Crampons are an essential piece of gear as far as winter activities are concerned, and you need the best crampons to protect you from slipping or falling. This special footwear features little chain-like spikes to improve traction and keep you from falling. Running, climbing, hiking, or walking during the winter can be a delightful experience, but you should make sure you stay safe.
The presence of so many models in the market can be overwhelming for the inexperienced buyer. Not to worry, however, because we’ve provided detailed crampon reviews to help ensure that you make the right choice. This article also contains other additional information that you’ll need on your way to purchasing crampons that will suit your needs.
What Are Good Crampons And Who Should Have Them?
Crampons are traction devices that are attached to footwear to improve mobility on snow and ice during activities like snow climbing, hiking, and other activities on high altitudes. There are three main attachment systems as far as crampons for footwear are concerned. While the first two would require boots with welts to level tension, the last type features more versatility and can adapt to nearly all shoes and boots.
Let’s state at this point that crampons come in different styles, grades, configurations, and points numbers. Most times, users need to pay attention to the type of terrain that they need to conquer when choosing a model. Crampons are typically rated by their flexibility and the level of support that they provide. Below, take a look at the classification of people that need to use crampons.
1. Ice Climbing
Crampons come very useful for people that need to ascend iced-over waterfalls or icy rocks. A high risk of slipping often characterizes these terrains. Therefore, ice-climbers would usually require a device that can offer enough traction to keep them going. Yes, certain shoes can provide enough traction too, but because of the nature of the terrain, these shoes may soon begin to break. Hence, the need for a supportive device to take the load off your shoes.
2. Winter Hiking
Whether you are an amateur or a professional in the world of hiking, winter hiking often requires that you get additional gear to keep you going safe and steady on snowy trails. Crampons come as one of the essential gear for such purposes. This gear provides you with the needed traction when you need to hike on icy grounds. Hiking boots play a massive role in keeping hikers safe, but the presence of an additional gear like this helps to ensure total stability without slipping.
3. Other Activities on High Altitudes
Altitude refers to the height above sea level. While traveling higher, you’ll notice that moisture, gravity, pressure, and oxygen would continually decrease as altitude increases. With the air pushing down from above and the air molecules forming an even stronger force, you’ll notice a decrease in the air density, generally affecting your aerobic performance. This will, in turn, make it even more difficult for you to breathe and walk. Considering the reduction in pressure, you’ll find that your body will begin to feel heavier.
At this point, you’ll be glad of your preparation ahead of time. With the acquisition of the right hiking gear being the difference, crampons can mean the difference between reaching your goal and having to turn back due to unnecessary injuries.
Best Crampons Comparison Chart
Yaktrax Walk Traction Cleats for Walking on Snow and Ice (1 Pair)
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Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System
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Unigear Traction Cleats Ice Snow Grips 8 Spikes for Climbing and Hiking
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Hillsound Trail Crampon Traction Device
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ALPS Ice/Snow Grips Snow Traction Cleats Anti Slip Ice Cleats
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Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra Traction Device
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MoKo 19 Spikes Ice Crampon, Outdoor Footwear Traction Cleats
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PETZL – VASAK Crampons for Classic Mountaineering
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Best Crampons Reviews
1. Yaktrax Walk Traction Cleats for Walking on Snow and Ice (1 Pair)
No matter the harshness of the winter, you can rest assured that this set of impressive cleats from Yaktrax can conveniently handle the task if providing you maximum traction. It’s perhaps the ability of this option to provide remarkable traction and the confidence that it offers users that stands it out as one of the best.
This option features a spikeless ultra-lightweight design that stands it out. It’s this design that makes it perfect for even the worst weather conditions. Let’s also mention that its ease of putting on and off makes it cool for people that would not want to waste valuable time working. It provides 360° of traction on a cold surface. This traction level helps for total stability, irrespective of the condition.
At first sight, you’ll also be impressed by the presence of a durable rubber foot frame that comes with a removable over-foot strap to ensure a secure fit. The abrasion resistance fit on the shoe features a set of 1.4mm stainless-steel coils that are certified safe from unnecessary breakage when the temperature takes a downward turn. It is, however, essential to try them out with the shoes that you intend to wear. This way, you’ll get the right size without making mistakes.
- Impressive lightweight design
- Offers greater stability
- Reduces proneness to injuries
- Ease of usage
- Wrong sizing.
2. Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System
Kahtoola is one brand that has continued to stand out in the manufacture of crampons and other related apparel. This option from the brand easily passes as a lightweight traction piece. The lightweight nature of the traction system is part of the reason for its popularity. Beyond that, however, its compatibility with winter boots, trail runners, and most street shoes stand it out from the competition. This Nano-spike features a redesign that resembles tire studs with small traction points.
As expected for this piece, it comes with a unique design that provides traction when on low angle trails covered with snow or ice. There’s also the possibility of placing and removing the elastomer binding mechanism. This mechanism comes with strengthened eyelets and can efficiently serve as tear prevention.
On the other hand, let’s mention that this option does not wholly suit mountaineering boots and other larger pack boots. From the first sight of it, you can already tell that it is intended for trail runners. What most people don’t know, however, is that it offers an impressive grip on icy trails and sidewalks. There’s no better justification with this decent-looking traction device than for you to run.
During this review, we also found that it comes with a convenient carrying case that allows you to move it from one place to the other if a need arises. It has tapered shock-absorbing cleats, that enables you to land without feeling the direct impact on your feet.
- Long-lasting guarantee
- Low profile design helps for more comfortable strides
- Impressive slip-resistant technology
- Shoes not included.
3. Unigear Traction Cleats Ice Snow Grips 8 Spikes for Climbing and Hiking
One thing is sure about this option – it is designed to maintain optimal performance in the toughest terrains. The brand is famous for its effort in converting the most recent traction technologies into devices and apparel that mountain climbers can use. Therefore, it’s not as surprising, seeing what they did with this one go. With a total of 18 spikes on this option, you can expect immense stability over ice and snow. Most users are also impressed that the spikes are crafted from stainless steel that’s highly-resilient.
These cleats feature an impressive level of solidity and performance, such that it wouldn’t fail a user, even in a bone-chilling temperature of up to -45°C. Moreover, we are impressed with the heavy-duty nature of the device. The wideness of the plate also helps to increase its functionality. The use of thermoplastic elastomer construction for this model will help it to hold its own, even when used for more aggressive activities.
From the first sight of the boot, you’ll notice how its unique design is to make you comfortable. The velcro straps it features, for instance, would make fastening the cleats to your boots a breeze.
- Impressive level of versatility
- Would work in extreme temperature
- Very durable design
- It offers immense stability.
- The use of stainless steel means more weight.
4. Hillsound Trail Crampon Traction Device
Indeed, Hillsound has done an impressive job with this one. We particularly love how they’ve brought more traction and flexibility to the Trail Crampon while ensuring that the weight goes down enough for runners and hikers that are looking to travel lighter in the mountains. The level of convenience that this option features is perhaps the reason why tons of users are still running after it. It features an ultra-high-strength stainless steel construction that helps for durability. This construction does not only help for durability, but it surprisingly takes away a large chunk of weight from the shoe, ensuring better performance.
The new Trail Crampon’s ULTRA has become famous for its ability to bring the brand’s legacy of superb traction performance to the people that might need faster and lighter traveling. It also features up to 18 spikes to ensure aggressive traction level on any icy surface, as well as to properly distribute pressure for withstanding wear. The presence of welded chains on this option helps for the withstanding of repeated torque, foot strike, and abuse on any kind of terrain. Its feature of double-sided chains gives it the tight grip it’ll need to prevent shifting of traction devices.
Perhaps, it will also excite you to know that the device comes with Velcro straps to keep it securely fastened on your boot. A carrying bag also helps to ensure ease of carriage. Several other accessories included help to make setting up and usage easier.
- Very comfortable design
- Durable design
- Features an impressive weight reduction technology
- Improved traction.
- Not the most versatile option out there.
5. ALPS Ice/Snow Grips Snow Traction Cleats Anti Slip Ice Cleats
This brand has always been against winter, restricting people from coming out to enjoy themselves. Over time, they’ve been doing massive work in producing top-quality devices that will help you enjoy the outdoors, even in very cold conditions. These Anti-slip Ice Cleats from the brand help to ensure that you enjoy your hiking, hunting, or running hobby, notwithstanding the weather condition. They provide the confidence that anyone needs to walk on snowy, muddy, or icy surfaces. The use of sturdy rubber for the construction of this one helps to keep the spikes firmly in position.
One of the first things you’ll notice about these cleats is that they come with ten studs and ten others for replacement purposes. Therefore, if you lose any stud for any reason, you can easily replace them by screwing the new stuff onto the rubber material. Additionally, you’ll find that the ice cleats are pretty easy to get on and off. You can just slip them beneath your boots when you want to enjoy great outdoors during winter. They’ll provide excellent traction for you in any terrain. In addition to that, the inconspicuous black design of the cleats makes it pretty difficult for anyone to notice that you are wearing braces.
It will also be exciting to know that the device is impressively lightweight, thanks to its minimalist design. Despite the impressive lightweight that they come with, they still do not compromise in the areas of stability and traction.
- Features a sturdy, durable design
- Very lightweight
- Powerful traction.
- Not for heavy-duty work
6. Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra Traction Device
Apart from the impressive traction level that these shoe features, tons of advantages puts this traction aid ahead of other traditional rigid mountaineering crampons. First, it is lighter in weight than most other conventional crampons. At only 16.2 oz per pair, you can expect to use this set across a variety of conditions. In addition to that, you also do not need any unique bag to carry them.
It is highly compatible with different types of footwear, including shoes or boots that feature soft soles. The spikes on the Lightweight Trail Crampon Ultra are connected by chains, letting them float freely. This would, in turn, make them more comfortable to walk or to hike on, especially if you are using a pair of soft-soled shoes. Some users even comment on using them to run on thin ice like the one present on urban running trails and winter sidewalks.
When it comes to performance, this device is also able to stand its ground. Their ease of putting on and off helps for the convenience of users. All you need to do is to get a one that’s compatible with the size of your boots or shoes, and you would be good to go. They perform well for hiking on packed-out mountain trails that are covered with ice or snow. We are also impressed by the amount of traction that it provides when users need to hike up steep slopes.
- Pretty easy to put on and to take off
- Safe to use on steep hills
- Lightweight design
- The spikes can rust.
7. MoKo 19 Spikes Ice Crampon, Outdoor Footwear Traction Cleats
Again, MoKo shows its superiority in the manufacture of high-traction equipment in this one. This outdoor footwear traction cleat is one anybody would love to own when the need to go to the outdoors arises during winter. Featuring up to 19 stainless steel spikes means that you can be guaranteed of excellent traction in very slippery terrains. It is also designed with flexible, non-aging, and recyclable material. Therefore, you can expect a good level of durability and safety during your winter outing adventure.
When it comes to functionality, the robust anti-skid traction cleats featured in this set aggressively grips and remain in the ground, helping you maintain balance and stability. This is the same level of balance and stability that you’ll need to walk on icy and uneven pathways without slipping. The cleats are perfect for outdoor winter activities, including icy road walking, angled mountain climbing, hiking, and winter trail running.
Most users are also impressed by the ease of putting on and taking off the set. Its ability to work with all kinds of footwear also stands it out as a one-solution-fits-all.
- Can be folded into an attached storage bag
- Lightweight and portable
- Easy to use
- Relatively expensive.
8. PETZL – VASAK Crampons for Classic Mountaineering
The Vasak crampons from PETZL are all-round classic mountaineering crampons that are designed to meet up with several uses. Non-respective of whether you choose to travel over snow couloirs or glaciers, there’s perhaps no better choice than this one. These are crampons that are designed for the more experienced climbers. Their slimmer frame makes them more lightweight than most other options. They are also easy to strap on and feature excellent grip.
Their crampons would make life easier for you. They come in two different versions for different applications. The patented anti-snow system helps in preventing snow build-up that could have easily been dangerous. You can be assured of maximum stability and security on your climbing adventure with these crampons.
- Easy to put on
- Impressive traction ability
- Very durable
- The thinner frame restricts choices of the shoe.
Crampon vs. Microspikes vs. Snowshoe
By now, you should already know that hiking in winter would require extra traction for the prevention of skips on snow and icy ground. There are typically three types of footwear traction devices that you can use for snowy or icy conditions. However, each of these three devices fits specific situations. They include microspikes, crampons, and snowshoes. In case you are wondering what each of these is and how they compare against each other, then this is the part for you.
These are a type of foot traction system that’s fastened to existing shows. Crampons may be similar to microspikes in applications, but they differ in that they are foot frames with large spikes below them. You can either use a tension lever to attach them to the footwear if a strapping system. While certain types of crampon would work on any kind of sturdy boot, including the best bowling shoes, others are designed to work with specific types of boots.
This, on the other hand, features a design that comprises chains and small spikes. These chains and spikes are slipped over your footwear to ensure additional traction. Microspikes feature a design that looks like chains placed over tires for the enhancement of vehicular traction. The spikes in this device are usually relatively short and are typically placed at the inner part of the sole. This makes them preferable for low-angle slopes or flat terrains. It’s important to note that wearing microspikes can cause additional weight to your feet, causing you to get tired easily. Most experts recommend that you do not wear microspikes for your entire hike. Instead, you can leave it until you hit conditions that require them.
When it comes to snowshoes, you’ll find that they come with a broader footprint than traditional footwear. This feature helps for the distribution of the weight of the hiker. While crampons and microspikes are typical traction devices, snowshoes are best referred to as floating devices. They allow you to float comfortably on snow. As the name suggests, snowshoes are for snowy and not icy conditions. They are worn best on flat or low-angle terrain.
Binding Types of Crampons
Like most other shoes and Foot-Support gears, crampons come in multiple types. Of course, the type you choose would often depend on certain factors such as personal preference and comfort. However, it is essential to know the different types and what they stand for before making your choice. One of the significant ways to classify crampons is by their binding style. Below, take a look at common types of crampons by binding style.
This binding type is great for boots without welts. Such boots as regular hiking boots, snowboarding boots, insulated winter boots, mountaineering boots, and approach boots would typically require a strap-on style crampon. This crampon style typically utilizes nylon webbing straps and flexible plastic cages that are present on the toe and heel area. Strap-on crampons are great for the provision of traction on unconventional winter footwear or non-technical terrain. This style of binding ensures that you have a secure fit, although you might experience some slippage when you move to more technical terrains.
The semi-automatic crampon is a hybrid of automatic crampons and strap-on crampons. This type features a strap style and doesn’t require a welt. Hybrid crampons feature a design that works with technical hiking boots that forgo a toe welt. The reason why these boots forgo a toe welt is to attain maximum sensitivity when you hit routes that combine rock and ice.
Otherwise known as the step-in style, this style of crampons are the most technical and secure. It features a cable heel piece and a lever, and both can be adjusted to ensure a tighter fit. Automatic crampons come ideal for mixed climbing, vertical ice climbing, technical mountaineering, and ski mountaineering. You’ll discover in this style that there is little movement between the contact point of the mountaineering and the rigid sole of the crampon. Some of this type of crampon used an ankle strap, although this is not an entirely necessary feature.
4. Screw-On Crampon
This is the most specialized style of crampons. The style comes great for use in highly technical mixed climbing, dry tooling, and ice climbing. There are cases of climbers using low profile shoes with a precision fit that is unofficially termed as fruit boots. Fruit boots do not have heels or toe welts because they resemble beefed-up climbing shoes, rather than mountaineering boots. A combination of fruit boots and screw-on crampons is only intended for technically mixed terrains.
Crampons feature varying amounts of flexibility and rigidity. Wearing crampons with the wrong shoe rigidity will simply pull it apart. Similarly, if you use crampons that are too big for your boots, they will upturn your feet in a manner that could expose your ankle to the risk of injuries. It is important to understand the rating of each crampon. You need to also verify their compatibility with your shoes before buying them. Below, take a look at a review of the various ratings.
1. C1 Crampons
These crampons are typically compatible with B1, B2, and B3 boots. They usually come with a webbing tape tether that helps with pulling flexible cradles around the toe and heel to create a secure binding. This system is usually available on low profile 10 point crampons with less aggressive points.
2. C2 Crampons
Crampons with this rating are suitable for winter climbing, technical winter scrambles, and alpinism. They use flexible toe cradles and plastic heel levers and would give a secure binding to B2 and B3 boots. These are the 12 point all-rounders that you’ll find easy to walk in.
3. C3 Crampons
This crampon rating is suitable for technical mountaineering and ice climbing. Crampons under this category are compatible with B2 boots, and it is only them that can combine a metal toe bar with a plastic heel lever. It is this step-in system that provides it with the solid fit that it features, although it’ll only work with full B3 boots.
Crampons Buying Guide
Like most other footwear available today, crampons come in different brands and models. Most times, it is the availability of so many different brands to choose from that creates a problem for inexperienced buyers. Knowledge of the factors to look out for would, however, help to ensure that you get the best for your needs. Here, take a look at some of the most important factors to look out for, as far as the purchase of crampons is concerned.
One of the first factors you’ll probably want to look out for in a crampon is its construction since it goes a long way to determine how you use it. Despite the availability of hinged and rigid crampons for such a long time, the semi-rigid construction is still the most popular option today.
You’ll find that crampons with semi-rigid design offer users with the advantage of good performance, even in the broadest of conditions. The design helps for enough flex for winter walking while maintaining enough rigidity to fit moderate ice climbing. Most people would, therefore, advise that you go for an option that features a semi-rigid design.
2. Binding Type
Another major factor that’s worth watching out for is the binding type. Crampons would usually feature one of the following binding types.
Also referred to as semi-step crampons, this type features a toe strap and a heel lever. They typically require boots with stiff soles. If you are mostly going to put your crampon on with gloves, then you are going to need it to have this binding style.
As explained earlier, this system features a wire bail holding the toe in place. This would always result in a very secure fit for your boot. If you would be using the crampon with telemark boots and for ski mountaineering, then this is a perfect option for you.
You’ll usually find this style to feature a pair of nylon webbing straps per crampon. The great thing about this system is its compatibility with virtually any shoe or boot. If you’ll be using multiple boots, then this would be a perfect option for you.
You need to also put more consideration into what the cleats are made of. We usually advise that you go for the ones that feature long-lasting materials like aluminum, carbide steel, and stainless steel. This is to say that the material needs to be durable and sturdy enough to stand in the face of challenging terrains. Also, the materials would directly affect the weight of the crampon. Therefore, you’ll need to ensure that the materials are lightweight enough not to limit your walking pace.
How does your choice crampon attach to your boot? Do you use straps or clip-in to tighten it in place? The attachment style will, to no small extent, affect your mountaineering adventure. Hiking boots, for instance, do not have toe and heel welts, so if you are planning on hiking, then you are going to a strap-in crampon.
When And How To Use Crampons?
It’s one thing to own crampons, and it’s another thing to know when and how to use it. Crampons often require specific conditions underfoot for efficacy. Knowing when to use them usually comes with experience.
We usually advise that you use crampons when you go climbing on snow or ice, especially when there’s a tendency of slipping off. If the thread of your shoes won’t stick, then you’ll need crampons. There’s a need for you always to aim to put crampons on before their need arises.
Balling on hard-packed snow can be pretty dangerous, and you’ll need to bring out your crampons in such situations. Rock is the worst surface for using crampons, considering that your weight would be on small points at the edge of your boots. Confidence is needed at this point, or you may easily turn an ankle.
The main thing with walking in crampons is to take it steady, at least, until you get used to the sharp points present on the boot’s bottom. Try to keep your feet in a slightly wider position. Otherwise, you might have a lot of holes in your trousers. Once you begin to get more comfortable with crampons, they’ll open up a vast range of areas for you to get to.
FAQ About Crampons
1. Do You Need Special Boots For Crampons?
Most crampons typically require special types of boots. Crampons are not designed for all kinds of hiking boots, and the reason for this is because of their requirement of a stiff-shanked boot to enable them to stay safely attached. Boots would typically feature grade-ranking, and each grade supports different crampon ratings. Before making your purchase, you’ll need to find the right match between boot grade and crampon rating.
2. What Size Crampons Do I Need?
We all know how infuriating it can be to purchase a traction ice cleat that is either too tight or loose in a manner that denies your comfort. Therefore, while focusing on cleat performance and traction, you are also encouraged to pay more emphasis on size too. Select crampons that best fit your shoe to help for better convenience.
3. What Are Automatic & Semi-Automatic Crampons?
As explained earlier, there are different types of crampons. Semi-auto crampons and automatic crampons rank among the most popular types. Semi-automatic crampons are a hybrid of automatic crampons and strap-on crampons. They combine the features of these two and are compatible with certain styles of technical hiking boots.
Automatic crampons, on the other hand, are the most secure type of crampon, despite the technicality that they come with. They feature a lever and cable heel piece that brings a tighter fit with mild adjustments. This type of crampon is perfect for any situation where you’ll need to use it with a rigid lugged mountaineering.
4. How To Maintain Crampons?
Crampons are typically exposed to a lot of abuse due to their usage situations. However, proper maintenance can help to extend the life of crampons. Some important maintenance tips are listed below.
1. Inspect the Bindings
Before going out with them, ensure to inspect the bindings of the crampons. This would help you detect any fault that needs quick fixing. Check for loose screws and rivets. Replace or tighten where applicable. Also, check for worn straps and buckles and replace them where necessary. Check to be sure that the nails are in perfect shape.
2. Sharpen the Points
The points of the crampon need constant sharpening, especially after each use. Typically, you’ll need to use a hand file to file in the direction of the file’s teeth. Avoid the use of a grinding wheel for this purpose, since it generates heat that can potentially weaken the metal.
Ensure that your crampons are dry before any storage. Coat then with light oil or water-displacement spray if you’ll be storing them for long.
After reviewing the best crampons in the market, you can now see how easy it is to get top-quality crampons that will suit your needs. Each of the options listed in our crampon reviews promises to offer you the best in features and performance. Be assured that each of the products is worth buying. However, we advise that you make your choice by using our buying guide.
There are so many options out there, but this article features only the best. In this article, you’ll also learn about the different types of crampons and how to go about proper maintenance. We hope that you can utilize the information in this article to your advantage as you hit the market. In case you are thinking about, for example buying a good army boot, you can refer to our army boots reviews for it. Otherwise, you can check out other shoe guides to learn more about the best in each category.
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