When was the last time you went hiking on snow or ice? Walking around these places is not an easy task: the cold, unstable terrain and other weather and terrain conditions can cause severe incidents if proper precautions are not taken. Among them, few are as crucial as having a good pair of crampons.
Do you know what they are and what they are for? More and more people require the use of crampons when winter arrives. If you are not very into its use and utility, do not worry: you have come to the right place. The article you are about to read has been carefully prepared so that you know everything there is to know about these necessary accessories.
Most essential points about crampons
- Crampons are traction accessories placed on the soles of particular boots to facilitate snow and ice adherence. Essential elements for those who practice mountaineering, trekking, and mountaineering are beneficial thanks to the sharp points that detach from the general structure and penetrate the ice.
- There are different types of crampons depending on the material from which they are made. And according to the purpose we use them, that is, according to what activity or winter sport. They differ in structure, tips, and fixing systems. Crampons need special maintenance so that they can guarantee safety when traveling on snowy or icy roads.
- Choosing useful crampons can make a difference on a hike or climb. For this, specific criteria must be taken into account, such as the material of the structure, the number of tips, the ease of placement, the weight and comfort when wearing them, and, of course, the added security measures.
The best crampons
Whether you are mountaineering, ski mountaineering, climbing an ice wall, or merely enjoying snowshoeing, you’ll need a good pair of crampons. Not only do they represent an excellent safety accessory, but they will also facilitate your task and reduce your efforts. Take a look at this selection with the best offers.
Online shoppers’ favorite crampons
Today the crampons of the renowned brand Unigear are among the best sellers on Amazon, and with good reason! Thanks to its 18 tips —6 distributed in the heel and 12 in the sole —, you will get the best traction to slide through the ice, snow, stones, and mud. Each tip is 1/2 “long, made of stainless steel, and heat-treated to prevent corrosion.
This pair of crampons have a straightforward fixing system: just place the boots on the rubber ring. Besides, they are very light and portable (only 440 grams), do not put pressure on the feet, and fit almost all boots. Stainless steel welded chains prevent loosening or breaking in use. A small bag is included to transport them.
The best universal crampons
Not without reason, Kottle crampons are today listed as Amazon’s Choice. They have 18 manganese steel tips capable of penetrating many varieties of terrain, mostly ice and packed snow. Its rhombic distribution over the entire sole increases pressures when walking prevents slipping and guarantees more excellent stability.
Kottle crampons are easy to maintain. The tips can be washed directly with water, although it is imperative to dry them well before storing them. Suitable for men and women, they fit in most snow boots. They weigh only 300 grams and are offered in two sizes: M and L. The non-slip system on the tips will guarantee all the protection you need.
The best crampons for ice climbing
Docooler is one of the leading brands in winter sports. The crampons it offers have a manganese steel structure that, thanks to a TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) joining system and stainless steel rivets, is corrosion-proof and very resistant. The 14 well-distributed tips will make your trips a great adventure.
These crampons have two front tips for ice climbing, mountain skiing, and glacier hiking. They also include an anti-balling blade at the bottom to prevent it from sticking to snow when walking. The sole’s semi-rigid frame is very flexible, allowing a degree of shock absorption and increased resistance to tension.
The best high-end crampons
Enjoy your journeys through the snow or ice without worries with these QH crampons, made of rubber and stainless steel. The eight sharp points provide stability and flexibility on any terrain, are resistant to wear and the passage of time, and are suitable for all types of outdoor footwear. They are comfortable to wear and adapt to the foot.
For a better adaptation to the boots, these crampons have a velcro closure system that allows you to adjust them easily. The elastic band used for this purpose holds your footwear stable. They are very light, ideal for hiking or ice crossings, but not for very steep climbs. They include a bag for transport.
The best adjustable crampons
Take advantage of these crampons that adapt to all types of boots. Its 19 traction points – 12 in the forefoot and 7 in the heel – measure 1.3 cm long and are placed on metal plates that facilitate pressure and guarantee more excellent stability. Both the frame and the tips are made of stainless steel and heat-treated to prevent corrosion.
The TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) rubber that holds the chains provides excellent flexibility, anti-abrasion, and anti-tear. The manufacturer recommends its use, above all, on glaciers or snowy terrain less than 3000 m high, but not for ice climbing or high-risk mountaineering. It is also recommended to clean and dry the crampons well after each use.
Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Crampons
The use of crampons in winter sports or activities on snowy or icy terrain is practically mandatory for safety, comfort, and stability. If you do not have it yet, it is good that you familiarize yourself with the many types that exist before choosing a model. In this section, we will solve the most common doubts about them.
What exactly are crampons?
Crampons are metallic traction devices placed on the sole of particular boots and that, thanks to the sharp tips or teeth that come off the bottom, facilitate adherence to icy or snowy surfaces. Its use allows us to walk safely between glaciers and even climb on vertical ice walls.
What activities do I need to wear crampons for?
Basically, for any activity carried out on surfaces where there is hardened snow or ice. The tips of the crampons penetrate these types of terrain and guarantee stability and safety. In fact, in many cases, its use is mandatory, as it can prevent accidents. Besides, they greatly facilitate movement. Some examples of activities are:
- Mountain hiking or trekking
- Ice climbing
- Mixed climbing or dry-tooling
- Running down the mountain or trail running
- Alpine ski
How is the structure of the crampons made?
The structure of the crampons is simple. These devices consist of four parts:
- A general skeleton, on which the boots we have chosen rest.
- The sharp points or teeth dig into the ice.
- The antibott or antizuecos, to avoid accumulated snow when walking or climbing.
- The fastening system, which holds the crampons to our boots.
What materials are crampons usually made of?
The crampons’ material is essential so that they guarantee maximum safety when doing activities or risky sports. Besides, they are resistant and do not have to change them every so often. We find steel, stainless steel, hot forged steel, and aluminum among the most professional materials used.
|Steel||The most used are carbon steel, nichrome and chromoly.||All of them have a similar resistance, but cromoly is lighter and withstands corrosion somewhat better.|
|Stainless steel||Steel alloy that can contain other metals, such as molybdenum, nickel, and tungsten.||Resistance to corrosion and its finish is more aesthetic. They are not very resistant to mountaineering or steep slopes.|
|Hot forged steel||Steel goes through a manufacturing process that uses high temperatures: the internal structure of the metal is rearranged and becomes more resistant.||Ultra resistant. It is mostly used on the front tips of crampons.|
|Aluminum||The lightest, ideal for long crossings in snow or for quick and non-technical outings.||They are not very resistant, they wear out significantly faster than steel ones.|
How important are the tips of the crampons?
They are the essential components of crampons, as they are the ones that effectively penetrate hard snow or ice and facilitate accident-free movement. Crampons come with different amounts and distributions of tips or teeth. We can distinguish different types, namely:
- Horizontal or flat front tips: Their length and width can vary a lot. The longest is the most versatile, as they perform well on both soft snow and harder snow or ice; the shorter ones are more difficult to nail and keep in position on hard ice slopes, limiting their use to walks and crossings on moderate slopes.
- Serrated vertical front tips: Designed for steep ice or mixed climbing terrain. The tip is aggressively angled and very sharp, allowing it to penetrate and lean on hard ice and rock.
- Front “T” points: Designed as a mixture between the two previous points, they consist of vertical serrated points that, in their upper part, are widened to improve their performance in snow terrain.
- Interchangeable front tips and single point: Crampons that have only one front end for maximum precision in small supports or have two points (double point) with the possibility of converting to the single point mode. These models offer versatility and allow you to change tips after extensive use.
How are the crampons attached to the boots?
There are different fixing systems to attach the crampons to the boots. This aspect is vital, as a flawed system can cause the crampons to come off, leading to risks and dangers. Currently, most brands choose between the following four fixing modes.
- Automatic: The crampons have two elements through which our boot will be held: a metal bar in the shape of an arch in the front area where the toe box is fitted and a heel in the back where the heel of the boot is attached.
- Straps or universal: Multipurpose system by which a strap goes from the heel of the crampon to the tip and returns to the back through a harness-shaped ring in the front area. Finally, it surrounds the ankle and is closed with a knot or buckle. In this way, the crampon is fixed to the sole of our boots.
- Semi-automatic: Hybrid system between the two above. It combines a plastic wrap-around front harness, similar to a strap, with a rear insert where the boot tab hooks.
- Integrated: As the word implies, the tips are embedded in the sole of the boot. It is not a very common model, but many professional climbers use it.
How to know when to use crampons?
It is not always easy to determine when is the best time to put on the crampons. On the one hand, we must ensure that it is not too early, since if there is not enough snow, the tips will be damaged. Nor that it is too late because we will already find ourselves on frozen ground, a circumstance where placement can be risky. Anyway, it is always better to be safe. Don’t wait to see yourself on an icy slope to place them. Try to find a safe ground where you cannot slip and, if possible, flat. When you put them on, try to step with your feet apart so as not to snag the bottom of your pants or, what is more dangerous, to stitch your calves.
Is there a technique for walking with crampons?
Yes, there are techniques, and it is good to learn them if we do not have any experience using crampons. The most basic rule is to walk by driving all the ends of the crampon into the surface. Keep in mind that many techniques depend on the type of activity we choose, so they differ significantly. But we can name three that are basic:
|Technique||Consists in||Surfaces or land|
|Flat feet||Keep your feet flat on the slope with all vertical toes in contact with the ice.||Great advantage over soft or rotten ice where spreading the weight over more tips offers greater stability.|
|Frontal||Climb a ladder head-on by nailing the front spikes.||For vertical terrain, it is necessary to use rigid or semi-rigid boots.|
|Mixed||Combine the previous two: one foot advances in frontal technique and, the other, flat on the ice in a perpendicular position with respect to the first.||Very practical on moderate and safe slopes.|
How vital are anti-crampons on crampons?
Anti-crampons, also known by their English names antibott , anti-ball, or anti-snow , are an essential part of crampons for safety. They are the ones that guarantee real traction to the surface. They are fixed to the lower area of the crampons to prevent snow from accumulating under them and thus prevent the generation of snow stilts. Thanks to the anti-slip, slipping and the drastic loss of grip of our crampons are avoided. Today, they are sold by the same crampon manufacturers and, for the most part, are included with the purchase. They can be made of plastic, rubber, or latex, and they last for several years. For replacement, most brands have spare parts sold separately.
How do I know what type of crampons I need for a specific activity?
As we have seen, crampons differ according to materials, fastening systems, tips, and skeletons. This often represents a difficulty in knowing how to choose the appropriate model. While each winter sport or activity may have its recommendations, the following table may offer a useful approximation.
|Exercise||Material||Tips||Number of tips||Fixation System|
|Trekking||Aluminum.||Horizontal.||Up to 10.||Of straps.|
|Mountaineering||Steel or stainless steel.||Horizontal or in T.||10 to 12.||Automatic or semi-automatic.|
|Ice climbing||Steel or hot forged steel.||Vertical saw or single point.||12.||Semi-automatic, automatic or integrated.|
|Mixed climbing||Steel and hot forged steel on the front tips.||Vertical in saw and single point.||12 or more.||Semi-automatic, automatic or integrated.|
Crampons purchase criteria
As long as the snow continues to accumulate on the mountain and the ice continues to form, we will need crampons to move around these delicate surfaces. If you are thinking about your next model, you must consider a series of criteria so that your winter experience is perfect. Here we summarize the most important ones.
- Material and weight
- Fixation system and boots
- Tip type and quantity
- Presence of antizuecos
Material and weight
The crampons must be of acceptable quality if we want them to fulfill their function efficiently. For this, we cannot consider the plastic or metal models that are not significantly reinforced. The best crampons are the steel ones, in their different variants, due to the durability and resistance they offer. Another option is aluminum, but only for non-demanding activities.
Fixation system and boots
If we want the crampons to protect us on snowy or icy terrain, they must be well attached to our boots. To begin with, then, we must choose the model compatible with the boots we have. Then, depending on the activity, we must choose between the fixing systems mentioned in the article. The most universal is the strap system.
Tip type and quantity
The tips are the components that adhere to the ground to guarantee stability. Less than eight is not recommended as crampons will not provide many points of support. Depending on the activity that we are planning to carry out, it is important to see the tips’ distribution throughout the sole and the type: vertical, horizontal, or single.
Presence of antizuecos
Anti-cramping is an essential safety measure for crampons. They prevent the accumulation of snow on the sole and prevent slips and falls. Some models do not have them incorporated, so they are not recommended (although they can be purchased separately). Better to buy crampons with built-in anti-cramps to avoid taking risks.
At the end of all, the crampons’ efficiency will depend on whether we have chosen them depending on the activity we want to do. Vertical 12-point crampons for hiking on flat snowy terrain would be uncomfortable and nonsense. That is why, before buying a model, we must carefully inform ourselves of what each activity requires.
Crampons are traction accessories inserted into boots to move on snow or ice, adhering to surfaces with stability and security. They consist of sharp points that penetrate these surfaces and are widely used in winter sports and hiking, alpine skiing, and ice climbing.
Crampons differ quite a bit depending on the number and type of tips, the fixing systems, and the material they are made. Generally, they are made of steel or aluminum, perfect for withstanding harsh climatic conditions. It is crucial to consider the activity that we will carry out before choosing a model; this way, we will get the most out of the product.