How to Choose Crampons
| I'm pretty sure that if, in the next Transformers movie, the transformers inhabited crampons it would be terrifying. Tiny, super sharp shoe shaped evil robots would definitely give me some worries. That being said, selecting the right crampons can be quite the task even if they aren't robot creatures. Here are some things that my boss told me to tell you about choosing crampons. |
Basically, you can find a crampon that's specialized for just about any winter activity that involves walking. To my knowledge there are no sledding crampons, and really that sounds pretty dangerous, so I don't recommend it. Check out super-lightweight crampons made to give you extra traction on winter walks or runs and traversing icy stairs. For snow and glacier travel, technical hiking, and winter or summer mountaineering you'll want to go with a more traditional crampon model. Highly technical crampons are available for ice climbers and mixed climbers.
Materials & ConstructionCrampon frames can be steel, stainless steel, or aluminum. You'll want to choose the crampon construction material that's best for your activity.
|Construction is also something you should take into consideration. I'm not going to lie and pretend like it's really complicated: the majority of crampons available feature a semi-rigid design. Basically, this type of crampon gives you decent performance in a broad range of conditions. With the semi-rigid design you get a crampon that's flexible enough for trekking, but rigid enough for moderate ice climbing. |
Some crampon models, like the Petzl Irvis Crampon, allow you to adjust the linking bar (the bar between the toe and heel piece) from a semi-rigid to a flexible mode. The flexible mode makes the crampon more comfortable for hiking and makes the crampon less likely to build up snow. Semi-rigid crampons are also more adjustable and easier to adjust, plus they fit better over a wider variety of boots. An asymmetrical center bar is available for most semi-rigid crampons. This bar allows the crampon to fit better over curvier boot designs.
Crampon Binding TypesBasically, there are three binding types that attach crampons to your boots. More about that:
Crampon Points & FrontpointsFor the best performance possible, the points of your crampons need to be under the instep and follow the shape of your boots. Most of the time crampons have 10 or 12 points. Those are, coincidentally, my two favorite numbers. That's probably why they wanted me to write this. Anyway, don't forget that you can adjust most crampons to get the right point extension. I recommend you do that.
Basically, the more technical your adventure, the more points you'll want on your crampons. You'll also want to choose more rigid crampons for more technical pursuits. There are even specific styles for waterfall climbing.
I know I talk a lot, but when it comes down to it, the crampon thing is pretty simple. Basically, for general mountaineering you'll want a crampon with less frontpoint, and for technical climbing, you'll want more frontpoint.
Frontpoints, if you haven't guessed, are the forward facing points on a crampon. Crampons, like the Petzl Dartwin, have horizontal frontpoints. These dual points are good for almost any alpine climbing or ice/snow climbing. There are also crampons with dual vertical frontpoints. They're the best for steep waterfall and mixed climbs. Vertical frontpoints slip easily into cracks, and you can easily adjust and replace them. Some technical-ice crampons will feature secondary frontpoints for added support and traction. Monopoint crampons, like the Petzl Dart, have a single frontpoint. Hence the whole "mono" thing, which I think is Latin. Single points are popular for technical waterfall and mixed climbing.
Frontpoints are either modular or non-modular. That's fixed or non-fixed for the laypersons. I don't know what makes someone a layperson, and anything I could think of isn't appropriate, so I'll just talk more about frontpoints.