Sometimes our love for sports and the great outdoors drive us to see just how far we can go. As we move to the next level, we also realize that we require more specialized gear. We cannot go for winter hiking and ice climbing with the same crampons. If you are going to invest on a good pair of crampons you need to know as much as you can about them
WHAT ARE CRAMPONS?
In order not to slip on hard snow or ice, you should wear crampons. Crampons are lightweight specialized traction devices that are attached to your boots to make walking or climbing feasible. The spikes in the crampon will allow you to grip on snowy slopes and ice fields. Crampons nowadays are a far cry from the 16th century models made with wooden or metal frames and attached with horseshoe nails. Now the designs are more ergonomic and dynamic, perfect for any type of climbing.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF CRAMPONS?
There are so many ways to categorize the many crampons available in the market today. However, there are three basic types according to their construction.
- Hinged Crampons: Ideal for snow climbing and scaling glaciers, hinged crampons are designed to flex at the instep, closely mimicking the natural motion of walking. They have the advantage of fitting on both plastic and leather mountaineering boots.
- Rigid Crampons: As the name implies, this type of crampons does not have a flex at the instep, making it ideal for steep technical ice climbing or vertical ice. They are more suitably paired with stiff boots, preferably the plastic kind, rather than leather ones.
- Semi-Rigid Crampons: Probably the most commonly used type of crampons, semi-rigid crampons combine the best features of hinged crampons and rigid crampons. They provide enough flex but still with enough rigidity, making it useful in both snow walking and ice climbing.
There are many things you should consider when you go out shopping for the best crampons. Let us go over each of them.
- Type of Activity: The design of crampons is continuously evolving to match the activities it will be used for. The more complicated and challenging the activity is, the more technical will be your considerations. The moment you identify what you will be doing, you will know exactly what type of crampons you have to buy. General mountaineering, for instance you would have to choose a semi-rigid or a hinged type. If you are going steep ice climbing, you’d have to choose a rigid type.
- Type of Materials Used: In conjunction with the type of activity they will be used for, you should also take careful note of the materials used in the frames. Steel, stainless steel and aluminum are the most common materials used in manufacturing crampons. Depending on the activity, you would have to choose accordingly. After all, choosing crampons made from aluminum may not be the most logical choice when you are going to do waterfall ice and mixed climbing. Each of these materials also has their own advantages. Stainless steel crampons have the benefit of being resistant to corrosion and rusting. Steel, on the other hand, are known for their durability in pretty much any terrain. Meanwhile, the lightweight aluminum makes them the ideal choice for alpine climbing and speed climbing through rocky terrain.
- Fit: Here, we are talking about its compatibility with your boots. If they fit perfectly, you can be assured of a smoother and safer climb. The flexibility of the boots is a very important point to note. In short, a flexible boot should be paired with a flexible crampon, and vice versa. When buying your crampons, it would be best if you bring your boots along with you to test the fit.
- Points: These are the spikes found on the crampons. They can range from 10 spikes to as much as 14 spikes, depending on what activity it will be used for. Crampons for climbing usually require more points or spikes to be present. The points should also be positioned properly, under the instep and following the shape of the boot for equal weight distribution. Also, depending on what type of climbing or walking you will be doing, you should also take note of the length of the points.
- Bindings: The bindings are responsible for attaching the crampons to the boots. There are three general types of bindings found among many crampons these days. If you want something simple and straightforward, you can choose the crampons with a step-in binding system, using a wire bail and a heel cable to hold the toe and the heel, respectively. They are deemed to offer precision and flexibility. Strap-on bindings, on the other hand, has the advantage of being applicable to practically any type of shoe or boot. Lately, though, crampons with a hybrid binding system have been gaining popularity. They feature a heel lever and a toe strap, combining the features of a strap-on and a step-in binding system.
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
Take advantage of their very beneficial features in making your life easier when you are ice climbing or high altitude hiking. Remember, more than letting you enjoy your chosen activity, it will also ensure your safety while doing the sport you love.