Crampons are essential for outdoor activities that involve climbing or traversing icy, rocky terrain. They can make the difference between a comfortable day out and a disastrous one. However, they can also be a bit of a hassle to use, so it is important to know how to choose the right pair and how to care for them properly.
There are many different types of crampons to choose from and the size, shape or number of points is all dependent on what type of activity you plan on undertaking. Crampons with a minimum of 10 points (although you’ll often find 12 point crampons) are the most common and provide excellent traction on soft to moderately steep snow or ice slopes.
Some models of Crampons 101: All You Need To Know offer adjustable front points allowing you to adjust them to suit various conditions. Others feature anti-balling systems to prevent snow from accumulating on the points and attachment systems, which may be either strap-on or clip-in depending on your preference.
The Grivel G12 is an alpine crampon that is designed for serious ice climbers only and comes with a variety of binding options to fit different boots. It has two front points and 10 points on the sides, as well as three different binding styles.
Boots Graded B1 are suitable for use with strap-on C1 crampons for moderate snow and ice conditions. They have a stiffer sole than B2 boots and will help to keep the crampons in place on moderate mountaineering climbs.
Rocker-style crampons are a great option for those looking to explore rocky terrain and can be adjusted according to your boot size and shape to increase lateral mobility and comfort. They can also be worn with hiking shoes or other footwear to give extra traction and security while navigating uneven surfaces.
Microspikes are similar to crampons but instead of metal spikes they have tiny beads or ‘diamond’ shapes that improve grip in multiple directions. They are great for winter hiking, running and even climbing as they can be worn over hiking shoes or boots to offer improved traction.
If you’re buying a pair of microspikes, it is always a good idea to invest in ones that are made from a sturdy material and come with a waterproofing wax treatment. This will help to protect them from water damage, and keep them in a good condition so that they last as long as possible.
Some microspikes are designed to be used over winter shoes or boots so they can be taken ‘just in case’ and will be easier to pack. These are also a lot lighter and more compact than the heavier and bulkier crampons so are a great option for people who don’t want to carry a heavy pair of crampons with them but need a little extra traction on ice or snow.
Choosing the right crampons for your activity can seem daunting but if you take the time to research them and follow our top tips, you’ll be well on your way to safely and confidently exploring icy slopes in the mountains.