Winter trail running using Kahtoola's EXOspikes. Photo Credit: Kahtoola.
Winter trail running using Kahtoola's EXOspikes as traction. Photo Credit: Kahtoola.

Different winter activities, including but not limited to, hiking, running, and even walking, require different equipment. Making sure you have the appropriate traction is an important step to staying safe outside in winter's slippery conditions.

Using proper winter traction is not just for hardcore winter outdoor enthusiasts - when your driveway is a skating rink or you’re simply trying to walk your dog, traction is necessary to avoid taking a nasty spill. Falling on ice can result in serious injuries such as broken bones and concussions if your head hits the ground.

The options can be overwhelming - luckily, I’m here to guide you in the right direction!

Molly walking on the Colchester, VT causeway using Kahtoola's MICROspikes. Photo Credit: Molly Cournoyer.
Molly walking on the Colchester, VT causeway using Kahtoola's MICROspikes. Photo Credit: Molly Cournoyer.

1. Walking on Pavement or In Your Driveway:

Removable Traction: Kahtoola NANOspikes

NANOspikes are removable traction devices with tungsten carbide spikes on the bottom. Their stretchable design makes slipping them over your shoe or boot easy and efficient. Once they’re on you won’t even know they are there.

Built-in Traction: Icebug Boots and Running Shoes

Icebugs with BUGrip are a great choice for someone who wants their traction to be fashionable and appreciate the ease of having traction embedded into the sole of the shoe or boot. This way you aren’t fumbling around switching your traction device every time you get in and out of your car or building. Spikes can damage some floors, I'd recommend removing them indoors if you can.

2. Road Running on Pavement:

Removable Traction: Kahtoola NANOspikes

NANOspikes can also be used for road running and stretched over your current running shoe.

Built-in Traction: Icebug NewRun Running Shoes

If you're looking for built-in traction for running, check out Icebug NewRun Shoes. NewRun shoes are geared towards road running, but they could be used on a packed, flat trail.

3. Trail Running:

Removable Traction: Kahtoola EXPOspikes

Newer to the Kahtoola traction line as of last year are EXOspikes, which are geared towards winter trail running. You may already be familiar with and love MICROspikes (explained below) as your trail running favorite. However, with heavy duty mini spikes, MICROspikes are NOT suitable for roads as the spikes would wear down quicker. If you frequently run on frozen dirt roads, run on both roads and trails or tend to run to get a trail, check out EXOspikes as an option.

Deep Snow: Snowshoes

For a great workout, you can also run on packed or in deeper snow with snowshoes. There are more lightweight options available that are geared towards running. An option worth checking out: Atlas Boa Run.

4. Hiking:

Removable Traction: MICROspikes

For hiking on icy trails, MICROspikes are the go-to. The best thing about MICROspikes is that unlike their cousin, the crampon, they have shorter spikes and are lighter, less expensive, and perfect for those mid-winter Camel’s Hump ascents. They are also very easy to take off mid-hike if not needed and carried in a pack. MICROspikes also work as a great option for trail running.

Removable Traction (and Deep Snow): Snowshoes

After a snowfall or when you know there is deeper snow, you're likely to sink on a hike unless you have snowshoes on. Snowshoes are great traction devices in icy spots while hiking, but I would suggest bringing MICROspikes with you in your pack, in case there's not not enough snow to snowshoe while winter hiking.

Hopefully these suggestions have made choosing winter traction less daunting for you. I’m confident there is an option out there for everyone and thankfully, Skirack has many options to choose from with an incredibly knowledgeable staff to help you determine which ones are best for you! Once you decide the terrain and best traction device for you, you'll have no excuses to venture outside when it gets icy out!