Best Ice Cleats
When it comes to finding the best ice cleats, the choice depends largely on your unique needs and circumstances. Factors such as where you plan on using your ice cleats and how often you plan to use them will largely dictate which is best for you. If you require cleats to maneuver everyday snow and elements, durability and longevity are important to ensure top performance and cost effectiveness
Frequency of use and level of involvement can also dictate whether a lighter duty ice cleat will suffice versus a more durable, heavier duty cleat with replaceable spikes; for example, the difference between using cleats for a trip to the store vs. backpacking through an alpine wilderness area. Just remember replacing lower quality cleats over and over again may end up being more expensive than a single purchase of a superior, higher cost ice cleat.
This best list aims to filter the wide array of ice cleats down to the top 5 best options, keeping varied degrees of use in mind. These top picks were selected based on their superior performance and traction, ease of use and reliability in icy conditions, and outstanding consumer reviews.
STABILicers Walk Traction Ice Cleat and Tread for Snow & Ice
Kahtoola MICROspikes pocket Traction System
Hillsound Trail Ice Traction System
Yaktrax Pro Traction Cleats
Petzl Spiky Plus Ice Cleats
STABILicers MAXX ice cleats top this list based on their stellar performance in even the most unforgiving ice and snow. They are extremely durable and may in fact be the last pair you’ll ever have to buy. The underside is filled with 34 steel cleats, providing insane traction and confidently anchoring you in slick conditions. These cleats are replaceable and available in steel and non-sparking bronze options making the MAXX an affordable, long-term ice cleat option. Don't worry about adjusting your shoe collection to fit your ice cleats; the hook-and-loop straps on these cleats will fit nice and snug on practically any piece of footwear you already own.
The MICROspikes Pocket Traction System earns top marks for versatility, practicality and downright handiness. For starters, this system is incredibly compact and lightweight so you can stuff it practically anywhere and have on hand in any time of need. These cleats aren't as hardcore as some other options in the realm of ice traction gear, but they aren't intended to be. This system was designed for routine activity to provide additional traction when you need it most. The spikes slip right over your shoes and are easy to tug on and pull off. This traction system can also be a great asset during hiking and backpacking adventures where you may cross paths with snow, or wet and slippery rocks.
Hillsound ice traction systems have a reputation for easily being among the best on the market. The Hillsound Trail Crampon is an extremely reliable resource to individuals who spend a lot of time outside where snow, ice and otherwise slick conditions prevail. For starters, this beast of an ice traction system features a carbon alloy spike plate system rather than individual spikes, providing increased stability, insane durability, and improved ergonomics resulting in less muscle fatigue. Even the heel has a fairly menacing spike plate, so don’t be afraid of a snowy, icy downhill when you are wearing this system. The elastic harness provides a snug fit against your shoe while the velcro straps make sure the crampon doesn’t budge.
The Yaktrax Pro Traction Cleats are an excellent choice for anyone looking for ultra-lightweight, multi-purpose ice cleats. These bad boys are spikeless and feature an ingenious coil system which makes treading on ice and snow seem like a walk in a sunny park. These coils are also surprisingly durable and hold up well against intermittent dry patches of cement and pavement which could appear during your winter walks. The bendy rubber blend frame is easy to pull on and off while the optional strap helps ensure the cleat fits snug against your shoe.
If you are a winter runner or enjoy hiking after a light snowfall, the Spiky Plus is worthy of consideration. The underside consists of six carbon-steel points providing excellent protection against slick snow and black ice. These cleats also transition smoothly from packed snow and ice to dry ground should patches of exposed pavement or sidewalk pop up during your trek. The fit is flexible and will adjust to sneakers, boots and whatever else may be in your winter shoe collection.
My husband and I have backpacked through diverse terrains ranging from the rugged wilderness areas of Yosemite and King's Canyon to the more beginner friendly paths of Lake Tahoe. Next year we are even planning to undertake the glorious 200+ miles of the John Muir Trail. We have hiked 12,000 foot passes, traversed rushing rivers, set up impromptu camps on everything from solid snow to granite outcroppings, and seen the wonders of hidden pristine lakes and patches of snow that remain year-round. Our experiences with wildlife including bears, deer, rattlesnakes, and bugs that we didn't even know existed have helped us refine our gear list to be as prepared as possible in the most light-weight, compact way. We have near perfected the art of campsite setup and teardown and can literally create a home away from home in mere minutes and pack it back up in the same amount of time. My husband's insatiable need to be in possession of the latest technological backpacking advancements has allowed us to experiment with many different types of equipment and even varying editions of the same piece of equipment. Even our honeymoon was a 55-mile backpacking adventure. Let's just say it's an obsession.
I look forward to helping you sift through the many options in the backpacking world to find the gear that will help make your trip (and many more to come!) unforgettable. Happy trails!