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Best Crampons

last updated Aug 10, 2019

Going on rock climbing or mountaineering adventures when the weather gets cold and icy means that you’ll need an extra layer of security between your shoes and the snow. Ice crampons are a great addition to your outdoor adventures. Crampons add an extra level of comfort and safety. They should be well-made and manufactured out of high-quality materials, and easily connect to your boots or shoes. They provide you with better footing where the terrain can become treacherous during the winter season - must for any outdoor winter adventurer. Check out our top picks below and start your climb!

In a Hurry? The test winner after 11 hrs of research

icon
Black Diamond Serac
93.8/100 our score
Materials
96
Style
94
Connectivity
93
Use
92
Black Diamond Serac
Why is it better?

Great traction

Durable

Easy to use

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Black Diamond Serac
Test Winner: Black Diamond Serac
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Researched Sources
15
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
1.1k
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
11
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
15
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
Sami Kritz
By Sami Kritz:

Crampons are a must-have in icy, snowy, and slushy situations. Our newest addition is the Black Diamond Sabretooth. The Sabretooth is versatile, durable, and easily adjustable. Additionally, we have cleaned up each product review, making each one easier to read. We have also added many new buying links, allowing you to support your favorite online retailer.

Sorting Options
Materials Style Connectivity Use By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
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#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.8
Materials
96 %
Style
94 %
Connectivity
93 %
Use
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.08.19)
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.3
Materials
95 %
Style
93 %
Connectivity
93 %
Use
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.08.19)
Amazon Link
$129.95
Backcountry Link
$129.95
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#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.8
Materials
88 %
Style
93 %
Connectivity
95 %
Use
95 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.08.19)
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.8
Materials
93 %
Style
92 %
Connectivity
93 %
Use
89 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.08.19)
Amazon Link
$184.95
Backcountry Link
$184.95
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#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.5
Materials
90 %
Style
91 %
Connectivity
91 %
Use
90 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.08.19)
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.5
Materials
94 %
Style
90 %
Connectivity
90 %
Use
88 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.08.19)
Amazon Link
$219.95
Backcountry Link
$219.95
See Deal
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89.8
Materials
90 %
Style
88 %
Connectivity
91 %
Use
90 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.08.19)
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.5
Materials
87 %
Style
87 %
Connectivity
92 %
Use
88 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.08.19)
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87.8
Materials
89 %
Style
88 %
Connectivity
87 %
Use
87 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.08.19)
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.3
Materials
88 %
Style
85 %
Connectivity
84 %
Use
84 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.08.19)
Amazon Link
$179.95
In Depth Review Top 10
  • Black Diamond Serac Black Diamond Serac
  • Black Diamond Contact Black Diamond Contact
  • Kahtoola Micro Spikes Kahtoola Micro Spikes
  • Black Diamond Sabretooth Pro Black Diamond Sabretooth Pro
  • Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra
  • Black Diamond Stinger Black Diamond Stinger
  • Grivel G10 New Classic Grivel G10 New Classic
  • Yaktrax Cleats Yaktrax Cleats
  • Petzl Leopard FL Petzl Leopard FL
  • Grivel G20 Grivel G20
Table of contents
  • Criteria Used for Evaluation
  • Expert Interviews & Opinions
  • Other Factors to Consider
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Sources

Top Ten Crampons

1. Black Diamond Serac

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.8
Black Diamond Serac
Amazon Link
Materials
96
Style
94
Connectivity
93
Use
92
best offer for today
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Pros:

Great traction

Durable

Easy to use

Cons:

Heavy

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

Materials
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.

Style
The horizontal front points offer great stability, which is made even greater by secondary rear points.

Connectivity
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.

Use
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

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.3
Black Diamond Contact
Amazon Link
Materials
95
Style
93
Connectivity
93
Use
92
best offer for today
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Pros:

Sturdy

Good traction

Comfortable

Cons:

Straps could be more durable

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.

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Materials
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.

Style
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.

Connectivity
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.

Use
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

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.8
Kahtoola Micro Spikes
Amazon Link
Materials
88
Style
93
Connectivity
95
Use
95
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Pros:

Affordable

Easy to use

Compact

Cons:

Sizing is unreliable

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.

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Materials
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.

Style
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.

Connectivity
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.

Use
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 rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.8
Black Diamond Sabretooth Pro
Amazon Link
Materials
93
Style
92
Connectivity
93
Use
89
best offer for today
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Pros:

Great traction

No Snowballing

Easy to use

Versatile

Cons:

Replacing the toe bails is difficult

Not quite technical enough for some

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.

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Materials
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.

Style
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.

Connectivity
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.

Use
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 rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.5
Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra
Amazon Link
Materials
90
Style
91
Connectivity
91
Use
90
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Pros:

Lightweight

Great traction

Easy-to-use

Cons:

Sometimes fit large

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.

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Materials
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.

Style
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.

Connectivity
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.

Use
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

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.5
Black Diamond Stinger
Amazon Link
Materials
94
Style
90
Connectivity
90
Use
88
best offer for today
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Amazon Link
$219.95
Backcountry Link
$219.95
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Pros:

Good traction

Durable

Good fit

Cons:

Heavy

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.

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Materials
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.

Style
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.

Connectivity
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.

Use
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

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89.8
Grivel G10 New Classic
Amazon Link
Materials
90
Style
88
Connectivity
91
Use
90
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Pros:

Easy to use

Strong and durable

Fit well

Cons:

Versatile but focuses more on hiking

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.

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Materials
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.

Style
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.

Connectivity
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.

Use
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 rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.5
Yaktrax Cleats
Amazon Link
Materials
87
Style
87
Connectivity
92
Use
88
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Pros:

Good traction

Won’t snowball

Adjust easily

Cons:

Straps could be more durable

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.

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Materials
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.

Style
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.

Connectivity
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.

Use
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

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87.8
Petzl Leopard FL
Amazon Link
Materials
89
Style
88
Connectivity
87
Use
87
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Pros:

Lightweight

Easy to use

Easy to pack

Cons:

Not durable on rocks

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.

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Materials
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.

Style
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.

Connectivity
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.

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

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.3
Grivel G20
Amazon Link
Materials
88
Style
85
Connectivity
84
Use
84
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$179.95
Pros:

Easy to use

Good traction

Strong

Cons:

Tend to run wide

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.

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Materials
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.

Style
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.

Connectivity
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.

Use
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.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Materials

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 Crampons
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.

Aluminum Crampons
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.

Style

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.

Vertical Frames
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
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.

Connectivity

Crampons come with three different types of bindings: step-in, strap-on, and hybrid.

Step-In Crampons
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.

Strap-On Crampons
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.

Hybrid Crampons
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.

Use

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.

Front Points
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.

Mono Point
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.

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Narrow Your Selection

When you’re getting ready to purchase the best crampons for your needs, you’ll want to consider your climbing style, the types of terrain you’ll encounter, and the weather conditions you’ll most likely see when you’re outside. This will narrow your choices to crampon styles best-suited to your specific requirements.

Fit and Feel

Trying on your crampons is similar to trying on shoes. Yes, you will most likely put them on and adjust them while sitting down but you need to stand up and put weight on them to experience their true fit. The crampon should fit tightly around the boot. To get a secure fit, you'll most likely need to adjust the length, height, and the straps. Lastly, don't forget to tuck in the excess fabric to your gaiter and you're ready to go!

Other Factors to Consider

Weight

Just like snow, ice, or winter shoes, you should take the weight of the crampons into consideration. If you will be climbing over technical terrains, you will need to invest a very durable pair of crampons. An example of heavy but durable crampons would be made from steel. These will most likely weigh in slightly higher and you are likely to feel that with each step you take. To shed a few ounces, aluminum crampons are a great option. However, knowing your terrain ahead of time will allow you to decide which crampon will suit you best. An aluminum crampon is lightweight but is not an ideal option for rocky terrains.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: How do I figure out what the best crampons are for what I need?

a:

First, check the boots you plan to use. If you have a rigid boot, you’ll probably need a rigid crampon to match it. However, if your boot is flexible, then a hinged crampon or a hybrid or strapped binding crampon will fit your boots better. Remember, it’s best to match your crampon’s flexibility up to the flexibility of the boots you’ll be wearing.

Second, think about the types of climbs you’ll be doing. If you plan on doing more hardcore, technical climbs, then you will want rigid, vertical-point crampons, since they are designed to handle this style of climbing. However, if you are more of a walker, then you’ll want something more flexible and horizontal. You need to select your crampon thinking about both the types of boots you use and the types of climbs you typically take.

Remember, if you aren’t sure what’s going to fit your boots, strap-on crampons fit everything. While strap-on crampons don’t always work well for people conducting technical climbs, they will work well if you are looking for some versatility or aren’t sure what crampons will fit your boots.

q: What styles of climbing are crampons made for?

a:

Crampons are made for all styles of climbing, so before you make your purchase, you need to consider the terrain and the weather conditions you’ll likely encounter when you climb. Knowing this will help you get comfortable, well-performing crampons that will match your needs.

Mixed Climbing Crampons
These types of crampons are semi-rigid and have steel vertical front points designed into them. These types of crampons usually also have fourteen points on them or more, and use a step-in or hybrid boot attachment system. These types of crampons work well for all types of climbs.

General Mountaineering Crampons
With these crampons, you get semi-rigid crampons with a strap-on feature, although some do come with a step-in system. These crampons usually have twelve points and are made to work well for more basic climbing.

Technical Mountaineering Crampons
These types of crampons are made to help you climb up icy areas where there is a lot of snow. However, other technical mountaineering crampons can still handle rocky climbs and mixed terrain conditions. Most of the time, these crampons are constructed out of stainless steel for more durability and support. These crampons also feature fixed horizontal front points within a semi-rigid structure. Many are made with ten points, or twelve points, and have a step-in or strap-on boot attachment system.

Snow Walking Crampons
These crampons are made for walking in the snow and many have a spring-center bar feature and are made to be flexible. Most of these types of crampons are strap-on and are made to resist rust with stainless steel or aluminum metals manufactured into them. Also, most of these crampons are made with eight to ten points on them.

Since crampons are designed for all types of climbing, you’ll need to figure out the weather you’ll encounter and the terrain you’ll be on, and also the types of climbing you plan on doing before making your decision.

q: Do I need semi-rigid crampons or flexible crampons?

a:

Today’s climbers tend to prefer crampons made with semi-rigid styles. Unless you’re going to be doing a lot of technical climbing, you probably won’t need to purchase a rigid, hinged crampon. Semi-rigid crampons work well across the board in a wide variety of conditions and on a wide variety of terrains, which accounts for their increasing popularity. Also, they work very well on both snow and ice.

Some crampons come with a built-in bar that goes between the heel and the toe area and works as an adjustable linking bar. With that bar, you can adjust your crampons to be either flexible or semi-rigid. If you climb or hike often and need versatility, this might be a feature for you.

Some crampons come with center bars that have an asymmetrical design, and that will help you fit a boot that needs a special fit. Other crampons have spring steel, long flex center bars to also hit your boot.

Flexible crampons are designed more for normal climbing or snow walking—so if you don’t plan on doing much more than that, they might work for you. However, a semi-rigid crampon will give you more versatility.

q: Do I need modular or non-modular points?

a:

Modular points on a crampon work well if you’re worried about your points wearing out since they are easy-to-replace (a feature which can save you money in the long run since you’ll only have to purchase the points and not the entire crampon again). Modular points offer a lot of versatility, so if you do both technical and normal climbing, they can work well for both styles.

Non-Modular points are more lightweight than modular points since they are made out of a single piece of metal. Also, they don’t have moving parts, which modular-point crampons typically have, held up by screws. With non-modular points, you don’t have to worry about a screw popping out, so you get more durability.

Whether you need modular or non-modular crampon points will depend on your climbing style and the types of terrain you encounter. If you know you’ll be doing a lot of long-term adventures, then you might want non-modular points on your crampons since you’ll experience less fatigue when you climb. However, if you need a lot of versatility, then modular points are probably the better option.

Sources

  1. Bill Raye, How to Choose Crampons,
  2. Melanie Green, The Best Crampons, Adventure Digest
  3. Mark Spencer, 5 of the Best Crampons for High Altitude Hiking for 2019, Hiking Blog