The snow and ice is here, while it might not stick around for too long, the cold weather up high just might. No matter the course of the future, the current conditions are what you should think about. With that being said, get out your traction devices. Snowshoes? Not yet, but soon, if the snow keeps falling – that could change things quick. For right now just bring your microspikes, yaktrax, stabilizers or similar traction.
Not long ago I did a similar blog about the differences between traction devices, check it out here. But right now I want to touch base a bit more, now that the time is here that they are truly needed. There are four highly used devices for early season traction that might interest you. Read a bit further for an overview of each and see which best matches what you need.
These are used the most and come in black or red colors. They are sized XS-XL; use the sizing chart on the back, it is quite accurate. They are made of a highly elastic rubber that stretches over the boot to hold them in place. The bottom of the device has several spikes which are not very sharp. The spikes do not need to be sharp to provide adequate traction. Be sure to store these in a small sack to protect your other gear while in your pack.
There are several versions of these. All models are a highly elastic rubber and should be tried on at the shop for an accurate fit.
Walker- These are made for walking around town or flat trails, do not bring these into the mountains. Wire spring traction device, not too strong and fall off the foot in extreme conditions.
Pro- These have a strap over the top and are a bit more aggressive. These can be used adequately on rolling hills or small peaks and around town. Wire spring traction device, a bit stronger and they stay on your feet better.
Runner- These were designed for trail and road running in the winter and work well on moderately steep terrain. Wire spring traction device, they stay on the feet well, but tend to twist a bit when descending steeper terrain.
XTR- This is the model for the High Peaks, mountains, flat hiking, rolling hills and even trail running. These are similar to the Microspikes outlined above. Spike traction device for ultimate footing and more extreme conditions.
This traction devise is simply a boot sole with traction that goes over you hiking boot. This stiff sole is equipped with removable and replaceable screws for traction. These work well for rolling hills, but don’t give the best traction for steeper mountain terrain. If you do use these, be sure to bring extra screws and a screw driver to replace the ones that fall out, because they do.
This is a final measure and by no means should be a first choice. Many boots are equipped with deep, thick, hard soles. In cases like this, screws could be used directly into the boot. Be sure to use the correct length screw as to not penetrate the inner boot.
So that is a brief overview of a few traction devices on the market. There are many more styles, models, brands and such kicking around, but these are the ones you will see the most. Need a set of traction devices, check out a local gear shop for more details and pricing? Need a place to warm up and get a good night’s sleep before you go out to test your new toy; Wilmington is loaded with lodging options.