I've always been a huge fan of Vibram outsoles for any shoes I'm hitting the trail with. The reliable grip offered by this brand is tough to beat. When I found out that Vibram now makes a special version of their outsole that's made specifically for winter conditions, I was immediately looking forward to giving it a try.
Donning my Danner Mountain 600 boots, I hit the iconic Manitou Incline in snowy, icy conditions to give the Vibram Arctic Grip outsole a fair shake. This was also my first time taking these insulated snow boots on a more strenuous climb, though temperatures in the teens provided the perfect opportunity.
I could bore you with a relatively uneventful story of me climbing to the top of 2,768 steps, but instead I'll keep it short and sweet – the Vibram 'Arctic Grip' outsoles performed perfectly on slick snowy and icy sections. I even tested them on a couple snow-covered downhill segments and found them to be equally as effective.
On top of that, I was also happy with how the Danner Mountain 600s performed in the situation. While insulated, my feet weren't too hot or sweaty, despite the steep climb. It's also worth noting that the boots didn't get uncomfortable despite the repetitive uphill stepping.
While some situations will still warrant additional traction, the Vibram 'Arctic Grip' outsole seems to offer a great in-between option that means more winter utility than the typical hiking boot without requiring additional traction equipment. I found that the Danner Mountain 600s were overall a great fit for this hike, likely to make this my go-to shoe for around town and easy-to-moderate hiking when fresh snowfall is on the ground.
The Manitou Incline is located just outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado, consisting of 2,768 wooden steps with roughly 2,000 feet of elevation gain in less than a mile. It's a strenuous hike that attracts outdoor recreation enthusiasts from across the country. A reservation is currently required to hike this trail. More information can be found here.
GALLERY: Snapshots of the Manitou Incline