If you love climbing as much as the next person, you won’t want to give up your favorite hobby just because it’s winter. Winter hiking comes with some unique challenges though and a completely new terrain that requires a different approach to what you might be used to.
Along with this new terrain, there’s also some new bits of gear that you’ll need to do it the right way. Finding the best crampons for winter hiking is a necessity and something that will make your next climb more enjoyable, safer, and a much more stable journey.
We know how important finding the best crampons are, yet it’s a market that’s so heavily saturated you can get easily lost. That’s why we’ve created this buying guide to walk you through the features you need to know about when choosing crampons as well as our top picks for the best sellers on the market.
Your crampons will be one of the most important pieces of gear you rely on in winter hiking, regardless of the conditions. Therefore, taking the time to choose the perfect ones is crucial and it will also ensure a much more enjoyable and satisfying climb regardless of the colder weather.
Best Crampons For Hiking
Best Mountaineering Crampons
Our Recommendations for Best Hiking Crampons
Crampons might seem pretty basic in their design but there are actually lots of features you have to consider when choosing the right one. We’ve done some of the hard work for you and found the best crampons for hiking books and mountaineering around, so you can be sure you’re choosing one of the better brands.
Best Crampons For Hiking: Hillsound Trail Crampon
For those of us who like to hike and occasionally scale a mountain or two, you’ll need crampons that have been designed for that specific purpose. The Hillsound Trail Crampon was made for hikers and fits most standard hiking shoes, so they’re more about stability and being able to travel on all kinds of tracks.
These crampons are made to fit most types of footwear and they use an elastomer harness that stretches around the base of the shoe. This versatility makes them perfect for hikers who use all types of shoes and it means that even when you update your hiking boots you can still take your crampons with you.
If stability is the most important thing you look for in a crampon you’ll really love these from Hillsound. They feature a special ergonomic plate that you don’t usually find on standard crampons and this gives you further traction and stability. Even in the worst conditions, customers found they could totally rely on these accessories.
One slight inconvenience with these crampons was the lack of a carrying bag that they came with. Anyone who has traveled with crampons before will know they can puncture through most things, so not having a heavy duty bag to carry them was kind of an annoyance. You’ll need to find your own bag that can withstand the spikes and remember to carry it with you.
The spike size is around two-thirds of an inch so it’s got plenty of room to dig in deep. It also has a special device to help it stick over your shoe so even in bad conditions you don’t have to worry about losing them. For a hiker who needs something versatile yet stable to travel the cold mountains and trails in, the Hillsound Crampons are our choice for best lightweight crampons.
Runner Up: Black Diamond Contact Crampons
There are some very serious hikers and mountain climbers out there who only want premium products in their gear bag, and they’re not afraid to pay for it. These Black Diamond Crampons are one such product and although they have a hefty price tag, they’re commonly known as the best running crampons and ideal for those who like to hike.
What sets these crampons apart from others and gives it the higher price tag is the materials and construction used to make them. Most notably, they’ve been created with stainless steel construction which means that even in the worst conditions you can think of, they’ll never rust and will always be ready to help you out.
Black Diamond has updated the style of these crampons so they now fit more shoes, whereas before they were quite limited. The low profile shape is a great choice for hikers because they fit the hiking boot, but really any type of footwear that’s designed for winter conditions would also work well with these.
The sizing was a little off with these and it seemed that quite a few customers had to return for something different. When you’re spending this much money you really want to get it right, so be sure to test out your Black Diamond Contact Crampons before you get out on the mountain as some people thought they were a little loose for the recommended size.
This size issue aside, the only other major concern is the price tag. These are a more serious crampon for those with a lot of money to spare and many years with ice and snow hiking, so probably not ideal for your first pair. Either way, they’ve been built to last and will do so for many winters ahead of you, so you can put your trust in Black Diamond.
Best Mountaineering Crampons: Stabilicers Crampons
When you’re looking for mountaineering crampons, you’ll need something a little unique. The best crampons for mountaineering should be super lightweight and easy to wear, with most of the work being done by your boots or shoes, and that’s exactly what the Stabilicers Crampons give.
These unique crampons are perfect for mountaineering in so many ways, and they’re also extremely affordable. They make it easy to walk in just about any condition so for winter hiking and mountaineering you can’t be without them.
The Stabilicers have been designed for versatility and they should fit just about any footwear you can think of with a special tension fit system you’ll have peace of mind that they’ll stay put and not have to worry about anything slipping or sliding around when you’re scaling a potentially dangerous mountain covered in snow and ice
The sizes seemed to confuse quite a few customers so you’ll really need to do your research before you settle on a size. Always make sure you test them out with the boots you plan on hiking with otherwise you could be in the middle of nowhere when you realize they don’t fit.
No matter where you plan on going, you’ll get total stability with these. So many customers were thrilled with the way they helped them stand and feel secure, even on total ice. They’ve been tested to keep a 45-degree angle which means you’ll be able to keep your normal stride while getting total traction on the ground. This is all you can ask for in a quality pair of crampons, and something that you’ll feel totally safe using.
These crampons are great for just about any condition, whether it’s crossing icy pavement or walking on a snow-covered mountain. Because they’re so compact and lightweight you can always travel them and have them ready to go, even if you don’t think the weather conditions that day will call for them.
Runner Up: Unigear Traction Cleats
If you’re looking for the best ice climbing crampons that can get you over the slick mountains but don’t have a lot of cash to throw around, these traction cleats from Unigear might be a great option. By far the cheapest on the market but one with so many great reviews, these are the perfect way to stay stable when you’re out on the snow and ice.
These are considered heavy duty crampons so don’t expect them to be lightweight. You might feel it’s a pain carrying them around but they’ll come in handy on the winter trails you’re going to cross. They’re made with a thermoplastic elastomer band and have full sole coverage, so you’ll definitely feel their durability.
According to the reviews, some people were questioning the quality of these crampons and whether they would stand the test of time. The guarantee of their quality is only covered for 60 days which seems standard for something of this price but doesn’t really give you peace of mind that you’re buying something reliable. You’ll have to weigh up what you can afford and see whether these tick the right boxes.
Each crampon comes with 18 spikes on each foot which includes six on the back and 12 on the front. This will give you pretty good traction and stability on snow and ice, and with a length of around ½ inch, they seem a fairly standard size. For those who prefer something longer to keep them stable, this might be adequate for you in terms of spike length.
Overall, these are a great cheap option for your first pair of crampons or for people who aren’t going out in particularly dangerous conditions. The Unigear Traction Cleats work on ice, snow, and other cold terrain, so if you want to try out winter walking for yourself then they’re a great entry level pair to get.
The Features to Look For When Buying Crampons
Choosing the right gear comes down to some very specific details, like finding the best crampons for a snowboard or those that are better for mountaineering. Therefore, the features that each set offers will be the only way to determine whether or not they’re right for you.
The fit of your crampon usually refers to the type of shoe you’re wearing with them. Some are for hiking boots, snowshoes, or versatile enough to wear with any type of footwear. Think about what you usually wear and let this guide you to the right fit. The method for grip and fit might also differ including straps, full sole coverage, and bottom of sole coverage.
The size of a crampon needs to be carefully matched to your shoe size and should be checked when you get them. A crampon should be snug enough so it can’t fall enough but not too restrictive. Most manufacturers have a size guide you can rely on.
Some prefer a lightweight crampon that’s easier to carry and others need something more durable to aid with stability. The type of climbing you do and in what conditions will usually make one a better choice than the other
A crampon needs to be durable for stability but also flexible enough so that you can move your foot in it. They should be tested for the angle and able to move freely when attached to your regular footwear.
Size of teeth and grip
You will see a measurement for the length of the spike on each crampon which indicates how deep it goes. Depending on where you hike, you may need something longer to reach or shorter.
The material used in a crampon differs depending on the style but features things like stainless steel for the base and spikes, and things like rubber or elastomer for the sole coverage.
A Must Have for Climbing
If you don’t want to give up your favorite hobby or climbing just because it’s winter time, the crampon will ensure you don’t have to. Choosing just any old pair of crampons won’t do though, as they need to be as unique as your climbing style, so take the time to do it right.
Crampons should give you stability and traction in all types of conditions, but they should also be easy to use. When you’re out in the cold you need something you can slip over your boots and be on your way, and a good pair of crampons will deliver on all of this and more.