CLIMBING

Buying The Best Crampons for Maximum Comfort and Safety

Black diamond crampon review
Daniel Carraway
Written by Daniel Carraway

Crampons are an important piece of gear for hikers, rock climbers, and mountaineers, and because of their importance to their comfort and safety, only the best crampons will do. The crampons are well-made, high quality fixtures that you can attach to boots or shoes.

Mountaineers and rock climbers wear crampons to ensure sure footing, even on some of the most dangerous and slippery terrain. The gear also provides your feet with an extra level of protection so that you can avoid injury.

Crampons protect the shoes you are wearing, all while giving you superior traction on icy, snow covered, or extra slippery surfaces. As such, getting the best pair of crampons you can buy is essential. Getting familiar with the unique types of crampons on the market will help you in deciding what pair will best serve you in your outdoor adventures.

Crampon Styles

Crampons are special forms of gear that give you more force and traction; some of the crampons are more flexible than others, while some more rigid, and the kind you need is dependent on the kind of boots you will use them with.

Some crampons are fitted with anti-balling plates made out of a material like ABS plastic; this is a unique snow-repellent feature that keeps the snow from actually balling up when the snow comes into contact with the crampon.

Crampon styles

Alternatively, some manufacturers specialize in making crampons that you can use on a specific type of climb and thereby feature points that you can work into the tiny cracks in the side of a rock or mountain. Additionally, there are crampons fitted with special front points that help in breaking through ice compacted over a surface.

Crampons make it possible for you to enjoy a variety of terrain in the harshest of environments, whether you want to climb rocks covered in ice, if you want to cross a body of frozen water, or even climb snow-covered mountains.

For the most part, rock climbers, and mountaineers tend to wear leather boots or boots made out of some synthetic materials; if this is the case for you, you need to have crampons with horizontal frames and a partially rigid structure.

The crampons you buy will likely be durable and light. Today’s manufacturers have started selling very specialized crampons for every condition imaginable and, as such, the crampons are classified or categorized thereby making it easier for you to choose the pair you need based on the activity you plan on engaging in when you wear them.

Crampon Classifications

Consider how you plan to use the crampons and what environment will you be in when you are using them. What terrain will you likely encounter? Knowing what you will likely encounter helps in choosing the right type of crampons for maximum comfort and personal safety.

  • Mixed Climbing/Waterfall/Ice Crampons: Typically, this set of crampons features a semi-rigid construction with steel modular vertical frontpoints. In terms of points, this set has them numbering in 14 or greater. Typically, the design has a step in or a hybrid method of putting the gear on your boots.
  • General Mountaineering: These crampons are a bit different as the framework is semi-rigid rather than flexible. They might have a strap on feature like the snow walking crampons, but some pairs of crampons for the purposes of mountaineering have a step-in system. These crampons usually have 12 points.
  • Technical Mountaineering: The technical mountaineering gear is for the type of hiking and icy outdoor adventure where you encounter glacial areas and heavy snow, but some technical mountaineering gear is equally suitable for rock routes and mixed terrain with icy bodies of water and frozen falls. The manufacturer makes these crampons with stainless steel materials for product sturdiness, dependability, and longevity, and sport the fixed horizontal frontpoints along with a semi-rigid structure. These crampons have a horizontal, steel, fixed design, and feature ten points. This type of crampon might have a hybrid, step in, or strap on design. Typically, these crampons have 12 points.
  • Snow Walking Crampons: The ideal crampons for walking in snowy terrain often feature spring center bars and a flexible design. The crampons will strap onto your footwear, and the manufacturer creates the gear out of corrosion-resistant stainless steel or aluminum materials to ensure product durability. The crampons will likely feature between 8 and 10 points for digging into small cracks and crevices.

Crampon Design

As noted above, today’s manufacturers create crampons with different materials, primarily steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. So what material will serve you best?

Aluminum materials are less expensive so you are likely to note some savings in price tag when buying aluminum crampons, and if you are planning to climb alpines or engage in ski mountaineering activities, they can prove to be ideal.

Crampon Design

Bear in mind that aluminum is not as durable or long-lasting steel and, as such, aluminum crampons will wear out fast in situations where steel is best, like when scaling rocky surfaces and rougher terrain. You will want to stay away from snowy locations or rock/snow/ mixed terrain with aluminum crampons.

Meanwhile, if the crampons you buy are made of steel, they suit the purposes of mountaineering safety, and they are very durable when used repeatedly on icy, steep terrain. Finally, stainless steel metal adds the added property of corrosions resistance to the crampons you buy and extend the longevity of your investment.

One extra note about the frame of crampons; typically, you will have frames that are horizontally oriented. These types of frames are the standard for crampons today and offer some flex in the frame when you are walking.

The aluminum or stainless steel material lays down flat so this allows your footing to be nearer to the ground surface than would say vertically positioned frames. The closer proximity to the ground makes your walk far more secure and steady, and the natural repelling of snow happens with the inclusion of flat bars in the frames.

Semi-Rigid versus Flexible

The most popular choice in terms of crampon structure or design is the semi-rigid styles. It is still possible to get rigid, hinged crampons, but these are no longer preferred. The semi-rigid crampons are best because they serve well in a variety of different weather conditions. Thus, you can use them with equal confidence, in snow, or on ice.

Semi rigid crampons

Some of the crampon models feature a special bar spanning between the heel and toe – this is an adjustable linking bar so you can get the best of both flexible and semi-rigid crampons. The lattermost types of crampons are suitable for the avid hiker.

If necessary, center bars with an asymmetrical design are available for you if you have a boot design that has a curve and requires a special fit. Spring steel, longer flex center bars are available as well, so you can ensure the proper fit for your boot style and size. The orientation of the center bar will reveal if you are dealing with a left or right crampon.

Number of Points and Style

The points on crampons are just beneath the instep of your foot and will run along the shape of the foot gear you are wearing; the crampons are likely to features between 10 and 12 points, but an occasional pair are fitted with as many as 14 points. There are bails on the front of the crampons that you can move about to ensure you end up with the point extension you desire.

If you really climb in some dangerous terrain, you can sometimes get crampons featuring unique design features like serrated sides for additional gripping. The number of points defines what kind of terrain the crampons can really handle, more points means more grip and traction.

If you are investing in crampons for just basic mountaineering, the distance the front points stick out should be less than if you are getting a pair for technical maneuvers; where in such a case you need the frontpoints to be lengthier. A number of the crampon sets featuring step in options come with varying positioning of the front bails thereby allowing you to adjust them to your needs, whether you are climbing rocks or walking a path.

Crampon number of points

The points on crampons are forward facing and modular or non-modular. The modular points have replaceable teeth and adjustable features, so they make a great pair for mixed climbing endeavors involving rocks, icy areas, and snow-covered climbs.

The non-modular points shorten over the course of use, but they can be sharpened to expand their quality and utility. The benefit of the non-modular points is that they are made of one body, screw-less pieces so they require little maintenance.

There are three chief types of front points including the horizontal, monopoint, and vertical styles. For ice, snow, and alpine climbing, horizontal frontpoints are best. For mixed climbs and frozen waterfalls, the monopoints work well, but so do the vertical points.

Crampon Binding Selections

Crampons are made with bindings that help attach the units to your foot gear. You will want a pair that fit properly to the foot gear you own.

Hybrid binding

The three chief types of crampon bindings include:

  • Hybrid binding: This type of binding is often considered a mixed binding. The boots you wear need to have rigid soles and a groove in the heel for the heel lever. The hybrid binding also comes with a toe strap. They are relatively easy to wear and put on, even if you are wearing gloves at the time.
  • Step-in binding: A tension lever and heel cable attached to the heel of your boot in this binding option, while a wire bail goes to holding the toe area. Extremely simple to put on when wearing gloves, and provided they are sized properly, you get a secure fit. The boots you own have to have rigid soles and a welt measuring about 3/8 inch on both the heel and toe to fit properly. These crampons come with a strap to secure around the ankle as well.
  • Strap-on binding: This type of binding comes with straps made of nylon webbing; the setup works fantastically with all boots and shoes. This binding is good for moderate climbs and they are perfect for the person with more than one style of hiking/climbing boots. You do sacrifice a bit of security however as they can wiggle a bit with movement between the crampon and boot.

Reviews of The Top Crampons

Here you will find a listing of some of the best crampons for ice climbing in the market today. There is a review of the product specifications and some of the positive attributes of each product. You can use the reviews to find the perfect pair for your needs. Reviews include an assessment of brand names Stubai, Black Diamond, Petzl Irvis, Camp USA, Grivel, and Edelrid crampon offerings.

Stubai Tirol Pro Crampons

Stubai Tirol Pro Crampons

Features:

  • Points: 12
  • Weight: 1025 grams
  • Dimensions: 18 x 10 x 4 inches
  • Specifications: Bomb Proof Steel Construction; Step in binding; Horizontal front point

Best Uses: Mixed Terrain; Steep Ice; Exceptional on corned snow

Description: The Stubai Tirol Pro Crampons are an Austrian-made product priced at $156.75 so the gear is quite affordable. When it comes to the Tirol price does not define the overall quality of the product and the manufacturer has really made a safe, quality product of the mountaineer.

The crampons are fitted with horizontal front points: A feature that intensifies the stability the crampons provide when in use. Sold with Combi binding if you have welt-less toe boots, and the product is available in a Universal Binding so you can wear them with just about any kind of footwear you desire.

The crampons are made of bombproof steel, which further lends to their durability and corrosion resistant properties. These crampons offer additional safety during the climb with crooked side points for the purposes of preventing slipping.

Related: Stubai Tirol Combi; Stubai Tirol Universal

Stubai Tirol Combi Crampons

Stubai Tirol Combi Crampons

Features:

  • Points: 12 points
  • Weight: 1070 grams
  • Dimensions: 8 x 3.9 x 3.9 inches, 12 points, bombproof steel; step-in binding; adjustable for sizing
  • Specifications: Steel construction

Best Uses: Mixed terrain, steep ice

Description: The Stubai Tirol Combi Crampons are priced at $101.21. To lend to the extreme durability of these crampons, the manufacturer has made them out of bombproof steel; this also adds to the longevity of the equipment in question.

The step in binding makes for a super secure fitting, and the pair has adjustable features making it easy to fit the crampons to any style boot imaginable.

Related: Stubai Tirol Universal

Black Diamond Contact Clip Crampon

Black Diamond Contact Clip Crampon

Features:

  • Points: 10
  • Weight: 2 pounds
  • Dimensions: 5 x 5 x 15 inches
  • Specifications: Stainless Steel body; 10 points; Dual density ABS; corrosion resistant; polished look; lightweight

Best Uses: General mountaineering.

Description: The Black Diamond Contact crampons are priced around $139.95. This pair of crampons is crafted out of stainless steel which makes them durable, long lasting, but even better, resistant to both snow balling and corrosion. They are lightweight, and they are made with a profile than is lower than before to ensure greater contact with your boots.

The toe straps are flexible allowing for some wiggle room and will fit most footwear. They crampons are compact, easy to uses, and the dual density ABS helps to keep snow from balling.

Related: Black Diamond Cyborg Clip Crampon, Polished

Petzl Irvis 10-Point Crampon

Petzl Irvis 10-Point Crampon

Features:

  • Points: 10
  • Weight: 2 pounds
  • Dimensions: 5 x 5 x 13 inches
  • Specifications: Sharp points; lengthened points; dual wide front points; second row of angled teeth; rear teeth for ease of descending

Best Uses: Ice, snow climbs, rocks, mixed terrain

Description: The Petzl Irvis 10-Point Crampon set is priced at $143.00. The points are lengthened to provide the ultimate amount of stability when climbing and you can avoid having to high step when using these crampons too, so you improve your level of safety. The points are sharpened to the degree that they are suitable when walking on ice.

For purchase in a snow clime, there are two front points that are wide and this makes the crampons even more rigid. When front pointing, you get the benefit of relying on another row of angled teeth for security. For descending maneuvers, the crampons have two teeth for additional stability.

Related: Petzl Dartwin Crampon Lever Wire One Size

CAMP USA XLC Crampon

CAMP USA XLC Crampon

Features:

  • Points: 10
  • Weight: 25 pounds
  • Dimensions: 5 x 5 x 14 inches
  • Specifications: 3D pressed frame; size adjustable tool free; Universal bindings; wear indicator; anti-balling plates are optional

Best Uses: Snowy climb, mixed terrain

Description: The CAMP USA XLC Crampon is priced at $119.96. You get a durable set of crampons because of the 3-D pressed frame: This feature lends to greater performance and overall strength.

The bindings on the boots are universal so they will easily fit on a pair of hiking boots or mountaineering boots. You can adjust the size of the crampons without having to use any tools. These crampons feature the unique CC4U wear indicators so you know when it is time to invest in another pair due to wear and tear through use.

Related: Camp USA C12 Crampon

Black Diamond Raptor Crampon

Black Diamond Raptor Crampon

Features:

  • Points: 8+ 1 monopoint
  • Weight: 56 pounds
  • Dimensions: 15 x 5 x 5 inches
  • Specifications: Lightweight, stainless steel body, anti snow balling properties, durable, rust resistant, adjustable monopoint, bolt point action.

Best Uses: Rock and light snow terrain

Description: The Black Diamond Raptor crampons are around $169.95. They have a polished look and are available in one size. The stainless steel body promises corrosion resistance and durability. The crampons also resist the balling of snow. The monopoint is replaceable and adjustable. The attachment has bolt on action.

Related: Black Diamond Serac Stainless Steel Crampon

Grivel G22 Crampon

Grivel G22 Crampon

Features:

  • Points: 12
  • Weight: 6 ounces
  • Dimensions: N/A One Size fits boots 38-48
  • Specifications: Chromoly steel construction; 12 points, Mono-rail Technology; harness made of DuPont plastic

Best Uses: Mixed terrain, snowy climbs

Description: The Grivel G22 Crampon set ranges in price from $183.96 to $229.95. The set comes in the New-matic color, and are available in one size. The crampons are fashioned out of chromoly steel to ensure the durability of the gear, and the units are made with monorail technology promising a semi rigid crampon and help to distribute your weight through all of the points in the crampon.

The front points are numbered in two and are hot forged. The crampons fit a boot size of 38 to 48.Efficient, simple binding promising security, and sure footing. Harness made of Zytel DuPont plastic.

Related: Grivel G14 New Matic Crampon Package; Grivel G10 crampon Wide

Edelrid Beast Crampons

Edelrid Beast Crampons

Features:

  • Points: 10
  • Weight: 970 grams
  • Dimensions: 4 x 5.2 x 14.3 inches
  • Specifications: 10 points; stainless steel construction; size adjustable; replaceable front points; including climbing brackets.

Best Uses: Ice, steep ice, and ice climbing

Description: Edelrid Beast Crampons are priced around $159.00. They sport 10 points with two front points for climbing ease and good traction. The front points are replaceable so you can get the most use out of the crampon set before having to replace them all together.

They are crafted out of steel to ensure durability, and they are size adjustable. The units come with climbing brackets.

Related: Grivel G10 crampon Wide

Define Your Needs before Buying Crampons

Determining how you will use the crampons before you buy is critical in making sure you get a pair that can handle the type of terrain you will be dealing with during your excursions. With uses in consideration, you can then begin to compare the quality of the types of crampons that will suit your specific needs.

Choose crampons for you

You want durable, secure crampons to provide you with the maximum amount of safety. The crampons have to fit over the boots you plan to wear and need to secure in a way that the binding system defines. With all this in mind, you can go forwarding finding a suitable pair of crampons so you can enjoy hiking, walking, and climbing, even on rocky terrain, with confidence.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daniel Carraway
Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway joined our team last year. He is a gear freak when it comes to hiking, climbing and camping. He went to REI Outdoor School to meet new people and learn best practices. Don’t even try to argue with him about the latest backpack or ice axe, he tried most of them. Daniel’s dream is to climb Mount Everest.

  • Ursula Mari

    Black Diamond crampons fit great and stay where they are supposed to. Never once questioned my feet! I had never used crampons before, and these are great! I tried them out with regular pack boots, not even mountaineering boots. I purposely tried to get them to twist off but they stay in my cheap boots. 🙂

  • Daniel Carraway

    The Black Diamond is a very good choice and I’ve no doubt you had a great experience using them. The product is lightweight so you don’t struggle walking on the snow. It is also corrosion resistant and will ensure many years of use.

  • Richard Taylor

    I’d have to agree: the Black Diamond Contact crampons fit perfectly and securely – no movement with these like you might get with a less quality pair. I’ve only ever used rental Grivels before so the difference in precision and sharpness was noticeable. I can both run and jump in these crampons without them moving an inch and, in addition to their sturdiness, snow doesn’t seem to accumulate between my boots and the crampons.

  • Daniel Carraway

    Hi Richard! Great to know you’re enjoying your Black Diamond Contact crampons. They are made of stainless steel so you can expect these to be hardy and durable. Great value for your money, too.

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