Crampons are absolutely essential for any mountain climber who wants to traverse tough icy and snowy conditions safely. Crampons provide plenty of grip in even the toughest conditions, and a solid set of crampons can be the difference between an easy ascent on a snowy peak, or a nightmarish, slippery climb fraught with danger and risk.

Best Rated Crampon ReviewsHowever, not all crampons are built equally. Today, there are hundreds of crampons on the market, each specialized for different applications – fixed, modular, rigid, semi-rigid, built for plastic boots, crafted for synthetic leather boots – there are so many choices that it can be hard to figure out which crampons are right for your needs.

You also have to be able to trust your crampons completely – these spiked, boot-attached devices can be the only thing separating you from a deadly crevasse or losing grip on a tight, near-vertical ascent. Quality, durability, and reliability are more important than anything else when choosing climbing equipment.

So before we get into our top product choices for the 5 best crampons on the market, let’s get a better idea of what you should be looking for when choosing an ideal crampon for your particular needs.

If you’re an expert who is just interested in our crampon reviews, feel free to skip forward – but we believe it’s important to go over the basics for anyone out there who needs a bit of knowledge before making their purchasing decision.

How To Choose the Best Crampons – The Basics

Crampons are simple in concept, but these devices are quite complex. First, let’s go over the different materials usually used in building crampons.

👞 Materials

How To Choose Crampons – The BasicsSteel Crampons – These crampons are the best for general mountaineering needs – if you just need basic crampons that are durable and useful on a variety of steep, technically challenging icy or snowy terrain, steel crampons are a great choice. They’re also usually less expensive than comparable crampons of more exotic materials.

Stainless Steel Crampons – Stainless steel crampons offer the same basic advantages of steel crampons, but have a much better ability to resist rust, corrosion, and damage from the elements, making them a better choice if you’re likely to climb snowier, more wet mountain peaks.

Aluminum Crampons – Aluminum crampons are ideal for high alpine climbs and climbs where you’ll be encountering lots of snow and ice, but less rock. This is because they’re very lightweight, and quite durable when it comes to taking on ice and snow, but wear out quickly when confronted with tough, rock-covered terrain and steep approaches. If you’re only planning on using crampons for snowy approaches, aluminum is a great choice.

👞 Frame Alignment

Frame AlignmentThe “frame” refers to to the alignment of the main “linking bar” of a crampon. Vertical frames are held in place to a boot with straps and a vertically-oriented bar that goes over the midfoot, while horizontal frames have a horizontally-oriented bar that runs parallel underneath the boot, and are generally held in place with strap systems

Vertical Frame – Vertical frame crampons are relatively rare today, mostly a holdover from the old days of climbing when plastic boots were popular. Since they don’t flex when you walk, they’re tough to use for extended periods of time and are mostly relegated to very technical applications and for use with legacy footwear.

Horizontal Frame – Horizontal frames are much easier to walk in than vertical frames, making them more popular for day-to-day mountaineering. These frames also repel snow and help prevent “balling” which can lead to a loss of traction. Finally, horizontal frames allow you to keep your feet closer to the ground than vertical frames, allowing for increased stability.

👞 Frame Construction

There are three different types of crampons on the market today. Hinged, rigid, and semi-rigid.

 Frame ConstructionHinged Frame – As the name would imply, these frames feature a hinged design on the linking bar, which allows it to flex more easily than a semi-rigid or rigid design. The primary advantage of this is felt when wearing flexible boots – walking will be much easier, and it will feel much more natural. In addition, the movement of the bar will preclude snow from balling up underneath the frame, allowing for easier long-range traversing of snowy areas.

Rigid Frame – Rigid frame crampons are made of very stiff, unyielding materials and are built with minimal flex in the crampon itself. This makes them very difficult to walk in for extended periods of time but allows them to excel during very difficult rocky and icy climbs.

Because of this, rigid frame crampons are generally only used for very technical climbs. Indeed, many mountaineers carry both a pair of rigid frame and semi-rigid frame crampons – the semi-rigid frame allows for easy walking and approaching to a summit, and the rigid frame allows safe climbing on the roughest, most technical surfaces.

Semi-rigid Frame – The semi-rigid frame is a blend between the flex of the hinged frame and the stiffness of the rigid frame. These crampons are the most popular on the market by far, being the vast majority of crampons sold today. This is because they allow for a broad range of performance over widely-varying conditions. They are appropriate for both winter walking and approaches to peaks, and technical climbs – though extreme climbs will require the services of a rigid-frame crampon.

👞 Crampon Bindings

There are three types of bindings that are common to modern crampons:

Crampon BindingsStep-In – Step-in bindings have a wire bail on the toe that sits snugly around your boot, and a heel cable uses tensioning levers to attach it to the heel. These crampons are easy to put on with gloves due to the lack of fine dexterity needed to tighten the heel cable, so they’re very popular for snowy conditions. Step-in bindings are usually used for more rigid crampons, as they require rigid-soled boots with a heel and toe welt to ensure that the bail does not slip. Appropriately fastened, they provide a very secure fit.

Strap-On – Strap-on bindings have the advantage of being usable with just about any shoe. High-strength nylon webbing is woven around the crampon and tightened after slipping your boot onto the crampon. When fastened properly, they can be used for even moderately challenging ice climbing, but they have more “play” than other crampons – the crampon and shoe will have a slight amount of independent movement.

Hybrid – Hybrid bindings combine the security of a step-in with the ease-of-use of a strap-on binding. A large toe strap combines with a heel lever that can be easily tightened with gloves, offering a tight fit comparable to a step-in that doesn’t require a specialized toe welt. Note that these crampons do require a relatively high stiffness boot to work properly.

The type of binding that is best for you depends on your situation, preferences, and the type of boot you’re using, but generally a hybrid binding is best for a moderately stiff boot and a semi-rigid crampon style.

👞 Number of Crampon Points

Most crampons have either 10 or 12 points. Crampons with 10 points are generally used for “winter walking,” and are less suitable for highly technical climbs. As the number of points on a crampon grows, so does its utility in difficult, technical climbs.

👞 Crampon Frontpoint Orientation

The “frontpoints” are the forward-facing points on your crampons. The orientation of frontpoints in a crampon determines its utility – horizontal frontpoints make walking easier, while vertical frontpoints allow for easier climbing in technical terrain.

Crampon Frontpoint OrientationHorizontal Frontpoints – These frontpoints are the most useful for a large variety of winter and alpine climbing – they offer an easy walking experience while being aggressive enough to penetrate deeply into ice and snow for technical climbing

Vertical Frontpoints – These are more difficult to walk in, but their more aggressive, downward orientation makes it easier to kick them into difficult terrain and helps them support your weight in difficult climbs

Monopoint – These crampons make use of one large, durable crampon point in the front of the crampon. They’re quite specialized, usually used for very technical climbs where small patches of ice and rock must be penetrated easily. Many technical crampons can be converted from a dual frontpoint design to monopoint design.

👞 Modular Vs. Non-Modular Points

As the name may suggest, you can purchase crampons with either modular or non-modular points.

Modular Vs. Non-Modular PointsModular Points – Modular points are useful if you need to constantly replace worn points, or are using a pair of crampons that needs to be reconfigured from walking to intense technical climbing. These crampons are used by people who do lots of mixed alpine climbing and have diverse needs from their crampons.

Non-Modular Points – There are two primary advantages of non-modular points. First, they’re usually lighter weight – since they are forged out of one piece of metal, less weight is added by fasteners. Second, they have no moving parts, unlike modular-point crampons which usually have points attached with screws. And though these screws generally hold up quite well, there is always a risk of a screw coming loose with a modular point – not so with non-modular point crampons.

How To Choose The Right Crampon For Your Needs

Choose The Right Crampon For Your Boot – If your boot is rigid, buy rigid crampons. If it’s flexible, consider a more flexible, hinged crampon with a hybrid or strapped binding. Crampons work best when their flexibility matches the flexibility of your boot – and that leads to the next consideration.

How To Choose The Right Crampon For Your NeedsDetermine Your Specific Needs – If you’re planning on doing intense, technical climbs, you’ll need a pair of rigid, vertical-point crampons. If you’re doing more “snow walking” and basic scrambling that requires long-distance travel, you’ll want a less stiff, more horizontally-oriented crampon. Choose based not just on the boot you have – but what sort of climbs you plan on doing.

Make Sure Your Boot Will Fit Your Crampon – The easiest way to do this is to try a crampon on in a store, but if you’re shopping online, many FAQ sections have people asking about particular fits on different styles of boot – check around online to see if the crampons you’re looking at are right for you.

Straps Always Fit – They might not always be the best choice for a technical climb, but if you’re just getting started with crampons, a strap-based system will fit just about any boot and is easy to manage – even for a beginner.

Top 5 Best Crampon Reviews with Camparison

Okay! If you were with us through all that, congrats! You know 1000% more about crampons now than you did before. If you skipped our explanation, that’s okay too! You’re an expert, and you’re just looking to find the best crampons out there for your needs. Let’s dig into our reviews of the top 5 crampons and ice spikes on the market.

1.OuterStar Traction Cleats Ice Snow Grips Anti Slip 12 Stainless Steel Spikes Crampons for Footwear

Key Features

OuterStar Traction Cleats Ice Snow Grips Anti Slip 12 Stainless Steel Spikes Crampons for FootwearHorizontal spikes for easy walking

Lightweight design

Chains for increased grip

These crampons by OuterStar are great for lower-intensity hiking and snow walking, with a durable plastic strapped design accented by a chain-based steel enclosure that can hold the 12 high-quality stainless steel spikes onto just about any kind of shoe.

These spikes are surprisingly durable, and despite the stainless steel construction of these crampons, they remain very lightweight and offer excellent performance even when scrambling over more technical terrain.

The rubber upper provides a fantastic hold on most shoes and hiking boots, and is quite stiff, with a chain-based strap system that provides plenty of traction when you need it, but is lightweight for easy walking on snow.

Further, the chain-based strapping system helps stop snow from balling up under your shoes – since the chains are wide and smooth, snow has a hard time getting a hold, and ice is similarly easy to shake off of these high-quality ice spikes.

These crampons are a 10-spike model. 6 spikes are located on the front of the foot, with 4 on the heel. The low-profile design of these spikes means that you can walk easily, but doesn’t sacrifice traction.

Overall, these are a great choice if you’re primarily doing less intensive climbs, or simply looking for a great pair of crampons to use during severe ice storms or for use during wintertime outdoor activities.

2.Vdealen 2 PCS 12 Teeth Claws Crampons Non-slip Shoes Cover With Stainless Steel Chain For Outdoor Ski Ice Snow Hiking Climbing

Key Features

Vdealen 2 PCS 12 Teeth Claws Crampons Non-slip Shoes Cover With Stainless Steel Chain For Outdoor Ski Ice Snow Hiking ClimbingDurable plastic-and-velcro closure

Included carry bag for use on the trail

Great spike placement for equal weight distribution

These crampons by Vdealen are quite a bit more robust than the above OuterStar model and offer a very secure strapped closure, larger and deeper spikes, and a robust chain-based strap system that provides a secure hold, as well as extra traction on tough, icy surfaces.

It’s very easy to put on and take off these crampons – slip your boot through the rubber elastic harness, place your heel and toe over the appropriate spiked sections below. Pull the rubber harness over your boot and secure snugly with the velcro strap until there is little-to-no movement between the shoe and the crampons.

The elasticized rubber remains surprisingly pliable even in very cold winter conditions, making these a great choice if you only need crampons for the final approach on a tough trail climb or summit. You can easily pull them on and off with gloves, and the rubber won’t seize up due to the weather.

The spike placement is great too. Though the spikes are nearly vertical, they’re smaller compared to some other more heavy-duty crampons, so they still offer an easy walking experience while providing plenty of hold on difficult snow, rock, and ice.

These are fantastic crampons to use for beginner to intermediate mountain climbing. While we wouldn’t try scrambling up an icy rock face in them, they’re sure to please any climber looking for a pair of crampons that are durable, easy to use, and reliable.

3.Kahtoola NANOspikes Footwear Traction

Key Features

Kahtoola NANOspikes Footwear TractionTungsten-carbide spikes

Large variety of sizes available

Durable and easy to attach to any shoe

Okay, these aren’t technically crampons. However, mountaineers aren’t the only ones who require the tools to safely walk over ice and snow – in our everyday lives; there are plenty of times when a pair of durable, reliable ice spikes or crampons can be useful.

In this spirit of this, we’ve included these ice spikes by Kahtoola. These ultralight, low-profile spikes give incredible traction on just about any icy or snowy surface, and the durable strapped closer and elasticized rubber upper of these ice spikes allow them to be used on any shoe imaginable.

There are 10 spikes total on these ice spikes – 6 front and 4 back spikes; all make out of a tungsten-carbide allow that cuts easily through the ice. The rigid plastic bottom also includes a textured, high-traction design, augmenting the gripping power of the spikes, and helping keep the wearer safe, no matter the weather.

They’re not for mountaineers, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better day-to-day winter ice spike solution. So if you need to stay safe while getting the mail, during a winter commute, or any other application where you need to deal with plenty of ice, check out these ice spikes by Kahtoola.

4.Hillsound Trail PRO Crampon Traction Device

Key Features

Hillsound Trail PRO Crampon Traction DeviceMountaineer quality 10-point semi-rigid strap-based crampon

Lightweight – 680 grams

Anti-balling pad for easy snow walking

If you’re looking for a fantastic semi-rigid strap-based crampon perfect for just about any mountaineering application, you’ve just found it. This 10 point crampon from Hillsound Trail is perfect for almost any mountaineering application, and is even adjustable – if you need to lengthen the crampon, you can adjust the length of the bar with the included Allen wrench.

The high-tensile strength strap system allows for a close fit. Slip the crampons on your boots, insert the ratchet-strap into the rear of the crampon, and tighten it. These crampons also include four “Alpine Stoppers” – these small plastic pieces slip over the ratchet straps of the crampons, and prevent them from becoming undone due to tension, stress, or snow buildup.

The front spikes are horizontal, allowing for an easy walking motion, and the spikes on the crampons are very robust, able to handle just about any terrain barring a near-vertical ascent.

Overall, these are the best choice for mountaineers tackling medium-sized mountains who are going to be doing a lot of walking and don’t need a stiff, rigid boot and crampon.

5.docooler 1 Pair 11 Teeth Claws Crampons

Key Features

docooler 1 Pair 11 Teeth Claws CramponsManganese-steel teeth

Elastic upper for easy grip on any shoe or boot

Durable, high-tension stainless steel chain straps

These crampons by Docooler are a fantastic choice for an easy-to-use, high-quality rubber, and steel ice spike or crampon solution.

The high-strength, 11-tooth manganese-steel design provides great traction, especially when combined with a vertical spike design and the durable chain-link strapping design. The rubber upper is incredibly robust but surprisingly stretchy, allowing for a tight, secure hold on boots of all shapes, sizes, and materials.

The chain strap system provides a small amount of give to help avoid breakage on high-intensity terrain but keeps the spikes pulled close to your boots, allowing for increased traction, a better grip, and easier walking.

Both the heel and toe crampon spikes are forged from a one-piece design that provides maximum durability. Since there are no moving parts, each individual heel and toe section acts as a unit, and this helps prevent breakage and increase durability.

While they’re probably not going to take you up to Everest, these crampons by Docooler are perfect for wintertime trail running, hiking, and average-difficulty mountaineering routes that don’t require technical climbing or scrambling.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you know more about crampons now than you ever have before, and your new knowledge will help you pick out the right pair of crampons for your needs. So take a look at our product recommendations, get a good feel for your specific needs, and find the crampons that will take you to the top – wherever that may be.