Every single physical activity I do (or don’t do) is related to climbing – even if there’s no climbing involved. Running is one of those perfect cross-training activities, and living in the mountains the conditions vary from season to season, even day to day.
In Durango, Colorado where I train, in the winter, my backyard trails are often slick and covered in ice. Last winter after sliding around, and falling on my butt more than once, I vowed that I’d get some of those “spiky” shoe attachments I’d been seeing more and more of. And, as this winter began I got my hands on some Kahtoola MICROspikes.
As I said, like many climbers, I run to compliment climbing, and the last thing in the world I want to do is hurt myself while running, or hiking on slick trails. Plus, I’m a total klutz on snow, I slip and slide around more than most people. These Kahtoola’s were a perfect solution to a crash waiting to happen.
I think among the “cool kids” devices like these are certainly viewed as unnecessary, but I found quite the contrary. On sections of trail I would normally find myself carefully tip toeing through, I was able to confidently keep running, or at least hike efficiently. The spikes don’t get in the way at all, which was an initial concern of mine. In fact, I don’t notice the accessory on my shoes, except now, when I’m not wearing them. After two months I’ve become totally reliant on the extra traction they provide, and I’m not as fearful when running on slick trails.
The fit of these MICROspikes is also what I like so much. They slide right over your running shoes quite nicely and intuitively stay put. The one thing I had to play around with is making sure they are pulled tight over the heel of your shoe. If they sink below your heel the chains and spikes lose tension and don’t quite perform correctly. Other than that my critique is limited. In two months of use, I’ve been nothing but pleased with these, and I’ve fallen down quite a bit less while running this winter, which was the goal of wearing them, because even when I’m running, I’m still thinking about climbing.
One last thing, I’m not an alpinist, or even a mountaineer, but I’ve heard of folks using these things on moderate snowfield approaches, like to the Diamond on Long’s Peak. While I can’t confirm or deny these would be helpful on this terrain, it’s probably worth thinking about when considering a light alternative to crampons. Additionally, the MICROspikes come with a two-year warranty, which I think speaks volumes to these as a reliable and useful product.
All in all, these are an irreplaceable piece of gear for my off-season cross training.
About us: The Climbing Zine was started in 2010 by Al Smith III and Luke Mehall. It continues to the day with the mission of representing the true essence of climbing. Our crown jewel is our printed version, but we also do the interweb thing, and Kindle.
In the vertical world, quality gear is as important as good weather or the right partner. At the Climbing Zine, we review gear that we put to the test in our personal climbing pursuits, over months of use. If we like it we’ll tell you, and if we don’t we’ll tell you. That’s our policy…If you have gear for us to consider for a review please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.