California is an excellent state for hiking. From camping in Southern California to the Redwood Forest, there are countless miles of hiking trails winding throughout every county in the state. Yosemite National Park alone holds a breathtaking 77-mile section of the famous Pacific Crest Trail. Californian backcountry is diversely varied, from the majestic mountainous coastline in Big Sur to the barren and arid Mojave Desert. Hikes for all levels of experience are on offer in California, each one showing a new part of a state so overflowing with natural attractions.
Several records are held by national parks in California; one such attraction is Yosemite Falls. This jaw-dropping cascade of water is the tallest in North America, and it’s just one of many world-famous natural wonders to see in the sunshine state. Between the Sierra Nevada Mountains and blah, hikers in California are spoilt for choice. To help, we’ve rounded up the best hiking trails in California, some were even featured on the best hiking trails in all of America. (Link when posted)
Visit the tallest trees in the world in the Redwood National Forest, or hike parts of the most famous trails in the world. California is home to the PCT, the John Muir Trail, and an expanse of other hiking trail options, from mild nature trails to strenuous and even dangerous endeavors. For the best hiking experience, whether it’s a short day hike or a multi-day backpacking trek, choose one of these best hiking trails in California.
1. Solstice Canyon Trail, Santa Monica Mountains
A perfect day-trip distance from the city of Los Angeles is the wilderness of the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area. This United States recreation area isn’t only a beautiful natural area- it’s also a site of historical importance for the Chumash Native Americans. This is an excellent 3.2-mile trail loop and an ideal location for history buffs as well as nature lovers.
Most of the trail is a shady canyon hike through the Santa Monica Mountains, but this short walk is packed with fascinating attractions. Highlights of the Solstice Canyon Trail include the oldest stone building still standing in Malibu, a small but picturesque waterfall, and several interesting ruins. Plant life in the Santa Monica Recreation Area is varied and abundant, and multiple exotic flora can be seen from this scenic trail.
This hike is suitable for all levels of experience, and it holds a few optional extra challenges for the more adventurous hiker. When the trail reaches the 30-foot waterfall, an extremely steep trail leads up to the top where there are several picturesque water pools. With wonderful views of the ocean and some interesting ruins to explore, this day hike is one of the best in California.
2. John Muir Trail, Sierra Nevada Mountains
The John Muir Trail is one of the most famous hiking trails in the world, it’s a household name all over. This huge 211-mile trail stretches across all of Yosemite National Park, to Sequoia country, and then concludes at Mount Whitney. This 14,496-foot peak is the highest point in the continental United States, a rewarding climb to cross off your bucket list. The John Muir Trail is widely regarded to be the best way to see Yosemite; by hiking it, Califonia’s most popular national park can be enjoyed the way it was intended.
There are numerous sights to see along this multi-day trek, and hikers who are privileged enough to walk it can take in ancient glaciers and dramatic mountainous landscapes. The trail features seven mountain passes, as well as fast-moving streams to be crossed. This wilderness trail rarely crosses paths with civilization, it’s a true escape from the modern world. For hikers looking for a historic and epic trail, we can recommend this one easily.
This month-long hike is no easy undertaking, as there are plenty of physical and mental challenges to keep you occupied. Many hikers of the John Muir Trail go long periods without any human interaction, in the wilderness it’s just you and your thoughts. Combined with the physical challenges that come with such a hike, this means that the John Muir Trail is for only the most adventurous. With a total elevation gain of 46,700 feet, this strenuous hike is one of the most challenging but also one of the most rewarding in California.
3. Mist Trail, Yosemite Valley
The Mist Trail is a 6.4-mile trail in Yosemite National Park, where you can see two absolutely stunning waterfalls. The Vernal and Nevada Falls are some of the most breathtaking sights in Yosemite Valley, huge waterfalls that create the clouds of mist from which the trail takes its name. As one of the most popular trails in this national park, you can expect to see plenty of other hikers, so this isn’t the most wild or peaceful trail.
This picturesque hike starts as Happy Isles trailhead, where it first takes hikers for a scenic riverside stroll. Then, after a steep ascent, you’ll catch your first glimpse of the cascading Vernal Falls. After this, hikers get a more up-close view of the awe-inspiring cascade of water, before moving on to see the glimmering Emerald Pool. Nevada Falls follows shortly after, with more fantastic views and photo opportunities of course.
This difficult trail involves a lot of climbing, with much of the path being uphill or stairs. Hikers with a good level of physical fitness will reap the rewards though, as, after all that climbing, the views are legendary. We recommend taking your time with this scenic hike, as there’s a lot to see in a relatively small area.
4. Rubicon Trail, Lake Tahoe
The Rubicon Trail is a varied and interesting out-and-back hike, which means hikers will have to double-back at the trail end to make the full round-trip hike because it isn’t a loop trail. Located in the D.L. Bliss State Park, this is about a 16-mile hike and so probably a bit long for a single day-hike. But backpackers and campers will find plenty to fill up two days of hiking along this trail, including trees, wildflowers, and nesting areas for eagles.
The elevation gain isn’t too severe on this trail so it’s pretty easy-going and hikers will be able to take in the surrounding nature since the hiking itself isn’t so exertive. There’s a nearby lake to offer some variety in the views as well. The trail features cliffs overlooking the water, but make sure to come prepared because there are no bathrooms or water available.
This is a year-round trail but it’s best used between April and September. Beginning in mid-October, the park is closed to vehicle traffic so hikers will have to use the parking lot at the nearby visitor’s center and hike about a mile to reach the trail start.
5. Mount Whitney Trail, Lone Pine
Although this is a very difficult trail that should only be attempted by very experienced hikers, it merits a mention because the views on offer are simply stunning. The Mount Whitney trail offers hikers the opportunity to camp and even do some ice climbing. It’s an out-and-back trail and about a 45-mile hike round trip, so be prepared to tackle a small section of the total trail or else be out in the backcountry for more than a day hike. This trail summits Mt. Whitney, which is the highest point in the contiguous United States, so the elevation gain is quite steep and sure to take your breath away if the views on the way to the top don’t do so already.
For really experienced hikers, it is possible to hike this trail in a day provided the journey is started super early, between 2 and 4 A.M. Walking poles or some other form of traction are strongly recommended. Dogs are allowed, but make sure your dog can handle this rigorous hiking trail! Acclimation to the high elevation will make your mountainous hike much more enjoyable, so make sure to take some time getting used to the heights before you start on your way.
There’s ice along the trail from spring into early summer, so make sure to come prepared with appropriate hiking gear. Less experienced hikers can try hiking part of this trail, up to the trail crest where the going gets really tough, and then turn back. But the Mount Whitney Trail is a really tough climb, so don’t try it unless you’re a seasoned expert.
6. Trans-Catalina Trail, Catalina Island
This 40-mile hike offers just about everything you can hope to find out hiking in California. Named for the island it traverses, the most popular way to tackle this trail is to spread out the hike over four days. If you’re up for it, make sure you bring all the camping gear you’ll need for those three nights. Great views of the surrounding ocean and Catalina Island itself are visible all along the hike, and there’s wildlife on view as well. Dogs are allowed on this trail but must be kept on a leash. While this trail is moderately trafficked, most of the trail hikers will find themselves in serene isolation.
It’s best to start from Twin Harbors, which can be reached by ferry from San Pedro. Bear in mind that permits are required for everyone entering the island, so plan enough time in advance of your hike to contact the Catalina Island Conservancy and get the required documents.
The final 8-miles or so of this trail is extremely rewarding and not too challenging, so think of it as a kind of reward for the difficulty of the rest of the trail. The good news is if this trail takes everything out of you, it’s point-to-point so you won’t have to turn back the way you came to return to the trail start. The Trans-Catalina Trail is one of those wonderful hikes whose length and location make it a destination in and of itself.
7. Gold Canyon Trail to Red Cathedral, Death Valley National Park
This out-and-back trail is a favorite among the many available hiking trails in California’s Death Valley National Park. Death Valley is an unforgiving environment, as the name implies. Whatever time of year or time of day, make sure to bring plenty of water because it’s always going to be absolutely scorching. That being said, this is only a 3-mile trail and a moderate hike so capable hikers might find this to be a great way to see Death Valley without committing to a longer hike.
There are beautiful wildflowers and caves along this trail, including slot canyons. The main attraction is Red Cathedral, a beautiful massive red rock formation that shows off a spectrum of red earth colors. The trail starts in a canyon and intersects a second hiking trail, so adventurous hikers may be able to traverse more than one trail if desired. You will have to scramble over some rocks at one point on this trail, and while it isn’t as intense of an effort as rock climbing, make sure to wear proper footwear. This is a great hike for people who want to see Death Valley National Park on a day hike.
8. Bearpaw Meadow to Hamilton Lake Trail, Sequoia National Park
This 36-mile hike in Sequoia National Park offers stunning views around Hamilton Lake, which is surrounded by mountains that are often covered with snow in the spring. The best time to see it is from June to October when the wildflowers will be in bloom and the wildlife out and active.
The trail is well-marked and easy to follow. The first half is mostly downhill and the second half is uphill over hard granite rock, so hikers prone to knee pain will want to bring walking poles or something similar to make sure they can maintain their balance. It’s out and back, so hikers will have to go back the way they came if they want to return to the trail start. However, the lakes along the way offer an opportunity to stop and relax for a while, so a return trek is enjoyable.
The length of this hiking trail means you can complete it as a day hike, but if you plan to return to the trail start you’ll need to plan to camp somewhere overnight. There are many water features along this trail, including a waterfall. The elevation gain is fairly substantial so don’t expect to make it through this moderate hike without breaking a sweat. No dogs are allowed on this trail, but horses are, so keep an eye out for riders while you’re out hiking. The views from this trail are really magnificent and the lake itself is well worth the hike.
9. Redwood Canyon Sugar Bowl Trail, Kings Canyon National Park
This 10-mile loop trail offers great views of giant sequoia trees up close and features a river that makes for a very diverse landscape to take in during the hike. It’s one of three trails that explore the Redwood Mountain Grove, the largest grove of giant sequoias in the world. There’s plenty to see, from birds and wildlife to wildflowers, making this one of the best hikes in California for nature enthusiasts.
Some of the giant sequoias have fallen over, making for natural river-crossing bridges and great angles for light to filter through the treetops. Experiencing this amazing beauty on this lightly-trafficked trail is an unmatchable experience. The sequoias are the star of the show here, and they will surely fill you with awe. If you’re lucky, you may even find some wild strawberries along the trail.
There’s an interesting log cabin marked on the trail markers. No longer used as a living space, hikers are still able to step inside this cabin, which was constructed inside the hollow end of a fallen sequoia. Hikers can also get great views of Big Baldy and Little Baldy, two mountains visible from various vantage points throughout Redwood Canyon.
There are also several interesting sequoia-related landmarks along this trail, including the Fallen Goliath, a massive sequoia that toppled over long ago and is reachable on this trail. No dogs are allowed on this trail. There is no permit required to hike in the national park but there is a small admission fee. It’s well worth it to see the massive sequoias in Redwood Canyon.
10. Lost Palms Oasis, Joshua Tree National Park
The Lost Palms Oasis trail is one of the best hikes through Joshua Tree National Park, a national park established by Congress in 1976 and named after the Joshua Tree, a wonderfully unique tree species that grows in impossibly adverse conditions. Hikers can see joshua trees up close without running into a crowd on this moderately trafficked trail.
Many wildflowers and wild animals can be seen on this trail, like jackrabbits and even the occasional desert tortoise. The whole trail only takes about three hours so hikers will have plenty of time to wander around and take in the wonderful semi-arid landscape.
This trail is best hiked between March and October, but be careful when hiking in the summer. Dried up river beds create a haze in the air and the temperatures can reach very high levels. Make sure to bring plenty of water and pay attention to the trail markers, because this trail can get a little confusing if you don’t know where you’re going. Tons of brilliant landmarks in the semi-desert environment will give hikers a great up-close view of the famous joshua tree.
California has some of the most breathtaking views and diverse hiking trails in the United States. The many national parks all offer vistas and landscapes you simply cannot find anywhere else. Tree species like sequoias and joshua trees are famous around the world and will fill hikers and backpackers with awe at their sheer size or beauty. Lake Tahoe and Sequoia National Park both offer really tranquil water features. Death Valley National Park offers an almost other-worldly view of the opposite climate, where the reds of the earth beneath the crust are plainly visible.
Catalina Island is a hike completely self-contained and worth a dedicated trip just to see the cliffs above the ocean water beneath you. All in all, hiking in California is sure to be a serene and beautiful trek that will leave a lifelong impression on even the most seasoned hikers.
Bonus tip: Check out this cool video of a drive through Sequoia National Park!
The Top 5 Best Hiking Belts
A quality hiking belt is an essential accessory for every outdoor-enthusiast. Whether you use it during day hikes, or for activities such as fishing or hunting, an outdoor belt will keep your clothing and gear safely secured at all times!
In this best hiking belt overview, we’re highlighting the top-rated, best-reviewed options.
We’ve ensured there’s a lightweight match for every preference, and budget, in our best hiking belt review.
From affordable canvas options that offer basic functionality to high-end designs with quick-release buckles, made of premium nylon. Discover the pros and cons of each style and find your ideal waist belt in our overview below:
Best Hiking Belts – Overview
- Best Overall: Arc’teryx Belt
- Best Stretch Belt: Jelt X Adjustable Elastic Belt
- Best High End: Cobra 2-Ply Quick Release Belt
- Best Heavy Duty: Arcade Heavy Duty Elastic Belt
- Best Budget Option: Hoanan Tactical Nylon Belt
And here’s an overview of the best hiking belts on the market today:
Best Overall Hiking Belt
The Arc’teryx Conveyor Belt is a lightweight choice in hiking apparel, and will keep your pants up without weighing you down! The belt is 1.5 inches wide, and comes in 3 lengths: small, medium, and large. Which means there is no cutting down or trimming length required to find a great fit!
Many hiking-enthusiasts swear by the durability, performance, and lightweight comfort of the Arc’teryx Conveyor Belt. It is slightly more expensive than other options on this Best Hiking Belt list, but we think it’s worth the investment. Its excellent quality construction means this belt should last you for many years, even when used for daily wear.
The Arc’teryx Conveyor Belt is made of quality nylon webbing with contrasting stitching for a stylish touch. This synthetic, heavy-duty textured nylon webbing is engineered to withstand all kinds of challenging outdoor conditions. Whether you encounter rain, dust, or even have to wade through a river: this belt can handle it all. As the basic, metal webbing buckle on the belt doesn’t contain any moving or separate parts, it’s also less prone to wear and tear, or damage.
The Arc’teryx Conveyor Belt is a lightweight favorite amongst hikers, backpackers, and campers; as confirmed by the hundreds of positive customer reviews. Reviews praise the design’s longevity and staying power. Confirming it will hold up your trousers even when your pockets are loaded full, or if you’re wearing heavy-duty, ‘weightier’ fabrics.
A minor con is that some reviewers mention the belt is quite ‘stiff’ at first. And that it may take a few weeks to get it fully broken in, flexible enough for a comfy fit.
- Nylon webbing
- Great support
- A renowned brand in outdoor gear
- Can feel a bit ‘stiff’ at first
- Slightly more pricey
Best Stretch Hiking Belt
Belts are an integral part of our everyday lives. Whether you are going to the office and need to look presentable or are planning on hiking and need that extra level of support, a good and quality belt can come in very handy.
Upon concluding our research, we came across this adjustable belt for hiking by Jelt X, which we believe is amongst the best not only because of its comfortable and low-profile but also because of its ease of use thanks to the magnetic closure mechanism.
Having been made from double elastic with a grippy inner gel, rest assured that your pants will stay in place no matter how intense your hiking gets. The strong, adjustable elastic can fit any individual up to a 40-inch waist (max: men’s 36 pant size and women’s 32/14 pant size).
If you aren’t a particularly big fan of the black, you can also find this hiking belt in navy blue.
- Made out of durable and stretchy material
- Only comes in two colors.
Best High-End Hiking Belt
The Cobra 2-Ply Quick Release Klik Belt is always ready for action and offers outstanding performance, safety, and support in every kind of outdoor situation. The design adheres to the highest quality standards and uses only top-end materials. The result is an outstanding tactical belt with military-grade durability. Yes, it is by far the most expensive option on this Best Hiking Belt list. But if you only want the very best in outdoor gear, this belt ticks all the right boxes.
Lightweight aluminum buckle
The Cobra 2-Ply Quick Release Klik Belt also comes with a buckle closure made of ultralight 7075 aluminum. As one of the strongest metals available, this aluminum buckle offers all the required support and grip, without weighing you down. This patented Cobra buckle is also super easy to disengage in emergency scenarios, by simply pressing the special side-release buttons for instant opening.
Also good to know: The brand behind this quality product, Klik Belt, is regarded as one of the top choices for tactical-style belts. Its customers include those active in Law Enforcement, Military, SWAT, and even Special Ops. Which serves as a testimony of the brand’s authenticity, quality standard, and reliability. After all, if it’s good enough for our soldiers on challenging missions, it should be good enough for your hiking trips.
Worth the splurge
With hundreds of 5-star reviews, the Cobra 2-Ply Quick Release Klik Belt is the highest-rated options on this Best Hiking Belts list. Hiking fans say the belt strikes the perfect balance between being a rigid, supportive belt, and also a comfortable one. Many customer reviews user superlatives to describe how this belt truly lives up and exceeds, expectation. It is a pricey choice in outdoor gear, but according to the glowing ratings, this will be one of the best investments you’ll ever make.
Are there any cons? Of course, no product is perfect, though this belt comes close. Some hikers report that the aluminum buckle is too large to fit through certain belt loops. Meaning that if you want to wear it with your favorite pair of hiking shorts, you might have to unthread the belt from the buckle first to weave it through, then reattach the buckle. However, mentions of this are rare, so don’t consider it a big risk, but it is something to be aware of.
- Military-grade materials
- Corrosion-resistant aluminum buckle
- 2-ply construction for extra support
- Might not thread through smaller belt loops
Best Heavy-Duty Hiking Belt
The Arcade Heavy Duty Elastic Webbing Belt scores high marks on performance, comfort, and style. And certainly classifies as one of the best-looking hiking belts available. This makes the belt both suited for active outdoor usage, as well as casual wear, adding to its appeal as a versatile addition to any wardrobe.
Metal-free buckle closure
The belt’s clamp closure buckle is low profile and metal-free. This means the non-metal buckle won’t set off airport security when walking through metal detectors, ideal for those who often travel.
Another big perk of the Arcade Heavy Duty Elastic Web Belt is that this product is fully machine washable. It can even withstand a clothing dryer, making clean-up a breeze. Simply chuck it in with your other laundry and voila: your belt is once again free of dust, dirt, or other residues.
Multiple fun colors and styles
With nearly all 5-star reviews, the Arcade Heavy Duty Elastic Webbing Belt is a firm, or should we say: elasticated, favorite amongst hikers. The design is praised for its outstanding comfort, size adjustability, trendy aesthetics, and value. Minor cons mentioned is that the belt material does seem to attract cat/dogs hairs, and might ‘fuzz’ a bit with repeated wear.
Overall, the Arcade Heavy Duty Elastic Web Belt is a stylish and affordable choice to keep your pants, any hiking accessories, firmly in place. It’s not the most heavy-duty belt on this list, but for the average day hiker, it should offer more than sufficient support.
- Elastic Nylon Webbing
- Stylish design
- Machine washable and dryer-proof
- The material might ‘fuzz’ with repeated wear
- Not the most heavy-duty belt
Best Budget Hiking Belt
You simply can’t beat the value of the Hoanan Tactical Nylon Belt 2-Pack. Though this set of 2 tactical-style hiking belts is super affordable, it doesn’t compromise on quality: making it simply a steal at the price listed.
YKK Plastic Belt Buckle
Each belt in the Hoanan Tactical Nylon Belt 2-Pack also comes with a non-metal, YKK clip plastic buckle. This makes the design extra attractively for those with metal allergies, or hikers that zip through airports a lot: as the plastic will not trigger any security devices. The YKK branding on this non-metallic buckle also ensures a high-quality standard of production.
A Fantastic Budget-Buy
The Hoanan Tactical Nylon Belt 2-Pack also has great user reviews to back up its quality, comfort, and value. Other hikers say they were surprised at the sturdiness and great grip of the lightweight plastic buckle. Confirming that for a budget-buy, this belt set certainly exceeds expectations. With literally no negative reviews at the moment of writing, it’s hard to fault this outstanding value-for-money set.
- Metal-free buckle
- Nylon webbing
- Not the highest-quality, heavy-duty support and construction
We guarantee: each product on this Best Hiking Belt overview will hold up your hiking trousers with ease! However, some offer slightly more performance than others. Which product is best for you, completely depends on where and when you plan to wear the belt. For die-hard hikers who want maximum performance, grip, support, and durability, the Cobra 2-Ply Quick Release Klik Belt is a heavy-duty match.
Considering functionality, price, durability, and performance, the Arc’teryx Conveyor Belt is our winner.
The product’s quality is backed up by lots of glowing customer reviews, confirming it lives up to the quality standard Arc’teryx is known and respected for. The design is lightweight enough so it won’t weigh you down on the go, yet durable enough to keep everything firmly strapped in place, which is a winning combo for us.
Best Hiking Belts FAQ
To help you better understand the different factors to consider when buying a hiking belt, we’re answering the most frequently asked questions on this topic. Learn what to look out for when shopping for hiking and trekking belts, and discover more about what kind of belt will suit your needs best:
What is the best type of hiking belt material?
Though there are some exceptions, most hiking belts are made of canvas, polyester, nylon. Each material has its specific characteristics:
Canvas Hiking Belts
Canvas is often affordable, making canvas hiking belts ideal for those on a tight budget. Though this material is durable and easy to clean, it also tends to absorb water. Meaning that when you’re caught in a downpour, it might ‘soak up’ rain, without the ability to dry quickly. This is why it’s not the most preferred material of choice by experts, but it nevertheless will get the job done and hold your shorts up in style.
Polyester Hiking Belts
Polyester is one of the most common materials used in hiking belts by outdoor brands. It’s lightweight, durable, water-repellant, and sturdy enough for daily wear. Water-resistant polyester webbed belts are comparable to the types of straps you’d find on a backpack, only thicker and more durable. If comfort is a main priority, look for a polyester belt with elastic webbing, as often this material can feel a bit ‘stiff’ until broken in.
Nylon Hiking Belts
Nylon is quite similar in characteristics compared to polyester. Nylon is affordable, water-repellent, and very durable. Though an added benefit of nylon is its flexibility: with stretchy webbing that doesn’t require a break-in period to make it “fit your body” comfortably. Another perk of (elastic) nylon is that this belt material can be easily disinfected (unlike canvas or leather), making it a preferred choice for hunting and fishing enthusiasts.
What is the best type of belt buckle?
Hiking belts can come with a variety of buckle types. The most common options are:
This is the most common type of closure used in luxury leather belts, dress belts, and casual belts. This classic buckle closure is sometimes also used for hiking gear. The design is simple and features a frame, bar, and prongs. There are single-side tongue buckles (the most basic style), and double-sided tongue buckles (with two prongs for extra grip and hold).
But if we’re being completely frank, we think this type of closure is more suited for leisurely use than intensive, heavy-duty hiking. It simply lacks the durability and performance of other types of belt buckles and is more prone to wear and tear with repeated usage. Therefore, we wouldn’t recommend you to select a hiking belt with this buckle style for your outdoor activities.
Clamp Closure Buckle
A clamp closure is a style of buckle that features two parts attached to a belt. One part is larger, the other smaller: allowing them to ‘latch’ together to provide a secure hold. Easy to use, solid in grip, and durable, this buckle is great for hiking belts.
Quick Release Buckle
This style of buckle is all about safety. A hiking belt with a quick-release belt buckle usually doesn’t contain any holes. Instead, the buckle consists of two parts that ‘click’ together to create a durable hold. To unfasten, simply press the release pins and the buckle will instantly spring open.
Flip Closure Buckle
This buckle uses a special ‘flip flop mechanism’. Hiking belts with flip closures don’t have any holes. Instead, the flip closure buckle uses special teeth at the underside to grip the fabric when you ‘flip’ the top part. Which securely holds the belt in place. This type of buckle is mostly used in fabric and canvas belts. Though a convenient, easy-to-use style, a flip closure can be prone to a bit of wear and tear. And also may damage the canvas or fabric of your belt after extensive usage.
A webbing buckle belt features a simple loop at one end. To secure the belt in place, simply put the non-buckle end of the belt through the buckle loop, and cross it back. It’s simple, yet effective.
Top 7 Best Microspikes for Hiking – 2023 Review
Microspikes make hiking easier.
Hiking is a wonderful activity. It allows us to see beautiful highs and exhilarating lows. From canyon valleys to high-altitude peaks, it’s a great way to see the world and give your body a superb workout. Not to mention a rewarding palate cleanse for your eyeballs. But when the leaves start to fall, and the snow soon after it, most of us turn indoors, find a good book, and wait for the inevitable thaw. Those people are called quitters.
When stepping outside in the frozen months, the slick icy surfaces below can make it dangerous to rove around. Fortunately there are additional devices we can equip to our boots to better combat the conditions. Crampons and microspikes are something you can add to your boots for that added traction when the trails get slick and it’s you want to keep pressing onwards and outwards on the slopes.
Related post: The best dinnerware items for camping
In a hurry? Here’s the test winner after 10 hours of research:
Best Microspikes for Hiking – Overview
And here’s an overview of the best microspikes for hiking on the market today:
To be a 4-season outdoorsman extraordinaire, it’s a necessary pair of equipment to keep you safe and upright. But before we expand beyond what the product is and how it keeps you moving, let’s break down all the essential characteristics of their pointy exoskeleton: from frame construction and points to the bindings, materials, as well as the size and weight and the boot compatibility questions you’re probably holding inside.
Best Overall Microspikes
Kahtoola microspikes are a great option because they offer super stability and fantastic spike positioning. The material these are made with a heat-treated stainless steel, and the harness holding them together is a superb elastomer as well. The steel chain which connects the spikes provides some awesome durability and reliability to boot. The eyelets are reinforced so you don’t need to worry about them giving out on you mid-trail. Each shoe is strapped up with 12 spikes that are 3/8ths of an inch long.
We also like the variation in weight and size, ranging from extra small to extra large with corresponding weight from 11 ounces to 13.5. Also, you won’t have to worry about these undersides slashing your bag, because they come with a convenient carrying bag. It’s a compact 5x3x2 inch box, so it won’t take up too much time. Additionally, you’re provided a 2-year warranty, so it’s a good way to invest appropriately in a pair of microspikes.
- The two-year warranty guarantees the product’s quality
- Heat-treated stainless steel means the spikes stay sharp for longer
- A bit more expensive than some of the other options listed
- Considering the competitors, they are a bit heavier as well
Best Budget Microspikes
If you are on the lookout for added stability to your shoes while hiking, then these traction steel spikes by Cimkiz were explicitly made for providing you with an excellent level of grip and support in your adventures.
Each pair features 19 stainless steel spikes alongside a firm chain system, which is excellent for providing you with excellent traction on a vast range of terrain to keep you safe and injury-free.
Having being made out of thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), you can expect a solid performance in temperatures under -49°F without the risk of damaging, over-stretching, freezing, or flat-out snapping during your expeditions.
If you aren’t planning on hiking, it is also worth mentioning that you can use this product when you go fishing, hunting, running, want to safely walk on icy and frozen roads, mud, and wet terrain.
This particular product comes in 2 different colors – black and orange and three different sizes – medium, large, and X-large, making it suitable for children, adults, and the elderly.
- It can be used under icy weather conditions
- You can use the spikes for a range of outdoor activities
- Very durable and long-lasting
- No small size available
- Quite pricey
When winter hiking through the backcountry, you’re sure to come across some icy trails. And the last thing you want to do is slip and fall, making it handy to have one of these winter traction devices. And to stay upright on slippery surfaces, the Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra is one of the best options providing great traction.
Winter trails will feel like a snowless summer walk in the park thanks to the 18 stainless steel spikes that are strapped below you. And with the elastomer harness providing a secure fit, you have no worries beyond what’s for dinner that evening after a lovely day outside. It also comes with a convenient carry bag and a two-year warranty. So it’s not going anywhere, and you can bring it anywhere.
- Reliable two-ear warranty and 18 stainless steel spikes
- The convenient bag helps you bring it to the campsite
- A bit more expensive than the other options
- Sizing can be a bit tricky, we recommend sizing up
We love these crampons for their reliability, as emphasized by the two-year warranty they come with. The ergonomic plate system the spikes come with is impeccably designed, and each boot is draped with 11 spikes for superior stability. Also, the front plate is divided into two parts connected by a couple of hinges, which improves flexibility across the front foot.
The harness is designed from an elastomer material, while all the spikes are of stainless steel. The spikes here are long, around 2/3 of an inch, so you’ll get a good grip on any surface. Though with that length comes added weight, and the 16.3 ounces means they’ll be a bit heavier and more costly than competing products. However, all that plus the two-year warranty means you pay for what you get, and this is a reliable product.
- The flexible front plate for added stability
- Two-year warranty for super reliability
- A bit heavier than other options at 16.3 ounces
- A bit more expensive as well
Hikers looking for something to strap to the bottom side of their hiking boots should look no further than this fantastic option from the folks at ICETrekkers. From backpacking through the woods or trekking up icy slopes, the stainless steel spikes on these guys will keep you upright and chugging along.
The spikes can strap onto a pair of winter boots or hiking shoes with the same degree of comfort, thanks to the ingenious sling design that holds the spikes doing together. When you need good traction on those winter hikes, the grippers on these microspikes will keep you safe and secure. We also love that the grip moves in all directions, so they can handle any slush or mud you may come across as well.
- Steel alloy beads move in each direction for maximum stability
- Tough rubber sling keeps them intact regardless of frigid temperatures
- Doesn’t come with a warranty
- The steel spikes can wear down quickly on concrete
Bonus Budget-Friendly Option: Yaktrax Pro Traction Cleats Crampon
These are a cool option because they have been made with a different design than the other products listed. Instead of a few specific points digging into the earth below, they are designed with coils for improving traction. The coils are 1.4mm thick steel and positioned in all directions to maximize 360-degree stability.
The harness holding the coils to the bottom of your boot is made with a similarly designed heavy-duty rubber with additional straps. This means it can withstand the same punishment you’re placing on your boots, and the additional straps ensure it won’t wither away under duress. The harness only comes in four available sizes, but the harness is pretty elastic so you can fit it onto your boot easily. Plus the adjustable straps mean even with all the gloves and protective coating you wear, you can adjust accordingly to ensure a safe fit.
- Steel coils to keep you stable
- Interesting design with adjustable straps
- Only four sizes available
Bonus Ultralight Option. Kahtoola NANOspikes
When moving through deep snow in Colorado or ice fishing in Michigan, it’s helpful to have something additional on the underside of your boots. The low-profile of these nano spikes makes them a great choice along the hiking trails when the snow has turned to ice but you still want to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Mountaineering enthusiasts among us will appreciate the lightweight design, as each only runs from 7.2 ounces to 9, depending on the size you select.
Plus a one year warranty means you can bring them on a backpacking trip without worry. While they’re mostly designed for trail running, they are a great option for anyone looking for some extra protection on the trails without so much burdensome weight. So place them on your trail running shoes and get out there today!
- Minimal and lightweight design
- One year warranty ensures premier craftsmanship and safety concerns
- Doesn’t come with a tote sack
We love the PECO MICROspikes Crampon because it’s always been one of the more popular products, and with good reason. The superior stability they require as well as the two-year warranty they guarantee means they know their product isn’t going to wear down after just a few uses. Knowing how harsh winter can be, it provides great comfort knowing these guys believe in their product this much.
We also love that it comes with a carry bag so you can lug your stuff around without fear of it puncturing your tent or backpack. For the backpacker eager to set foot in winter, it’s a much welcome benefit they provide.
All in all, adding a pair of microspikes to your winter collection is a great way to stay safe and ensure you can stay outdoors in the coldest months of the year.
Bonus tip: Check out this great video explaining the differences between crampons, microspikes and snowshoes!
Microspikes Buyer’s Guide
What do microspikes do?
Within the microspikes umbrella term, there are several options that you can strap to your boots’ underside. Depending on what you’re looking for, you can either focus on something that improves grip but still allows a normal stepping motion, or something needed to climb steep surfaces with deep indentations. Essentially, microspikes are so helpful for two reasons: they increase traction and surface area.
Of course, the most important characteristic of their ability to stab into icy surfaces with the spikes stopped on them. They’re great for slick surfaces like hiking on icy slick surfaces or scaling alpine ice-covered boulders. And the wider surface area some provide will also be different between staying above the layers of snow and sinking right through them.
What are the different kinds of microspikes constructions?
When talking about frame constructions, there are three main formats. The spike harness can either be fully flexible, semi-flexible or rigid. Because the best option for walking is a fully flexible frame, this is the option that all microspikes first come with. Usually, there is also a hinged bar that connects the front and backplates.
These plates and the hinged bar is great for preventing the accumulation of snow beneath your boot. This snow collection throws off your natural gait and it a helpful way to normalize your motion in challenging terrain. Plus, they work for conventional climbing methods as well.
A semi-rigid frame
A semi-rigid frame combines the two options, that are popular for its versatility. They can come with an adjustable bar to choose how rigid or flexible you want the device to be. And then the most rigid frames offer the best precision. They sit really tight on your boot and offer great support and maneuverability when climbing. Not such a good choice for walking, though.Within the microspikes community, build, fit, traction are the most important considerations of the item’s function. However, we want to start our focus on how easy it is to put them on and take them off.
It’s actually more difficult than you may think, especially when you have numb fingers and the wind is blowing something fierce. It’s just the last thing you want to worry about, and the hassle can become potentially dangerous if you need to get inside quickly. This is something we hope to highlight as we move onto the reviews of the microspikes and something you should keep in mind.
However, one aspect we won’t have to remind you of its importance is the traction of your spikes. You’ll obviously want something that provides the additional traction you need to move around. If you’re just hoping to get to the bus stop on a particularly blustery day, obviously you don’t need something with aggressive spikes. Beyond the spikes and the traction of the product, you also want to consider the build. Even if it’s not such an expensive addition, you still want your microspikes to be able to last you a few winters.
The most important thing is the match the microspikes stiffness with your boots. If your boots bend, don’t get a stiff traction device. It will wear down and eventually break the thing that’s supposed to keep you safe in the blustery winter. Not ideal. What is ideal is to have a good fit between the spikes and your boots. If they wrap too tightly around your boots, they could leave with you with some uncomfortable pressure points on your feet, and something that’s too loose won’t be able to help you as you would like. If anything this will hamper your motion and inhibit your exhibition into the outdoors.
Something also to consider with your microspikes is how and where are you going to use them. If you purchase aggressive spikes, just know that they wear out quickly on cement, pavement, and other unforgiving man-made surfaces. That leads us to our next consideration, which is where you are going to use them. If it’s just to make sure you’ll stay upright under particularly slick evenings where there could be black ice around, there’s no need to invest in heavy aggressive traction. Minimalist stuff or chains can get you moving with confidence and poise at lighter weights.
If you’re stepping over a frozen pond or stream, you want something that will keep you grounded on the icy surface. These styles will be heavier and clunkier, but obviously worth the unfortunate risk of falling and slipping. Both painful and dangerous, it’s best to keep your butt off the ground and your eyes on ahead, moving forward.
Microspikes, crampons, and snowshoes: what’s the difference?
Just know that just because we’re emphasizing microspikes in this article, that doesn’t mean there is the only option on the table. Microspikes are most effective on slick packed snow or ice. You’re really looking for that extra traction that can keep you on top, but microspikes are nothing compared to crampons.
Crampons are heavier than microspikes because of their larger steel teeth on the toes and base of the boot. Due to their weight, they’re a bit more difficult to maneuver with, and you’ll be stepping slower and getting more tired with them on. They’re helpful when climbing up an ice-covered slope and some equally challenging icy conditions.
And when the ice is still copious amounts of snow, the best options are that with the widest plates of stability: snowshoes. They’re designed to keep you above dry soft snow that otherwise you have you sinking to your knees. If you’re inching along a downward sloping surface, the grippy set of teeth on the undersides can help.
Essential Things Hikers Should Bring For A Multi-Day Hiking Trip
This article is for anyone who wants to know what to pack for their upcoming hike and how to efficiently pack their gear to travel light and get more out of their hiking or camping trip.
An unforgettable adventure to have at least once in a lifetime is a multi-day hike. Maybe you’re thinking about one, or you’ve got plans. Allow us to assist you in selecting everything you’ll need for your upcoming adventure.
Finding the ideal weight-to-equipment ratio when packing a backpack for a multi-day hike entails choosing a few valuable items. In fact, during the hike, anything can happen, so you must be prepared for anything. Because of this, choosing clothing and equipment is a deliberate process.
We’ve put together a guide on what to bring for a multi-day hike that lists all the gear you might need and explains why you need it. Since each experience is distinct and extraordinary, you can modify the list to fit your particular hike, your routines, and your specific needs.
The more frequently you must stop and rest, the slower you walk, and the sooner you are likely to stop and set up camp, the more carefully you must choose your gear and pack it. You’ll typically feel more comfortable on the trail the lighter your pack is.
Before getting to the hiking packing list with all the necessary equipment, let’s review some fundamental concepts. They deal with organizing and planning your trip as well as the items in your backpack:
- Carefully plan and organize your hike; although it takes time and effort to do so, the planning stage can be critical to the overall success of the hike.
- Travel light and avoid carrying extra baggage. Only venture too far if tough enough to endure the barest comfort in a tent during bad weather.
- There are wide price variations, especially in clothing, where higher prices frequently only signify the newest design, color, or fabric rather than improved quality. The best designs are often the cheapest, lightest, and most straightforward.
- Remember to inform someone of your destination and route.
Here Are Essential Hikers Should Bring For A Multi-Day Hiking Trip:
Having to endure darkness at camp and possibly on the trails is a drawback of multi-day hikes. Packing light is almost necessary if you want to safely navigate to your campsite in the dark, cook at night, or take bathroom breaks at night.
Many different flashlights and camping lights are available, from hand-free head torches to lanterns that can light up your entire camp.
It is essential to make sure your artificial lighting will have power. Investing in a solar-powered or hand-crank model may be wise for longer journeys, as battery-operated flashlights can have a limited lifespan.
Never undervalue the significance of sun protection. Prolonged sun exposure carries several dangers, such as dehydration, sunburns and blisters, and heat exhaustion that can develop into heat stroke. Sunburns, heat stroke, and severe dehydration frequently require medical attention.
On your hike, remember to pack sunscreen, hats, and eyewear. Without adequate sun protection, you risk sunburns that could lead to melanoma skin cancer and cataracts in your eyes.
To shield your head from the sun, put on a hat. Put on long-sleeved clothing with an ultraviolet protective factor, including pants (UPF). To protect exposed skin, use sunscreen with an SPF of 30. Apply once every two hours. Drink more water on hot days.
You’ll need a few things to maintain good personal hygiene while hiking. They include:
- Hand sanitizer and toilet paper
- Moist wipes
- Toothpaste and a toothbrush
- A towel that dries quickly
You should have these in your wash bag as a minimum, but you are free to include anything else you deem necessary.
A Mini Repair And Multi-Tool Kit
You can fix unforeseen problems like a broken strap, a loose trekking pole, a tear in your backpack, and other things with a mini repair kit while you’re out exploring.
It’s always a good idea to carry multi-purpose tools like a pocket knife, EDC Blot action pen, repair patches, safety pins, or strips of the always-useful duct tape with you, even though the contents of repair kits can vary between products.
Wrapping a lighter in duct tape will keep it close at hand in case you suddenly need it.
Snacks For Energy
Bring enough food for the entire day to keep you satisfied and energized. Take granola bars, nuts, trail mix, or dehydrated meals if you’re on a long hike. Like apples or carrots, solid fruits and vegetables that won’t get squashed in your bag are excellent choices. Or you can always pack a good ol’ peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
While it’s essential to always have enough food on hand, having extra is only helpful in an emergency. Refrain from skimping snacks and nutrition because you’ll burn more calories than usual.
Glock For Any Unwanted Danger
No matter how much research you do or how cautious you are, things can still go wrong. The equipment you brought and your planning before the hike may come in handy.
Utilize your tools to stay as warm, hydrated, fed, and visible as you can. Turn on the locator beacon if you selected it. Use your Glock if necessary, but make sure it’s clean and loaded with bullets to prevent common Glock malfunctions.
See also: How to Plan a Multi-day Backpacking Trip
You should use the whistle you brought. Your location will be made possible by the information you left with a friend or relative.
Make sure to make sure your next hike’s packing is smooth. Even though there are six items on this list that are the best for day hikes, you only need the necessities.
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