should i get ice cleats with crampon style spikes or chains
should i get ice cleats with crampon style spikes or chains

Are you faced with the dilemma of choosing between ice cleats with crampon-style spikes or chains? Well, fear not, because we’ve got you covered! When it comes to navigating icy terrain, having the right footwear can make all the difference. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of both options, highlighting their features and benefits to help you make an informed decision. So, whether you’re planning a winter hike or simply need some extra traction on icy sidewalks, keep reading to discover which option is best suited for your needs.

What are ice cleats?

Ice cleats are traction devices that are worn over shoes or boots to improve traction on icy or slippery surfaces. They are designed to reduce the risk of slipping and falling, providing stability and increased confidence when walking, running, or climbing in icy conditions.

Definition of ice cleats

Ice cleats are devices or attachments that are worn over footwear to provide traction on icy surfaces. They typically feature spikes or chains that dig into the ice, snow, or other slippery surfaces, allowing for better grip and stability.

Purpose of ice cleats

The primary purpose of ice cleats is to prevent slips and falls on icy terrain. By providing additional traction, ice cleats help individuals maintain their balance and stability, reducing the risk of injuries caused by accidental falls. Ice cleats are especially useful for outdoor activities such as hiking, running, or climbing in winter conditions.

Crampon-style spikes

Overview of crampon-style spikes

Crampon-style spikes are a type of ice cleats that feature sharp metal spikes or points that resemble the traditional crampons used in mountaineering. These spikes are strategically placed on the sole of the cleats to provide excellent traction on icy or snowy surfaces. They are usually made of durable materials such as stainless steel or tungsten carbide.

Advantages of crampon-style spikes

Crampon-style spikes offer several advantages. Firstly, they provide superior grip on icy terrain, as the sharp spikes penetrate and dig into the ice, providing excellent traction. This makes them ideal for steep or uneven terrain where maximum grip is required. Additionally, crampon-style spikes are often more durable and long-lasting compared to other types of ice cleats.

Disadvantages of crampon-style spikes

While crampon-style spikes offer excellent traction, they may not be suitable for all environments. The sharp spikes can pose a risk when walking on indoor or delicate surfaces, potentially causing damage or leaving marks. Additionally, the spikes can be uncomfortable and cumbersome to wear for extended periods, especially on flat or dry surfaces.


Overview of chains

Chains are another type of ice cleats that provide traction by using metal chains or links. These chains wrap around the sole of the footwear, creating a web-like pattern that grips onto icy or slippery surfaces. The chains are typically made of stainless steel or other durable materials to ensure longevity and effectiveness.

Advantages of chains

One of the main advantages of chains is their versatility. Unlike crampon-style spikes, chains are suitable for a wide range of terrains, including icy, snowy, or mixed surfaces. They also perform well on rocky terrain, making them a popular choice for hikers. Chains are generally more lightweight and flexible than crampon-style spikes, providing ease of movement and comfort.

Disadvantages of chains

Chains may not provide the same level of traction as crampon-style spikes on extremely icy or steep surfaces. The grip of chains depends on the number and thickness of the links, so they may not dig as deeply into the ice. Additionally, chains can be more prone to wear and tear, requiring more frequent replacement compared to crampon-style spikes.

Factors to consider

When choosing ice cleats, it is essential to consider various factors that will determine their suitability for your specific needs. These factors include the terrain you will be encountering, the activity you will be engaging in, the durability of the cleats, the cost, and the ease of use.


The type of terrain you will encounter plays a significant role in determining the most suitable ice cleats for your needs.

  • Ice: If you will be predominantly walking or running on smooth, icy surfaces, crampon-style spikes are often the best choice. Their sharp spikes can grip into the ice, providing excellent traction.
  • Snow: For snowy terrains, both crampon-style spikes and chains can be effective. Chains tend to perform well on packed or uneven snow, while crampon-style spikes offer better grip on icy patches or hard-packed snow.
  • Mixed: If you will be encountering a combination of ice, snow, and other slippery surfaces, a hybrid cleat that combines crampon-style spikes and chains can provide versatile traction.
  • Rocky: If your activities involve hiking or climbing on rocky surfaces, chains are often the preferred choice. The chain webbing can grip onto uneven terrain, providing stability and preventing slippage.


Different activities require specific types of ice cleats to ensure optimal performance and safety.

  • Hiking: Hiking activities generally involve uneven and varied terrain, including rocks, snow, and ice. Crampon-style spikes or hybrid cleats with a combination of spikes and chains are recommended for hiking, as they offer excellent traction on different surfaces.
  • Running: For running on icy or snowy surfaces, lightweight and flexible cleats are ideal. Chains are often more suitable for runners, providing moderate traction without compromising comfort or agility.
  • Climbing: When engaging in ice climbing or mountaineering activities, the terrain is usually steep and icy. Crampon-style spikes are essential for these activities, as they provide the necessary grip and stability required for vertical ascents.


The durability of ice cleats depends on the materials used and the construction of the cleats.

  • Material: Look for ice cleats made of durable materials such as stainless steel or tungsten carbide. These materials are resistant to corrosion and can withstand the harsh conditions encountered on icy terrains.
  • Construction: Pay attention to the way the cleats are constructed. Reinforced joints, sturdy fasteners, and high-quality craftsmanship contribute to the durability of the cleats.


The cost of ice cleats varies depending on the brand, quality, and features. It is essential to consider the value for money when making a purchase.

  • Price range: Ice cleats can range in price from affordable options to more premium and higher-priced models. Consider your budget and balance it with the need for durability and performance that suits your intended activities.
  • Value for money: Assess the overall quality, durability, and features of the ice cleats. It is often worth investing in a reliable and long-lasting pair, as they will provide better value in the long run and ensure your safety.

Ease of use

Consider how easy the ice cleats are to put on and remove, as well as their adjustability to fit different shoe sizes.

  • Putting on and removing: Look for ice cleats that have a straightforward and quick attachment method. Adjustable straps or buckles can make it easier to secure the cleats tightly to your footwear.
  • Adjustability: Ice cleats that are adjustable in size are more versatile and can be shared among different individuals. Consider the range of shoe sizes a particular model can accommodate.

Personal preference and experience

In addition to considering the factors mentioned above, personal preference and previous experience with ice cleats are essential factors to consider.

Previous experience

If you have previous experience using ice cleats, take note of what worked well for you and what didn’t. Reflect on the environments and activities where certain types of cleats provided better traction and comfort.


Consider your level of comfort when wearing different types of ice cleats. Some individuals may prefer the lightweight and flexibility of chains, while others may find the stability and grip offered by crampon-style spikes more comforting.

In conclusion, when choosing between ice cleats with crampon-style spikes or chains, it is crucial to consider the terrain, activity, durability, cost, ease of use, personal preference, and previous experience. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages, so selecting the right ice cleats will ensure your safety and enjoyment during winter activities.