Snowpack Build-up Under Micro Spikes, Crampons, Traction Devices

Traveling on snow in spring or even dead of winter when the temps rise the snow gets sticky and clomps together building up under the bottom of my micro spikes! In short order I’m dangerously walking on high heels possibly causing me to stumble and fall! I find myself stopping ever few minutes to stomp my boots shaking off the clods of icy snow! At times not an easy task when on the steep slopes.

So my question are there any micro spikes or crampons that are designed to prevent this ice up or packed snow build up? Or maybe there’s a tick of spraying on some chemical of sorts?


I don’t use micro spikes, but I do x-country skiing. There is a product called ‘glide wax’, that sprays on the base and will stop build up of snow. If you went into, or looked at a skiing outfitter, they’d suggest something that should work.


My Kahtoola KTS crampons have SRS which is Snow Release Skin, a rubbery sheet that goes over the base and is meant to aid release of build up. I haven’t used them enough on softer surfaces to know if they work or not. I do know they were an extra when I bought the crampons and the tote bag to carry them. Irrespective of whether the skins work, the tote bag (which cost about $25) works brilliantly.

Anti balling plates, available for most crampons

Back in the day we just used to wack them with an ice axe !


I remember the ice axe routine. :slightly_smiling_face: Take about ten steps, left foot out, swing the handle of the ice axe against the inside of the boot, then same for the other side. Ugh.


When I was a poor student, I used a couple of plastic sliced-bread bags and put the crampons inside the bags before putting them on the boots. The spikes poked through the bags, worked at keeping the snow from building up, and lasted a surprisingly long time (hours).
This idea might give you a low-cost test if you want to get the supplier-approved “Snow Release Skin”


Second vote for the Grivel anti balling device. I use them on G-10s. The fold up version Grivel walking spikes also have them fitted.

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But those anti-bale plates designed for crampons won’t work on micro-spikes.


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In the past for crampons I used cut up bleach bottle on the bottoms. Worked ok for what it was.


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Some imitation stick on carbon fibre could be cut to shape and then stuck on the crampon from either side. Duck tape might work as well. Not sure how long it would last.
73 de Matt

I was thinking that standing on a couple of bits of polyethylene cut from milk bottles might be good.

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I would think they would the same as what I did.


So far I’ve not had this problem of snow accumulating under my Diamond Grip traction devices (sold by Yak Trax, available through various sources online). These are the ones that fit over your boots, with steel cables strung with special hardened steel beads with diamond-shaped sharp edges. I’ve used these for years, and have gone hundreds of miles with them, often in soft snow at the temperatures where it sticks together.

Diamond Grips are effective for hiking in icy conditions, across frozen trails, lumpy and smooth ice, frozen creeks, lakes, etc. They’re not perfect, and they lose some of their effectiveness after lots of use. The beads gradually become less sharp - avoid long treks across rocks. They do a good job with few problems, as long as you are reasonable and don’t push your luck. At my age they are essential for winter travel on icy trails.

I have had the problem with ice balling on snowshoes, mostly on the metal claws. The balls of ice become hard and are very difficult to break up. They can grow to several inches in diameter, and they can hurt your ankles if you continue to walk on them for long.

The conditions that cause the ice balls to form are when the air is at or below freezing, usually in the shade, and the snow is still soft and wet from being in the sun earlier. This is usually in late afternoon on a sunny day. Some snowshoes have the problem more than others, depending on the shape and metal used for the claws.

Hopefully others can offer cures for this problem, because it’s a real worry when conditions start the process of icing. Kicking the ice off early helps, but it’s awkward and frustrating.

So far I haven’t experienced this icing with Diamond Grips. I suspect it’s because the chains and beads are mostly plated steel, which conducts heat poorly, compared to the aluminum used on some snowshoe claws.

Perhaps some of the remedies described here might work for snowshoes. Snowshoes are often manufactured with sheet plastic covering parts of the metal claws.

73 and Happy Snow Hiking!


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Glide wax or spray, stops most icing up.

Available on-line and/or a Ski shop.

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