Stretching for 2,168 miles from Georgia to Maine and crossing through 14 states including North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, the Appalachian Trail is one of the most storied hiking adventures in the United States. Thru-hiking the entire Appalachian Trail takes months and training to hike it can take 6 months to a year for hikers who aren’t in ready physical condition.
In addition to the Appalachian Mountains, there’s a variety of natural wonders and landmarks dotting the way and sudden changes in weather can also cause delays. If you attempt to strike out during peak season, you may find the trailhead overcrowded with excited hikers anxious to begin their long-distance hiking trip.
Only about one in four hikers who attempt an Appalachian Trail thru-hike make it the entire way. Failure can be caused by any one of a number of factors or the combination of several, from physical unfitness to a bad attitude to poor planning. Bear in mind that to make it thru-hiking the entire length of the trail, hikers will have to plan their resupply stops, rest stops, and shelter to suit the time they have and, more importantly, the amount of money on hand to fund the journey.
As with other thru-hikes and long-distance hiking, the Appalachian Trail is a tough endurance test that shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you’re wondering how long it will take you to complete the entire trail then you’re already on the way to forming a proper plan to tackle it.
There are some dangers on the AT that hikers and campers who have spent lots of time in the backcountry are already familiar with. Black bears have been sighted all along the trail, with a higher concentration in the northern states. Blisters from improper footwear or from overexertion are common, especially for hikers who aren’t sure how to waterproof their gear or get stuck out in bad weather. Some hikers choose to attempt or are forced to attempt hiking the entire Appalachian Trail or sections of it in the winter months, which means they have to carry extra gear and plan their shelter even more carefully to make sure they can keep warm.
Other considerations hikers should make in the planning stages of an attempt to hike the entire Appalachian Trail are water sources and their caloric intake. A few weeks into the trek hikers usually gain what’s called Hiker Hunger, an insatiable appetite for absolutely anything they can get their hands on. Whatever your energy needs off-trail, once you start this behemoth hike your body will start to need much more in terms of calories just to keep your feet stepping and muscles working to tackle the elevation gains and losses along the way.
Hikers who successfully complete an Appalachian Trail thru-hike are called 2,000 milers and there are lots of them in trail clubs and on web forums ready to offer advice about how to tackle the entire trail, when to start, how to stay fed, and things you should look out for. We’ve compiled all the best advice on hiking the Appalachian Trail so you can have a better idea of how long it takes and what ways you can best prepare yourself for this huge undertaking. Read on to get the full rundown and save yourself some time scanning through a hundred different FAQ sections and forum posts with our comprehensive guide.
How long is the Appalachian Trail?
Information on the exact length of the Appalachian Trail is pretty easy to come by, but the length itself has changed many times since the AT was completed in 1937. Sections have been changed and moved around fairly regularly. In fact, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), caretaker of the AT, estimates that almost the entire trail – 99% of it – has been changed since its opening.
Now, that’s not to say that unsuspecting hikers could find their trail maps out of date while they’re hiking the Appalachian Trail, but rather to say that the length does change. It’s increased over 200 miles from its original 2,000-mile length that gave rise to the 2,000 miler moniker for successful thru-hikers. In addition to the length, the direction of travel can also affect how long it takes thru-hikers to complete the entire Appalachian Trail.
Northbound, southbound, or flip-flop?
There are three ways hikers can begin their AT trek. Traditionally, the trail runs from Springer Mountain in Georgia to the famed Mount Katahdin in Maine. This is what’s known as the northbound route since it runs north, and it remains the most popular way to hike the AT.
With the increased interest in long-distance hiking and the Appalachian Trail, in particular, the trailhead at Springer Mountain can be frightfully full at peak season, which runs from April 1 to May 15 generally speaking. Many hikers begin a thru-hike on the AT at that time of year because it will give them the nicest possible fair weather to complete the entire trail.
Since the northbound route is so crowded, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy has begun to advise prospective hikers to start the trail at Mount Katahdin and hike southbound. This is a wiser choice for hikers who want to get the more difficult hiking out of the way at the beginning of their trek or want to be in the warmer southern states in colder months of the year. There are many reasons to start a thru-hike in Maine rather than Georgia, but the most often cited is the reduced crowd.
Finally, some section hikers have opted to complete the Appalachian Trail on various day hikes and shorter excursions over a period of years. This practice has also led to a tactic called flip-flopping, which involves starting somewhere in the middle of the hiking trail and then doubling back. There is no limit to the number of specific routes you can take, but there are some that are more common.
Harper’s Ferry flip-flop
One of the most common methods for section hikers on the AT is the Harper’s Ferry flip-flop, which involves hikers beginning at Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia, moving north to Katahdin, and then hiking south from Harper’s Ferry to Mount Springer in Georgia. This two-part method is popular for already-experienced section hikers and people who may not have an uninterrupted time span to complete the entire trail from start to finish.
Hikers can return to Harper’s Ferry by train, bus, or plane to complete the second half of the trail at a later date. Optimally, long-distance hikers leave Harper’s Ferry and reach Katahdin in August, then leave Harper’s Ferry again around Labor Day to complete the southern half of the AT.
Bear in mind when planning your Harper’s Ferry flip-flop route that mud season in Vermont doesn’t end until Memorial Day and snow in New Hampshire and other northern states won’t melt away until around the same time, so it’s best to start northbound from Harper’s Ferry on or after April 15.
Late August to early September is the ideal time to start southbound from Harper’s Ferry because it will save hikers from having to deal with the high humidity in northern Virginia and points south. Naturally, for either of these routes hikers who prefer to take detours or just move more slowly can always start a couple of weeks early. Always keep an eye on the weather to make sure you won’t be stuck in particularly hot or cold temperatures.
This flip-flop route has long-distance hikers beginning in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, traveling north to Katahdin, and then returning to Shenandoah National Park and hiking south to Springer. Hikers who want more time to complete this long hike can choose this route, which will also allow them to begin their hike on some of the trail’s easiest terrain. There’s also more access to shops and places to resupply in this beginning section, although they close from November to early April and snow sets in during that time of year as well.
Hikers will have the chance to build up their leg muscles and condition the rest of their body before reaching the rockier terrain of some northern states, but there will likely be some very cold temperatures from the outset. While Shenandoah does close for part of the year when snowfall closes Skyline Drive, it’s fairly rare that closing happens later than March. Mount Katahdin also closes for part of the year but using the Shenandoah Start will give hikers plenty of time to reach Katahdin well in advance of its yearly closing.
There are plenty of other ways to tackle the entire trail, including a Georgia late start and beginnings in cities like Pauling, New York, near the Connecticut state line. Depending on your specific goals, the time of year, and what section of the AT you live nearest to, if any, you might find one of these flip-flop methods more convenient than the others.
Planning Appalachian Trail thru-hiking
If you’re concerned about hitting rough weather or you know you’ll have limited time on the Appalachian Trail because of money or other commitments, it might seem like a good idea at first to make an extremely detailed schedule and plan out what mileage you’d like to accomplish each day of the trek.
While it is very helpful to have a rough outline of where you’ll be for resupply purposes and to have care packages mailed to you, you’ll find that giving yourself highly specific goals can often lead to a feeling of self-defeat at the end of a long day on the trail if weather or some other unforeseen condition has led you to come in behind your intended goal. The best way to make your plan is to set reasonable goals for major landmarks, like aiming to cross a certain state line or state park by a certain time to avoid winter weather or mud season.
The most important thing to plan is when you can next resupply. In the northeastern states, it’s much easier to get access to a town or shops to refill your supplies, while the rest of the trail may take a bit more time. You can almost always find someplace to resupply along the AT and there are sure to be some other hikers around who can point you in the right direction, but it’s always best to have some idea before you set out. If you use one of the less common flip-flop routes you could be out hiking without running into any fellow long-distance hikers, so you should prepare all the resupply information you can find before you set out.
Average pace for thru-hikers
Logically, long-distance hikers must have endurance enough to finish multi-thousand-mile hiking trails in no time at all. Perhaps that makes sense in theory, but the fact is actually that most thru-hikers are not seasoned experts. Some people with no hiking background at all feel the urge to get away from it all and decide to train just to complete the entire Appalachian Trail even though they haven’t been hiking very often before.
Realistically, a normal human walking pace on flat ground with no elevation gain is about 3 miles per hour. Many folks walk slower than that, while some may walk a little faster. Well-trained hikers can hope to keep to about this pace on a hiking trail. On the AT, where the terrain changes so often and the elevation gain is so high, that pace can slow down from time to time.
Before you get discouraged, understand that this pace is extremely admirable given the difficulty of the Appalachian Trail. Hikers in their eighties and many hikers with disabilities and medical conditions like insulin-dependent diabetes have all managed to train and successfully complete the trail. It’s not an easy feat by any means, but with the right plan and anywhere from 6 months to one year of physical training and conditioning, the Appalachian Trail can be a fulfilling trek and an accomplishment to be proud of.
Are there bears on the Appalachian Trail?
Short answer: yes, there are native bear species on the AT. Most hikers will experience some kind of bear run-in while hiking the Appalachian Trail. If you don’t have much knowledge of black bears and grizzlies, then rest assured that they are generally shy toward humans.
The most important thing you should know is that for some reason, black bears go crazy for human food. Make sure you have some kind of bear canister in your pack to make sure curious bears won’t get sick or get addicted to human food if they manage to get some of your supplies. Store the bear canister away from your campsite, whether you’re in a tent or have a tarp-and-hammock setup.
So, how long does it take to hike the Appalachian Trail?
Most hikers finish the Appalachian Trail in a little bit less than six months. The best way to get an idea of how long you specifically can finish this long-distance hike is to start a training regimen that includes some overnight backpacking trips on terrain that’s similar to the section of the AT that you’ll be starting on. This will give you a good idea as to the efficacy of your camping gear and the walking pace that you feel most comfortable at. You can also build up leg muscles and important core muscles that are really important for transporting a heavy rucksack along a hiking trail.
If you like backpacking through the backcountry, there’s nothing to match a 6-month thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail. For ample time to self-reflect and to mix in with people who sport a welcoming and curious attitude toward the world around them, the various shelters and resupply stations along the AT are great places. Any number of things can cause a delay for those attempting to hike the entire trail in a single season. Physical injuries like a sprained ankle that maybe aren’t severe enough to end the whole hike can add days or weeks to an attempt.
More common reasons for thru-hikers to give up on an attempt at completing the AT is personal disillusionment and running out of cash. Hikers are often discouraged if their mindset is not positive or they haven’t taken the time to train their body for the rough conditions of the trail. Cash for resupply trips and accommodation during town visits is really important to make sure you can stay on the trail. A budget is perhaps the most important thing to pre-plan before you try to tackle the AT.
Your gear should be tested and you should be familiar with it. Remember that you’ll probably go through about 4 pairs of shoes and who knows how many other pieces of hiking equipment. Luckily, everyone you see will either be trying to hike the entire Appalachian Trail or else be aware of it and be able to help you out if a key piece of gear like a sleeping bag or hammock gives out. Training with smaller hiking trips in the six months leading up to your AT attempt will save you lots of grief later on. Sites like Clingman’s Dome and the White Mountains are optimal places to try hiking since they are on the Appalachian Trail. Section-hikers often trail on shorter segments before attempting the entire trail.
Now that you know what you need to know about time constraints when thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, start working on your training program and get your rucksack whipped into shape. Ideally, you can start on the AT with 6 months to a year of planning. Good luck making yourself into a 2,000 miler!
Bonus tip: Interested in getting a taste of the AT? Watch this hiker start the northbound Appalachian Trail from Georgia!
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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