The classification of hikers may confuse those new to backpacking or unfamiliar with navigating hiking trails through the backcountry. Enthusiasts often speak of day hikes, section hikers, and thru-hikes. Long-distance hikers make the backcountry sound like a wonderland when they regale listeners with tales of trail magic and trail angels. Sure, these aren’t as complicated as more technical terms to describe hiking and camping gear, but their meaning isn’t immediately apparent and novice backpackers shouldn’t feel discouraged for not knowing what long-distance backpackers are talking about when they speak about thru-hiking in the backcountry or their Triple Crown Award.
“Thru-hiking,” like the rest of the expressions just described, may mislead those who aren’t sure of its meaning already. Day hiking doesn’t mean backpackers are only hiking in daylight, necessarily, but rather that they don’t intend to camp anywhere on that particular excursion. In a very similar way, thru-hiking doesn’t mean that backpackers are traversing a particular forest or region, but rather that they are tackling all of a long-distance trail. A long trail isn’t one that backpackers might tackle in a day or even a week. Long-distance, in this case, means the really long-distance trails. In the United States, that means the Appalachian Trail (AT), the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), the relatively new Continental Divide Trail (CDT), or, on the shorter end of the long-distance spectrum, the John Muir Trail (JMT).
Of these trails, the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail comprise the long-distance hiking trails that, once tackled, entitle the successful thru-hikers to claim the Triple Crown Award from the American Long-Distance Hiking Association – West. The Triple Crown is one of the most distinguished decorations for backpacking enthusiasts simply because thru-hiking these long-distance trails is so incredibly difficult. Backpacking hobbyists can probably imagine the difficulty of continuing their last strenuous backcountry hike for the whopping five or six months of long-distance hiking it takes thru-hikers to conquer each of the Triple Crown hiking trails, or even the comparatively shorter but still lengthy three weeks a backpacker must dedicate to thru-hiking the John Muir Trail.
Long-distance thru-hiking takes a massive amount of time, energy, and investment both physical and emotional. The payoff is huge; not only can dedicated thru-hikers win laurels like the Triple Crown, but the personal sense of accomplishment and inner peace one can create by thru-hiking just one of these trails is life-altering and permanent. That being said, thru-hiking is rife with difficulties and considerations that begin long before backpackers hit the trailhead. Along one of these long-distance trails, thru-hikers’ mettle will be put to the test in a variety of ways and it is essential to properly reflect on all of them before a serious thru-hiking attempt. Read on to find out how long-distance backpacking will challenge you, surprise you, and reward you, and how you can make sure to reach the end of a mammoth thru-hiking trek.
Making an effective thru-hiking plan
At the very beginning stages of a strategy to tackle a long-distance trail, it isn’t yet necessary to nail down absolute specifics like a gear list, a daily mileage goal, or resupply points where you’ll stop to rest and replenish perishables while you’re thru-hiking. Starting with research on online forums, hiking guides, and sample gear lists will give a solid basis for the rest of the planning a bit further on. It’s really never to soon to begin training for long-distance thru-hikes and the absolute best training you can do is to go on a shorter day hike whenever you possibly can with a rucksack and gear similar to what you plan to take thru-hiking. As your final gear list materializes, you can start to emulate your thru-hiking pack and start to get used to the exact weight you’ll have with you on the long trail.
If you plan on trying to tackle the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, or the Continental Divide Trail by yourself, there are some additional mental stresses you’ll encounter. Whether you’re intentionally planning on solo thru-hiking for extended moments of solitude or not, you can bet you’re going to spend most of your time in the backcountry alone. Backpackers who aren’t used to such a situation can prepare by studying any of the various meditation or self-reflection philosophies out there.
Even though the days are usually busy with physical tasks while you’re thru-hiking, at night and during rest stops there will be lots of time to think. Backpackers might also consider reading just about whatever they can get their hands on that interests them and contains new information. Learning how to keep a trail journal will ensure that the quotidian details of your thru-hiking journey are available to others and to yourself as you forget them over time.
Hike your own hike
Before we go on, there’s an adage frequently heard on the Pacific Crest Trail, “Hike your own hike,” that will save wannabe thru-hiking champions a lot of strife in the initial stages of their long-distance backcountry backpacking trip. There are many interpretations of “hike your own hike” depending on the nature of the backpacker who says it. Some say “hike your own hike” means don’t try to copy other thru-hikers regardless of how successful their long-distance trail traversal was. From the opposite perspective, some say backpackers shouldn’t try to tell others how to go about completing their own hike.
A third explanation indicates that thru-hikers shouldn’t be self-conscious about the goals they set for themselves. Perhaps you aren’t the kind of thru-hiker that is overly concerned with daily mileage goals or maybe you flip flop between how frequent or infrequent your resupply stops should be. Maybe you aren’t even worried about reaching the official end of your long-distance trail when you go thru-hiking. Whatever the case may be, HYOH means you should feel free to aim for whatever purpose you want when you go thru-hiking.
If you aren’t thru-hiking solo, don’t let the group influence your goals too much. Even teams of two thru-hikers can sometimes have conflicts or different strength levels and hiking abilities, so always make sure everyone has enough of their own gear to go as far as they personally wish to make it on the long-distance trail. In the end, it’s your thru-hiking experience and the only way to give these challenging long-distance trails their due is to hike your own hike.
Thru-hiking during hiking season
As you can imagine, thru-hikers have seasonal preferences that align with those of the majority of backpackers who go on shorter day hikes. On the Triple Crown long-distance trails, it’s particularly important to leave at the right time because the weather can make some of the sections impassable or, in the case of the Appalachian Trail, a critical part of the most difficult New England Section isn’t open year-round. Mt. Katahdin is the tallest point in the United States state of Maine and serves as the beginning point for southbound thru-hikers and the finale of the Appalachian Trail for northbound, or NoBo, thru-hikers who start the Appalachian Trail in Georgia.
Since hiking conditions on these long-distance trails can already be challenging in good weather, it’s important to take stock of your own physical strength and hiking ability so you can decide the part of the hiking season in which you want to reach a certain section of the long trail. In the case of the Appalachian Trail, the White Mountains in Maine are the most difficult. Some people start in Maine and tackle this difficult section first. They would be the most experienced thru-hikers, as less adept thru-hikers usually give up or, in the worst cases, get injured when they start in Maine and hike southbound to Georgia.
When you start to draft your gear list, you’ll want to know more or less when and where you want to start your thru-hiking excursion and what kinds of conditions you’re going to face along the way. If you can accomplish the whole long-distance trail within 5 or 6 months and avoid the cold weather and icy conditions, that means you can also leave behind a ton of additional winter equipment like thicker sleeping bags and sleeping pads. Keeping your rucksack is really critical when you’re thru-hiking because any extra weight is going to weigh on you much more than on a day hike because you’re going to be carrying it on your back for a long time as you’re thru-hiking in the backcountry.
Daily mileage on a thru-hiking journey
Even if your greatest concern isn’t racking up high daily mileage numbers out on the long trail, it is important to keep some kind of goal in mind because the only way to keep to any sort of a timetable and make sure you aren’t still out thru-hiking in the beginning of winter is to make sure you’re reaching critical locations in time. Resupply points, which are usually towns or shops near the long-distance trail (but not on it, don’t worry), are great for receiving postcards or care packages while you’re thru-hiking, but you don’t want to have family and friends sending you additional supplies or correspondence to a town before or after you’ve crossed through it. Distance hikers won’t want to be caught out in the backcountry days before a planned resupply without enough food to reach the resupply point. The best way to solve this problem is to set a daily mileage goal and stick to it as best as you can.
Thru-hiker’s gear lists
Getting your gear list down is going to be much easier if you’re already a seasoned hiker. So much the better for your thru-hiking excursion if you already know the ins-and-outs of ultralight backpacking because you’re really going to want to shave off every ounce you can. Many wannabe thru-hikers experience shake-down in the early stages of their first thru-hiking attempt. “Shake-down” is the name distance hikers give to the shedding of gear that thru-hikers brought with them before they left and before they got out on the long-distance trail and realized just how heavy their rucksack was. When they realize they can’t carry as much as they brought with them, they shed it, and that’s called shake-down.
Thru-hikers will need all the normal equipment you’d expect for a day hike, plus many other pieces of hiking gear that will come in handy over 5 or 6 months on the long trail. The sleeping bag and sleeping pad are probably no-brainers, but so are proper hiking boots that are capable of preventing blisters and protecting your feet while you’re thru-hiking. The most critical part of the gear list is the food you’ll have with you. There are chances along the long-distance trails in the United States to stop and resupply and have a rest or potentially even a meal at a restaurant, but the in-between sections of the long trail will test how well thru-hikers can portion the food they have with them.
Trail magic and trail angels
One of the most unique aspects of thru-hiking compared to day hikes or hiking in a national park are the people who live in the towns crossed by long-distance trails like the Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, or the Continental Divide Trail and want to help thru-hikers on their way. Thru-hikers call these people trail angels, and the help they give is called trail magic. It can come in many forms. Some trail angels offer a place indoors to rest or shower. Others give thru-hikers money, or treat them to a meal, or even render professional services like cutting hair or small dental procedures for free. Trail magic can also be a complete chance, like finding exactly the tool or medicine you need in one of the trailside boxes you pass by. Any thru-hiker can be an unintentional trail angel for someone else if they have spare equipment or food at the end of their thru-hiking or close enough to a resupply point that they can spare something.
It’s not wise to depend on trail angels or trail magic when you’re planning your gear list or resupply schedule, but they do tend to help fairly frequently. The Pacific Crest Trail publishes guidelines governing the behavior of trail angels along the PCT to preserve the solitude and quiet atmosphere of the PCT, so you won’t be accosted by a trail angel desperate to help, but you may find a little trail magic in the form of a free meal or a place to stay in town. It will raise your spirits and give you a convenient place to clean everything up if you can find a trail angel willing to let you crash on the couch for a night or two.
Leave no trace when thru-hiking
Thru-hikers are often traversing some of the most pristine and naturally beautiful areas of the United States backcountry, which is why adhering to the Leave No Trace guidelines is so critical for long-distance backpackers. You can generate a lot of refuse in 5 to 6 months so you’d better start doing the research now to get the proper disposal know-how in time. Other leave no trace guidelines like planning ahead, campsite selection, and not disturbing other thru-hikers are all common sense for experienced hikers but are not necessarily so well known to more novice-level hikers. It’s always good to review the guidelines so you can go out in the backcountry and return knowing you’ve left no trace behind.
Thru-hiking is one of the most grueling and challenging outdoor activities you can do. Many thru-hikers who try it for the first time find they haven’t planned their resupply points or daily mileage estimates correctly and so they have to call it quits much earlier than expected. If you can plan everything well in advance, though, thru-hiking one of these very long-distance trails can be a life-changing event that you’re sure not to forget. If you can handle the challenge of the three longest hiking trails in the United States then you will be awarded the Triple Crown Award and achieve lasting thru-hiking fame and fortune.
Thru-hiking is fraught with opportunities to suffer injuries like blisters or a sprained ankle that can decommission even thru-hikers with the absolute best of intentions. But if you take day hikes enough and build up enough strength and hiking know-how, you’re more likely to find out why thru-hiking has gained so much popularity among backpacking enthusiasts. Trail angels provide helpful and much-needed service. Trail magic, whether provided purposefully by trail angels or the result of coincidence, is always much appreciated by thru-hikers. As long as you remember to hike your own hike and leave no trace, your next thru-hiking attempt will be as good as your hiking skills allow it to be. Until then, you can begin to plan your next thru-hiking attempt know that you know what thru-hiking is.
Bonus tip: Check out these thru-hiking tips from Herman’s Gulch on the Continental Divide Trail!
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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