Criteria Used for Evaluation
Crampons are typically constructed with some kind of metal usage, and the three metals generally used in crampons are steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. We’ll cover each in more depth.
Steel ice crampons are made for general mountaineering purposes. For instance, if you know you need something simple and durable to help you climb on a bevy of steep terrains that might feature ice or snow, then steel crampons will work well for your needs. Another benefit of purchasing steel crampons is the fact that they tend to cost less than crampons made out of other materials.
Stainless Steel Crampons
With stainless steel crampons, you get similar benefits when you compare them to basic steel crampons. However, unlike basic steel crampons, stainless steel crampons tend to be corrosion resistant and can take much more abuse and use, so they are a lot more durable. If you know you’ll be out in wetter, snowier areas, which can cause your crampons to rust faster, then stainless steel crampons are the better choice for you.
These types of crampons work well for high mountain climbs that have a lot of snow and ice but don’t have a lot of rock. Aluminum crampons are lightweight and durable when used in ice and snow, but don’t handle rocky terrain as well. So, if you’re planning to climb where there isn’t much rock, and want a more lightweight crampon, then aluminum crampons might be the right choice for you.
As far as crampon materials go, you’ll want to consider the terrain you’ll be on when you make your decision. If you will be in a place that’s less rocky, but still has ice and snow, then aluminum crampons will give you a lightweight option to assist you on your climbs. However, aluminum crampons don’t last as long when used on rocky terrain, so if you know you’ll be on rocky terrain, then aluminum crampons won’t be the right choice for you.
When deciding whether you need steel or stainless-steel crampons, you’ll want to consider how much wetness you are likely to encounter when you climb. If you know you’ll be going through a lot of wet areas, it makes sense to spend a bit more on stainless-steel ice crampons since they won’t rust, and they will last a lot longer, which could save you money in the long term. However, if you won’t be out where it is very wet, then you can save a bit of money by purchasing basic steel crampons.
When we talk about a crampon’s frame, we mean the alignment of the primary linking bar area of the crampon. Crampon frames are either made to be vertical or horizontal.
A crampon with a vertical frame is not really a popular item today, and are only used in certain conditions. Vertical frames don’t offer a lot of flexibility as you move, so most people don’t like using them for long outings. Most of the time, vertical frames are used for technical climbs or for use with a certain type of boot.
Horizontal frames are far more popular because they are easier to walk in than vertical frames. Plus, horizontal frames also help to keep snow from balling up underneath the crampons, so that you never lose your grip or traction. Also, horizontal frames allow you to keep your feet closer to the ground which gives you an extra boost of stability.
Most likely, you’ll want to purchase crampons that have horizontal frames simply because they offer a better technology option and a lot more flexibility and versatility for today’s climber.
Crampon frame styles come in three different types: hinged, rigid, and semi-rigid.
Hinged Frame Crampon
These types of crampon frames have a hinged design that appears on the linking bar, and this gives you more flexibility than what’s provided by either a rigid frame crampon or a semi-rigid frame crampon. You’ll notice more flexibility with these types of crampons when you wear flexible boots as well. These types of crampons will make walking feel both natural and easy, and the bar’s settings will prevent snow from balling up underneath the crampon. That balling prevention allows you to have greater traction and grip for long periods of time.
Rigid Frame Crampons
These are manufactured from stiff materials and don’t flex much. That means it can be hard to walk in these crampons, but these crampons do help you if you’re making a difficulty rocky, icy climb. Most rigid frame crampons are utilized by climbers that engage in technical climbs. In fact, many climbers like to have a pair of rigid frame crampons, and a pair of semi-rigid frame crampons since semi-rigid frame crampons make certain walks easier.
Semi-Rigid Frame Crampons
This type of ice crampon brings you a combination of the hinged frame crampon, offering some flexibility, and the rigid frame crampon, which is stiffer. Semi-rigid frame crampons are the most popular style of crampon sold nowadays, and they are very versatile. You’ll be able to do a combination of climbs in these crampons, and most of them can handle both walking climbs and more technical climbs. However, for very steep technical climbs, you will still probably need semi-rigid frame crampons.
When you decide on what frame construction you’ll need on your crampons, you’ll need to consider where you’ll be climbing, and how much flexibility you need. If you need more flexibility than normal, a hinged frame crampon can help. If you’re making more technical, steep climbs, then you’ll want a stiff rigid frame crampon. On the other hand, if you need a good combination of both, then you’ll want to purchase semi-rigid frame crampons.
Crampons come with three different types of bindings: step-in, strap-on, and hybrid.
These types of crampons have a wire bail on the toe, and this bail would hold your boot into the crampon. Also, a heel cable on these crampons adds extra holding features and allows you to use tension levers that you’ll use to keep the cable on your heel. Step-in crampons are made to be easy-to-use even when you are wearing gloves, and many climbers prefer these types of crampons when they know it will be cold and snowy outside. Most step-in bindings are found with rigid crampons, and you need to have a rigid-soled boot featuring a heel and toe welt to make sure your boots fit in the crampon without slipping.
These bindings are very versatile, and you can utilize them with any kind of footwear. With a strap-on crampon, you get strong nylon webbing around the crampon, which you fasten in once your boot is in the crampon. With strap-on ice crampons, you’ll get a bit more independent movement out of both your crampon and your shoe.
Crampons made with hybrid bindings have a combination of both step-in and strap-on bindings. You can tighten these crampons easily with gloves, because these crampons also use a heel lever, and you’ll also get the versatility of a step-in so you can wear these crampons with several different types of footwear. Also, you won’t need an overly stiff boot when you use these crampons. Most climbers prefer hybrid bindings because they offer a lot of versatility and bring you the best features of both strap-on and step-in crampons.
Crampons are designed with either ten or twelve points. Ten-point crampons are usually used for winter walking expeditions and don’t work as well for technical climbs. Twelve-point crampons are made for more technical climbs and give you better traction overall than a twelve-point crampon, but do cost more.
The number of crampon points you need depends on the terrain you’ll be climbing in, and the level of traction you feel you really need. If you decide you can afford it and worry about slips, then a twelve-point crampon might give you the benefit of some extra safety. However, if you aren’t worried about slipping since you’ll be climbing less technical terrain anyway, then ten-points would work just fine for you.
A crampon’s front points can be defined as the front-facing points you’ll find on the crampons. How the front points are set up will dictate the way the crampon can be used, and the types of climbing or walking you’ll be doing.
Horizontal Front Points
If you need versatility in a crampon, then horizontal front points will probably meet your needs. These types of points make walking easier, while still providing a lot of traction and grip for more technical, hardcore climbs.
Vertical Front Points
Vertical front points are harder to walk in when compared to horizontal front points, but they also make it easier to climb in harder terrain. Vertical front points provide you with better stability and balance.
A crampon with a mono-point will have a single, big, strong crampon point that can be found at the front of the crampon. Mono-points are made for specialized technical climbs to help climbers tackle ice and rock patches with ease. A lot of mono-point crampons made for more technical climbs can also be converted to have two crampons for other types of climbs.
Depending on the terrain you’ll encounter and the types of climbs you’ll be doing, whether technical or just regular climbing, you’ll need to decide what kind of crampon front points you need.
Horizontal front points are the most popular because they are more versatile and handle normal climbing well, while also being used at technical climbs. However, if you do more technical climbing than normal climbing, you may want a vertical point crampon or a crampon with a mono-point depending on the types of terrain you’ll encounter.
Top Ten Crampons
1. Black Diamond Serac
Black Diamond’s Serac Crampons offer a bevy of features that make them a versatile product suited to handle trekking, backpacking, mountaineering, and hiking. With these crampons, you get a lot of traction and comfort, which will help keep you safe on all types of terrain.Read more
Black Diamond’s Serac Crampons also feature anti-balling plates so that snow won’t build up underneath the grip, preventing you from slipping or experiencing other injuries. Plus, these crampons are also designed with stainless steel, which makes them durable and corrosion-resistant.
The horizontal front points offer great stability, which is made even greater by secondary rear points.
These crampons are attached to your shoe with a durable strap that is easily adjustable. The strap version of this shoe is to pair with non-technical shoes.
The Black Diamond Serac Crampons are designed with twelve total points, in comparison to the usual ten offered by other manufacturers on our list. While that does make them a bit heavier than some other crampons we’ve listed, the twelve points do come in handy when you’re climbing up a very steep hill, since they give you a boost in traction and grip. If you know you’ll be hitting very steep terrain when you hike or climb, then the extra boost in traction and grip these crampons offer might just be what you need. Plus, these crampons are very strong and long-lasting, so they’ll last you for many seasons.
2. Black Diamond Contact
Black Diamond’s Contact Crampons are also designed for a wide range of winter weather sporting usages and can handle everything including hiking, trekking, backpacking, and mountaineering activities. Also, these are some of the lightest crampons you’ll find on the market today, providing a bevy of features that make them an excellent choice in crampons.Read more
Black Diamond’s Contact Crampons are made from durable stainless steel. The stainless steel is lightweight, rust-resistant, and resists snowballing. They are built to last and come with performance features that will help keep you going strong all day long. Since they are lightweight and comfortable, you won’t feel fatigued or additional issues throughout your outdoor adventures.
Black Diamond’s Contact Crampons also come with a ten-point design for excellent traction and grip, and they are also very comfortable to wear. These crampons also feature anti-balling plates so that the crampons won’t experience a snow build-up, preventing slips and other injuries. Also, while they are flexible, they do have a stiffer feel, but that helps them perform better on steeper climbs and hills.
The flexible toe strap used to connect these crampons is compatible with most footwear. The strap system is easy to use, however, you must remember to tuck away the excess strap material after fitting them to your shoes.
Black Diamond’s Contact Crampons are designed to be lightweight and are structured with stainless steel so they are durable and long-lasting while also being corrosion-resistant. Plus, these crampons are also very versatile and flexible and can handle many activities and terrains, depending on what you plan to do outdoors when it’s cold.
3. Kahtoola Micro Spikes
These award-winning crampons come to you from Kahtoola. The Micro Spikes work well on loose trails, muddy tracks, and through streams as well as snowy or icy conditions. They are light and tough and a great choice for those looking for a versatile option.Read more
The Kahtoola Micro Spikes are light and tough with 12 stainless steel spikes (3/8 inches in length) on each foot. They are perfect for ultralight backpacking because they're easily packable and can be stored in their 5" by 3" by 2" tote bag.
The horizontal frame and ultimate flexibility make these easy to walk in. They are available in your choice of red or black and include a 2-year warranty.
The spike length is 3/8" and there are integrated toe bale and reinforced eyelets allowing for a 50% lower profile elastomer harness. There is no fuss, fighting, or tightening this system. The elastomer is decently stretchy and fit wells over most shoes.
Kahtoola's Micro spikes are the perfect option for ultralight backpackers who aren't looking to weight themselves down while also having the security and safety you need in those icy or muddy conditions.
4. Black Diamond Sabretooth Pro
The Sabretooth is just as aggressive as it sounds. It features a great blend of walkability and climbability. These crampons are made from stainless steel and weigh in at 2.2-pounds. Even though these are still lightweight for stainless steel, the ease of use and stability provided is worth the extra weight.Read more
Unlike the majority of Black Diamond’s other crampons, the Sabretooth is made from stainless steel. They are relatively lightweight without compromising durability. They also resist snowballing.
With horizontal front points, these crampons are great for mountaineering and alpine climbing. Additionally, there are 12 side points with an additional set of secondary front points. They have increased rocker in the front rails to accommodate modern boot styles. These semi-rigid crampons have front and rear dual-density ABS.
The Sabretooth has been praised for its ease of use and adjustments. For a precise fit, there is a micro-adjustable heel bail. Even with gloves on in the snow, the knob is easily adjustable. There are two versions available. Here, we are discussing the Pro version. The pro version can accommodate boots with a toe welt. The clip version, if you are interested, has a flexible toe strap and works well for boots without a toe welt.
This is a versatile set of crampons that can handle almost any terrain. They feature dial and secondary points that are optimized for technical climbs while maintaining a stable platform for secure descents. Some reviewers feel that might not be technical enough for some climbs, but still have outstanding performance overall. Versatile. As a pair, they weigh in at 2.2-pounds.
5. Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra
The new Ultra version of the Hillsound Trail Crampon has added more flexibility and traction while cutting down in the weight department. Allowing you the traction you need without making your feet seem heavy.Read more
The 18 durable spikes are made from stainless steel. They pair flawlessly with the elastomer harness that is lightweight and easy to use. There is also a nylon carrying bag included so that you can transport the crampons without harming them or yourself.
The Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra comes with anti-balling plates, so snow won’t build up underneath them or sit inside the exterior grip area, making it easier for you to scale mountains uphill. They are one of the most popular products available on the market today because they provide excellent traction for all of your winter weather outdoor activities.
This lighter and stronger version from Hillsound is designed chains that are double-linked, a velcro system for securing, and a harness that allows you to easily slide them over your footwear.
They are wider in the heel, with spikes place for safe travel downhill. The size of the spikes allows you the perfect amount of traction for both ice and snow. Some users have even used these for muddy situations.
6. Black Diamond Stinger
Black Diamond’s Stinger Crampons run a bit heavier than some of the other products on our list since they weigh in at a total of thirty-four ounces, but they are still very durable and offer a lot of benefits to climbers and hikers planning to hit the icy, snowy slopes this winter. These crampons are made to hit hardcore winter weather terrain conditions, designed to keep you safe no matter what you find yourself up against.Read more
These rust-resistant stainless steel crampons are durable, lightweight, and provide great stability. The pair weighs in at only 2.1-pounds. If you’re also looking to turn heads on the trails, many customers are impressed by the overall style of these crampons as well.
These crampons also feature a thin, low-profile toe bail and a thin, short heel wire area, which helps improve the fit of the crampons. Plus, these crampons also come with a front and rear dual-density ABS system.
Black Diamond’s Stinger Crampons are also very versatile and can fit a wide variety of boots securely, so you get a wide range of selection with the boots you’ll use to match them with. These crampons have a sliding centerpiece that will adjust to fit the size precisely, adding a boost in comfort and performance.
Black Diamond’s Stinger Crampons are designed with eleven points of stainless steel, so the points are corrosion-resistant and durable while still providing excellent traction and grip. These crampons also feature a front mono point to provide additional grip, which is also a replaceable part you can purchase in case of wear.
7. Grivel G10 New Classic
With the Grivel G10 New Classic Crampon, you get another versatile option in crampons that are meant to cover all of your outdoor cold-weather activities, including mountaineering, hiking, trekking, and backpacking. With these crampons, you’ll get a durable hill-walking product that is also lightweight and made to be flexible.Read more
Grivel’s G10 New Classic Crampon works well for a wide range of activities, including hikers that want to use crampons with regular hiking boots. Also, these crampons are designed out of Chromoly steel, which provides a lot of strength while keeping the crampons lightweight and corrosion-resistant.
Grivel’s G10 New Classic Crampon also comes with anti-balling plates, which will prevent snow from sticking to the crampon’s exterior, keeping you safe from accidental slips and falls. Plus, these crampons are very durable and will last you many seasons.
These cramps are connected to your shoes in the traditional strap-in method. They are fully adjustable, requiring no tools or sweat. They are sold as one size fits all, and it seems to be true for most reviewers.
These crampons also have ten points on them for excellent traction on icy trails or in snowy weather conditions. You’ll be able to both walk easily and climb uphill well with these crampons since they are designed to handle a variety of weather conditions.
8. Yaktrax Cleats
The Yaktrax Cleats are made without spikes offering a lighter weight option that is easy to put on and take off. You can slide them over your footwear for safe travels in slippery situations. They are a great option for those looking for a lightweight option.Read more
The Yaktrax Cleats provide 360-degree traction allowing you stability and are designed with a system made of coils. The frame made from rubber comes with a strap for securing them in place. These have been tested and rated for even some of the most frigid temperatures.
Yaktrax Cleats are also designed to resist snowballing underneath, so you won’t have to worry about slips or injuries. They also feature a low-profile micro-adjustable heel to fit your boots accurately.
Similar to a couple of other crampons on this list, these are connected to your shoes by a poly elastomer outer band. They are available in four different sizes and are very easy to take on and off, without feeling loose.
These low-profile crampons can be used for many different activities. They are not recommended for technical climbs nor terrain, but on flat ground, they are great. On snow or ice, you can feel confident with these crampons. The manufacturer also suggests that they are a good option for the elderly and clumsy.
9. Petzl Leopard FL
Petzl’s Leopard FL Crampons are designed to be versatile for a wide range of outdoor cold-weather activities, including mountaineering, backpacking, trekking, and hiking. These crampons are made with aluminum construction, which makes them very lightweight and easy-to-wear.Read more
Made out of aluminum, Petzl’s Leopard FL Crampons weigh in at only 360 grams total for the pair, making them some of the lightest crampons you’ll find on the market today. If you know you’ll be taking long, intensive trips where fatigue from weight can be a problem, then these crampons might be right for your winter outdoor activities.
Plus, Petzl’s Leopard FL Crampons are also made with ten points and use strap-on bindings so they can be worn with hiking boots, and they also give you a good traction and grip system to help prevent slips and other accidents that could create injury. These crampons feature Cord-Tec’s flexible linking system, which also helps make the crampons light and easy-to-fit if you need to pack them.
Another aspect that makes these crampons super portable is the fact that you don’t need any tools to adjust them. They have a strap-in system that is highly adjustable and easy to use.
Petzl’s Leopard FL Crampons will work well for those outdoor enthusiasts planning on taking longer trips since they are lightweight and easy to carry. Plus, they are durable, so you’ll get several seasons of use out of them.
10. Grivel G20
Grivel’s G20 Crampons weigh in at 28 ounces for the pair, giving you a lightweight option for technical and mixed ice climbing adventures during the winter weather. These crampons feature a laser-cut mono point to handle difficult terrain, helping you to increase your ability to easily climb uphill.Read more
The Grivel G20 brings us a stainless steel front bale that effectively holds onto your boot. You’ll also find accents of stainless steel on the safety strap. The points themselves are made from Chromoly steel, providing durability and rust-resistance.
Grivel’s G20 Crampons also feature eleven points that are constructed out of Chromoly steel, so you get a corrosion-resistant crampon made to give you impressive traction and grip as you climb. Plus, these crampons include an adjustable binding that can help you fit them to a wide variety of boots.
Grivel’s G20 Crampons are easy to put on and simple to remove and feature a stainless-steel front bale at the front to help lock in your boot better. You’ll get high-quality durability with these crampons, and you’ll always feel safe every time you climb.
Designed with an anti-balling plate at the heel, Grivel’s G20 Crampons make sure the snow sheds from the bottom of the crampon, keeping you safe from slips and injuries. Plus, these crampons have a rigid stole and strong heel, giving you an additional boost in performance as you climb.
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