Hillsound Trail Crampon (2014)

As the ice gets harder and the snow cover gets deeper you need more, longer spikes to keep a grip. But you also need a unit that will stay on the shoe and not roll off when you traverse a slope. The Hillsound Trail Crampon has 11 spikes that are 1cm in length, and the unit is held on the boot with a webbing strap. This makes it better than the lower-priced options for more uneven winter terrain. The webbing strap attaches to a rubber cradle and the spikes protrude from metal plates that are attached to chains along the base. These metal plates mean the spikes cannot splay apart, so grip is improved on uneven ground. There’s also a hinged section in the metal plate under the forefoot to help maintain better grip when the boot flexes during normal walking. As with all the devices we looked at full crampons still provide a far superior grip but Hillsound Trail Crampons are very good on uneven paths and stay on the boot better than many others. This makes them very useful for experienced hillwalkers to use when full crampons would be too cumbersome, such as when walking on hill paths with only a thin layer of snow or ice.

Materials rubber cradle with steel chain and spikes
Sizes S (3-5); M (5-7); L (7-9); XL (9-11); XXL (11-14)
Weight 472g (pair, size XXL)
Website www.ardblairsports.com

 

Verdict

Full crampons still provide a better grip on more uneven ground and deeper snow, but on hill paths where there’s a thin layer of ice or snow Hillsound Trail Crampons are very useful. They won Trail’s ‘Best in Test’ accolade.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine February 2014

 


Snowline Snowspikes Light (2014)

As the name suggests, Snowline Snowspikes Light are much lighter than the other similar models, being just 267g (pair, size XL) while similar products such as the Kahtoola Microspikes (430g) are heavier. The weight saving is due to the rubber cradle and metal chains being thinner, but the metal spikes are the same size. You get 12 spikes that are 1cm long, so the performance is similar to other units, in that they’re good on level paths where there’s a thin layer of snow or ice. It’s possible that on uneven ground the metal chains will come into contact before the spikes, so these are best used on soft ground rather than uneven, rocky surfaces. There’s no webbing strap across the top, so on uneven terrain they will roll off more easily than other options. At this stage it’s hard to know if the thinner materials used on the rubber cradle and the chains will mean that long-term durability will be impaired. However, the big advantage is the low weight, which will make Snowline Snowspikes Light a far better option than similar designs for runners, or anyone wanting to travel fast and light.

Materials rubber cradle with steel chain and spikes
Sizes M (35-39); L (39-43); XL (43-47)
Weight 267g (pair, size XL)
Website www.firstascent.co.uk

 

Verdict

Snowline Snowspikes Light are very light for their performance, making them better for runners than similar designs; but when traversing slopes or crossing ice covered in deep snow, they aren’t a replacement for full crampons.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine February 2014

 


Icetrekkers Diamond Grips (2014)

Icetrekkers Diamond Grips use a rubber cradle like some of the lower-priced options, but on the base they have a metal chain and metal cable arrangement, which is very durable. Along the metal cables are a series of patented Diamond Beads, which have six small spikes on them. There are 34 of these beads and they can all rotate on the wire, which means there are lots of tiny spikes that can give a small degree of grip. Collectively all these beads provide a very good grip on ice and as they rotate on the wire, they self-clean to some extent to prevent debris clogging up the sole of your boot. The spikes aren’t very long, though, so once there’s a layer of snow, the grip isn’t so good. But they do grip better than the spring metal coil designs and they are also more durable than those with a rubber cradle on the base. However, as the chain extends around the edges of the sole, you can sometimes make a step where the metal chain comes into contact with the hard ice before the spikes do – and then they skid off the surface. This means you need to walk with some care if wearing Icetrekkers Diamond Grips, stamping your feet as you go rather than walking normally, ‘heel to toe’.

Materials rubber cradle with steel chain of spikes
Sizes S (5-6); M (6.5-9); L (9.5-12.5); XL (13+)
Weight 349g (pair, size XL)
Website www.icetrekkers.com

 

Verdict

Icetrekkers Diamond Grips are very durable and useful on level ice and compacted snow, but if there’s too much soft snow on the surface performance wanes due to the shallow spike depth.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine February 2014

 


Kahtoola Microspikes (2014)

Kahtoola Microspikes were the first non-crampon traction device to become a popular option for hillgoers. They were originally designed for running on snow and ice but they are now seen on the boots of hillwalkers. They comprise of a rubber cradle that comes in five sizes to ensure a good fit. Attached to this are chains that in turn link to metal plates where the spikes are located. The spikes are 1cm long, but there are only 12 of them and there are areas where the chain may come into contact with the ice before the spikes do if the surface is uneven. Much of the sole unit of the boot remains exposed, though, which further enhances grip if the boot has a deep lug pattern. The length of the spikes and their sharpness means they can cut through a layer of thin snow and bite into hard ice quite well, although full crampons offer an even better grip. Like others we looked at, Kahtoola Microspikes will also roll off the boot when traversing slopes, so they’re only suitable for level ground. But they’re very good on level hill paths with just a thin layer of ice, where using full crampons would be just
too unstable. 

Materials rubber cradle with steel chain and spikes
Sizes XS (1-4); S (4.5-7); M (7.5-10.5); L (10.5-14); XL (14-16)
Weight 430g (pair, size L)
Website www.betaclimbingdesigns.com

 

Verdict

Experienced walkers will find Kahtoola Microspikes useful on level hill paths, but when traversing slopes or crossing ice covered in deep snow, they aren’t a replacement for full crampons. They received the Trail ‘Best Value’ award.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine February 2014

 


Stubai Twin Peaks Universal (2014)

The front points on crampons are intended to provide grip when tackling steeper slopes, but on level ground they aren’t really needed and they can be a real menace, as it’s all too easy to catch a front point on your trousers or a rock and trip over. The Stubai Twin Peaks Universal crampon has no front points, thereby avoiding the above problem. There are eight spikes on the base to provide grip on level ground. Each spike is 2cm long, which is ideal for cutting through snow on level ground, and also for the novice who may find that the longer 3cm spikes of other crampons lead to trips or unstable footing on uneven ground. Each spike has a pair of points to improve grip further, and four spikes are rotated through 45 degrees to give better grip on gentle slopes. Anti-balling plates are pre-fitted to prevent snow from sticking to the base of the crampon, and the crampons are held in place with straps that link plastic toe and heel cradles. The Stubai Twin Peaks Universal is ideal for walkers sticking to the easier paths, but if you stray off those tracks then it’s important to remember they don’t have front spikes for tackling steeper slopes.

Classification C1
Materials steel
Sizes regular (39-45) and XL (46-48)
Weight 782g (pair size regular with anti-balling plates)
Website www.trailwise.co.uk

 

Verdict

The Stubai Twin Peaks Universal was voted the crampon that was best for novice hillwalkers in this test.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine January 2014

 


Grivel Air Tech New Matic (2014)

For tackling more challenging terrain, the Grivel Air Tech New Matic provides 10 points to give grip on level ground, plus two front points for steeper slopes. There are eight downward-facing points that are 3cm long and two downward-facing points that are 2.5cm long. In addition, four of the spikes are rotated through 90 degrees to give a better grip when descending slopes, while two are set wider apart across the base to provide a more stable placement on each step. This all adds up to a superior level of grip on a wider variety of terrain than most crampons can offer. There are anti-balling plates fitted that pop out when compressed to spring the snow away from the sole before it has time to stick, so it’s extremely unlikely that these crampons will ball up with snow. Length adjustment can be achieved without tools, and the crampon is fitted to the boot with a toe cradle and heel clip (New Matic binding). It is, however, also available with other forms of binding, to allow it to be used with a wide variety of boots. This crampon is highly recommended for more challenging terrain and is ideal for use on 4-season boots for general mountaineering, alpinism, mixed snow and ice-climbing.

Classification C2
Materials NiCroMo steel
Sizes one size fits 36-47cm
Weight 940g (pair size regular with anti-balling plates)
Website www.grivelgb.co.uk

 

Verdict

The Grivel Air Tech New Matic was voted the crampon that was best for mountaineering in this test.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine January 2014

 


Camp Magix 10 (2014)

The Camp Magix 10 is a well-priced general-purpose crampon with 10 points (including two front points), providing good grip on a wide variety of terrain. Anti-balling plates are pre-fitted, to help prevent snow from sticking to the base of them. The spikes are 2.5cm in length so they’re effective at cutting through a layer of snow to the ice beneath, while not being so long that they easily snag on rocks or trousers. The eight downward-facing spikes are all rotated through 45 degrees so they provide better grip on gentle slopes. The crampons are easily adjusted lengthwise via a central bar and fit securely on boots thanks to the straps that link the toe and heel cradle. At 855g, including the anti-balling plates, they’re heavier than an eight-point crampon, but relatively lightweight compared to some other 10- or 12-point crampons. For this type of crampon the price is very good too, so overall they’re ideal for most hillwalkers who will step off the easier paths occasionally, but won’t be tackling the steepest winter slopes. For a crampon that offers a kind of halfway house, they are pretty tough to beat.

Classification C1
Materials steel
Sizes one size fits 36-48cm
Weight 855g (pair including anti-balling plates)
Website www.allcord.co.uk

  

Verdict

The Camp Magix 10 was voted the crampon that offered the best of both worlds in this test.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine January 2014

 


Ice Trekkers Diamond Grip (2013)

When walking on snowy level tracks and bridleways a full crampon is often more than you really need, but a pair of Ice Trekkers Diamond Grips fitted to your boots works well. These are rather like fitting snow chains to your car tyres in that they just give a small degree of traction to keep you moving. There are many similar devices out there, but the Ice Trekkers Diamond Grip is a very durable option so it should last a few seasons. The extra durability comes from a steel cable around the base that is fitted with a series of diamond-shaped beads, which have six spikes each. These steel beads rotate on the wire, which helps them bite into the surface and also to self-clean. The teeth are quite short so once the snow becomes deep, the ice very hard or the slope steep then the grip is not so great. But use these for crunching along level paths that are frozen or have a sprinkling of snow over top and they work really well. As the Ice Trekkers Diamond Grip’s spikes are not too long you can keep wearing these between patches of ice too without tripping over readily, which often happens when wearing full crampons.

Materials rubber cradle with steel chain of spikes
Sizes S, M, L, XL
Weight 260g (pair, size M)
Website
www.icetrekkers.com

 

Verdict
The Ice Trekkers Diamond Grip are the best option for valleys tracks in this test.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine January 2013


Camp Magix (2013)

To get a good grip on snow and ice in almost any situation a pair of Camp Magix crampons is ideal, and it’s a good-value option too at £85. One problem with any traction device is that they tend to clog with snow and ice, known as ‘balling up’, but the Magix come fitted with a pair of anti-balling plates that prevent snow from sticking to the base. To keep a grip the Magix have 10 points, including two front points for tackling steep slopes. The eight remaining points are rotated through 45 degrees to prevent them sliding through soft snow and to further reduce balling up, which again improves performance. The spikes are 2.5cm long, so they are more than capable of biting into ice that has a covering of snow. Fitting is via a toe and heel cradle plus some straps, and length adjustment is easy. They are rated as C1, which means they are best used on a boot that has some stiffness such as 3-4 season boot or a 4-season boot. At 855g including the anti-balling plates they are also relatively lightweight. So for most people the Camp Magix will be an ideal crampons for bagging Munros and exploring the winter fells.

Materials steel
Sizes one size fits 36-48cm
Weight 855g (pair, including anti-balling plates)
Website
www.allcord.co.uk

 

Verdict
The Camp Magix crampons are the best value for hill and mountain walking in this test.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine January 2013


Stubai Twin Peaks Universal (2013)

The Stubai Twin Peaks Universal crampon is designed for novice hillwalkers who are walking over easier frozen terrain. There are no front points, which means these are very much intended for paths and level ground rather than steeper slopes where the absence of front points will enable wearers to safely walk over the hills without tripping up, as can happen with full crampons. The crampon has eight spikes and these are 2cm long, which is ideal for level ground and also suitable for the novice, who may find that the longer 3cm spikes on other crampons lead to trips and unstable footing. Each spike does have twin points through to improve grip on ice, and four of them are rotated through 45 degrees to provide better grip on slopes. The Stubai Twin Peaks Universal comes with anti-balling plates fitted to prevent snow from sticking to the base, and is easily adjusted without tools. The plastic toe and heel cradle allow them to be easily fitted to most boots. As a basic crampon for easier hill terrain, Twin Peaks crampons provide the ideal transition from traction devices designed for the valley to the full crampons designed for hill and mountain walking.

Materials steel
Sizes regular (39-45) and XL (46-48)
Weight 782g (pair, size regular with anti-balling plates)
Website
www.trailwise.co.uk

 

Verdict
The Stubai Twin Peaks Universal are the best crampons for novice hillwalkers in this test.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine January 2013


Kahtoola Microspikes (2013)

Kahtoola Microspikes have rapidly become one of the most popular traction devices for hillwalkers as they are very good on iced-up paths when used by experienced hillwalkers. They were originally designed for running on snow and ice, and they comprise of a rubber cradle that comes in five sizes to fit over your footwear. Attached to this rubber cradle is a chain frame and a series of 10 spikes. Areas of the boot outsole remain exposed to provide some traction, while the spikes are 1cm deep and quite sharp, which allows them to grip well on hard ice. These spikes are not as long as full crampons so their grip is still limited and sometimes the chains come into contact with uneven hard ice before the spikes do, which can lead to a slip – so care is still required, especially when the ground becomes more uneven or the snow becomes too deep for the short spikes. But when used by experienced hillwalkers on frozen level paths, Kahtoola Microspikes do work well. They are not as good as full crampons on deep snow and hard ice or when stepping off the path onto frozen slopes, so care is needed in using them appropriately.

Materials rubber cradle with steel chain and spikes
Sizes XS, S, M, L, XL
Weight 430g (pair, size L)
Website
www.betaclimbingdesigns.com

 

Verdict
The Kahtoola Microspikes are the best option for level tracks in this test.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine January 2013


Grivel Air Tech New Matic Heel Clip 12 Point (2013)

Grivel has a long history of making great crampons, and the Air Tech New Matic Heel Clip 12 Point has been popular for several years and a frequent winner of ‘Best in Test’ in Trail. It is a 12 point design, which gives it extra grip on more varied terrain and specifically in mountaineering situations where you may not have all the spikes in contact with the snow or ice so you need everything you can get! The 12 spikes have a mix of lengths from 2cm to 3cm along with serrated edges to provide extra grip on mixed ground of snow, ice and rock, which is so typical of the British hills in winter as well as many mountaineering situations. Four points are rotated through 90 degrees for better grip on snow when descending. There are anti-balling plates fitted that pop out when compressed to spring the snow away from the sole before it has time to stick. Length adjustment can helpfully be achieved without tools, and the crampon is fitted to the boot via a toe cradle and heel clip, so it requires boots with a rear lip. The Grivel Air Tech New Matic Heel Clip 12 Point is C2-rated for use on stiffer 4-season boots. This crampon is ideal for general mountaineering, alpinism, mixed snow and ice climbing.

Materials NiCroMo steel
Sizes one size fits 36-47cm
Weight 940g (pair, including anti-balling plates)
Website
www.grivelgb.co.uk

 

Verdict
The Grivel Air Tech New Matic Heel Clip 12 Point crampons are the best option for mountaineering in this test.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine January 2013


Black Diamond Contact Clip (2013)

The Black Diamond Contact Clip is made from stainless steel, which means it does not rust like most other crampons, and snow and ice do not stick to the crampon so readily. Stainless steel is also more durable than carbon steel so the points of the spikes are more likely to stay sharp even if you spend some of the day scraping them over rocks rather than ice when traversing mixed ground comprised of rock, snow and ice. There are 10 points that are 3cm long, which allows them to easily provide grip on ice that is covered in snow. The two front points allow this crampon to provide grip when ascending slopes, while the four spikes that are rotated provide some braking power to prevent slipping on descent. Anti-balling plates are pre-attached to ensure snow does not cling to the base of the crampon. The standard Contact Clip is fitted to a boot using a front toe cradle and a rear heel clip, meaning it can only be fitted to boots that have a heel lip. However, it is also available with a heel strap for boots without a heel lip. The Black Diamond Contact Clip is rated as C1, meaning it can be used with semi-flexible 3-4 season boots and 4-season boots.

Materials stainless steel
Sizes one size fits 34-46cm
Weight 876g (pair, including anti-balling plates)
Website
www.blackdiamondequipment.com

 

Verdict
The Black Diamond Contact Clips are the best crampons for mountain and glacier walking in this test.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine January 2013


Yaktrax Pro (2012)

The Yaktrax Pros have steel coils that wrap around a rubber cradle along the base, and it is these coils that provide the grip. Fitting is very easy as you simply stretch them over your footwear from toe to heel. They benefit from a Velcro strap across the top, which helps to keep them in place on more uneven ground that can cause some models to roll off the boot. The rubber cradle leaves much of the boot outsole exposed, which is useful for adding additional grip on snow. The overall performance is very impressive when used on valley paths, forest tracks or slightly uneven and undulating terrain where the harder snow or that has been churned up a little. But they are not as durable as all-metal devices so you need to avoid rocky and stony ground; and they cannot bite into hard ice.

 

Materials rubber cradle with steel coils

Sizes S (37.5 - 42), M (43-45), L (46-48), XL (48.5+)

Weight 196g (pair, size XL)

Stockist details www.yaktrax.co.uk

 

Verdict

The Yaktrax Pro is best for valley paths.

 

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine February 2012


Ice Trekkers Diamond Grip (2012)

These are a slightly more durable option, making them a little more suitable for those more uneven valley tracks and bridleways that are muddy and rocky in summer and frozen hard in winter. The extra durability comes from a steel cable around the base that is fitted with a series of diamond-shaped beads, which have six spikes each. These steel beads rotate on the wire, which helps them bite into the surface and also to ‘self-clean’. It is an ingenious design and one that is less likely to break when crunching over gravel and rock between the patches of snow and ice. The teeth are quite short, though, so they won’t be able to bite into surfaces that are covered in loose snow or ice very easily; and as the spikes are not very sharp, they may not grip as well as full crampons on very hard ice.

 

Materials rubber cradle with steel chain of spikes

Sizes S (5-6), M (6-9), L (9-12), XL (13+)

Weight 260g (pair, size M)

Stockist details www.icetrekkers.co.uk

 

Verdict

The Ice Trekkers Diamond Grip is best for valley tracks and bridleways.

 

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine February 2012

 


Grivel Spider (2012)

The instep crampon has been the traditional solution to walking on frozen ground without using full crampons, and the Grivel Spider has been available for many years. It comes in one size and fits most footwear due to its simple frame, which is strapped to the instep of the shoe. Screwed into the frame are 10 spikes that are 1cm long and very sharp, so they are great for biting into hard ice as well as frozen ground. The toe and forefoot of the boot’s outsole remains exposed and this can be useful if there is not too much ice around; however you do need to take care that you walk with a stamping action when you need the spikes, as a ‘toe to heel’ walking action does not give the spikes an opportunity to bite into the ground very effectively. Best used when small areas of snow or ice need to be crossed.

 

Materials polyamide frame and steel spikes

Sizes one size

Weight 164g (pair)

Stockist details www.grivelgb.com

 

Verdict

The Grivel Spider is best for tracks with small areas of snow or ice.

 

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine February 2012

 


Petzl Spiky (2012)

The Petzl Spiky is the most basic option when it comes to providing grip on snow or ice. There are six carbon steel spikes attached to a rubber sock. Fitting them is a doddle as you just dip the toe of the shoe into the front and then stretch them over the heel of the shoe. There are cutouts in the rubber to expose the heel section of your footwear, which is useful for improving grip, but on the forefoot the sole is covered so you are reliant on the rubber and spikes. The spikes are only 2mm deep and there are just four at the forefoot and two at the heel, which means these are not very grippy. They are okay on level, even paths and pavements, but you do have to take more care as the grip is not as good as other devices and if you don’t plant your foot down flat you can easily skid off a hard, icy surface.

 

Materials rubber sole with six carbon steel points

Sizes 1 (up to 9), 2 (10-12), 3 (13)

Weight 168g (pair, size 3)

Stockist details www.petzl.com

 

Verdict

The Petzl Spiky is best for level paths.

 

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine February 2012