Usually, we have seen that mountain climbers often get confused while trying to pick what pair of crampons might be best for them, even you also face the same problems. Therefore, in this article, we are going to discuss all different types of crampons for mountain climbing, so that you have no problem in choosing the correct one.
- Step-In Crampons
- Hybrid Crampons
- Strap-On Crampons
Step-in crampons offer the best fit to your boot because they use welts in the boot and metal bars to hold the crampon in place. But there is one specification and that is, they are the most specialized piece of gear, and you need the proper specified footwear to be able to use them. On the other hand, Hybrid crampons use the same metal bar on the back, but they have straps on the front of the boot, so they are suitable with a wider variety of footwear. Lastly, we are going to talk about strap-on crampons fit over your boot and use adjustable or elastic components to fit.
Step-In Crampons are specialized pieces of equipment that can be used for extreme activities and they utilize metal bars and rubber welts to attach tightly to your boot. The most important part is the price, well the cost of a pair of step-in crampons is about $250
- Stability is improved with a tight fit between the crampon and the boot
- Due to their special design, they can be used in technical pursuits
- They are a bit expensive
- They can be quite heavy
- Overkill in some situations
- There are some boot types that aren’t compatible
Activities In Which They Are Used:
Step-in Crampons are the most specialized type of crampons as they’re used for extreme activities such as mountaineering, ice climbing, and dry tooling, and because of this reason, these crampons are the only ones that will fit most tightly to your boot. When you will be wearing them, they will feel like just an extension of your foot, they will absolutely not feel like a different piece of footwear.
Step-in crampons work joining metal ‘bars’ on the crampon with rubber ‘welts’ on the boot and a welt is like a small ledge in the rubber, whereas the ‘bars’ are just that- thin metal bars which are bent in a semi-circle so they completely fit over your boot. Fitting the crampon into the groove is accomplished by sliding the flat bars into the welts and tightening the crampon so it digs into the groove. Other straps are used to further secure the crampon, making sure it cannot be moved.
Can you see how the front bar rests smoothly in the welt, and simultaneously the back bar is snapped into place? In this way, the crampon is held tightly against your boot, ensuring that there is very little movement between them.
This closeness of fit is what allows step-in crampons to be used for the technical activities that they are designed for and if you are dry tooling, ice climbing, or working on a technical ridge while mountaineering, you can’t have your crampon shifting around so it needs to be a rock-solid fit so that you can have confidence in every footing.
Since the step-in crampon is designed to fit well with your foot, you will have the best traction on snow and ice. If you need to have a crampon keep you attached to the ground, we suggest you choose step-in.
Yet their burliness can also become a disadvantage in certain situations due to their design. The first thing you’ll notice is their outrageous price. They typically sell for between $200 and $350 per pair. The toe and heel bars are intricately designed and require a great deal of craftsmanship.
More restrictive than the cost, though, is the fact that these crampons only work with a certain type of boot and to use these step-in crampons, you will have to be wearing a specialized mountaineering boot which should have absolute proper welts in place for the bars. It’s here that the cost really piles on; mountaineering boots are at least $500, and most people aren’t going to need to buy them.
Finally, step-in crampons are going to be overkill in most scenarios like if you are just spring hiking when there is snow on the ground, or even for come moderate glacier travel, you’re not going to need a full pair of step-ins and in fact, you might not even want to bring them because they are quite bulky and heavy to carry, and they take a while to put on. Step-in crampons are not appropriate in a lot of different situations.
Check out this video of step-in crampons:
Hybrid Crampons are quite similar to a step-in crampon, just the difference is that instead of a front bar to attach to your boot, there is a strap that you pull into place. Around $200 has to be spent on hybrid crampons
- This crampon fits almost as well as step-in crampons
- Because they are more flexible, they are easier to walk in
- A broader range of boots is compatible with this crampons
- While wearing gloves, these crampons are easier to remove and put on
- These crampons are quite non- technical
- Nonetheless, it is too heavy to be used casually
Activities done by wearing them:
- Glacier travel
- Non-technical mountaineering
Hybrids crampons are considered to be more flexible, less-specialized version of the step-in crampon that has started to fain popularity in recent years for more general mountaineering pursuits. This type of crampon have the same heel setup as a step-in crampon, which works to hold the boot tightly in place and secure a good fit but instead of a metal bar in front, hybrids crampons have a strap that is pulled into place.
This system allows for more flexibility while walking, which means it is better for mountaineering trips where you need to cover a lot of ground and everyone who has walked in crampons knows how uncomfortable it can be, and hybrids decrease some of that stiffness and on top of that, the toe strap is easier to pull on when wearing gloves, which means if you need to take these on or off, you don’t have to worry about freezing your fingers off.
There is another benefit of hybrid crampons and that is it is quite compatible with a wider variety of boots, although only by a small amount and they still need a welt on the back of the boot for the metal bar to fit in, therefore you cannot wear them with most common hiking boots. But however, they will work perfectly fine with boots that don’t have a front welt, so this adds up to a few more options in terms of your footwear.
Most of the hybrid crampons have a spike system that is designed very similarly to the mountaineering version of the step-in that was discussed above, which means they are good for walking across surfaces, but won’t do well for more technical jobs like ice climbing. This is considered to be the main disadvantage and cons of the hybrid crampons as they perform better on flat or moderately sloped surfaces, but not nearly as well on steep or technical terrain. As a result of the straps on the front, they do not connect quite as securely, and their crampon design prevents them from working well on steep ice. If you are an absolute beginner then we would recommend sticking with the ice-specific tools.
Therefore, hybrid crampons are sometimes considered to fill a somewhat awkward ‘in the middle’ niche. They don’t quite possess the versatility to be used for technical missions, but they are still bulky and heavy enough to be troublesome for casual walking.
However, this does not mean hybrid crampons will never make an impact in the mountaineering world. The hybrid crampon is a great choice if you are pursuing distant summits where you need to cover a lot of ground.
To know more about hybrid crampons, kindly have a look at this video:
Strap-on crampons are non-technical pieces of gear that will easily slip over your boot and provide a little bit of extra traction and the spikes are usually about 1/4th the size as they would be on a step-in crampon, and they are not at all sharp. Strap-On Crampons can be purchased for around $40-$70.
- Almost any pair of boots will fit over them
- You can easily use them and they are lightweight
- When skiing on low-angled snow, the spikes in the bottom maintain an impressive amount of traction
- Strap-On Crampons are not suitable for any technical activities
Activities where they can be used:
Strap-On Crampons are the most common but least technical type of crampons, and they cover a wide variety of fields starting from casual hiking to cutting-edge scrambling.
These crampons slip over your boot and are held in place by adjustable straps or elastic features and they do not require any welts, they do not have any metal bars for you to slip into place and because of this reason, these crampons are going to be compatible with almost each and every type of hiking boot on the market, but you have to get the right size.
The most common example of a strap-on crampon would be Yak Traks, which popularized this type of footwear for casual activities and Yak Traks helped turn crampons from a technical piece of mountaineering gear into a helpful item that most people keep in their closet.
The beauty about strap-on crampons is that they are a lot less intense than step-in or hybrid crampons because they are easier to use, lighter, cheaper, less bulky, and overall less confusing. The main advantage is that you can slip them over your hiking boots or hiking shoes without needing to work about sizing them properly or snapping your back bar into place, which can be painful for some time. With these crampons, you can gain traction on slippery surfaces without having to purchase a $200 piece of gear and an $800 boot to go with it.
Strap-on crampons are therefore used for a wide variety of purposes:
- Spring/summer/fall hiking: There’s probably no doubt that this is the most common application. When the trail is wet but you’re itching to get out, strap-on crampons will keep your feet from sliding.
- Backpacking: These are also common on backpacking trails, even during the summer.
- Scrambling: During the early and late season, it’s common to see scramblers toss a pair of strap-on crampons into their backpacks in case there are patches of ice or snow to be navigated.
Strap-on crampons are ideal for situations where you want extra traction and, of course, you don’t need half-inch spikes to go hiking in the winter, which is why you won’t see most people using hybrid or step-in crampons in these situations.
Obviously, the strengths of step-in crampons are also their weaknesses, as these aren’t technical pieces of gear that can’t be used for much more than walking. If it’s low-angled and you’ve got an experienced group with you, then you might get away with crossing a glacier in them. Even the most grizzled veteran would never attempt ice climbing in trail crampons because it’s impossible. However, if you go beyond that point, they are largely useless.
In the majority of cases however and in most circumstances, crampons can provide a great solution that can allow you to go places you would otherwise not be able to.
To know more about crampons kindly check out this video:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What type of crampons do I need?
There are three types of crampons which you need for mountain climbing and those are:
What are C3 crampons?
C3 crampons are a combination of a plastic heel lever and metal toe bar and this step-in system gives a really solid fit but will only work with full B3 boots. A C3 binding is mostly found on bigger,12 or 14-point crampons that offer precise performance on steep ice or highly technical mixed routes of the mountains.
What are B1 crampons?
Known as basket binding or flexible crampons, B1 crampons are designed for boots that are fairly flexible, but will still fall off if you wear them on summer hiking boots that are flexible.
What is a B2 crampon?
B2 refers to semi-rigid boots that will fit C1 or C2 crampons which are flexible or semi-rigid and these are ideal for summer routes and low-level snow-based routes but notice climbs.
Are crampons worth it?
In the event of snowy or icy conditions on the hills, or if there is more than a dusting of snow on the ground, you should bring crampons and other essential equipment, such as an ice axe and a group shelter. Most of the time, they won’t come out of your bag, but you will have them if you need them.
What are the best crampons for walking?
Strap-On crampons are considered to be the best crampons for walking or summer/spring/fall hiking.
Can you walk in B2 boots?
In addition to winter mountaineering, B2 boots can also be used in glacial terrain and mid-grade climbing.
What is the difference between B2 and B3 boots?
For Summits & Skills and Classic Alpine climbing courses a B2 rated boot is most suitable as these boots are generally more comfortable and lighter than the B3 boots, but are study enough whereas a B3 boot would be a better buy if you intend to do more technical courses afterward or to climb in the greater ranges.
What is a C1 crampon?
C1 crampons have a webbing tape tether that pulls flexible cradles around the heel and toe to create a secure binding and they allow good flex and is suitable for fitting to B1, B2, or B3 boots and it is usually found on low profile 10-point crampons with less aggressive points.