Getting outside year-round is tough. It’s dark, it’s cold, it’s icy. I can’t fix daylight savings time or the thermometer, but I can help you with traction.
First, my usual disclaimer about any expensive piece of outdoor gear. You don’t actually need pricey gear to be outdoorsy or enjoy the outdoors. In Denver, you can stick closer to home along paved trails, or try out trails at Red Rocks or Green Mountain. You can also head to Front Range state parks like Cheyenne Mountain, Roxborough, or Castlewood Canyon or check out Paint Mines. Hiking poles can also go a long way.
If you want to expand your adventures and make sure you can definitely go anywhere the one random weekend you hit the trifecta of having time + motivation + tolerable weather, then Kahtoola’s MICROspikes are a great investment piece.
I thought about writing a post about how to choose between traction options, but honestly you shouldn’t even waste your money on other options, even though they’re all cheaper. I’m all for going generic/basic/low-cost when they do the same thing as the fancy name brand, but this is not one of those times.
I love Kahtoola’s microspikes because:
They are the ultimate security blanket.
Microspikes give you unmatched traction on ice and snow, and that feeling of 100% security wasn’t worth sacrificing for me. As soon as I step on ice, I immediately feel them really “bite” into it and I know I won’t be sliding off a mountain anytime soon. (This legitimately almost happened to me, so I could be over-compensating. Still.)
Colorado’s sunny days combined with big temperature fluctuations between day and night are the perfect recipe for icy conditions. Combined with actual heat waves randomly throughout the winter, ice is all over the dang place here.
And if you think going up it is hard, just wait until you’re trying not to slide all the way back down the mountain (although I’d probably finally improve my mile time).
I can run in them comfortably.
The grip feels a little weird when you are on dry rocks, but I don’t mind taking multiple breaks to take them on and off. I don’t run very fast anyways so discomfort on dry surfaces just hasn’t bothered me.
I can wear them for hiking, too.
Microspikes fit over both my hiking boots and my running shoes. When you’re sizing your own pair, they should be as snug as possible around your shoes. If you can, try them on in person if you can and make sure they fit all the pairs of shoes you want to put them over.
My running shoes are size 9.5 and my hiking boots are size 8.5, and the size small microspikes are perfect. The mediums are certainly easier to get on, but they were much looser around my shoes. Basically, if you can get them over your shoes without breaking them (but like you’re worried about them imminently snapping while you wrestle them on), that’s the right size.
If you can’t try on in person, shop at REI or somewhere else with a good return policy so you can order multiple sizes and see what works best for you. Let me know in the comments what winter adventures they help take you on!