Skid-proof Your Winter Walking Gear

There’s something about hiking along with a walking staff that adds a touch of class to a hiker’s presence. They are functional in their utility to provide a bit of support and stability over uneven terrain. They are especially useful for winter hiking, and if stout enough, can even serve as a life support aid should you fall through the ice.

If you incorporate a wooden walking staff into your hiking gear, consider making the tip skid-proof so when you plant the end of the staff down onto the ice it won’t kick away because of the hard, very slick surface.

Icespikes are hex-headed inserts with self-cleaning grooves formed into those heads. They easily screw into the tip of a wooden staff and provide a cluster of ice-biting teeth that hold firm on ice, slick rocks and other slippery surfaces where you want the grip of the wooden staff to help you stay sure-footed.

Taking this literally one step further, consider adding these spikes to the frame of your traditional snowshoes, too. Modern, metal/synthetic-framed shoes often have crampon-like cleats built right in. These are great when walking over bare ice or slick, glazed-over slopes. Sometimes in the course of walking with snowshoes, those ominous jaw-like teeth catch on ice chucks and vegetation lying at or below the snow surface.

The wooden frame of a traditional snowshoe frame typically has no traction attachments unless you add a cleat bar or star cleat to the shoe. The Icespikes insert (only 1/2” or 3/8” deep) can be inserted along the frame’s edge near the cross-step brace to provide better traction of wood against ice. Care must be taken to drill shallow starter holes to keep the wood from splitting.

The advantage of these spikes is that they rise up minimally from the frame surface even when plodding through snow, yet provide firm traction when ice is encountered. They are perhaps not suited for serious slope traverse in the high country, but for casual inclines, glazed over trails, etc., they add a level of traction to a snow-shoer’s footing.

These same stud-like inserts were designed for winter runners and can be attached to the sole of almost any shoe, with the same advantages -and limitations – as wearing golf spikes. Crampons, traction chains and other cleat-like aids still work for serious back-country terrain, but for recreational/sports jogging or as applied to wooden snow-shoes and walking staffs, these Icespikes can minimize your slip-sliding away across the ice.

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