AccessoriesGear ReviewsTrail

Black Diamond Distance Spike Performance Review

What You Need To Know

  • 4.01 oz per device (115 g)
  • 14 stainless steel 8 mm spikes
  • Priced at $99.95
  • Imagine running as an Abominable Snowman

ALEX: The Black Diamond Distance Spike is a lightweight, packable traction device designed to support fast mountain travel. They’re a wonderful tool and have quickly earned themselves a permanent space in my pack and recently, on my feet. 

TAYLOR: If you’ve ever had an experience like me you probably hold a really high standard for traction on the trail. A few years back, I was trotting down the trail when a sheet of ice surprised me under a fresh coat of snow, and I slipped, hitting the back of my head on the ice. Traction and confidence are important during the snowy months, and the Black Diamond Distance Spike provides just that.


The Good

ALEX: Weighing in at just 230 g a pair for a size medium, the Distance Spike is thoughtfully designed for trail runners, by trail runners. To say that I’m excited about these is an understatement. Compared to the 338 g MICROspikes, the drop in weight will allow me to add exactly 5 Reese’s peanut butter cups to my pack. For any of you who’ve hauled a heavy pack up and over 14ers, you know that every gram counts. 

Featuring 14 stainless steel spikes similar to a climbing crampon, each 8 mm in length, they provide excellent traction and stability on snow and ice. Compared to the 10 mm MICROspikes, the Distance Spike performed just as well, and there was less of an issue of snow packing into the spike. 

The softshell toe cover minimizes the weight and adds a layer of weather-proofing from snow and debris. The design of the toe cover combined with a heel retention elastomer makes the Distance Spike much easier to get into than the MICROspike. The heel webbing loop made it easy to pull on and off with one hand. 

TAYLOR: There are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to traction. I’m pretty convinced I can stop the search after wearing the aptly named Distance Spike. Black Diamond has taken a new approach to add long-distance comfort to an already winning formula of spike. They’re a very lightweight package and a comfortable option for when some extra underfoot assurance is needed. 

A total of 14 stainless steel spikes provide excellent security when moving on icy/snowy terrain. At 8 mm, they can dig into a decent chunk of surface for what they are. The spikes are linked by a chain webbing. I had literally zero issues with the Distance Spike and 100% confidence running over any snow/ice-covered ground. They bite into rock and dirt surfaces just as well.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect is the comfort of the hybrid mesh toe cover. It covers from the front of the bumper to the edge of the toe box on most shoes. They fit very comfortably and securely on wider Altra’s and slimmer La Sportiva’s. No pinching or sliding to report, and they fit much better than any other spike I’ve worn.

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The Bad

ALEX: At $100, it’s an expensive traction device compared to the $70 MICROspike.

TAYLOR: I definitely agree on the price aspect. A Benjamin is pretty steep for any piece of running gear that I’ll only use for deep winter or occasionally in the summer alpine.

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Black Diamond Distance Spike Conclusion

ALEX: The Distance Spike is packable, lightweight, and has a great design. The softshell toe cover makes this pull-on traction device stand apart with its easy-to-slip-on featherweight design. 

TAYLOR: $100 might be a steep price for a seasonal accessory. But the Black Diamond Distance Spikes are the best pair of trail running spikes available. So, maybe it’s not too crazy. Hitting a long run on the trails in snowy/icy conditions doesn’t seem like much of a slog anymore. The Distance Spikes are light and packable enough to not even think twice about bringing them on any adventure.

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Alex is an ultra runner who lives for the long, cold Minnesota winters. She works in public health and enjoys applying creative problem solving to emerging health and environmental issues faced by local communities.

Taylor Bodin is a trail and ultrarunner living in Estes Park, CO, with his wife and daughter. He and his wife both love running the trails in Rocky Mountain National Park. When not running, Taylor is a Kindergarten/1st grade teacher, running coach, and youth leader for his church.

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