Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Gear Closet: Yaktrax Summit Traction Cleats Review

A good pair of winter boots is essential for our outdoor activities during the snowier months of the year, but even the best footwear can struggle to maintain traction on slick surfaces covered in snow and ice. Thankfully, you can always add a pair of Yaktrax to your gear closet to help you maintain your footing when out for a run, walk,  or even just commuting to work. Traditionally however, Yaktrax hasn't offered a more technical option for those of us who venture further afield during the winter months, as their more lightweight options didn't always fare all that well when wandering in the backcountry. That all changed with the introduction of the Yaktrax Summit however, giving more adventurous hikers an option that isn't quite as technical as a crampon, but still provides plenty of traction when you need it most.

The Summit is by far the most advanced and technical product that Yaktrax has created to date. While most of the company's products simply pull on over your shoes and and are held in place by thin straps or elastic bands, the Summit actually uses a Boa lacing system to adjust the fit. This allows hikers to truly dial in the exact tension they need, then lock the crampon in place without fear of it slipping off. In real world testing, this proved far more effective, particularly when hitting a trail. While I've seldom had issues with Yaktrax's products on pavement, they've sometimes run into issues when using them staying on my boots in the backcountry. That isn't the case here, with the Summit locking into place and staying there.

Armed with 12 carbon spikes – each 3/8 of an inch deep – the Summit can provide outstanding traction on crusty snow and hard ice. Those spikes have a triangular shape that allows them to dig in on the ascent as well, providing a much better grip on uphill climbs. And because they weigh just 11 ounces each, the Summits don't add a lot of weight to your shoes either, allowing the wearer to travel surprisingly fast and nimbly, even on slick surfaces.


Easy to take on and off, the Yaktrax Summit are designed to move with your feet, providing a lot more flexibility than standard crampons. They also do a solid job of not collecting too much snow and ice as you walk in them, so as a result they tend to continue to perform well even after using them for several hours out on the trail.

Make no mistake, these traction spikes aren't designed to replace true mountaineering crampons, and those making alpine ascents will definitely want something more technical for those adventures. But, for hikers and backpackers heading for the backcountry, the Yaktrax Summits are a great option. They are compatible with just about any hiking shoe or boot, they lock into place easily, and the provide a substantial increase in traction on hard, slick surfaces.

They also happen to be the best product I've tested from Yaktrax, with great build quality and excellent design. These spikes feel very solid in your hand and offer a higher level of durability than some of the other items in the Yaktrax catalog. Then again, they are aimed at a different crowd, where durability and performance are a much higher priority.

Priced at $90, the Summits are twice as expensive as anything else in the Yaktrax catalog. But, for those who need this kind of traction, they are still a great buy. Less expensive and more versatile than true crampons, yet still rugged enough for use in difficult environments, the Yaktrax Summits fit into a happy medium somewhere between pricier and highly technical options, and the lightweight, inexpensive products that don't perform well on remote trails. They even come with a handy carrying bag for stowing in a backpack or keeping them organized at home. That bag could be a tad larger, but it is a nice touch none the less.

If you've been looking for traction spikes that are affordable, durable, and versatile, while offering a higher level of performance, this is the product for you. For anyone who spends time in the backcountry during the winter months, this is a must have item to have at their disposal. Try them once, and you'll be glad they are in your gear closet.

Buy the Yaktrax Summit at REI.

3 comments:

Barry Goldstein said...

Not sure what the advantage of these are over Kahtoola Microspikes, which are cheaper, less fussy, indestructible, and very very effective. Comparison ?

Barry Goldstein said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kraig Becker said...

I'm a big fan of Kahtoola Microspikes as well. They work great, and I usually recommend them over Yaktrax for day-to-day usage. But the Yaktrax Summit is more aggressive than what Kahtoola has to offer, and like I mentioned in the review, is closer to a mini-crampon than something you'd pull on for a trail run or light hiking. These are better for more serious backcountry pursuits, but they are certainly not needed by everyone. They are overkill for those who just want a little extra traction.