Facebook Pixel Code
 

Best Crampons

Updated October 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 14 Models Considered
  • 68 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 138 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best crampons

    Last Updated October 2018

    Hikers and climbers understand the importance of wearing shoes and boots with good traction. A good grip on the ground can make the difference between an enjoyable excursion and an adventure that ends with an unfortunate fall. Reliable traction lets outdoor enthusiasts explore challenging areas, from rugged, muddy, or rocky trails to ice-covered mountains. In these conditions, regular hiking boots alone just won’t cut it – you need a good pair of crampons, too.

    If you’re new to hiking difficult terrain or climbing mountains, you will appreciate the security offered by the combination of metal chains or plates and sturdy spikes. If you’re a seasoned outdoor explorer, you probably already know that a good pair of crampons is a vital addition to your adventure gear.

    So, with your next outdoor adventure in mind, check out our picks for the best crampons. We’ve also compiled a detailed shopping guide to help you find the crampon features and price that fit your exploration style.

    Crampons aren’t just for hikers and climbers. People who live in cold climates with snowy, icy winters find them helpful, too.

    Crampon types

    Not all crampons are suitable for all activities. If you spend your time hiking on trails, you don’t need crampons with spikes designed for vertical climbing, and they would be awkward to wear in that situation. On the other hand, climbing on ice requires crampons with fasteners and spikes with added security. Choosing the best design for the activities you plan to do will help you find not only the best grip but also the most comfortable fit.

    Step-in crampons

    These rigid, easy-to-adjust crampons are made of durable metal, such as stainless steel. The spike system typically includes at least 10 spikes with front points, making them suitable for gripping ice and snow during vertical climbs or walking over frozen surfaces.

    This type of crampon requires boots designed for outdoor activities, including hiking and ski boots, with welts on both the front and heel to help secure the fit. The attachment system is similar to that of old-fashioned, over-the-shoe roller skates. It secures to the boot with a metal toe bail and heel clip mechanism. An adjustable center linking bar allows the wearer to modify the crampon for a precise, snug fit. Ankle straps provide extra security.

    Pros:

    • Made for rock climbing and mountaineering

    • Secure fit when properly adjusted

    • Capable of vertical climbing in ice and snow

    • Superb traction in ice and snow
       

    Cons:

    • Awkward for walking

    • Require certain types of boots

    • Impractical for some hiking conditions

    • More expensive

    Crampons with 12 points are fairly standard, and they provide the grip and traction hikers and climbers require.

    Hybrid or semi-step-in crampons

    Like their step-in cousins, hybrid models are typically made of sturdy metal and have similar spike systems that also include front points that are ideal for rock, ice, and mountain climbing. The difference is the toe binding. Instead of metal bar or bail, hybrid models have a more flexible toe strap or loop that many people find more comfortable. Since it fits over the toe box of the boot, the fit is just as secure. Also, hybrid crampons don’t require boots with front welts – only heel welts – for a stable fit. Ankle straps provide added security.

    Pros:

    • Contemporary design

    • Fit more types of boots

    • Suitable for vertical climbing

    • Excellent traction

    • More flexible and comfortable
       

    Cons:

    • Not suited for flat, rocky terrain

    • Can be expensive

    Remove your crampons for other winter activities like sledding. They could could get stuck on deep snow or debris and cause injury.

    Strap-on crampons

    For outdoor lovers who prefer hiking to climbing, strap-on crampons are a good option. While ideal for hiking in rough conditions, including snow-covered ground, strap-on crampons typically have shorter spikes and lack the front points necessary for vertical climbing. They also tend to have some “give” on boots, making them impractical for mountaineering. The nylon or rubber straps fit over most types of winter boots, including mountaineering, skiing, and hiking boots. While some models have heel guards and toe straps, others rely on a chain system to which the spikes are attached.

    Pros:

    • Flexible fit

    • No required type of boot

    • Comfortable for trail walking and hiking

    • Inexpensive
       

    Cons:

    • Less secure fit

    • Not suitable for climbing

    • Not as durable

    An ice axe will help you navigate ice-covered ground and come in handy if you need to dislodge snow and ice from your crampons.

    Screw-on or bolt-on crampons

    These crampons are lightweight and less bulky than over-the-boot types, and they can be fixed to hiking shoes with dense soles. They are usually made of steel or stainless steel. Though not suited for climbing, they are useful for anyone who doesn’t like to put on and remove crampons from boots.

    Pros:

    • Comfortable

    • Less restrictive than other crampons

    • No required type of boot

    • Can be worn with some shoes
       

    Cons:

    • Not suitable for climbing

    • Require holes in soles of footwear

    EXPERT TIP

    Keep your crampons clean. Whether you’re hiking through mud or climbing over ice, cleaning off your crampons and allowing them to dry thoroughly after your trip will help prevent rust and corrosion.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Crampon features to consider

    Spikes

    Spikes, also referred to as teeth or points, are what provide traction, grip snow and ice, and make climbing possible. There are some features to think about when choosing the best spike system for your needs.

    • Number: Not all crampons have the same number of spikes. While some have fewer than ten, mountaineering requires at least 12, including two in the front. The number of spikes doesn’t directly correlate to vertical climbing crampons, as some strap-on models best suited for hiking have as many as 18 points.

    • Front Points: These spikes, a vital feature for climbing, come in two styles. While horizontal points are ideal for most climbing conditions, vertical points are designed to give instead of bend when navigating terrain covered in rock or hard ice.

    • Metal: Hikers and climbers traverse surface conditions that could easily damage crampon spikes that aren’t durable enough to withstand the wear and tear. Some spikes are made of aluminum, which works for trail hiking but it isn’t ideal for serious climbers. Opt for steel or stainless-steel spikes if you’ll be in rocky, hilly areas or climbing mountains.
    EXPERT TIP

    Front points are a must for mountain climbing. They cut into ice and snow to help navigate tough vertical steps.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Crampon prices

    Crampons are necessary gear for many types of outdoor adventures, and fortunately, they aren’t extremely expensive. Depending on your activity, expect to pay between $10 and $150 for crampons.

    • Inexpensive: Screw-on crampons start at around $10 each, and they could get a bit pricey depending on the number you choose to fasten to your footwear.

    • Mid-Range: Hike-worthy strap-on crampons are available for between $13 and $30.

    • Expensive: If you plan to summit a mountain, you can expect to spend anywhere from $55 to $150 for step-in or hybrid crampons made for vertical climbing.

    Tips

    • Take the time to secure your crampons. A comfortable, secure fit depends first and foremost on properly attaching your crampons to your boots. Follow the instructions, and check the fit before you take to the trails or slopes.
    • Choose good boots. Regardless of the type of crampon you choose, having a well-made boot is important for your outdoor adventures. Sturdy, rigid soles are necessary for the best crampon fit and performance.

    • Practice with crampons before heading to high altitudes. It takes a little time to get used to walking in crampons. It’s important to try them before you go climbing. Walking on snow-covered hills and small inclines is a good way to prepare for your adventure.
    Hard ice requires you to stomp a bit to get the best traction. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll feel secure and confident walking and climbing on ice in your crampons.

    FAQ

    Q. I’m a man with size 13 feet. Will crampons work for me?
    A.
    Larger boots do pose a challenge when selecting crampons because even adjustable mechanisms may not fit very large boots. However, step-in and hybrid crampons adjust to fit a wide range of boot sizes, and some offer the option of adding pieces to increase the length of the linking bar. When it comes to strap-on models, it’s best to look at brands that come in various sizes to give you more options.

    Q. I like the idea of strap-on crampons for hiking, but I’m concerned about the fit not being secure enough. Will they work for me?
    A.
    Though strap-on crampons don’t fit quite as snugly as step-in and hybrid options, this shouldn’t be a concern for trail hiking. Vertical climbing is what tests the fit of these flexible styles.

    Q. I’m planning to climb my first mountain and have heard that a common problem is snow building up under crampons. How can I keep this from happening?
    A.
    Called “balling,” snow collecting under your crampons can be frustrating, especially when you need to focus on your footing. Crampons with anti-balling plates (common on well-made step-in and hybrid options) help minimize this problem.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Alice
      Alice
      Web Producer
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director

    BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
    and give us feedback about your visit today.

    Take Survey