The best crampons and ice grippers reviewed (2022)

When mountains are in the grip of winter, your boots may need help to grip the terrain. Get a traction boost on snow and ice with our guide to crampons and grippers.

The best crampons and ice grippers for winter walking and mountaineering

by Ben Weeks |

When snow and ice turn the mountains into beautiful white winter shapes, they also rob the ground of much of its friction. Boots that previously gripped the earth and rock quite comfortably can suddenly find themselves slipping dangerously on the frozen terrain. A pair of solid crampons or, for use on tamer paths and trails, ice grippers will give you back the traction you need to conquer those winter hills.

What to look for in a pair of crampons or ice grippers

Terrain use: When there’s a deeper covering of snow and ice, or on steeper ground, crampons with good-sized spikes are a minimum requirement. On easy gradient paths with only a thin film of ice, pull-on ice grippers will offer improved traction while being less unwieldy and easier to walk in than crampons.

Spikes: Walking crampons usually have 10 spikes, with most of those pointing down. Crampons for steeper terrain will offer 12 spikes with the front points being more horizontal. Grippers may have fewer spikes or use alternative means of boosting grip, such as chains or wire coils.

Crampon stiffness: This is limited by the part linking the forefoot to the rear spikes, and determines which footwear the crampon will fit and its intended use. For winter walks, flexible crampons are fine and fit a wider range of boots. For steeper or more technical terrain, stiffer crampons plus stiff boots are required.

Anti-balling: Anti-balling plates (or antibots) fit the underside of the crampon to prevent a build-up of snow which can raise the spikes above the ice and reduce their grip.

Footwear compatibility: Ice grippers can be pulled on over almost any footwear. Crampons need to be used with boots that are stiff enough to take them. This usually means at least 3-4 season boots, although some of the most flexible crampons can be used with 3-season boots.

Crampon ratings: C1 are the most flexible and can be used with 3-4 season (B1) boots. C2 are suitable for winter mountain walking (B2) boots. C3 are the stiffest and most technical and used with mountaineering (B3) boots.

Attachment: Ice grippers usually pull over footwear on a rubber frame, or use minimal strapping. The most basic crampon attachment also uses straps, while more technical models have a heel-clip to fit boots with a rear crampon welt. Specialised step-in crampons pair a heel-clip with a wire toe-bail to fit boots with welts at the rear and toe for challenging mountaineering/climbing.

Five top crampons or ice grippers to choose from

Just so you know, while we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this page, we never allow this to influence product selections.

Yaktrax Diamond Grip

Yaktrax Diamond Grip
Amazon

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Sizes S, M, L, XL | Weight 370g (pair, size M)

Best on boots and burlier footwear, these stop snow build-up and are great for everything from hard ice to soft snow. The beads have hundreds of biting edges and are durable enough to handle rock or tarmac.

Nortec Nordic Micro Crampons

Nortec Nordic Micro Crampons
Amazon

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Sizes M, L, XL | Weight 320g (pair, size L)

The stainless-steel Nordics are light, simple to put on, and will fit trekking boots or running shoes. For winter conditions they provide great traction on snow, ice and even mud.

Icegripper Spider

Icegripper Spider

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Sizes One size | Weight 130g (pair)

Lightweight and packable, the Spiders have 13 carbon steel spikes that bite into the ice. Not ideal on steep ground due to their mid-foot fit, or solid surfaces due to their elevated profile, but the Spiders do provide great traction on frozen ground and hard snow.

Climbing Technology Nevis Flex

Climbing Technology Nevis Flex
Amazon

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Rating C1 | Weight 814g (pair)

A classic no-nonsense walking crampon, the 10-spiked Nevis Flex have strap attachments to fit most boots and are perfect for trekking in snow or ice away from steep slopes.

Grivel Air Tech New-matic

Grivel Air Tech New-matic
Amazon

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Rating C2 | Weight 790g (pair)

The lightweight Air Techs feature 12 aggressively positioned spikes and a heel clip for B2 boots. This combination makes them ideal for steeper mountaineering and light climbing.

More from Live For The Outdoors on winter kit:

Our guide to mountaineering boots, including reviews of the best.

Our guide to ice axes, including reviews of the best.

Our guide to winter daypacks, including reviews of the best.

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Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us