Best Ice Cleats for Shoes & Boots – Winter Walking & Hiking Traction
I’m going to recommend what I believe are the best ice cleats for shoes and boots (years of personal experience in northern New Hampshire!). And in addition, the best aggressive crampon / traction cleats for ultimate grip, especially for hiking or mountaineering on icy trails.
Most of this post will describe my experience with STABILicers. Mrs.J and I each have a pair. They get plenty of use around here on the homestead during winter!
However I will first place the three recommendations right up front for your reference:
Best Ice Cleats For Boots
I have a pair of these STABILicers (their latest ‘Maxx’ model) as well as their original Maxx:
STABILicers Maxx 2 Heavy-Duty Traction
STABILicers – all models (made in USA > Maine)
(view on amzn)
>>Jump to WHY I LOVE STABILICERS AS MY OWN BEST ICE CLEATS
- X-Small (fits shoe sizes W6.5-8, M5-6)
- Small (fits shoe sizes W8.5-9.5/M6.5-7.5)
- Medium (fits shoe sizes W10-12, M8-10)
- Large (fits shoe sizes W12+/M10.5-12)
- X-Large (fits shoe sizes M12.5-14)
- XX-Large (fits shoe sizes M14.5-16)
Best Ice Cleats For Shoes
These fit ordinary boots too. But they are well designed to slip on to your shoes for every day outdoor chores on an icy surface. The recommendation is based on well researched 3rd-party testing of 14 different traction devices.
Both of these ice cleats are the same thing, made by the same company. Just different brand names. So pick the one that’s cheaper.
ICETrekkers Diamond Grip
(view on amzn)
Sizing is as follows:
- Small fits men’s shoe size 5 – 6 / women’s shoe size 5 – 7
- Medium fits men’s shoe size 6.5 – 9 / women’s shoe size 7.5 – 10
- Large fits men’s shoe size 9.5 – 12.5 / women’s shoe size 10.5+
- X Large fits men’s shoe size 13+
NOTE: Hiking/Work boots add 1 size to assure proper fit. Oversize/Insulated boots add 2 sizes.
Best Ice Cleats For Hiking & Mountaineering
This Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra design is the most aggressive traction gripper you can get without going “full crampon”.
Multi-angle stainless steel spikes attached to six metal plates all create excellent grip and 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.”
They will fit over shoes or boots.
Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra
(view on amzn)
Hillsound Crampon Size Chart:
Why I Love My STABILicers Ice Cleats
We have been using our STABILicers quite a bit around here. We’ve been using these specific ice cleats for several years. They are still performing like the day we bought them. No damaged or lost cleats.
I intentionally paid more for the best cleats I could find. Why? Because I learned my lesson the hard way. We went through several pairs of cheap ice cleats. They were terrible. Always popping off and losing cleats!
I really liked that these were made in the USA. In my neighboring state of Maine. I love to support made in America when I can.
Listen, it doesn’t take a genius to know the importance of traction on ice and slippery packed snow. Ice cleats provide safety and confidence.
There are plenty of uses for Ice Cleats:
- going out to get the mail
- putting the garbage out
- doggy potty duty
- ice fishing
- taking a walk
- any outdoor chore!
Let me tell you something… All it takes is one fall on the ice or snow and you could break a bone, a hip, or even suffer a concussion. This is serious, so you should take it seriously. Get yourself some cleats for your boots!
These are my STABILicers (original) Maxx
Why are these one of the best ice cleats?
Easy on, Easy off
Adjustable Velcro straps for the toe and for the heel make it very easy to get these cleats to fit. Some of my issues with other types of ice cleats include a general poor fit (rubber stretching over the boot – but never seemed to fit securely).
Once you’ve adjusted the Velcro toe strap you can just leave it that way. It will slip on and off your boot with ease.
What I really like is the rear Velcro strap which wraps around the heel of the boot as pictured.
Easy on, Easy off! These cleats are going to stay on the boot and not fall off!
Incredible grip on the ice
The most important job of the cleat is traction, and these cleats are great at it. You can see in the picture how rugged these cleats are, and let me tell you they grip VERY securely as you walk. These cleats do not look like they will wear out anytime soon, that’s for sure…
ice cleat tread pattern
Full ‘Vibram’ soles
Heavy duty full sole supports the boot itself.
These STABILicers use a proprietary ‘Vibram’ sole design which makes this boot cleat ‘solid’. Unlike other ice cleats, these are designed such that the entire sole (with it’s unique tread) and attached cleats are doing all the gripping work. Your boots simply are strapped to them.
Best reputation and reviews
When looking for any product it’s good to read about what others are saying.
TIP: Take ice cleats off if walking on concrete. They tend to slip and cannot gain traction on that type of surface! Common sense: remove while indoors.
(This post has been updated to reflect latest recommendations)
You mentioned these a few days a little while ago, I think, good to have some more information!
I have a couple of pairs of YakTrax Pros and have been looking for something a little better — my boot size falls in between the medium and large (and different boots are slightly different sizes), and neither one seems to fit as well as I’d like.
Will have to give these a try!
I keep a pair of ice cleats permanently on one pair of boots. They work great. Then one day I was walking to a car parked inside a garage and slipped. The concrete floor had been painted. The cleats slid right out from under me. Lesson learned.
I assume that was southern humor! You have to travel north and experience some 10 to 20 below zero with 20-30 mph wind chill, invigorating!
I worked two winters on the North Slope where 20 below was a warm day.
At 40 below we had to stop flying our helicopters since the cold would make the metal brittle and could crack in flight.
I have several different styles of ice cleats including the hex head type. WARNING take them off on smooth concrete floors or when you go into the grocery store.
As a side note in 1965 when I turned 16 and living in PA. I purchased a new set of recapped snow tires with very deep logs.
I went to the hardware store and bought some small hex head screws and put them into the lugs of the tires. Surprisingly they did stay into the tire. Years later someone invented studs for tires.
We used to do the same on our 4wd tires!
The family owned a sheet metal Shop so 1/4″ screwes were plentiful. We’d put them every other lug on the outer edge of the tread.
Back in 70 what ever durring the big blizzard we had no troubles getting around.
The 4wd club worked with the highway patrol and would go out to help people that were stuck or needed evacuated.
This is a timely article as I was snowblowing my driveway just the other day and took a pretty good fall after stepping on some ice that was under the fresh snow.
Fortunately, I’m still young enough that all I got out of it was a weeks’ worth of soreness. It could have been much, much worse as I lost complete control of the snowblower when I went down.
Luckily I was on a slope and the ice took the snowblower downhill away from me. Had I broken anything I would have been laid out until my wife wondered why I hadn’t come back in. Lying in ice and snow for an hour with a broken back is no way to start the morning.
Nice! I’m in NH too, and just caught a fall on the messy ice crust cover we have right now. Wearing decent boots that normally are fine paired with caution, but these look great. I havent had good luck with inexpensive cleats either.
Timely article! Having had to do the “ice dance” while holding onto the snow blower a few days ago, on our very wide(and steep) driveway, the Yaktrax my daughter suggested, only added to the Pregnant-Polar-Bear-Dancing, I treated the neighbors to….
After breaking a knee cap vertically in July 2016, my OrthoDoc, told me, “Now come winter, I want you(emphasis on ME) to be extremely careful walking on ice and snow. Ya don’t want to break a hip!” He was alluding to the fact that I’ve got some arthritis starting to show up in the joints (age related and youthful indiscretions), so, I can “appreciate” being able to NOT have to do the “ice dance” on the blasted driveway.
Of course, I didn’t get the thermonuclear powered snow blower, (cheap and foolish decision) so, I’m “on the ice” a lot this winter of more “normal” snowfall. Have 14 feet only piled up by the snow plow at the end of the road in our front yard. We are in the Intermountain West, and the snowfall is being classified this year as “more normal”.
Gone through 150lbs of Ice Melt already and the “season” isn’t over by a long shot….gotta order me some traction helpers tomorrow.
Oh, yeah, forgot to mention the street is ALL downhill from my driveway, so I could theoretically if the ice is right, end up a block or so (in distance away) when I slip and fall again….Yeehaw!
Finally got a pair and after two days I can say they are outstanding! Just ordered a pair for my wife. Thanks for the tip.
Love these cleats! Well worth it! They actually stay on (unlike many others).
Put them on my Amazon list. This is an item not needed here in the south very often, but an item that I would consider as insurance.
Bought a set of these a few weeks ago and they are awesome! The heel to toe length was great using Ken’s chart above. Had to make one modification though…when using them with Keen insulated boots, the Velcro strap that came over the top of the boot only overlapped about a half inch or so. Had a tailor stitch a three inch section of two-sided Velcro to extend it. It worked fine! Just passing that along if any of you run into that situation…guess I need to work on my sewing skills! Hope all is well with everybody here…:-)
To clarify, it’s the strap that comes from the heel… :-)
It is so nice to finally fit into something called “extra small”!
The towns people in Cordova, Alaska used icecleats because no one shoveled their sidewalks and they were all ice. I am surprised no one ever got sued.
In Wasilla, Alaska I had a steep driveway to the house and my husband used his golf shoes with spikes to walk on the ice. They worked great.
HAHAHA, did you look at those suckers? they ARE flip flops :-) :-)
I was wondering the same thing,, maybe for extra traction at the boat ramp,,,
We have gravel all around the house. Last year we took our drag behind the ATV and drug as much property as possible to break up the ice. It was brutal in the redoubt, but only slipped once for a strained shoulder.. This year has been so mild that my daffodils already are budding up. But no guarantees on next years snow and ice so I’ll save these to my wish list.
Can,t say enough good about my cleats. I use mine for ice fishing. I could go on and on but for durability, performance and comfort these are top notch. Trust me, get a pair and you will love them. I don,t know why it took so long for me to find THE BEST ICE CLEATS ON THE MARKET!!!
Thanks for your opinion James. I went for years with those cheaper ice cleats that you can buy just about anywhere. They kept popping off my boots at random times. Pain in the arss. I agree that the STABILicers are THE best! I’ve had them for several years so far without any negative issues at all.
I have been using my STABLIicer ice cleats recently, and I realized another benefit as I was walking with them:
They help keep your feet just a little bit warmer than otherwise.
When walking on icy surfaces (e.g. ice fishing, or wherever) those substantial cleats lift you off the ground. Only the cleats are making contact. Less surface area of the cold ground transferring to your boots!
Also, the thick rubber sole is an insulator all by itself.
I think they stopped making them. Too bad because i really like them. If i find a new source, I’ll update the links.
Looked at them, and they are a slip on type of cleats. Not sure this is what everyone is looking for so will have to keep looking for a tie on design.
So, they are not good for slippery wood floors eh,,,,,
I bought a pair of these for everyone in my immediate family seven years ago. As Mrs. U says, we don’t need these regularly in the South, but back then, I had twice had to walk halfway home from work when my car got stuck behind others’ cars that wouldn’t make it up some icy hills. Ended up pretty much sliding on my rear end part of the way just so I wouldn’t fall. The Stabilicers worked GREAT to keep me from slipping around at the next ice storm.
I used 3 different brands and tested them for the FS, and I found them to be excellent in soft ice conditions. However they were not good on hard smooth ice, with temps at -20 below or more. The cleats had to have sharp points to work well.
When I did ice motorcycling many years ago, I put special small stainless steel screws on the tire knobbies, pointed on both sides, pointed side out. This gripped any ice.
My preferred Ice cleats are Hillsound Trail Crampon – Ice Traction Device/Crampons, 11 Carbon Steel Spikes. These will reach through the snow that is on ice. Going strong for 3 years so far. Easy on and off, “just don’t walk on any floor with them” as they will poke holes.
Thanks for posting again Ken.
I picked up a little 3’ x 4’ cotton throw rug that I keep in the car when it’s icy. I toss it down to step onto when getting out of or into the car. No more slipping and losing my balance while maneuvering.
I was issued yak traxx by a state agency I worked for. With sometimes 36 ” snow at 7100 ft it melts during the day and makes it dangerous as it freezes back over at night( I worked 3rd shift on patrol and alarm response and ID at the ECP in mornings) it made for interesting predicaments. Personally I have traxx and Vasque for winter excursions.