You can also check out the 5 Best Mountaineering Crampons.
If you have the right equipment, ice climbing in any context can be quite fun. Ice climbing is quite similar to rock climbing except for, in ice climbing, people use crampons. Oscar Eckenstein designed the first crampon in 1908. A crampon is a device that is attached to your climbing boots. Crampons are widely used by ice climbers to move around easily in the ice or snow. Ice climbers use crampons to secure their travel in the snow and ice. Crampons come with different features and designs. If you are looking for a crampon for hiking or mountaineering, you should first know the type of climb you intend to do.
The Three Types of Crampon Binding
Crampons come with three different types of binding, namely step-in, hybrid, and strap-on. Below are these types of crampons along with what kind of climb they are best suited for.
Step-in crampons use a wire toe bar and a locked heel that are adjustable and work in cooperation to hold the crampon in place. This type of step-in crampon provides a secure hold. Mountain boots with a strong heel and toe are required to use this type of crampon. Step-in crampons provide a secure grip. They are most commonly used for technical mountaineering, alpine climbing, mixed and ice climbing.
The hybrid crampon is also known as a mixed or semi-step crampon. Hybrid crampons also use an adjustable lock heel similar to that of the step-in crampon. This type of crampon features a toe strap and heel level. Despite a rigid toe welt in step-in crampons, hybrid crampons have a plastic loop that elongates over the toe of the boot. Mixed crampons require stiff-soled boots with a welt or heel furrow to grasp the heel level. However, the toe strap doesn’t require a welt to fit in safely. Hybrid crampons provide a solid grip when fitting to the boots. A hybrid crampon is preferred for general mountaineering, alpine climbing, and ice climbing.
Strap-on crampons can be practically used with any mountaineering or hiking boots. These types of crampons have the same features as that of a hybrid crampon. The only difference is on a strap-on crampon, the rearguard is replaced by another plastic loop that partly closes the heel of the boot. Strap-on crampons are mostly used for general mountaineering.
Hiking Crampon Features
Choosing the right type of hiking crampon can be tricky sometimes. Here are some of the features you need to consider while choosing the best hiking crampon.
Front Point Style:
Forward point refers to the forward-facing point. The front point of a crampon comes in vertical, horizontal, or mono-point. A horizontal front point has a flat Extension of the crampon that is turned downwards and inclined into a point. Alternatively, a vertical front point design has an extended spike off the front crampon. It is important to consider the Front point style because the style will define how the crampon will perform while hiking on snow or ice. Horizontal points are specially designed for softer conditions like snow or glacier hiking. While vertical points are designed for rigid conditions like ice and mixed climbing. Mono-point, on the other hand, provides a more precise foot placement. The mono-point crampon is used for mixed climbing and technical waterfalls.
The linking bar is what connects the heel and toe parts of the crampon. This bar comes in different types. Certain bars are flexible and offer enhanced performance for lighter boots that have flex in them. Linking bars can also be made of steel and aluminum. These bars help to adjust the overall length of the crampon to fit correctly with your boots.
The anti-balling plate is the plate that attaches to the base of the crampon. Ever experienced snow balling up in your crampon? This could be dangerous as it may lead to slippery conditions while hiking on ice or snow. This plate prevents ice and snow from building up and adhering to your crampon while you are climbing.
The number of crampon points:
12 point crampons are commonly used, but 10 point crampon models are generally preferred for basic mountaineering as well as for glacier and snow travel. In case of lower angle terrain traveling, the two extra points near the toes won’t be of much benefits.
Crampons come with spikes made of steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. If you intend on mixed climbing, ice climbing, or mountain routes featuring alpine ice and rocks you should go for a steel spiked crampon. Aluminum spikes are lighter than steel spikes but are not as durable. Crampon spikes made of aluminum are better for soft snow climbing as aluminum spikes tend to bend easily when kicked on a rock or hard ice.
The Best Crampons for Mountaineering
1. Petzl Sarken Leverlock Crampon:
You can also check out our full review of the Petzl Sarken.
The Petzl Sarken crampon is best used for mountaineering purposes and is a hybrid type of crampon. It is made of steel and comes with linking bars. This crampon has anti-snow plates that help avert sticky snowballing beneath your crampon without obstructing the protrusion of the points. T-Shaped front points in the crampon are intended for exceptional performance on hard ice and mixed terrain while providing solid performance in snow. The Petzl Sarken Leverlock crampon comes with an interchangeable front binding, which helps to adapt to boots with or without toe welts. Flexible bindings fit boots without toe welts, and steel wires fit boots with them. The lever-lock heel bails are built for boots with heel welts, and the height of the bails is adjustable.
2. Grivel G14 New-Matic:
The Grivel G14 Crampon is an excellent choice for mixed technical routes and steep ice. This crampon is a step-in type and made of ChroMoly steel and nylon. Their low-profile design helps the hiker to stay close to the ice. This allows for more deliberate and accurate foot placement, which is especially important for technical climbing. By default, they are in a dual-point configuration, but they are customizable and can be changed into a monopoint design at a moment’s notice. Griver is known for producing high-quality, durable, and strong crampons. They are sure to serve you for many years.
You can also check out our full review of the Grivel G14.
3. Hillsound Trail crampon Ultra:
Hillsound Trail crampons feature 18 stainless steel spikes, including three 2/3 inch spikes on the heel. These spikes are durable, and the adjustable straps ensure a secure fit making your hiking performance safer. This crampon comes with double link side chains and a convenient puncture-proof carry bag for storage. The Hillsound Trail crampon has excellent traction and flexibility. This crampon can be easily used with hiking boots, soft-soled boots, and trail running shoes. They require minimum maintenance and are great for low angled terrain, snow traveling.
4. Black Diamond Sabretooth Clip Crampon:
The Sabretooth Clip Crampon by Black Diamond is designed with stainless steel and comes with a micro-adjustable heel bail that provides an accurate fit. This clip crampon is durable and accommodates boots with a toe welt.
This clip type of crampon features adjustable toe straps for boots without a toe welt. Thi Black Diamond crampon is versatile and prevents snowballing. It comes with a technical secondary point and horizontal front points. The clip crampon version is lightweight and great for moderate ice climbs to technical alpine and mountaineering routes.
The Black Diamond Sabretooth Clip Crampon is the best step-in crampon. This clip crampon is designed with an increased rocker in the front rail to accommodate modern mountain boots.
5. Black Diamond Serac:
The Black Diamond Serac comes in three models: Step-in, hybrid crampon, and strap-on. Step-in and hybrid crampons are designed to fit any regular boots, and the strap-on version is designed to fit regular hiking boots. All three models of Black Diamond crampon have anti-balling plates which are essential to prevent snowballing. This crampon is made of stainless steel and is considered as one of the best strap-on crampons for people who intend to go mountaineering or hiking on vertical slopes. Black Diamond crampons are high quality, sturdy, and easy to wear.
6. CAMP USA Stalker:
Read our full review of the CAMP USA Stalker here.
The Camp Stalker crampon is equipped with 12 robust points for good traction and is made of ChroMoly steel. Stalker crampons feature durable nylon straps, a thermoplastic heel, and Vibram anti-balling plates. They are very popular among hikers and best known for use with hiking, trekking, mountaineering, backpacking, and ski mountaineering. Camp Stalker crampons are a little on the heavier side, and they come with a case so that you can pack up and carry them around easily. If you are on a budget and you don’t want to spend much on a crampon, this Camp Stalker crampon will be a good option.
Climbing on ice or even walking on snow could be extremely risky as there is a higher risk of slipping off the cliff; these Crampons are designed for such purpose. Crampons are known to be essential for hiking that prevents the risk of slipping or falling off. Crampons come in different sizes, features, and points from which a climber selects the crampon according to the kind of climb intended. Because of the advancement in technology, crampon designs have improved a lot comparing to the earlier years. Crampons are much now lighter and easy to use now.