15 Best Hiking Crampons – Ultimate Guide 2021

From ice climbing and mountaineering to glacier travel and winter hiking, crampons offer the stability and support you need to cope with icy conditions and slippery slopes. However, choosing the right model takes some thought. 

Are you planning on hiking more than anything else? Then an aluminum crampon is the best choice. Things are different if you engage in technical ice climbing. Here a steel crampon is an undisputed champion. 

That’s why we’ve taken the time to review 15 best hiking crampons you can find in the market. Correspondingly, we review the strap-on models to step-ins and hybrids, we’ve got them all.

You will also find a what to look for in the winter crampons guide at the end of the review. There you will find hints on what features you need the most depending on the activity. 

But enough of the lollygagging. Let’s get started.

group of  friends using climbing crampons
ProductBoot Size
BindingsNo. of PointsMaterial(s)Wt
(oz)
Best Use
Price
Black Diamond Equipment - Contact Strap Crampons Militr - Black
Black Diamond Contact
up to 12Strap-on10
Non-Modular
Stainless Steel28Stiff, Non-Technical
Mountaineering
$124.99
Kahtoola KTS Steel Hiking Crampons with SRS (S/M)
Kahtoola KTS Steel Hiking Crampons
4 to 14Strap-on10
Non-Modular
Chromoly Steel23.3Backpacking, Hiking $169.95
VGEBY Traction Ice Cleats, Anti-Slip 10 Toothed Snow Crampons Ice Gripper Footwear for...
VGEBY Hiking Crampons
6 to 11Strap-on10
Modular
Tempered Steel27.5Winter hikingPrice not available
PETZL - VASAK, Crampons for Classic Mountaineering, Flexlock
PETZL VASAK Classic Mountaineering
6 to 12Strap-on &
Hybrid
12
Non-Modular
Stainless Steel30.9Moderate to steep slopes$159.95
CAMP XLC 490 Universal Crampons
CAMP XLC 490 Universal Crampons
5 to 14Strap-on12
Non-Modular
Aluminum Alloy20.7Glacier Travel$159.95
PETZL Leopard FL Crampons
PETZL Leopard FL Crampons

6 to 12Strap-on10
Non-Modular
Aluminum, Stainless Steel, Nylon, Dyneema13.6Mountaineering$111.24
Kahtoola K-10 Hiking Crampons
Kahtoola K10 Winter Hiking Crampon
6 to 13Strap-on10
Non-Modular
Chromoly Steel21.5Hiking & Non-Technical Mountaineering$99.95
BRS HuaYe Professional Edition Fourteen Teeth Ice Crampons Winter Snow Boot Shoe Covers Gripper...

BRS HuaYe Professional Edition
6 to 12Strap-on14
Non-Modular
Manganese Steel35Light Climbing
Summer Ski
Trails
$60.99
Black Diamond Equipment - Neve Pro Crampons
Black Diamond Neve Pro Winter Crampons
6 to 12Step-in10
Non-Modular
Aluminum21Mountaineering$159.95
Cassin Alpinist Tech Crampons
Cassin Alpinist Tech Crampons
6 to 14
Step-in12
Non-Modular
Chromoly Steel28.6Steep
Ice Climbing
$249.95
PETZL Dart Modular Crampon for Ice Climbing and Dry Tooling

PETZL Dart Modular Ice Climbing Crampons
4 to 11Step-in12
Modular
Steel/Nylon28.9Mixed Climbing$199.00
PETZL - Lynx, Modular Crampons for Ice and Mixed Climbing
PETZL Lynx LeverLock Modular Crampons
6 to 11Step-in
Hybrid
14
Modular
Tempered Steel38Technical
Ice Climbing
$196.99
Grivel G22 Ice New-Matic Technical Crampon, Yellow, one Size
Grivel G22 Crampon
6 to 14Hybrid12
Non-Modular
Chromoly Steel32.5Ice Climbing
Stiff boots
$199.95
Black Diamond Equipment - Sabretooth Clip Crampons
Black
6 to 14Step-in
Hybrid
14
Non-Modular
Stainless Steel32Ice Climbing
Descents
$254.99
CAMP Stalker Semi-Auto Crampons
CAMP Stalker Semi-Auto Crampons
6 to 14Hybrid12
Modular
Chromoly Steel34Mountaineering
Hiking
$124.95

Strap-On Crampons

Best Strap-on Crampon: Black Diamond Contact

Black Diamond Equipment - Contact Strap Crampons Militr - Black

Features:

  • Best for: Stiff Non-Technical Mountaineering
  • Crampon Type: Strap-On
  • Number of points: 10
  • Frame: Stainless Steel
  • Teeth Type: Non-Modular
  • Boot Size: up to 12
  • Weight (Ounces): 28

Available in black and chromed grey, the Black Diamond Contact crampons have a stainless steel frame. As a result, they won’t rust even after prolonged exposure to the elements. They also handle rocky terrain better than most other materials. 

The strap-on crampon requires no grooves to install. In addition, the flexible bar is compatible with even the stiffest hiking boot.

However, the straps are quite complicated to tie the first time. Generally, they’re prone to get loose after prolonged usage. 

The two ABS plastic plates are sensible and keep the ice from accumulating beneath the crampon. On the other hand, the ten stainless steel spikes keep you anchored to the ice.

Also, the front points disposition makes the Black Diamond Contact an ideal traction device for winter non-technical mountaineering.

Since it is very light, weighing only 28 ounces, you can also use it for walking through snow. But stay clear of any vertical slope.

Our main complaint is that the advertised size falls a little too short. You might even need to purchase an aftermarket flex bar if you use size 12 or greater. 

Likes: 

  • Very light 
  • Compatible with many hiking boots 
  • Rust-proof frame 
  • Compact

Dislikes: 

  • Price
  • The straps loosen after prolonged sessions 
  • Shorted than advertised

Best for Winter Hiking: Kahtoola KTS Steel Hiking Crampons

Kahtoola KTS Steel Hiking Crampons with SRS (S/M)

Features:

  • Best for: Hiking and Trekking
  • Crampon Type: Strap-on
  • Number of points: 10
  • Frame: Chromoly Steel
  • Teeth Type: Non-Modular
  • Boot Size: 4 to 14
  • Weight (Ounces): 23.3

Changing the game a bit, we find the KTS Hiking Crampons by Kahtoola. It has a flexible Chromoly steel frame with ten 1-inch spikes. Thus, it works like a charm for hiking through packed snow and ice. Plus, they are the lightest traction device we’ve seen thus far. 

There are two sizes available: S/M and M/L, which translate into 4 to 14 shoe sizes. You can easily extend or collapse the hiking crampon by adjusting the flex bar.

Plus, the dedicated heel and toe binding ensure a tight fit with most hiking boots. Finally, the buckles keep the traction device in place no matter what. 

As soon as you lay your eye on it, you will notice that it has no anti-balling plates. So, you might have to remove the snow from time to time by yourself.

In addition, since the non-modular teeth sit on the short side and the crampon lacks horizontal points, the KTS is not for technical climbing.

You can walk on slopes with delicate inclinations. But nothing more than this.

Likes: 

  • Light
  • Suitable for a wide range of hiking boots 
  • Tight fit 
  • Easy to adjust

Dislikes:

  • Very expensive
  • The paint peels off 
  • Prone to oxidation

Best for Beginners: VGEBY Hiking Crampons

VGEBY Traction Ice Cleats, Anti-Slip 10 Toothed Snow Crampons Ice Gripper Footwear for...

Features:

  • Best for: Winter Hiking
  • Crampon Type: Strap-On
  • Number of points: 10
  • Frame: Tempered Steel
  • Teeth Type: Modular
  • Boot Size: 6 to 11
  • Weight (Ounces): 27.5

If you are more interested in winter hiking, then you ought to check these crampons. They are compatible with most hiking boots, shoes, and alpine boots. Plus, they are very light, weighing only 27.5 ounces. 

Certainly, the construction is nothing impressive. Each crampon has ten manganese steel spikes and rubberized heel and toes cages. The binding system keeps your footwear in place. But forget about tight fits. 

Neither the short spikes nor the TPU bailing plates can handle packed snow. Some of it might get stuck beneath the traction device, lowering the grip. But nothing that a quick stop can’t fix. 

Allegedly, the VGEBY crampons support shoe sizes from 6 to 11. But beware, boots are larger than a shoe of equivalent size.

So, don’t be surprised if your size 11 hiking boot doesn’t fit inside this strap-on crampon.

Likes: 

  • Compatible with most shoes and hiking boots 
  • Light frame
  • Easy to use
  • It comes with a bag

Dislikes: 

  • It runs smaller with boots 
  • Although it has anti-balling plates, snow still finds its way to get stuck

Best for Beginners: PETZL VASAK Crampons for Classic Mountaineering

PETZL - VASAK, Crampons for Classic Mountaineering, Flexlock

Features:

  • Best for: Moderate Steep Slopes
  • Crampon Type: Strap-On and Hybrid
  • Number of points: 12
  • Frame: Stainless Steel
  • Teeth Type: Non-Modular
  • Boot Size: 6 to 16
  • Weight (Ounces): Up to 30.9 depending on the model

Are you walking on glaciers or through frozen waterfalls? If so, the VASAK crampon by PETZL is the traction device you want. Its twelve non-modular points grant enough grip to walk on soft ice.

However, it is not the best option for technical or mixed climbing. It lacks the serrated and customizable teeth which are crucial for these activities. 

There are two versions available: Flexlock (Strap-on) and Leverlock (Hybrid). The first is compatible with a range of hiking boots. In contrast, the lever-lock model is only compatible with boots with grooves.

Still, the latter wraps tighter around the feet, which is better for climbing.

Both have the same point layout, with two horizontal teeth.

Furthermore, its Antisnow system features two plates on the heel and toes, which prevents snow build-up. Thus, keeping the traction intact.

Accordingly, both models come with an adjustable flex bar. By adjusting it, you can accommodate boots from size 36 to 50. 

Likes: 

  • Compatible with many hiking boots 
  • Easy to walk with 
  • Quick setup 
  • Teeth remain sharp for a long time

Dislikes:

  • They won’t wrap tightly around the boot 
  • Not suitable for vertical ice climbing

Best for Beginners: CAMP XLC 490 Universal Crampons

CAMP XLC 490 Universal Crampons

Features:

  • Best for: Glacier Travel
  • Crampon Type: Strap-On
  • Number of points: 12
  • Frame: 7075 Aluminum Alloy
  • Teeth Type: Non-Modular
  • Boot Size: 5 to 14
  • Weight (Ounces): 20.7

The CAMP XLC 490 Aluminum Crampons boasts a light aluminum frame with twelve points. Neither of them is serrated. But, the spikes sit on the shorter side.

Therefore, the XLC 490 winter crampons are not suitable for mixed terrain or ice climbing.

However, they are perfect for traveling through ice and snow. Just make sure your feet are flat on the ground. You risk bending the spikes if you don’t. 

The strap-on bindings with universal toe and heel plastic cages are compatible with most hiking boots. But not with telemark or ski boots. However, it is unlikely that you will purchase strap-on crampons if you have this kind of footwear. 

The CAMP XLC 490 aluminum crampons for shoes fit sizes 5 to 14. Sadly, you can’t get an aftermarket bar to accommodate bigger sizes since it’s welded to the frame. 

Both the carrying case and anti-balling plates come with your purchase. Unfortunately, the plates are not mounted. Still, it’s not that much of a hassle to do it. 

Likes: 

  • The spikes come with a wear indicator
  • It comes with a carrying case 
  • Hassle-free binding strap 
  • Outstanding performance of flat ground

Dislikes: 

  • Not suitable for large boot sizes 
  • Spikes are prone to bend

Best for Beginners: PETZL Leopard FL Crampons

PETZL Leopard FL Crampons

Features:

  • Best for: Winter Hiking
  • Crampon Type: Strap-On
  • Number of points: 10
  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Teeth Type: Non-Modular
  • Boot Size: 6 to 12
  • Weight (Ounces): 13.6

With a design we’ve not seen thus far, we have the Leopard crampon by PETZL. Yes, I know, another PETZL option. It is starting to look like we are getting paid by promoting them. But it is not the case, unfortunately. 

Jokes aside, PETZL is a renowned crampons brand. Hence, the many options in this review. This time, however, we will talk about an ice traction device different from the rest.

It is the first PETZL crampon with an aluminum frame. Plus, it uses cords instead of a flex bar. So flexibility won’t be an issue here. Adjusting the crampon size is also easier. 

But there is a catch. The Leopard is not suitable for any kind of ice climbing. Still, you can walk on slopes, ice, frozen rivers.

But we don’t recommend using them for anything else. That’s why so many people use them as an approach crampon. They change the hardware once they arrive at the climbing site. 

As it needs no grooves, the Leopard Fl binding system is compatible with most hiking shoes and boots. Lastly, these ultralight and compact Petzl comes in their own crampon bag.

Likes: 

  • It packs small
  • It comes with a bag
  • Compatible with hiking shoes

Dislikes: 

  • No anti-balling plates
  • It is expensive for an approach crampon

Best for Beginners: Kahtoola K10 Winter Hiking Crampon

Kahtoola K-10 Hiking Crampons

Features:

  • Best for: Hiking and Non-Technical Mountaineering
  • Crampon Type: Strap-On
  • Number of points: 10
  • Frame: 4130 Chromoly Steel
  • Teeth Type: Non-Modular
  • Boot Size: 6 to 13
  • Weight (Ounces): 21.5

Flexible, light, and durable are the distinctive features of the K10 winter crampons. Therefore, they are another suitable option for those looking for trekking crampons. Although the price is still high, it is more affordable than other options. 

The Kahtoola K10 flexible crampon features ten 3/4-inch spikes. As a result, the short points are better as walking crampons. Moreover, the flex bar allows your feet to move naturally.

In addition, the quick binding system is compatible with most hiking and insulated boots, whether they have grooves or not. 

The K10 comes in two sizes: Extra small and one size. Both come with adjustable bars, which means that they can accommodate up to boot size 13.

However, keep in mind that insulated boots are larger than regular hiking boots. Thus, the K10 crampon might fall a little short for them.

Sadly, since the spikes are too small, the K10 is not for anything other than walking on ice grounds. Plus, snow might build up beneath your boot since there are no anti-balling plates.

Releasing the front buckle is also an issue. It freezes and is a challenge to unbuckle with cold fingers.

Likes: 

  • Allows a natural movement of your feet
  • Good for long hikes 
  • Easy to adjust the size 
  • Use it on rocky terrain without a problem

Dislikes:

  • Comes with no anti-balling plates
  • The binding system is hard to buckle off with cold fingers
  • Runs smaller than advertised

Best for Beginners: BRS HuaYe Professional Edition

BRS HuaYe Professional Edition Fourteen Teeth Ice Crampons Winter Snow Boot Shoe Covers Gripper...

Features:

  • Best for: Light climbing, summer ski trails
  • Crampon Type: Strap-On
  • Number of points: 14
  • Frame: Manganese Steel
  • Teeth Type: Non-Modular
  • Boot Size: 6 to 12
  • Weight (Ounces): 35

Are you looking for something more affordable? Then check these BRS strap-on stainless steel crampons. True. They don’t look as durable as the other options. But you can hardly complain at this price point. 

The frame is chrome-coated manganese steel, while the anti-balling plates are TPU plastic. While they get the job done, they look very delicate. That’s why you have to avoid stepping on sharp rocks.

The same goes for the nylon strap. It secures the crampon in place. However, we find it too thin to handle too much friction. 

You can use the stainless steel spring plate to change the crampon size. It can accommodate boot sizes from 6 to 12; no problems on this end. 

The 14 -40mm teeth are perfect for walking on thick yet soft snow. However, the added weight might be too much for some hikers.

Each crampon weighs around 35 ounces, making them the heaviest traction devices we’ve reviewed thus far. Add some snow to the mix, and the weight might be unbearable for some. 

But not everything is bad news. The BRS strap-on crampons are compatible with many hiking boots.

In summary, these are easy to use. The fourteen stainless steel spikes give enough traction to walk on both ice and snow. 

Likes:

  • Easy to use
  • Grants great grip on soft snow 
  • Affordable 
  • Compatible with many hiking boots

Dislikes: 

  • Heavy
  • Fragile anti-balling plates 
  • Thin nylon strap

Step-In Crampons

Best Step-In Crampon: Black Diamond Neve Pro Winter Crampons

Black Diamond Equipment - Neve Pro Crampons

Features:

  • Best for: Technical and non-technical, Moderate Snow Climbing
  • Crampon Type: Step-in
  • Number of points: 10
  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Teeth Type: Non-Modular
  • Boot Size: 6 to 12
  • Weight (Ounces): 21

The Back Diamond Neve Pro is the first step-in aluminum crampon we’ve reviewed. Thus, it is only compatible with hiking boots with grooves in both toes and heel.

However, according to Black Diamond, the Neve Pro‘s attachment configuration, it’s also compatible with many mountaineering, trail running, and trekking footwear, because they are both stiff and flexible.

The snow traction device has ten non-modular aluminum spikes. Also, the horizontal front points allow you to climb frozen waterfalls and moderate snow climbing.

To explain, aluminum wears quicker than steel. Hence, the Black Diamond Neve Pro might not be the best option for rocky terrains,

A steel spring flex bar joins the heel and toe section together. You can adjust the separation between each section to accommodate up to size 12 boots.

What’s more, you also get dual-density ABS plastic plates. They prevent snow from sticking below the traction device. Plus, they are sensitive enough to feel the ground beneath. 

The Neve Pro aluminum crampon has one noticeable advantage. Specifically, they’re remarkably light. Thus, they are ideal for winter treks. 

Likes:

  • Lightweight
  • Sensible and durable anti-balling plates 
  • Flexible crampon
  • Compatible with most heel and toe grooved boots 
  • Two bidding systems are available

Dislikes: 

  • Spikes wear out quickly
  • Steel-flex bar is prone to bend 
  • Adjustable screw at the heel section gets stuck sometimes


Best for Technical Climbing: Cassin Alpinist Tech Crampons

Cassin Alpinist Tech Crampons

Features:

  • Best for: Steep Ice Climbing
  • Crampon Type: Step-In
  • Number of points: 12
  • Frame: Chromoly Steel
  • Teeth Type: Non-Modular
  • Boot Size: 6 to 14
  • Weight (Ounces): 28.6

Let’s start by saying that the Cassin Alpinist is only for those hikers who engage in a lot of technical climbing.

Why? Well, it is expensive. Plus, its aggressive point layout is ideal for vertical technical ice climbing. 

The Chromoly steel frame has twelve large spikes. Part of them is serrated, grating additional traction for steep climbs.

On the other hand, the mono-point design gives you the precision you need to work your way up. In addition, the secondary front point is shorter and increases support and stability. Its compatibility lays in that it’s an automatic crampon if you have boots with toe and heel welts. 

What’s more, if you want a semi-automatic crampon, Cassin Alpinist Tech provides toe bails and heel bails (sold separately). These easily convert to a hybrid crampon.

The Cassin Alpinist Tech, while being their lightest crampons, only works on grooved boots. But you can purchase an aftermarket set of step-in front bindings.

Additionally, the jointless frame is only compatible with B3 boots. It won’t work with anything more flexible than that. 

Likes:

  • Unparalleled support for technical climbing
  • Customize sizing for precise fit
  • Sturdy and corrosion-resistant frame
  • Comes with crampon bag
  • Surprisingly light for its construction

Dislikes: 

  • It is only compatible with grooved B3 boots
  • Not suitable for flat ground

Best for Mixed Climbing: PETZL Dart Modular Ice Climbing Crampons

PETZL Dart Modular Crampon for Ice Climbing and Dry Tooling

Features:

  • Best for: Mixed Climbing
  • Crampon Type: Step-In
  • Number of points: 12
  • Frame: Stainless Steel
  • Teeth Type: Modular
  • Boot Size: 4 to 11
  • Weight (Ounces): 28.9

The Dart Modular Ice Climbing Crampons are arguably the best traction device for mixed climbing. It comes with four different front points configurations: Mono-point, asymmetrical dual-points, and symmetrical dual-points.

The first is more suitable for ice climbing, while the others are better for technical mountaineering. 

Thankfully, PETZL has front points, front sections, and anti-bailing plate spares for sale. Therefore, you can get any of them; thereby, extending the lifespan of your traction device. 

The crampons are only suitable with boots with toe and heel grooves right out of the box. It can accommodate boot sizes 4 to 11. But you can purchase the L linking bar if it is too small for you.

Moreover, its traction device is also compatible with PETZL’s FILL SMALL toe bail for those narrow hiking boots with toe welts. 

On the other hand, the anti-snow plates keep snow buildup to a minimum. Thus, the twelve stainless steel spikes will keep their traction no matter what. 

Likes: 

  • Multiple front spikes options 
  • Secondary side spikes for more stability 
  • Spare parts available
  • Light for a technical crampon

Dislikes: 

  • Nylon strap doesn’t look that durable
  • Hefty price
  • Spikes are too sharp and will pierce your backpack when stowed

Hybrid Crampons

Best Overall: PETZL Lynx LeverLock Modular Crampons

PETZL - Lynx, Modular Crampons for Ice and Mixed Climbing

Features:

  • Best for: Technical Ice Climbing
  • Crampon Type: Hybrid and Step-In
  • Number of points: 14
  • Frame: Tempered Steel
  • Teeth Type: Modular
  • Boot Size: 6 to 11
  • Weight (Ounces): 38

It is about time for those who love both technical and mixed climbing: The Lynx modular crampon by PETZL.

It has a tempered steel frame, which means that they are heavy but very sturdy. However, weight does not matter since you won’t be using these for winter hikes. 

The Lynx winter crampon comes with swappable front bidding systems. Use the steel wire if your hiking boot has a toe welt and the flexible strap if not.

You can also customize the front points. Choose between dual points, offset arrangement, or remove one for more precision. The decision is only yours. 

With fourteen steel spikes, the Lynx offers the ultimate grip in the toughest conditions. If you engage in technical ice climbing, then you’ll benefit from its purchase the most. But it is a bit overkill for people who are merely starting, these are not trail crampons.

The PETZL Lynx adjustable flex bar accommodates size 6 to 11 boots. If you wear larger mountaineering boots, then you’ll have to purchase an aftermarket bar.

Likes: 

  • Customizable front points 
  • Incredible grip 
  • Swappable binding system
  • It comes with a carrying bag

Dislikes: 

  • Heavy
  • Expensive
  • Not suitable for large boots


Best Overall: Grivel G22 Crampon

Grivel G22 Ice New-Matic Technical Crampon, Yellow, one Size

Features:

  • Best for: Stiff Boots
  • Crampon Type: Hybrid
  • Number of points: 12
  • Frame: Chromoly Steel
  • Teeth Type: Non-Modular
  • Boot Size: 6 to 14
  • Weight (Ounces): 32.5

Looking at something more aggressive, we have the Grivel G22 crampon. It has twelve teeth: Six at the toes, four for the heels, and two running along the bar.

Note that it is not flexible. Hence, it is not suitable for flexible boots. The G22 crampons work better in a B3 boot with a heel groove. 

Most points are serrated, which grants more traction during icy conditions. In addition, the two fixed front points are thicker than the rest, making the G22 an ideal traction device for ice climbing.

However, because you can’t change the position, we don’t recommend using this hybrid crampon for highly technical routes.

The entire frame is Chromoly steel, which is a low alloy steel that uses chromium and molybdenum. Hence, the name. The anti-balling plates are plastic.

They do a decent job keeping the snow at bay. Still, the strap is our only major complaint. It’s easy to use, yes. But it loosens after some time.

We don’t need to tell you how dangerous this is. So, make sure to check it constantly. 

Likes:

  • Strong and durable spikes
  • Customizable size 
  • Easy to fasten 
  • Good for mild technical routes

Dislikes: 

  • The strap loosens after some time
  • It sits on the heavier side

Best Overall: Black Diamond Sabretooth Clip Crampons

Black Diamond Equipment - Sabretooth Clip Crampons

Features:

  • Best for: Ice Climbing and Descents
  • Crampon Type: Hybrid and Step-In
  • Number of points: 14
  • Frame: Stainless Steel
  • Teeth Type: Non-Modular
  • Boot Size: 6 to 14
  • Weight (Ounces): 32

With a sturdy, stainless steel body, the Sabertooth is a versatile pair of winter crampons. You can adjust the heel grove height and size to accommodate different boots. Plus, there is also a PRO version with a toe welt. 

The fourteen stainless steel spikes give enough traction to sort out even the toughest of routes. Furthermore, its horizontal non-modular points are thicker than the rest.

The disposition makes the Sabretooth suitable for both ice climbing and technical mountaineering. On the other hand, the secondary spikes design makes them ideal for technical precision. However, you can adjust neither of them. 

The ABS anti-balling plates are thicker than the average. While this is desirable from a durability point of view, it substantially increases weight.

With a total weight of 2 pounds, the Sabretooth is among the heaviest crampons. 

Likes:

  • Thick and stable frame
  • Choose between hybrid and step-in bindings 
  • Easy to adjust 
  • Serrated points enhance traction on soft ice

Dislikes: 

  • Heavy 
  • Plastic toe cage looks too thin

Best Overall: CAMP Stalker Semi-Auto Crampons

CAMP Stalker Semi-Auto Crampons

Features:

  • Best for: Mountaineering and Hiking
  • Crampon Type: Hybrid
  • Number of points: 12
  • Frame: Chromoly Steel
  • Teeth Type: Modular
  • Boot Size: 6 to 15
  • Weight (Ounces): 34

The Stalker step-in crampons are another suitable option for those looking for a hiking traction device.

They boast a Chromoly steel construction with twelve spikes. The frame and anti-snow plates look durable enough to handle mixed terrain, ice, snow, and mildly rocky terrain. 

To clarify, the thermoplastic toe and heel bindings fit most hiking and mountaineering boots with heel grooves. Together with the polyester strap, CAMP Stalker Semi-automatic anti-slip crampon keeps everything tight until you decide to take them off. 

You can easily adjust the linking bar to increase or decrease the separation between each section according to your boot size. It is compatible with shoe sizes 6 to 15 right out the box. Thus, no need for an aftermarket bar. 

So far, so good, right? Well, there are two problems: The anti-balling plates and the weight.

At around 34 ounces, these hiking crampons sit on the heavier side. So, you might regret getting them if you are not used to long hikes.

On the other hand, the anti-snow plates do prevent snow buildup. However, they wear out quicker than expected. So, you might need to replace them from time to time. 

Likes: 

  • Tight fit
  • Flexible linking bar
  • Easy to adjust 
  • It comes with a bag
  • Compatible with large boot sizes

Dislikes: 

  • Anti-balling plates are not durable 
  • They are heavy for a hiking crampon

How To Choose The Right Set of Hiking Crampons

Choosing the best winter crampon for you is not as easy as it sounds. First, it has to be compatible with your boot.

Then, it was to perform well for what intent to use it. For instance, ice climbing crampons are different from those for hiking. 

woman ice climbing

Price, built, weight, support, and bidding system also play a role in crampon performance. So, it is crucial to decide what you value the most.

For example, let’s say that you want a well-built snow traction device. Then you have to sacrifice weight and price because these are neither cheap nor light. 

So, let’s take some time to talk about each feature and how it influences performance. 


Crampon Anatomy

We need to review what parts make a crampon so we can understand everything else. Most crampons have five major components:

  • Toe and heel sections 
  • Bindings 
  • Spikes
  • Flex or linking bar
  • Anti-balling plates

Typically, the bindings and spikes are the two things that change between crampons. Despite the frame is the same. Still, some crampons might not come with a linking bar or anti-bailing plates.

What Bindings Go With My Boots?

Winter crampons go attached to the boot’s exterior. They act as a second sole to increase traction and stability on ice and snow. But, how do I fix them to my boot?

Most crampons use one of the following binding systems

  • Strap-on
  • Step-in
  • Hybrid

Strap-on Crampons

strap-on crampon
Check and tighten those straps frequently

Strap-on crampons, such as Black Diamond Contact, have a set of nylon straps and thermoplastic molds at both the toes and heel. As a result, they virtually fit any hiking or mountaineering boot and shoe you might have.

In addition, they require neither toe nor heel grooves. Thus, they are the best choice for those using several boots with the same traction device. 

The biggest flaw of this design is that it is tricky to tie, and they don’t tightly wrap around the boot. But, to clarify, there is always some space left.

In summary, strap-on crampons aren’t the best when it comes down to technical climbing. But they are ideal for hiking. 

Step-in Crampons

These are the best traction devices for those with telemark or ski mountaineering boots. Each crampon features a toe bail wire and a heel cable with a lever to adjust tension.

As a result, it’s a tight fit between the boot and the traction device with little to no space in-between. 

lever lock crampon

You can adjust both the toe and heel wire to accommodate different boots. Basically, these traction devices only work with welted boots. But avoid them if you don’t have such footwear. 

The Black Diamond Neve Pro, PETZL Lynx, and the Cassin Alpinist Tech are a few examples of step-in crampons. 


Hybrid Crampons

Splitting the difference between step-in and strap-on, we have hybrid crampons. These traction devices feature a heel lever, like step-in models, and a toe cage like a strap-on device. Hence the name.

hanging off ice wall using hybrid crampon

Also known as semi-automatic crampons, they are suitable for a wide range of applications. They provide good support and stability. What’s more, they’re easy to put on with gloves.


Construction Materials 

Most crampons either have steel, Chromoly steel, stainless steel, or aluminum construction. The first three have the advantage of being more durable than aluminum. But, they’re also heavier and more expensive.

Aluminum crampons are the way to go if you engage in glacier travel the most. However, when it comes down to icy climbing, nothing beats a steel crampon.

They’re stronger and less likely to bend. Also, Chromoly and stainless steel offer corrosion resistance too.

The difference between Chromoly and regular stainless steel is that the first has a higher tensile strength. In other words, it can handle more abuse than stainless steel.

So, naturally, this translates into a higher price. 

Frame and Flexibility

Modern crampons have a semi-rigid construction. The linking bar allows some degree of movement. Something that doesn’t happen with welded crampons. 

To explain, the flex bar indicates how flexible the crampon is. The thicker it is, the less flexibility and movement the traction device allows. You want to use flexible crampons for hiking, while the stiffer ones are better for climbing. 

ice climbing crampons up a hill

Flexibility also determines which boots you can choose. For example, stiff ski mountaineering boots will only work with stiff crampons.

Things get easier if we use numbers.

Crampon and Boot Compatibility

All crampons have a CX rating, where X is a number that ranges from 1 to 3. The same goes for boots.

However, this time, the rating uses a B instead of a C. Additionally, boots have a B0 rating, whereas crampons don’t.

Nevertheless, the concept is the same. The higher the number, the stiffer the boot or crampon is.

Compatibility goes as follows:  

  • C1 crampons are compatible with all boots
  • C2 crampons are compatible with B2 and B3 boots
  • C3 crampons are compatible with B3 boots only 

Spikes: Number and Layout 

The spikes are what set crampons apart from the rest of the snow traction devices. Indeed, most crampons come with 10 to 14 points; the more points, the better the traction.

But it’s also more cumbersome too. That’s why most hiking crampons come with 10 to 12 spikes. 

In contrast, ice climbing requires as many spikes as possible. So, it is not uncommon to see crampons with more than 12 spikes per set. 

The disposition also changes, especially around the toe section.

spikes on crampons

In other words, spikes could be either vertical or slightly horizontal. While, the second option offers more grip when walking, while the first is better for climbing.

Modular Vs. Non-modular Front Spikes 

Most winter crampons have up to 2 front spikes. These play a crucial role if you are climbing. Not so much while walking. That’s why most ice-climbing crampons have almost horizontal front points.

Petzl Dart Crampons
Petzyl Dart Crampons for Ice Climbing has replaceable front points and sections

However, some crampons come with modular spikes. Here you can change their position and quantity at will.

To explain, you can only use a single front point and take advantage of those tiny cracks in the ice. Alternatively, you can go for two symmetrical or asymmetrical front spikes.

Another advantage of modular spikes is that you can always replace the points when worn. Thus, increasing the lifespan of your traction device. 

Naturally, modular crampons are more expensive than an equivalent non-modular model. Thus, they are more suitable for those who go ice climbing every time they can. 


Are Crampons Worth it?

Now, imagine yourself climbing a frozen waterfall with only your boots and ice axes. Could you do it without anchoring your feet? 

Could you imagine walking through packed snow with nothing more than your boots? You most likely slip, fall, and take more time to end the route.

So, yes. Crampons are worth it. They give you a secure foundation for you to walk or climb on. Thus, reducing the risk of an accident.

hiking with friends using trekking poles and crampons
Safely hiking with trail crampons

Of course, how much you are willing to pay depends on your needs. But you can’t put a price on hiking safety!


The Winner is:

PETZL Lynx LeverLock Modular Crampons

The beauty of the Lynx LeverLock modular crampon is that it comes with swappable front bindings. As a result, you can use the wire for a tight fit with welted boots.

PETZL - Lynx, Modular Crampons for Ice and Mixed Climbing

Alternatively, you can go with the toe cage for those hiking boots without a toe groove. Specifically, this is something that you won’t find on any other crampon in this list. 

The modular points mean that you can customize them according to your needs. Thus, giving you the flexibility you need to cope with any route. On top of that, it also comes with a sturdy bag.

But the best thing is that the spikes won’t pierce that fabric.

Yes, they are expensive. Still, you’re getting two binding systems, a crampon carrying bag, and modular front points!

All in all, the Petzl Lynx Lever Lock is a highly customizable crampon that will last you the test of time. 

Last update on 2021-09-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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