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Crampons - Footnotes
Along with your Ice Axe, crampons hugely increase your safety on frozen ground. With crampon development moving along at such a pace, we can now buy models that are quick to put on, weigh next to nothing and can take you from Snowdon to Everest. The link between the crampon and your boot is key, so always check that the two are fully compatible before venturing into the wild.
What should I look for when buying Crampons?
The most important feature is how well they fit your boots, so always fit them to your own boots before purchasing.
Crampon Ratings / Classification
To help with choosing a product to match your boot there is a classification system. You first need to find out what classification your boots are. Boots rated as B1 (such as. the Scarpa SL M3) can be fitted only with a C1 crampon. Boots rated as B2 (such as the Scarpa Manta GSB) can be fitted with a C1 or C2. Boots rated as B3 (such as the La Sportiva Nepal Extreme) can be fitted with C1, C2 or C3 crampons. C1 are usually flexible, C2 are articulated and C3 are completely rigid.
Some binding systems attach the product to your boots more easily than others. C1 crampons (such as the Grivel G10) are often fitted with straps while C2 and C3 (such as the Grivel G12 and Grivel G14 respectively) are often fitted using quick release heel clips, which are the easiest and fastest binding method.
These attach to the base of the crampons and help to reduce the amount of snow that sticks to the underside.
Number of Points / Spikes
The more points you have, the more secure you grip will be on steep, slippery slopes. But fewer spikes save weight and money. So walker's crampons often have 10 points, while climbers and mountaineers go for 12 spikes. Also look for 3D compression of the metal which adds strength and long term durability.
Sharpness and Length of Crampon Points
Sharp points are great for getting a grip on ice, but they also snag easily on gaiters, and they will wear down more quickly than blunt spikes. So unless you are heading for hard, steep ice, then slightly blunted points are all you need. Long points will give a better grip in snow, but they will also catch more easily on gaiters and protrusions while crossing uneven ground of rock, snow and ice. So choose longer points for use on snow, and shorter points for mixed ground.