip on your boots or shoes.

  • Due to the simple rubber and steel construction, they're very lightweight, a plus for anyone planning on wearing them for long distances.

  • Spikys perform extremely well on hard, slippery surfaces. I navigated a frozen stream crossing without a slip, while my partner, clad in mountaineering boots with no traction, slip-slided haphazardly across the icy surface.

  • The Spikys performed equally well on the hard, windblown "sastrugi" snow found at higher altitudes. I usually work hard to traverse this type of snow by kicking steps with my boots to ensure safe foot placements. With the Spikys I could easily walk right over the snow surface, even the off-camber sections of snow. The descent was equally secure. The steel studs of the Spikys planted firmly into the hard snow surface with no effort and held my body weight on low-angle terrain.

  • Hard-packed snow on a well-traveled trail offered the final test for the Spikys. This is where they provided the greatest benefit. Slippery, sloping trails can slow you down and add hours to a hike. With the Spikys, I could move easily and quickly down the trail with no worries of a slip or fall.

  • Because the studs are so small, they're barely noticeable on dry pavement. Unlike more aggressive and heavier ice cleats, you can even wear them while driving.

Cons

  • Like any metal placed to the sole of a boot or shoe, the steel spikes of the Spikys transfer cold from the snow and ice to your feet. For this reason, I would probably wear them on a thicker-soled boot on my next outing.

  • Although the Spikys performed well on the low-angle sastrugi, I would not trust them on higher angle surfaces. The studs are not long enough to provide proper traction; crampons would provide more secure footing in those conditions.

  • Likewise, they are ineffective in steep snow. You're more secure wearing crampons.

  • Although they provided some traction on icy rocks, they are not designed for rugged terrain. In fact, I cracked part of the plastic housing around a steel spike while traversing a boulder field.

Review Summary

The Spiky Plus performed very well as a comfortable and sturdy traction device under most snow and ice conditions. They won't give you the grip you need in deep or steep snow, but as any mountaineer will tell you, that's what crampons are for.

I'm not a runner, but I imagine these might be the next best thing to screwing your shoes before running on icy trails. The standard Spiky Sling does not include heel spikes and may not be a good choice for trail running. Choose the Spiky Plus instead.

Since the rubber can stretch more than 6 times its original size, be sure to select a good tight fit to avoid slippage around the toe or heel during use.

For mountaineering and winter hiking, a pair of Spiky Plus cleats are a good addition to your winter footgear selection. Sturdier and more aggressive than the popular metal-coil-on-rubber traction devices, yet lighter and more pavement-friendly than the toothed-steel-on-chain devices, Spiky Plus ice cleats are the perfect choice for ice- and snow-packed, low-angle trails and backcountry mountain hiking.

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