What are Crampons?

Learn more about what crampons are and how to select the right crampon for your next adventure.

Crampons are a useful traction device that can be attached to the bottom of your boots to give added grip when adventuring in variable terrain. They are mainly reserved for snow and ice and are commonly called ‘Sharps’ as well. Read on to learn more about what are crampons and how to choose the right crampons for your next adventure.

Wondering which winter foot traction device is best for you - microspikes, crampons, or snowshoes? Read this article!

What are crampons used for?

Because crampons have large spikes that dig into the ground surface they are great for those extra adventurous adventures - including mountaineering. Crampons come with various levers and straps that allow them to tie directly to your boots and give much needed reassurance when walking in the mountains. Mountaineers rely on crampons to keep them secure when walking on glaciers or summiting a snow-covered peak. They allow you to walk naturally while making sure that each step is secure so that you can scale steep slopes or perch yourself on an exposed section.

Crampons on boots

Crampons are designed to be highly adjustable to fit different boot styles and lacing/binding systems. Ultimately, most crampons will fit a wide array of boot sizes, but the style and shape of the crampon will determine if it is the right fit for your boot.

Crampon sizing

When selecting the right size crampon for you, please refer to the table below.

Crampon size guide

How to Choose Crampons

There are several considerations that you should make when choosing the right crampon for you next adventure.

Number of Points: The number of points affects the variety of positions in which a crampon can find traction. Crampons designed for activities involving gentle gradients such as glacier walking and ski touring will usually have 10 points. Those designed for more technical mountaineering will have 12 points - two protruding from the front - and those designed for technical ice climbing will often have 14. Almost all designs will have four points beneath the heel and the rest beneath the forefoot.

Crampon Binding Systems: Crampons fix to your boots using 3 different systems, and these affect their C-rating (explained in detail in the ratings section below). These are strap-on (C1), hybrid (C2), or step-in (C3). Strap-on crampons utilize a toe basket/cage and a binding strap to wrap and secure the boot Hybrid crampons have a toe basket/cage and heel clip for a very secure fit. Step-in crampons have both a toe clip or bail and heel clip. These give the closest fit and only fit B3 boots

  • C1 Crampons (i.e. strap-on): C1 crampons have a webbing tape tether that pulls flexible cradles around the heel and toe to create a secure binding. This system allows good flex and is suitable for fitting to B1, B2 or B3 boots. It is usually found on low profile 10-point crampons with less aggressive points. They are ideal for winter walking or glacier traverses.

  • C2 Crampons (i.e. hybrid): C2 crampons use a plastic heel lever and a flexible toe cradle. This system will give a secure binding to B2 or B3 boots. Crampons tend to be mid-profile with longer secondary spikes and sharper front points. These are the-12 point all-rounders that are easy enough to walk in but still climb hard when called on. Excellent fortechnical winter scrambles, winter climbing and alpinism.

  • C3 Crampons (i.e. step-in): C3 crampons combine a plastic heel lever and metal toe bar. This step-in system gives a really solid fit but will only work with full B3 boots. Usually, a C3 binding is found on bigger, badder 12 or 14-point crampons that offer precise performance on steep ice or highly technical mixed routes. Very aggressive vertical front points give the best penetration on hard ice. These are top-end crampons for top-end boots and are typically used for ice climbing and technical mountaineering.

How To Remember What Crampon You Need

Use the following quick tips to remember what crampon is best for your needs.

  1. Crampons and boots start Flexible C(1),B (1).. get less flexible (C2)(B2)... and End Rigid (C3)(B3).

  2. B0 boots are too flexible for crampons, try Microspikes instead. Most casual hiking boots are B0.

  3. B1 Boots just want '1' crampon (C1)

  4. B2  Boots can choose from '2'! (C1, C2)

  5. B3 Have the pick of all 3! (C1, C2, C3)

To summarize:

  • B1 = C1

  • B2 = C1 or C2

  • B3 = C1, C2 or C3

Now that you have the basic knowledge of what crampons are we hope you get out in the mountains and use some!

Microspikes, Crampons, or Snowshoes?

Find Out Here!