Kahtoola Microspikes VS Hillsound Trail Crampon

10:18 p.m. on April 14, 2012 (EDT)
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 I know we are heading out of winter, (have been for some time), but I was cleaning all my winter gear for storage, including my Hillsounds. Just got me wondering why these aren't more popular?

For the record I'm refering to the Trail crampon, NOT the trail crampon pro. These are not full on alpine crampons, and the name is misleading, but for what they do, they do it well.

Obviously the big market share goes to the Microspikes, but why? Having compared them side by side I feel Hillsound makes the better product, and heres why...

1)Hillsound-11 points, Microspikes 10

2)Length of spikes- Hillsound- 1.6cm, Microspikes- 1 cm

3)The Hillsound spikes are attached much more soundly by a metal ring. The Microspikes they are connected to the chain.

4)The velco attachment over the foot adds a lot of stability and less movement in the traction device.

They only negative I see is the Hillsounds are slightly heavier at 8oz each to the Microspikes 6.3oz.

 

So, why are these not more popular? Is there something I'm missing? Does it just come down to an issue of availability, and these are just not as accesible as Kahtoolas?

 

 

3:04 p.m. on April 16, 2012 (EDT)
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Dont worry it,s picking up. In Montreal we had em only towars the end of February. As soon as we got em the we almost uniquely sold hillsounds.

7:52 p.m. on April 16, 2012 (EDT)
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Interesting, do you work a store that sells them Louis? Sounds like it must just be an availability issue. I know MEC here in Canada only carries the microspikes and I believe REI only carries the Kahtoolas as well.

I bought them before a hike on Mount Washington and had the chance to directly compare the 2 and found the Hillsounds to be the far superior product.

2:41 p.m. on April 18, 2012 (EDT)
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Hi Jake and Louis-Alexis:

I work for Hillsound Equipment in Vancouver. Thanks for the questions and comments about our crampons. It's good to hear about peoples' experiences on the trail with our products. Thanks for the feedback.

I'll try to answer your questions. The issue of availability mostly comes down to retailers' demand for our products. Some move faster than others. Our products are in hundreds of stores around North America and Europe thanks to the hard work of our sales reps, design team and the retailers themselves who like our crampons and Armadillo gaiters. But also thanks to many customers who pushed retailers to give us a try. So it can't hurt to go to your local outdoor store and ask for the products you want!

Also on the issue of availability, it's worth noting that Hillsound is a new and young company. So it takes a while for our products to get traction in the market. Pun intended....

If you have any other questions or comments, feel free to post them up here or e-mail us at: info (  @  )  hillsound.ca

Happy hiking.

Alex

3:01 p.m. on April 18, 2012 (EDT)
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Hey Alex, welcome to Trailspace. Great to have ya aboard. I am sure many here will appreciate your input to any inquiries they may have in regards to Hillsounds products as a whole.

I own 2 pairs of the Trail Crampon Pros(reg & XLs.)

Hillsound-TC-Pros-002.jpg

Gotta say Hillsound makes a great product from my experiences.

Once again welcome to Trailspace. Great to have ya chiming in.

12:06 a.m. on April 19, 2012 (EDT)
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I love when companies are paying attention to forums and what the actual users are saying.

As I said Alex, and why I started this thread, love the product, find them superior to the competition. Just got a question for ya. I know especially with a big name store like MEC, it must be really difficult to get the product into it in the first place. I just find it interesting that they sell the microspikes and not the trail crampon. I'm willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that you have tried/are trying to get your product into their stores, yet they carry one and not the other. Is this an issue of marketing and people hear about the competition and thats it? They don't look farther into what else is available?

I know personally, that I want the best product, especially when similiarily priced. Websites like this help get the smaller guys names out there when they are succeding in making a superior product.

11:17 a.m. on April 19, 2012 (EDT)
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I don't own the Hillsounds, nor have I ever seen them. I do own the microspikes, and based on the questions you ask I prefer microspikes to everything else I have tried because.

1) the spikes are short, which makes traversing mixed terrain (ice and ice free, bare rock etc) easier with a short spike, it just feels more stable to me than say a full crampon spike.

2)The chain allows for some movement of the spikes, which I find improves traction(especially on ice free terrain), and the chain itself also aids in traction.

3)I found the rubber straps of the microspikes to hold them on very securely. In fact I can't remember one instance where they moved once I had them on securely.

4) And their lighter!

It sounds like they are very similar products, I have have to actually use them to see how they stacked up. I have been very satisfied with the kahtoola microspikes for the several years I have had them.

 

2:00 p.m. on April 19, 2012 (EDT)
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I will say dealing with customer service at Hillsound has been great.

I just emailed Kris in regards to my 1st set of TC Pros came with a bag but no Alpine stoppers and the second set came with the stoppers but no bag.

I could care less about the bag because when I am on trail and the crampons are not in use they are typically attached to the outside of my pack(and I also have Osprey's crampon pocket) but wanted to see what I needed to do to get another set of stoppers.

I had a response back within 10 minutes of my initial inquiry from Kris requesting an address of where they could be sent.

Needless to say I'm a fan. 

2:47 p.m. on April 19, 2012 (EDT)
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I have both crampons and Microspikes. I am not however familiar with the Hillsounds.

That being said, I agree with:

1) the spikes are short, which makes traversing mixed terrain (ice and ice free, bare rock etc). A full crampon is too much so they're very hard to use on a trail during shoulder season when there might be snow as well as bare patches.

2) the chain allows for some movement of the spikes, which I find improves traction (especially on ice free terrain). I also use them when the trails are muddy and slick if I have a steep ascent to make, and they are a REQUIREMENT on my Ice Walks. (see TR for Maligne Canyon)

3) the rubber straps of the Microspikes hold them on very securely, as well as or better than the straps on my Stalker crampons.

4) And they're lighter!

But I presently have three different kinds of traction devices, plus snowshoes, since no single one is good for every type of trail condition. Microspikes are too long for icy sidewalks but good for walking in icy and snow, Stabilicers are too short for anything BUT icy sidewalks, and my crampons are too long for anything but ice and snow, and have toe points for really steep ascents. Snowshoes work good in deep snow and the builtin crampon gives decent traction on a slope.

Of them all, I find I wear the Microspikes the most. But bring the Hillsounds to MEC and I'd be happy to try them out.

5:49 p.m. on April 19, 2012 (EDT)
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This is Hilary from Kahtoola and I just wanted to say thank you to The Rambler and Perter 1955 for pointing out some of the reasons that make Microspikes® Traction so great, we really appreciate it.

If anyone has any questions or feedback please email me at Hilary@kahtoola.com, we would love to hear from you. 

Cheers, 

Hilary 



6:35 p.m. on April 19, 2012 (EDT)
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Microspikes have been lifesavers spring and fall here on Cascade icy mountain trails. Ive been on my butt a few times when not wearing them. Every time I take a header I break a pole. Black Diamond loves me.

6:40 p.m. on April 19, 2012 (EDT)
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hey y'all - i'm a guide, outdoor writer, gear reviewer and spend all my free time and most of my work time outside. In my opinion, nothing compares to the Kahtoola microspikes and i have tried every product out there. Their versatility and durability are unmatched and the company's commitment to sound business practices and environmental ethics goes above and beyond.

 I recently wrote a review of Microspikes and other Kahtoola products on the Elevation Outdoors Magazine Website: 

http://www.elevationoutdoors.com/blogs/hot-winter-gear-kahtoola-snow-systems/

here's an excerpt about the Microspikes: 

Microspikes – When you don’t need a full crampon, but you still need a reliable and secure form of traction, this is your go-to piece of gear.  They are perfect for running a snowy packed trail up a peak,  hiking an icy path in a shady canyon or walking your pup on slippery streets.  They are more durable and provide more traction than any other gripper I’ve tested.  They are lightweight, compact and easy to get on and off so you can throw them in your pack or jacket pocket and you’ll never find yourself in a jam. On runs in the Front Range or harrowing descents in the Himalaya, Microspikes have always kept me on my feet when I needed it most.
******

But, don't just read about them - try them and i'm sure you'll find out for yourself why Kahtoola's are so much more popular....the product just speaks for itself. 

6:55 p.m. on April 19, 2012 (EDT)
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Mountain girl, you got it goin'on. Best post I've read in a long while.

7:16 p.m. on April 19, 2012 (EDT)
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Howdy folks.  I am an outdoor professional who is passionate about taking people outside.  Microspikes make my job easier.  I can teach people how to use them quickly.  As for what is better when, it all depends on the conditions.  There is a time for microspikes and a time for crampons.  I find that I use microspikes 75% of the time.  I use microspikes in all the mixed conditions where crampons would be overkill.  I use them in mud, over rocks, and back to snow and ice on those shoulder season days that make up for most of the year in the high mountains of Colorado.  I am not nice to my microspikes and they always work.  I always have a pair of microspikes in my pack.  They are a must have item.

7:18 p.m. on April 19, 2012 (EDT)
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VetEx said:

As for what is better when, it all depends on the conditions.  There is a time for microspikes and a time for crampons.  

 Agree 100%...

9:40 p.m. on April 19, 2012 (EDT)
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In my original post I wrote....

"For the record I'm refering to the Trail crampon, NOT the trail crampon pro."

I completly understand peoples opinions on a full crampon spike being overkill. The product I was refering to can been seen here....

http://hillsound.com/2products/trail_crampon.php

As you can see this is built on the same basis as the microspikes with a few improvment which I previously stated. I am in complete agreement that there is a niche market that products like this fill. They bridge the gap nicely between full crampon and snowshoe or just boots.

Mountaingirl- Out of curiousity what other products have you tried?

12:08 p.m. on April 20, 2012 (EDT)
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mountaingirl said:

They are perfect for running a snowy packed trail up a peak,  hiking an icy path in a shady canyon or walking your pup on slippery streets. 


Hi, Mountaingirl. I've taken a few people for walks, too. And I don't work for Kahtoola.

As much as I like Microspikes, I have to disagree with these points.

One problem with Microspikes is that because the top of the spikes is fairly small, I've found that they can be felt through the soles of even my heavy hiking boots if I'm walking on a hard surface. On pavement, especially in regular winter boots, the back side of the spikes would chew up the underside of the soles. 

They also have enough weight to slow you down if you're planning on 'running' on a trail to a mountain peak, although frankly I know very few people who actually run up any real mountain. If you were hiking to the top and encountered snow at elevation they would be handy to have in your pack, and I've used them for that purpose. Actually, if I KNOW I'm going to hit deep snow on the way up, I will carry a full crampon instead. Microspikes wouldn't have enough grip for postholing in a snow-covered scree slope.

As for walking your dog on an icy city street, Microspikes would definitely be overkill. Because of the length of the crampons, the footing would be wobbly - Microspikes need something to dig into, such as the ice/snow you mention on a trail in a shady canyon. On pavement covered with a thin layer of ice, for example, a lighter pair of simple consumer ice cleats would be sufficient. Even YakTrax might help (although they don't have a lot of grip on ice).

Like I said, and others here seem to agree, you need different tools for different conditions. Microspikes are suitable for many, but not for every situation.

 

10:10 p.m. on April 26, 2012 (EDT)
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To Peter1955 - I have actually used them in all 3 of these situations and they've performed well...If you read carefully, you'll see i said - a snowy packed trail. Neither Microspikes or crampons work really well in deep snow - that's what Kahtoola snowshoes work best for. In my experience Microspikes DO have the perfect amount of grip for walking on an icy street or an icy trail - no wobbling, no slipping, no problem. 

11:18 p.m. on April 26, 2012 (EDT)
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Well, I will say that this thread had made me interested in possibly giving the KTS(steels) a shot. I won't use aluminum here due to the fact that the rocks will destroy them.

I dunno, maybe I will try them later on down the road. Can't do much with them this time of the year but I am curious about maybe reviewing both products so I have someting to compare the TC Pros too.

Can't really compare them to a full Crampon being they are 2 different animals.

Jake, I know I am talking about a whole different type of product here but thanks for starting this thread. Ya got the ol' gears turning in regards to manufacturers.

Maybe I will do a side by side between the TC Pros and the KTS or something. Hmmmmm.....

Now back to our previous televised programming. :)

1:14 p.m. on April 27, 2012 (EDT)
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mountaingirl said:

To Peter1955 -  In my experience Microspikes DO have the perfect amount of grip for walking on an icy street or an icy trail - no wobbling, no slipping, no problem. 

Then I disagree  - my experience with them, over three winters, contradicts yours. On a hard surface, the back of the spikes punch up into the sole of the boot, especially in winter boots that have softer soles. Wear Microspikes on pavement and you will definitely feel the teeth rolling around through your boots. You'll get good traction anyway, and on an icy trail you can often punch through glare ice into softer stuff, but they are certainly not optimal for icy sidewalks where you might only have a thin film to dig into.

And if you'd read my post carefully, you'll find that I referred to using a crampon for postholing on a steep, slippery and unstable scree slope, not the kind of place you'd want to be wearing snowshoes.

But what's with naming Kahtoola snowshoes as being the best ones for deep snow? Why would you think they're any better than other brand? This thread isn't about snowshoes, but since you raise the question, in my opinion MSR Denalis/Evos are far superior to most of the other models out there.

3:05 p.m. on April 27, 2012 (EDT)
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I received my TC Pro Alpine Stoppers today. As an added surprise Hillsound also shipped me a new puncture resistant storage bag for the crampons as well.

Kudos to Hillsound cs for that.

Customer service goes as far with me as the product itself.

3:23 p.m. on April 27, 2012 (EDT)
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Views from the Top (the NE site) has had discussions of Micro-spikes v. Yak Traks and now Hillsound crampons for years. Everything you could possibly want to know about them, including how often they break is there. The VFTT members are heavy users of these things, so if anyone wants to know about them, that is the place to look.

 

 

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