Monday, November 27, 2023

Kahtoola NANOspikes Review: Icy Winter Roads No Match!

Article by Jeff Valliere

Kahtoola NANOspikes

Sizes XS - XL (US W 5 - US M 13+)


Introduction:  Kahtoola is hands down the best traction company out there with a variety of traction devices to suit your specific needs.  While visiting Flagstaff this year over Spring Break, I (along with my family) was invited for a tour of their headquarters.  We were able to get a close behind the scenes look at their design lab and were really impressed with their practical and forward looking ideas on how to create the most effective traction solutions.  

The newly improved generation 2 Kahtoola NANOspikes are a prime example of that forward thinking innovation, designed for running or walking on more moderate terrain such as icy roads, paths,  and sidewalks.  They have been completely redesigned from the ground up to significantly improve comfort, fit and traction over the previous model.

What’s New:  

Elastomer Harness - The elastomer harness has been completely redesigned, offering a snug and precise fit that can better accommodate a wider range of footwear types and shapes.  The new harness is more pliable and flexible compared to the previous version, making them much easier to slide onto your shoes and overall  it is more accommodating and comfortable.

Integrated Toe Bail - The toe bail has been completely redesigned as well and for me, this is one of the most significant upgrades in terms of comfort and usability.  The previous version’s toe bail would put so much pressure on my toes such that I could barely tolerate them.

Tungsten Carbide Spikes - The new NANOs now feature concave tungsten carbide spikes (10 of them as before) but with the new concave design provide significantly more bite.

Directional Scooped Lugs - the 10 tungsten carbide spikes now sit on top of directional scooped lugs making the traction more pronounced and adding to the bite in snow.

Center Plate Ridges - Increase stability on uneven ice and snow.

Improved Heel Tab - Making them easier to pull on and off.


The NANOspikes are designed for flatter, urban, road running or walking on more smooth consistent surfaces, where conditions consist of ice, packed snow, icy snow, etc…  

The new NANOs are a HUGE improvement over the previous version, as they were completely rebuilt from the ground up.  I found the first version of NANOs quite uncomfortable in the toe with the toe bail being quite constricting and also found traction to only be OK when on very smooth icy roads.  The all new NANOs however have addressed all of my concerns, as they are significantly more comfortable and thus more usable. I wear a size medium for my size 10 shoes and they easily fit over all of my different shoes that vary widely in size (where the previous version was less pliable and a bit more limited as to which shoes they could fit).

For walking and running on icy roads, sidewalks and mellow paths, the NANOs perform very well, utilizing 10 concave studs on top of pronounced lugs.  There are 6 studs on the front plate and 4 on the rear.  This design offers an ideal a low profile feel and seems less obtrusive when running on hard ice surfaces than the EXOspikes, which have 12 studs and articulate better for more rugged and varied terrain.  The studs have excellent bite and are exceptionally durable and do not dull even if you run on stretches of exposed pavement or rock.

To further enhance traction, there are now center plate ridges across the plates to help when running in more mixed snow conditions, addressing a concern I had about the previous version, as the expansive distance across the plate between the studs was problematic, the ridges solve that issue.

Recommendations and Comparisons:

As previously mentioned, NANOspikes are intended for running or walking on icy, snowy slick roads, sidewalks and paths.  I find that they perform OK for walking or hiking on moderately hilly trails, but if you are venturing onto more technical, steep, mountainous terrain, I would strongly consider either the Kahtoola EXOspikes (RTR Review)  or Kahtoola Microspikes (RTR Review).  

EXOspikes have 12 tungsten carbide studs which are not connected to a plate and provide better bite as they can articulate over and around more rugged surfaces as the shoe flexes.  EXOspikes are my preferred choice for typical winter trail conditions around Boulder, where there is an intermittent mix of bulletproof death ice, packed snow, exposed rock and dry sections of trail, often very steep.  

When I know there is more snow and more consistent snow coverage, I will move to the Microspikes with their ⅜ inch spikes, which offer much more bite into snow, but struggle on bare ground and exposed rock.  

EXOspikes and Microspikes though are almost always overkill for more urban running, so the NANOspikes fill that niche perfectly.

Jeff Valliere loves to run and explore the mountains of Colorado, the steeper and more technical the better. He has summited all of the 14ers in the state and can be found on mountain trails daily, no matter the weather, season, conditions or whether there is daylight or not.  On the side he loves to ski (all forms) bike and hike, often with his family, as he introduces his 12 year old daughters to the outdoors. Jeff was born and raised in New Hampshire, but has called Colorado home for over 25 years. He is 5’9” and 145 lbs.

Winter is here! Kahtoola NANOspikes available now.




Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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Jeff Valliere said...


Robbie said...

Great, timely article Jeff.

I was gifted a pair of their EXOSpikes last season (size Large used on my size 10.5 Nike Trail v3, among others), and I experienced that same toe constriction almost every run, reducing my long runs to under 6miles to avoid numb toes. Glad to see they've addressed this issue.

I can see a use for adding Nanospikes.

Thank you.

Jeff Valliere said...

Hi Robbie,

The EXOspikes have not seen any changes, it is just the NANOspikes that have seen the big overall, one change where the toe bail is completely redesigned and not compressing.