The Best Shoe Cleats for Hiking in Denver
Hiking in snowy and icy conditions can be perilous. I’ve tried many cleats over the years, and I finally have a favorite that I trust after using them for two years. Here is my product review Korkers Ultra Ice Cleats.
The Perils of Urban Walking
I am an urban walker, taking morning walks of 2-3 miles daily on sidewalks and streets of varying quality, width, and traffic. Although there is public removal of ice and snow throughout winter, the surfaces can be ice covered, snow packed and slick. My shoe of choice now for the winter is the Teva Gateway (the Merrell Capra is pictured here), but they can’t manage all the conditions in which I walk. Enter the Korkers Ultra Ice Cleats, which I’ve worn for two years now.
Why Are Korkers So Great?
Fashioned out of rubber with a set of small studded spikes sticking out of the bottom, I was a bit skeptical they’d keep me upright. The first thing I noticed was the convenience of attaching them to my shoes. Just put the toe in first and loop the heel around the rear of the shoe. I loved that I could put them on while standing on the ice. I didn’t have to sit down to install them.
The default setting on the Korkers beautifully fit my ladies size 8, so I didn’t need to adjust them. But in full review matter, I did play with the adjustments and found them relatively easy to manipulate. In addition, my shoes have a very durable and rough bottom. The Korkers had no problem fitting the sole of the Merrells or the Tevas. I strapped them onto my Merrells and struck out.
Will I Fall?
I began my walk on well-shoveled sidewalks, and I found the bottoms of my feet were a bit uncomfortable adjusting to the new feel of the bottom of my shoe. Although I didn’t feel any of the spike hardware, the Korkers created a new foot bed feel that required my feet to work a bit harder. I soon discovered, though, that once I hit the snow pack and the ice, my shoes became quite comfortable again and I didn’t even notice the extra hardware at all.
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My morning walk took me almost three miles. While on the snow pack and snow patches, my feet were comfortable and my gait changed nary a bit. When coming to the transitions between sidewalk and street where slush, ice cubes and ice sheets froze together for a treacherous pass, I became quite hesitant. These areas I would never attempt with just the grip of my shoes. But with the Korkers, I sailed right through. Granted, I slowed my gait, but the Korkers dug in and I was able to safely and securely get across 2-3 feet wide ice patches without a slip.
Good on Packed Snow, But What About Ice?
About midway through my walk, my left foot started to slip. The conditions weren’t any different from what I had already experienced, so I was a bit perplexed why I was suddenly losing my grip. When I lifted my left heel, I discovered that the Korker had displaced itself from the bottom of my sole and the cleats had moved around to the back of my heel. I simply moved them back into place. This happened twice. I considered making an adjustment to the fit, but I decided against it since my right foot was working so well. Looking back, I think the left sole became displaced from walking through 1 foot deep snow as I transitioned from an un-shoveled area to an icy area.
When I got to the icy area in the picture above, I have to say that my heart skipped a beat. I can guarantee you I would not walk the icy path above without cleats. You’d find me walking in the snow pack to the left of the trail or not at all. But with the Korkers on, I bravely traversed this icy mess of melt and remelt. I had zero problems at all.
How Do My Korkers Look After Two Years?
Here’s a picture after two years of wear. I’d say I’ve walked about 50 miles in these Korkers, and they still look great. They still fit snugly, I have yet to adjust their settings, and the spikes are still spike-y. I have yet to replace any of the spikes. You can see in the image that one of the spikes is showing a bit of wear, and the rubber is in great shape.
SOOO Excited about the New Korkers Commuter
At Outdoor Retailer this year, I stopped by Korkers’ booth to see what was new. I complained to them about two scenarios I run into all the time: the first scenario is a dry trail for long distances, then icy trail for sections. The second scenario is walking in the city on nicely cleared sidewalks only to come to awful transition zones at intersections with messy icy and snowball-y conditions generated by plows and snow melt.
They had the perfect solution! They handed me the new Korkers Commuter. It’s designed for the heel portion of your shoe. Its flexible design allows you to move the cleats up and down off your shoe as you need them. You can quickly put the cleats back in place when you need them. I demonstrate in my video below.
I am loving these new Commuters! I use them to walk my dog on snowy evenings, when I go on a winter-y urban hike, and during the spring in the mountains when trail conditions can be both gorgeous and awful in a 100-yard stretch.
Get a Pair of Korkers
You can get your Korkers on Amazon.
Here is the link for the full Korkers.
Here is the link for the Commuter.
My final product review Korkers: I give Korkers an A. Convenient, affordable, and effective, Korkers safely allowed me to pace at about 18:30 a mile in snow and icy conditions while keeping me from slipping, falling, or cracking my head on the ice here in Denver. Although I haven’t used the new Commuter for as long as my original Korkers, they are trending in my review as an A as well.
Disclaimer: Korkers were given to me by Walk2Connect as a tool I need to lead free walks in Denver. I did not pay for my Korkers, nor is this review influenced by this gift from Korkers to Walk2Connect.