The 9 Best Winter Traction Devices of 2019

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The Rundown

Best Overall: Kahtoola NANOspikes at Amazon

"Provides you the perfect measure of assured traction."

Best for Glacier Trekking: Hillsound Cypress 6 Crampons at Amazon

"Delivers one-size-fits-all convenience."

Best for All Terrains: Kahtoola MICROspikes at Amazon

"Made for winter hiking, running, backpacking, and ice fishing."

Best for Hiking: Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra at Amazon

"Specifically engineered to handle the variable terrain typical to winter hiking."

Best for Simplicity: Snowline Chainsen City at Amazon

"Ideal for more casual boots, sneakers, and other urban-style footwear."

Best for Versatility: ICETrekkers Diamond Grip Traction Cleats at Amazon

"Designed to fit tennis shoes, boots, and dress shoes."

Best for Everyday: STABILicers Walk Traction Ice Cleat at Amazon

"Great for walking your dog to cleaning out your driveway."

Best Value: Yaktrax Walk Traction Cleats at Amazon

"Will help you maneuver down ice-covered sidewalks and streets."

Best for Backpacking: Kahtoola KTS Crampons at Amazon

"Ready to handle all activities like mountaineering and ice climbing."

Our Top Picks

01 of 09

Best Overall: Kahtoola NANOspikes

When your winter exploits include a running regimen that transitions from trail to pavement and pretty much everything in between, the NANOspikes provide you the perfect measure of assured traction. Rather than big and burly metal spikes, which can become cumbersome (and even dangerous) during winter trail runs, the traction device employs a network of ten tungsten carbide studs underfoot that provides serious grip without affecting your running gait or stride.

Engineered not to wear down from repeated footfalls on unforgiving pavement, each spike includes a lightweight aluminum anchor and a TPU cleat for added traction and shock absorption. The low-profile elastomer harness has been ergonomically shaped to improve the overall fit and remains stretchy down to -30 degrees. A raised heel tab makes it easy to yank them off, while a flexible toe bale adds comfort.

They come in black and blue and have a stuff sack for secure transport when not in use. The NANOspikes also do solid double-duty for icy urban forays when you’re far from the trail.

02 of 09

Best for Glacier Trekking: Hillsound Cypress 6 Crampons

Unlike most ice grippers in the market, which come in different sizes so that the elastic harness can secure the cleats, studs, or spikes to your shoes, the Cypress 6 delivers one-size-fits-all convenience. The six-point instep cleat utilizes easy-to-use ratchet buckles to lock the device in place, and a width adjuster means it can also handle Chromoly boots. Each crampon comes with six carbon steel spikes that range in length from an inch down to three-quarters of an inch, and weigh only 19.4 ounces. Anti-balling pads underneath prevent snow build-up, a two-year warranty adds a nice touch of confidence, and the included stuff sack makes hauling them to the wild a breeze.

03 of 09

Best for All Terrains: Kahtoola MICROspikes

Kahtoola MICROspikes

Amazon

Made for winter hiking, running, backpacking, and ice fishing, the MICROspikes utilize a network of 12 heat-treated stainless steel spikes on each foot to bite into practically any frozen terrain you’re liable to encounter. The spikes are connected with welded chains to shrug off impacts from rocks or pavement, with an elastic rubber toe bale, reinforced eyelets, and an elastomer harness that slips easily around your existing boot or shoe, one that uses 50 percent less rubber than previous models.

This makes these new MICROspikes lighter — and tougher. And it also reduces the chance that you’ll snag the inner leg of your pants if you’re stepping through deep snow. The traction devices come with a stuff sack so you can stash it, and they come in black and red. For those who want to be ready for most snow- and ice-covered terrain, the MICROspikes have got you covered.

Check out our guide to the best ice fishing boots you can buy today. 

04 of 09

Best for Hiking: Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra

Don’t let the term “crampon” intimidate you. These ice spikes from Hillsound have been specifically engineered to handle the variable terrain typical to winter hiking, but they’re not full-on ice-climbing crampons. They do, however, boast more traction and flexibility than Hillsound’s Trail Crampon, with welded double-link chains and 18 stainless-steel spikes per foot that vary in lengths from a half-inch up to two-thirds of an inch, including a wide heel plate with three spikes to provide secure traction when going downhill.

The elastomer harness stretches over most hiking boots and shoes and includes a Velcro strap that stretches across the shoelaces to keep the devices securely attached. They come with a stuff sack and — bonus — a two-year limited warranty.

Interested in reading more reviews? Take a look at our selection of the best hiking boots.

Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09

Best for Simplicity: Snowline Chainsen City

One of the most low-profile and simple ice grippers in the market, Snowline’s Chainsen City will help you navigate the icy roads of the city and suburbs without layering on features that you really don’t need. The 304 stainless steel spikes attached to the linked chain delivers six points of contact to bite into icy pavement, with simple underfoot bands at the toe and heel that’s non-freezing down to -60 degrees. They’re easy to pull on (anchor the toe in place, pull back on the heel strap) and just as easy to remove (heel first, then the toe). Admittedly, they might be too svelte for use with hiking boots, but they’re ideal for more casual boots, sneakers, and other urban-style footwear.

Need some more help finding what you're looking for? Read through our best boots for snowshoeing article.

06 of 09

Best for Versatility: ICETrekkers Diamond Grip Traction Cleats

For a great all-rounder that's ideal for all winter walking conditions, opt for the ICETrekkers Diamond Grip Traction Cleats. Its tough rubber sling is designed to fit tennis shoes, boots, and dress shoes for wearing versatility. The sling is also easy to take on and off, yet remains elastic in subzero temperatures. Even more, these cleats seamlessly transition from muddy to icy surfaces. With hundreds of biting edges for grip in all directions, the ICETrekkers are made of hardened steel alloy and its diamond beads are strung on steel aircraft cable. A self-cleaning design even prevents snow and ice buildup. All in all, these cleats guarantee aggressive traction — from the boilerplate ice to the backcountry.

07 of 09

Best for Everyday: STABILicers Walk Traction Ice Cleat

If you just need an ice cleat for everyday use or walking, look no further than this pair from STABILicers. This traction cleat can fit on any shoe or boot so you can safely walk on snow or ice, whether you're walking your dog or cleaning out your driveway. Still, they perform well with multi-directional, heat-treated steel traction plates that grip securely on ice and snow, full foot protection with 360-degrees of traction, and pull tabs that make putting on and taking off these cleats easier. The cleats' traction aids can also withstand years of use and are flexible enough to survive in temperatures as cold as -45 degrees Fahrenheit. Note that the STABILicers come in one pair and are available in colors like Blue, Black, Orange, Black, and Pink.

08 of 09

Best Value: Yaktrax Walk Traction Cleats

The Yaktrax Walk Traction Cleats won’t help you cross a glacier or a dense field of snow, but they’ll certainly help you maneuver down ice-covered sidewalks and streets. The slip-on cleats use abrasion-resistant 1.2-mm steel coils arranged in a crisscross pattern underfoot to grab on to slippery surfaces, with 360 degrees of traction and a zinc coating to fight off rust.

The highly elastic outer band comes with a heel tab to make them easy to slip on and off, and is sized to fit most boots and shoes. And since they don’t have any sharp edges or points, you can toss them in the pocket of your go-to winter coat without concerns of cutting your hands or the jacket’s inner lining. But don’t make their modest size fool you. The traction cleats have been tested as safe from breakage in temps as low as -41 degrees Fahrenheit.

Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09

Best for Backpacking: Kahtoola KTS Crampons

The most aggressive model in the line-up, the KTS Crampon was Kahtoola’s first product, and still ranks as one of its flagship designs. Ideally suited for people who want to be able to handle all the variables of winter — ice, snow, slush, wet wood, and all the other elements of the backcountry — each ice gripper comes with 10 inch-long spikes made of 4130 Chromoly steel, ready to handle all activities like mountaineering and ice climbing.

The spikes are anchored on Kathoola’s patented LifeSpring Flex Bar, which uses dual-layered stainless steel bars that flex naturally with the foot and any type of footwear to avoid stress breaks that can plague other ice grippers, and allows for fast-and-light movement over non-technical terrain. Each pair weighs a pack-friendly 23.3 ounces, with a folded heel support, a rear ankle strap, and a network of straps to keep the toe secure.

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