My New Favorite Way to Run In Snow

Update 12/19/16: I wrote this post nearly six years ago, and today I went for a run in the Kahtoolas again. They are still working great and remain one of my favorite gear purchases ever! A pic from today:

Kahtoolas on Hokas

My spikes on my Hokas overlooking Mammoth Lakes. Six years old, these things still work great!

Whenever we return from a snowy destination, people ask, “Did you ski?”

You mean, did I grapple with rental gear, shell out big bucks for a ticket, stand in a long line, and sit on a cold chair lift—just to swoosh down a hill in less time than it takes to run a mile?

No, I ran!

My snowshoes before I lost them.

In the past, I used these Atlas snowshoes. I’d strap ’em on and run for miles on groomed roads or powder. Sadly, I managed to lose them a couple of weeks ago. It’s a long story that involves our kids sledding tandem on a snowboard down a forest road. I freaked out about the slim possibility that they might snowboard-sled into oncoming traffic, and when I tried to catch up to them, I must’ve forgotten to put the snowshoes back in the car.  They (the snowshoes, not the kids) probably are buried in snow by that aspen-lined riverside road in Southwestern Colorado (sigh).

Fortunately, at around the same time I lost the snowshoes, I discovered a traction device even better for snow running: Kahtoola Microspikes. They won’t prevent you from sinking in fresh powder, but they’ll let you run on icy and hard-packed snowy trails as naturally and easily as running on a dry road. They cost a little over $60.

I strapped the spikes on my trail running shoes and hit the snow.

What do you think—snowshoes vs. spikes? Kahtoolas vs. other traction devices? Go on and share your ideas and favorite destinations for a fun run in the snow.

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6 Responses to My New Favorite Way to Run In Snow

  1. Margaret January 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    Loved the video and kahtoola microspikes! I ran a 10K snowshoe event in Atlas way back when and although it was tons of fun I imagine the spikes would have been a hell of a lot easier! You’ve inspired me to try out a run next weekend while in Tahoe. Some lucky hiker will sure be happy to find your snowshoes this spring…

  2. David Lavender February 13, 2011 at 9:04 am #


    Am having lots of fun trolling through the new website (which is fantastic–I hope this really takes off as it deserves a wide readership). Couldn’t resist commenting on this post for three reasons: 1) LOVE the video of you and the Tedster (we miss you guys!); 2) As you know, I found your Atlas showshoes while ‘earning some turns’ on my snowboard up by Woods Lake the other weekend–they’re here waiting for your return (which I hope is soon); and 3) The Kahtoolas have proved a godsend while clearing the drive (which, you should know, takes me more time to shovel from end to end than it does for you to finish a marathon!).



  3. Peter Touborg Jensen February 15, 2011 at 6:39 am #

    Hi Sarah.

    What is you experince with the microspikes regarding size when using them for running?
    I am size US 11½. Should I go for the Medium or the Large as the sizing guide recommends. I think maybe the L will hang loose om my running shoe.
    What sizes do you use shoe + microspikees?
    Nice video :o)

    Peter Touborg Jensen, Denmark.

    • Sarah February 15, 2011 at 7:01 am #

      Hi Peter – I’d get the large. I am a 9.5US and 40UK, and the medium fit me. I got my brother the Large and he has around your size, and they work well for him.

  4. Jean Pommier March 4, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

    Sarah, great tip about snow running. Definitely a big difference between micro spikes and snowshoe. In Tahoe last week, the snow was fresh and a few feet deep so snowshoes were more appropriate, to walk anyway. But on packed snow, micro spikes is what you want to run!
    Have a fun end of winter,

  5. Ken March 27, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    We discovered these last year – simply awesome in hard pack, ice and well travelled trails. Not so sweet in deep powder. I am a 10 1/2 US, and I had had size large. They fit my hiking boots fine, but were loose on my trail runners. I had to borrow my wife’s mediums for a ski area up and down race. Mine got lost along the way, so I replaced them with mediums which work on both shoes.

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