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The 4 Best Snow Grips of 2022

We tested the best snow grips from Kahtoola, Yaktrax, Black Diamond, and more to keep you upright when the weather gets serious
Best Snow Grips of 2022
Credit: sam willits
By Jeff Dobronyi ⋅ Review Editor
Thursday November 10, 2022
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Our team researched over 50 models before purchasing 10 of the best snow grips to test side-by-side. Whether you need a pair for extra traction while shoveling your driveway, hiking through deep snow, or tackling icy terrain, there is something in this review for you. We put each of these snow grips head-to-head in our extensive tests, scoring them on specific performance metrics such as traction, ease of use, security of fit, versatility, durability, and packability. A good pair of snow grips can give you more security and peace of mind in those icy winter months, and we hope our in-depth review will help make your purchasing decision easier.

Winter conditions can be hazardous, but don't let that keep you from getting out to enjoy the snow. With the right wintertime gear, you can stay safe and comfortable throughout the snowiest season. Our experts have tested everything from cold-weather essentials – like top winter boots for men and winter boots for women – to all the gear you need for your favorite snow sports, like snowshoeing.

Editor's Note: We updated this review on November 10, 2022, to share more info on our scoring process.

Top 10 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 10
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Awards  Editors' Choice Award   Top Pick Award 
Price $74.00 at Amazon$69.95 at Backcountry$61.95 at Amazon$29.99 at Amazon$46.88 at Amazon
Overall Score
64
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78
71
65
Star Rating
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Pros Excellent traction in deep snow, secure fit with strapVery secure, durable, excellent spike layoutEasy on and off, versatile, secure fit, durableSecure fit, easy to use, good traction for most situationsGreat for packed snow and thinner ice, very secure, lightweight
Cons Pricey, limited versatility, heavy, bulkyHeavier, annoying on dry surfaces, high profileNot great for deep snowPoor for deep snow and softer surfaces, uncomfortable for runningLess versatile, not ideal for more intense conditions
Bottom Line These crampons are great for soft snow and fit securely, but they aren't useful when the powder isn't deepThese grips provide excellent traction and a secure fit for the worst winter conditionsWith good traction for comfortable walking in dry conditions to deep snow, these are highly versatileAn added velcro strap provides extra security on these durable, affordable, and well-tractioned gripsLightweight and grippy, these are the best snow grips out there for winter running
Rating Categories Hillsound Trail Cra... Kahtoola MICROspikes Kahtoola EXOspikes Yaktrax Pro Kahtoola NANOspikes
Traction (30%)
9.0
10.0
7.0
6.0
5.0
Ease of Use (20%)
5.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
Secure Fit (15%) Sort Icon
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Versatility (15%)
3.0
4.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Durability (10%)
5.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Packability (10%)
4.0
6.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Specs Hillsound Trail Cra... Kahtoola MICROspikes Kahtoola EXOspikes Yaktrax Pro Kahtoola NANOspikes
Measured Weight (per pair) 16.3 oz 11.0 oz 8.2 oz 8.0 oz 9.0 oz
Number of Points 11 12 12 12 chain sections 10
Grip Style Crampon Crampon Cleat Chain Cleat
Spike Material Stainless Steel Stainless Steel Tungsten Carbide Stainless Steel Tungsten Carbide


Best Overall Snow Grip


Kahtoola MICROspikes


80
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Traction 10.0
  • Ease of Use 9.0
  • Secure Fit 8.0
  • Versatility 4.0
  • Durability 8.0
  • Packability 6.0
Number of Points: 12 stainless steel | Measured Weight (per pair): 11.0 ounces
REASONS TO BUY
Great spike layout
Secure fit on any footwear
Durable
REASONS TO AVOID
Not suitable for mostly dry surfaces
High profile elevates user
On the heavy side

The Kahtoola MICROspikes are crampon-style snow grips that provide excellent traction for deep snow and thick ice. Each foot has 12 spikes that protrude β…œ", making them perfect for winter hiking, chopping wood, and working on soft surfaces like dirt. They are relatively easy to put on, requiring the user to stretch the rubber body around their boot or shoe. Once on, they stay in place securely and don't slide around or feel like they will come off. The stainless steel points are strong and will easily last multiple winters.

These robust snow spikes are heavier and bulkier than some other options, but they provide better traction than any other product we tested. That said, the large spikes make them uncomfortable and awkward to use on firm surfaces like concrete with just a dusting of snow. These are best used in deep snow, on thick ice, and where the surface underneath the snow or ice is soft, like hiking trails and dirt roads. The MICROspikes are hands down the best snow grip option out there for users who live in harsh winter climates.

snow grips - best overall snow grip
The Kahtoola MICROspikes are a time-tested traction machine in deep snow.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Best Bang for the Buck


Yaktrax Walk


73
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Traction 6.0
  • Ease of Use 9.0
  • Secure Fit 7.0
  • Versatility 7.0
  • Durability 7.0
  • Packability 9.0
Number of Points: 12 chain sections | Measured Weight (per pair): 5.4 ounces
REASONS TO BUY
Easy to put on
Secure fit on any footwear
Low profile
REASONS TO AVOID
Poor grip in deep snow
Not super versatile

The Yaktrax Walk was one of the first snow grips on the market, and its design has changed very little over the years. It features zinc-plated steel coils wrapped around rubber under the foot, and the coils dig into snow, ice, and even dirt and rock. These work very well on shallow snow or thin ice over firm surfaces like pavement. They are also easy to put on, lightweight, and pack down to a very small size. The icing on the cake? They are very reasonably priced.

However, the coil design doesn't work so well in deep snow, where crampon-style spikes with larger points are more appropriate. The coils also aren't very comfortable when running because they protrude from the bottom of the shoe, creating an uneven landing surface. But aside from these niche uses, the Walk are great for most everyday winter uses on slippery urban surfaces. And for the price, these are the best option out there for users expecting mostly light-duty winter walking.

snow grips - best bang for the buck
The Yaktrax Walk are a simple and affordable option.
Credit: jeff dobronyi

Most Affordable for Deep Snow and Winter Hiking


Unigear Traction Cleats


67
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Traction 9.0
  • Ease of Use 6.0
  • Secure Fit 7.0
  • Versatility 4.0
  • Durability 7.0
  • Packability 4.0
Number of Points: 18 stainless steel | Measured Weight (per pair): 16.6 ounces
REASONS TO BUY
Great traction
Durable
Fit securely on most footwear
REASONS TO AVOID
Bulky and heavy
Only for use on softer surfaces

The Unigear Traction Cleats provide excellent grip in deep snow and on thick ice — and they do it for a low price. These snow grips feature 18 large crampon-style points that dig into soft material with ease, making them a great choice for users who spend a lot of time in deep snow, on dirt trails, or who work outside. The points are durable to last multiple winter seasons, and the stretchy rubber provides a snug and secure fit that won't accidentally come off.

Like other crampon-style snow cleats, these grips aren't comfortable to wear on hard surfaces, like sidewalks with a dusting of snow or a thin veneer of ice. They also have a point layout that places three spikes right below the toes, which can sometimes get caught when stepping up stairs or stepping over roots on a hike. The points also add weight and size to the profile of your normal foot, making these spikes unsuitable for winter running. Still, for the cost, they provide excellent traction on soft surfaces and are a great option for users who need maximum grip without breaking the bank.

snow grips - most affordable for deep snow and winter hiking
The Unigear Traction Cleats are an affordable alternative for deep snow and soft surface grip.
Credit: jeff dobronyi

Best for Winter Running


Kahtoola NANOspikes


65
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Traction 5.0
  • Ease of Use 7.0
  • Secure Fit 8.0
  • Versatility 6.0
  • Durability 7.0
  • Packability 8.0
Number of Points: 10 tungsten carbide | Measured Weight (per pair): 9.0 ounces
REASONS TO BUY
Excellent secure fit
Good grip on packed snow and thin ice
Lightweight
REASONS TO AVOID
Not great for deep snow or blue ice
Limited versatility
Expensive

The Kahtoola NANOspikes are low-profile cleats that feature ten small metal points protruding less than ΒΌ", providing enough traction to prevent sliding on packed snow and thinly iced surfaces. They are also lightweight, making them almost unnoticeable. The points are deliberately placed for maximum traction and stability when landing on each foot. They are easy to put on and stay securely placed, adding up to a great option for anyone who can't fathom not running, even in the winter months.

This style of snow grip works decently well in deep snow but not nearly as well as crampon-style points. And since the points don't protrude deeply into the ground, they are not ideal for use on soft ground surfaces like steep, unfrozen dirt trails; if the ground moves just a little bit, the points no longer have any purchase. They're also relatively expensive, especially considering their limited versatility. These are a specialty product that winter runners will cherish, but other users should check out different options.

snow grips - the kahtoola nanospikes are a secure and low-profile option, perfect...
The Kahtoola NANOspikes are a secure and low-profile option, perfect for winter runners.
Credit: sam willits

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
80
Kahtoola MICROspikes
kahtoola microspikes snow grips
$75
Editors' Choice Award
78
Kahtoola EXOspikes
kahtoola exospikes snow grips
$63
73
Yaktrax Walk
yaktrax walk snow grips
$20
Best Buy Award
71
Yaktrax Pro
yaktrax pro snow grips
$30
71
Black Diamond Distance Spike
black diamond distance spike snow grips
$100
67
Unigear Traction Cleats
unigear traction cleats snow grips
$29
Best Buy Award
66
Yaktrax Diamond Grip
yaktrax diamond grip snow grips
$55
65
Kahtoola NANOspikes
kahtoola nanospikes snow grips
$50
Top Pick Award
64
Hillsound Trail Crampon
hillsound trail crampon snow grips
$75
63
ICETRAX V3 Tungsten
icetrax v3 tungsten snow grips
$34

snow grips - a burly pair of snow grips like the kahtoola microspikes can make...
A burly pair of snow grips like the Kahtoola MICROspikes can make all the difference when you have to navigate gnarly terrain.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Why You Should Trust Us


To compile this review, we looked at the top options on the market, recording key specifications about each model. We then selected the top products for hands-on testing, which included trail running, wood splitting, shoveling, and walking on sheet ice. We made notes and recorded our findings every step of the way, getting to know each product intimately. We trekked through deep snow and walked across icy parking lots to score each product's traction. We put each product on and took them off countless times, both with bare hands and gloved hands, to score ease of use. We pulled and pushed the products around our shoes to see how securely they fit once donned. After all this testing was complete, we scored each product on how well it performed across a wide range of activities, and we searched for signs of wear and tear.

Our testing of snow grips is divided across six different metrics:
  • Traction (30% of overall score weighting)
  • Ease of Use (20% weighting)
  • Secure Fit (15% weighting)
  • Versatility (15% weighting)
  • Durability (10% weighting)
  • Packability (10% weighting)

For this review, our test team was led by IFMGA mountain guide and Jackson Hole resident Jeff Dobronyi. Jeff lives, works, and plays in brutal winter climates worldwide and has spent years of his life in skiing, climbing, and winter boots. From splitting wood to shoveling the driveway and getting out of the car in icy parking lots, Jeff knows what it's like to live around slippery surfaces. He has also seen the injuries that can come from just living in cold, wintery climates. As a certified mountain guide, he makes a living keeping people safe and securely attached when slippery surfaces pose a threat. He rarely leaves home in the wintertime without a good pair of grips.

Testing cleat-style grips on a snowy November day.
Testing cleat-style grips on a snowy November day.
The author using grips for security while shoveling an upper-level...
The author using grips for security while shoveling an upper-level deck.
Getting geared up for another round of testing.
Getting geared up for another round of testing.

Analysis and Test Results


A good pair of snow grips will be your best friend when the outdoors gets treacherously slick. Read on to find out how the products fared in our assessment categories of traction, ease of use, secure fit, versatility, durability, and packability.


Value


While we do not factor price into our testing process or scores, it is absolutely a factor in the decision-making process. We consider a high-value product to be one that expertly balances an excellent performance with a fair price. Gear that lasts and also doesn't break the bank is a win all around.

The Yaktrax Walk is an incredible deal for folks that don't need the burliest spikes. They are light, packable, and ideal for thin ice and dustings of snow. If you need something burlier for deep snow or hiking but still want to preserve your wallet, the Unigear Traction Cleats are a great option. They're not quite as user-friendly, lightweight, or durable as the Kahtoola MICROspikes, but if you only need something for occasional use, they more than fit the bill.

Traction


The main reason people buy snow grips is to increase grip on slippery winter surfaces like ice, packed snow, and deep snow. As such, traction is the most important factor in choosing and assessing these products. In general, the products on the market fall into one of three types: crampon, chain, and cleat. Crampon-style grips use vertically-oriented teeth that protrude down into the ground, focusing the user's body weight on a small number of points and increasing friction between the spikes and snow or ice underneath. These have the best grip on icy and snowy surfaces. Chain grips use a length of sharp metal material under the foot to chip into slippery surfaces. These have decent traction and are more comfortable to walk in than crampons. Cleat grips feature a handful of small metal studs that add the least amount of traction out of the three styles, but they are also the easiest to walk with and are great for thinly covered firm surfaces, like a thin layer of snow over pavement.


The Kahtoola MICROspikes have the best traction in our review, placing crampon points in strategic areas all over the shoe sole. The other crampon-stye grips we reviewed also have excellent traction but place teeth directly below the toe of the boot, creating a tripping hazard. That said, the Unigear Traction Cleats provide excellent traction for a lower price than the MICROspikes. These are the best option for use on dirt roads or during high-consequence activities like chopping wood. The Hillsound Trail Crampons are also heavy-duty snow grips with 11 points that protrude an incredible two-thirds of an inch from the bottom of your foot. These long points provide excellent traction in deep, soft snow, and they aren't too far off from true mountaineering crampons.

snow grips - a close-up view of the crampon-style points on the kahtoola...
A close-up view of the crampon-style points on the Kahtoola MICROspikes.
Credit: sam willits

Chain grips like the Yaktrax Walk provide plenty of traction for everyday activities on pavement and some off-pavement use. The Kahtoola NANOspikes have the most traction among the cleat-style grips and are our pick for winter running. The Black Diamond Distance Spikes strike a great balance — they are lower-profile and work for running but provide excellent traction thanks to 18 small crampon points. If you want good traction but a little more versatility, the Distance Spikes are a good choice.

snow grips - the black diamond distance spikes are great for running in shallow...
The Black Diamond Distance Spikes are great for running in shallow snow and loose dirt, with small crampon points.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Ease of Use


Since we need additional traction in winter, usually during or just after storms, it is vital that grips can be donned easily and quickly, with both bare and gloved hands. All of the options in our review feature some kind of rubbery, elastic body that is stretched over the sole of the user's shoe or boot. Products that differentiate themselves from the pack are extremely easy to put on and snap into place right where you want them.


None of the grips are overly difficult to put on, but the Kahtoola MICROspikes, Kahtoola EXOspikes, and the Yaktrax Walk are noticeably the easiest. The front and back are obvious, the material stretches easily, and there is a cup where the toe of the boot or shoe fits to line up the rest of the grip. The Yaktrax Pro and ICETRAX V3 are also easy to put on quickly and efficiently.

snow grips - the icetrax v3 is fast and easy to put on. all it takes is putting...
The ICETRAX V3 is fast and easy to put on. All it takes is putting the toe in the front cup and stretching the rubber over the back of the shoe.
Credit: Sam Willits

Secure Fit


It is very important your grips stay attached and centered on your feet when walking on slippery surfaces because if they become dislodged, the chances of falling increase, and preventing falls is the main reason you wear spikes in the first place. In every model tested, the elastic body stretches out to fit over the toe and heel of a shoe, and elastic tension is what keeps the grip in place. The exact design of the toe and heel attachments, as well as the design of the body if it snaps around the sides of a shoe, are what differentiate one product from the next.


The Hillsound Trail Crampons take the cake in this metric. They have a strap that can be worn over the top of the foot to keep the crampon in place even when trudging through super deep snow.

snow grips - the hillsound trail crampons have a secure fit and huge crampon...
The Hillsound Trail Crampons have a secure fit and huge crampon points for the deepest snow.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

All the Kahtoola models feature excellent security of fit. This company has a lot of experience in this field and offers a secure design across its range of products. The Yaktrax models also fit securely, and the Pro model even has a top strap to ensure the grip isn't going to fall off. This is a nice touch if you are taking your spikes on a long hike and don't want to deal with a loose grip. The crampon-style models all have a relatively secure fit but can be a bit of a pain to put on in the first place.

snow grips - all of the crampon-style grips look like this when put on correctly...
All of the crampon-style grips look like this when put on correctly. They are secure and ready for heavy duty work or hiking.
Credit: Sam Willits

Versatility


Each type of snow grip excels in different terrain and surface conditions. Crampon-style grips excel in deep snow and soft surfaces, while cleat-style spikes do best on firm surfaces with little soft snow. Chain-style grips perform decently in both kinds of conditions, but they aren't excellent for either. Some users are only interested in wearing spikes during extreme conditions, and others are looking for one grip for every day of the winter. This metric measures how well each pair of grips can handle a variety of conditions and also how well each grip can fit across different shoe types, from sleek running shoes to heavy-duty winter boots.


The most versatile snow grip in our test is the Kahtoola EXOspike. This grip features 12 studs on platforms, giving them extra height for use in relatively deep snow while retaining their comfortable feel on firm surfaces and their performance on ice. They can be used while running or when shoveling the driveway of the few inches of snow that fell overnight. The only thing they aren't great for is very deep snow, but even then, they perform decently.

The Kahtoola EXOspikes have studded platforms that have good depth...
The Kahtoola EXOspikes have studded platforms that have good depth for significant snowfall, but they also bite into ice well and walk nicely on firm, dry surfaces.
The Kahtoola EXOspikes are great for everything from running on...
The Kahtoola EXOspikes are great for everything from running on slick trails to tromping through extreme conditions.

The Yaktrax Walk and Yaktrax Pro also have great versatility. Their chain-style traction performance is good across a wide range of surface conditions, and they can be worn on everything from a winter hike in the woods to icy city streets with any footwear. Our only gripe is that they are uncomfortable for winter running, but that's a niche use that won't apply to everyone. We also like how the ICETRAX V3 fits a variety of footwear with ease, providing traction for mostly urban and paved environments.

snow grips - the yaktrax walk can be used on both sneakers and winter boots, and...
The Yaktrax Walk can be used on both sneakers and winter boots, and provides enough traction to be useful in both deep snow and frozen, firm surfaces.
Credit: sam willits

The Black Diamond Distance Spike is a crampon-style grip designed to fit securely over running shoes. We like the traction it provides with its 8-millimeter spikes, which are small enough to be convenient for various conditions but sharp enough to provide bite on loose surfaces. They are super light for a crampon-type grip, and they pack up small for easy stuffing into a pocket.

Durability


Snow grips are most useful during the worst winter weather when temperatures plummet and the snow piles up. Every material becomes more brittle in these conditions, and manufacturers have to make sure their elastics won't break when being manipulated. In addition, the spikes themselves take a beating, and some materials and designs wear out faster than others.


Again, the Kahtoola and Yaktrax models outperform the rest of the competition when it comes to durability. Their designs feature solid attachment points between components and great elastic materials. We had no problem with either of these brands during our testing period, and we don't expect to see any problems for many winters.

Since spikes take the full force of your body weight, you can reasonably expect to see the steel models wear down over time, especially the crampon-style grips. Their prominent spikes will wear down relatively quickly if worn on firm rock or paved surfaces. Since this style is most at home in deep snow and on dirt and other soft surfaces, proper use will elongate the lifespans of these products. If you tend to navigate many different surfaces and conditions, owning more than one pair of snow grips is recommended.

snow grips - while the black diamond distance spike is well-tractioned and...
While the Black Diamond Distance Spike is well-tractioned and versatile, we have some durability concerns due to the design and the force needed to get them on. These will perform best on dirt trails and in shallow snow, but likely aren't the best bet for super heavy use.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Packability


Once the storm is over, and the streets dry out, or when you enter a building and don't want to damage the floor, it's important that your traction devices pack into a small and light package that you can easily stash in a pocket or a compartment in a vehicle.


In general, the rubber-soled cleat grips are the lightest and pack the smallest, while the chain and crampon-style grips have more metal, so they weigh more and can't pack as tightly.

snow grips - in general, the cleat-style grips are lightest and pack the smallest.
In general, the cleat-style grips are lightest and pack the smallest.
Credit: Sam Willits

The Yaktrax Walk and Yaktrax Pro don't have much body material and are easily stuffed into a small pocket. The ICETRAX V3 are not much more than rubber soles with some extra material that covers the toe and heel of the user's shoe, so these pack small as well.


The Kahtoola NANOspikes and Black Diamond Distance Spikes are also notable here, though the NANOspikes feature a slightly stiffer rubber sole, which provides a secure fit and traction when walking, but doesn't pack down as small as the other rubber cleat grips.

snow grips - snow grips are essential for adding security on slippery winter...
Snow grips are essential for adding security on slippery winter surfaces.
Credit: Sam Willits

Conclusion


After countless hours of testing and scrutinizing the competition, we have compiled a truly comprehensive review of snow grips. From high-end perennial favorites to budget-friendly alternatives, deep snow specialists, to pavement running cleats, this review has something for everyone. Consider your needs based on where you live and what your normal winter activities are, then scroll through our results until you find something in your budget. Thanks for reading, and stay warm out there!

Jeff Dobronyi


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