Yaktrax Pro, MICROspikes or Crampons for Improved Traction on Icy Trails?

Light precipitation and near freezing temperatures have combined to create very icy trail conditons in Canmore. So before heading out for a walk each of the past two mornings, each of us donned something to improve our traction. Choices in our gear box inluded an old pair of Yaktrax Pros, a pair of kahtoola crampons we bought a few years ago and two sets of new MICROspikes, also from kahtoola.

Crampon v. Yaktrax Pro
Crampon v. Yaktrax Pro
Mr. GeoK has to re-attach one crampon after a steep downhill section
Mr. GeoK lost one crampon after a steep downhill section; he figures he didn't tighten the toe section adequately when he first put them on.

Here are our thoughts of the relative advantages / disadvantages:

Yaktrax Pro

  • Quick to put on and take off (< 1 minute)
  • Easy to pack in your bag until needed
  • Provide great traction on compact snow
  • Wearable over (short) sections of bare pavement / trail
  • Good stability under your entire footbed
  • Easily shared between family members with different boot sizes (within a range – otherwise they may stretch)


  • Not the greatest traction on glare ice
  • Springs break too easily (this pair has held up well, but two or three other sets owned by various family members have long since been “retired” due to breakage)
  • Tend to slip off if you don’t get them on “just right” or if you slip sideways on uneven terrain


  • Great traction on glare ice, including up and down hills
  • Once adjusted properly, they stay on pretty well
  • Durable


  • Take the longest to fasten, even once adjusted for a particular set of boots
  • Difficult to carry if not needed for the entire walk (spikes may tear pack if stowed – looking into carrying sack)
  • Relatively heavy, compared to the other two options


  • Very quick to put on and take off (<15 seconds)
  • Excellent traction on glare ice
  • Fairly light (at least compared to crampons)
  • Some ability to share between family members (within limited ranges) and easily swapped from one pair of boots to another


  • Not that easily carried until needed (looking into some sort of packing sack) due to bulk and sharp spikes
  • Due to the positioning of the spikes, there’s a tendency for some lateral ankle movement on solid ice. This may be a problem for people with a weak or injured ankle.

Since we only just purchased the MICROspikes, we can’t comment on durability. If we have any breakage over the winter, we’ll update this post.

Easy (on and) off is one of the benefits of MICROspikes
Just about home, with clear pathways ahead, Youngest GeoKid took about 10 seconds to remove the MICROspikes from his boots

Overall, the Yaktrax Pros are most packable and do a good job on compact snow. But for overall versatility and sure-footedness on more icy trails, our current preference is our new MICROspikes. (NOTE: Yaktrax has recently launched a similar product called “xtr”. If you have any experience with this product, please leave a comment.)