ICEtrekkers Diamond Grip
These cleats offer an unusual traction design that can bite into ice and snow, but they still allow you to walk across asphalt without causing a lot of damage to the pavement or the traction device itself.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $43.
Spiked, rotating beads underfoot are what make the ICEtrekkers Diamond Grip cleats the most versatile traction option we found, as they can reasonably navigate a lot of mixed terrain. (This set is often also sold under the brand name Yaktrax.) They meld to ice patches and bite into hard snow, and because the beads rotate, they even shed softer snow before it can build up underfoot. And because the spikes are not as aggressive as those on a traction device built specifically for hiking in the wilderness, they’re easier to use on pavement. That’s really important, because if you live somewhere wintry, taking out the trash on an icy Tuesday night should not be a harrowing experience. Likewise, if you’re fond of going for a walk in the woods in winter, these cleats offer plenty of grip. As with every other model we tried, each Diamond Grip is attached to a rubber harness that slips on over the outside of your shoe, so these cleats will work with any shoe you have, and you can remove and ditch them at the door before you enter a house or store.
Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra
The 18 stainless steel spikes on the Trail Crampon Ultra pair keep you steady when you have nothing underfoot but loads of snow or pure ice.
For backcountry hikers, the Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra set offers the biggest and most plentiful spikes underfoot. The spikes are arranged at different angles to provide traction no matter which way your weight is distributed, so you’ll maintain grip walking both up and down hills. Those spikes are attached to six small metal plates, which also create traction. Despite the name, the Trail Crampon Ultra is not a pair of actual crampons, which are rigid devices that mountaineers use to traverse hard or vertical ice. Instead, this Hillsound design is the most hardcore underfoot gripper you can get without going full crampon, attached with a heavy-duty rubber harness that fits over shoes or boots.
The lightweight traction on this pair is provided by 10 small tungsten-carbide spikes that stick into the black ice and mixed snow typically found on winter asphalt.
If your winter activities are strictly limited to city streets, you may need only a lightweight pair of spikes that will keep you steady when the asphalt gets treacherous. Our favorite spikes are the Kahtoola NANOspikes, which offer a lot more grip than a simple metal coil would and also stand up to more wear and tear. Though the 10 spikes underfoot are made from a material much harder than stainless steel, they are short, so when you walk off that ice and onto dry pavement you won’t severely damage the ground or your spikes. Carbide spikes are lighter underfoot than the chains and steel spikes found on backcountry models, so this Kahtoola set is also the pair we recommend for road running in winter, when small patches of ice on the road threaten dire consequences.