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Donaldson, Emmons, Seward...Microspikes?

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  • Donaldson, Emmons, Seward...Microspikes?

    I'm winding down an exceptionally enjoyable summer of 10 or 12 days in the HP's this year. HaBaSa last Saturday was especially fun. I'm a solo guy so I usually use a bit of extra caution and maybe over prepare for the unexpected. I plan on doing Donaldson, Emmons, and Seward this Saturday morning, hitting the trailhead around 5:00-5:30 for an early start, as timing later in the day requires this.

    As temperatures are forecast to be in the low to mid 20's at Saturday morning, I was hoping to benefit from the forum members experience regarding the potential for any icy conditions for the day. I have a borrowed pair of microspikes, although I have never used them. Would it be best to give them a dry run today, or will this be a non issue.

    This forum, combined with all other available materials has made for a very well planned and safe time in the woods for me this Summer. Thank you.

    Steve

    ​​​​​​​

  • #2
    Welcome to the forum.

    Icy? I'd guess not but I'm sure others will chime in. Ground may be a bit hard and perhaps there'd be frost. Not exactly spike conditions.

    Microspikes are easy enough to walk in. You kinda get the feel for them within a few hundred feet. But... putting them on in the field for the first time may take you a while unless you have familiarized yourself with how they sit on your boot. This is important so they don't slip off or have you tripping as you walk if the spikes aren't flush against your boot bottom. First off, I'd make sure they are the proper size for your boot. They're designed to be tight. If you put them on and they feel loose or jangle around a lot then you have the wrong size. Second, I'd try putting them on and taking them off a few times in the comfort of your home. Stretching them to fit and getting them to sit right takes some practice. Once you have it though it becomes second nature. It's just the first couple of times can be frustrating/confusing.

    BTW... what kind of spikes are you borrowing? Different brands and models have different spike lengths. Even if you ran into some slippery/icy conditions there are models that would be total overkill and you'd be walking around mainly on bare rock risking dulling the spikes.

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    • #3
      No, a dry run is exactly why microspikes are bad. They should not touch anything but snow and ice. Or your living room carpet, if you're the homeowner. You can only get experience with them in the slippery conditions anyway. They can fool you, it is true, so be careful. It could be icy, in wet areas. Microspikes are overused. But, I suppose some hikers have problems keeping their feet in under them, so what are you going to do. Early ice on slanted rock may not be the best to find the weaknesses of microspikes out, though. You don't have a nice snow bank to catch you.

      Microspikes when used (although you didn't really say they had been used) could be non-sharp, too, from misuse or a large amount of use maybe. So there is that, too. Sometimes its better to wear them backwards on the downhill, but that is not to say upside down, and really just pointing out that some of them have a lack of traction in the heel area that could send your feet out in front of you. Going down you normally want to be on your forefoot with these things (unless you do turn them around). I haven't used them in over a year, but like I say watch out for Adirondack slanted rock (with ice). It'll probably be more like paying special attention, than putting your life in the hands of microspikes. I wouldn't trust them if you're exposed to a long potential slide. I've never been to those particular mountains, though. Have fun.
      I might be kidding...

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      • #4
        Down low, where it's pretty level, it probably won't be too bad and as you get up, it will probably take you enough time that it will warm up and the sun will come out and maybe ice will be falling off the trees and melting and you won't even need them. I would not do a "dry run" with the spikes. If you're planning on doing more winter/shoulder season hiking, I would invest in my own pair of spikes. This way you know when you bought them and how they are wearing.

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        • #5
          I don't think you'll need them for this hike but it'll be spike season for sure in 1-2 weeks (last year I broke them out on Oct 15 for the upper portion of Marcy).

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          • #6
            I agree with the above. They're pretty inexpensive and very useful; buy your own. Look for sales. Also agree don't take them for a long dry walk, for the reasons cited above.

            Adding: On smooth dry rock, microspikes can be very insecure, much slipperier than your regular footwear rubber soles. I have seen at least one bad fall with a head hit on the ground as a result of wearing spikes on smooth dry rock, which fall would absolutely not have happened without the spikes.

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            • #7
              Everything I needed to know...and more.

              What a fantastic resource for timely information and advice.

              Thank you all.

              sw

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