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Best Crampons For Climbing – Expert Reviews (2021) 

Crampons attach to footwear to provide traction and improve mobility when crossing over ice-covered rocks, snowfields, glaciers, snow slopes and/or icefields, or for ice climbing.

Check out our top picks for best crampons below as well as our buyer’s guide to help you find a pair best suited to your needs.

Best Crampons (Top Picks)

PETZL - VASAK, Crampons for Classic Mountaineering, Flexlock

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Camp Stalker Crampons - Universal

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PETZL - Dart, Ultralight Mono-Point Crampons for Ice Climbing and Dry Tooling

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Top Crampons For Climbing (Detailed Reviews)

We reviewed over 16 crampons for this article. Below are the best crampons that made our short list.

  1. Petzl VASAK Crampons – Best Overall
  2. Petzl Dart Leverlock Fil Crampon – Best Lightweight
  3. Black Diamond Serac
  4. Camp Stalker Universal – Best Value
  5. Petzl Lynx
  6. Grivel G12 Cramp-O-Matic Crampon – Best For General Mountaineering

Read our complete buyers guide for crampons.

Best Overall Crampons

1. Petzl VASAK Crampons (C2)

PETZL - VASAK, Crampons for Classic Mountaineering, Flexlock

5/5 Overall Rating

The Petzl VASAK, are great overall classic mountaineering crampons that have been designed with many uses in mind. Whether you are travelling over glaciers or snow couloirs, these are a great choice!

These crampons are intended for the more experienced climber, they are lightweight due to a slimmer frame, easy to strap on and have excellent grip and purchase. 

The Petzl Vasak crampons comes in a Flexlock or Leverlock Universal version. The Flexlock version enables you to use these crampons on boots which don't have toe or heel welts and is fully adjustable for any boot size. The Leverlock Universal version is used for boots that have a heel welt. The front bale can be changed to work on boots with or without a toe welt as required. 

They feature a patented Anti-snow system preventing snow build up that can become dangerous and works well even in knee-deep snow. You will feel stable and secure on your climbing adventure when using these crampons. 

These C2 crampons are suitable for technical winter scrambles, winter climbing and alpinism. They will work perfectly with a B2 or B3 mountaineering boot.

Main Features
  • Fits European boot sizes 36 to 50 and in the US will fit Men from size 5 to 15
  • 12-point, tempered steel crampons
  • Thinner frame reduces weight
  • Horizontal front points
  • Available in Flexlock or Leverlock Universal versions
  • Low-profile plates that obstruct sticky snow and don’t allow balling without getting in the way of the points
What we like
  • ANTISNOW system limits snow buildup in any conditions
  • Flex lock bindings making it possible to attach to any type of boots with rear and front welts or without
  • Easy and fast to put on and take off, even when wearing gloves
What we dislike
  • Thinner frame may restrict shoe choices
Key Takeway

With 12 tempered steel spikes, these Petzl VASAK crampons will make you feel confident and stable on your ice climbing adventure and are the perfect choice for alpine climbs, mountaineering and moderate winter climbing.

2. Petzl Dart Crampons (C3)

PETZL - Dart, Ultralight Mono-Point Crampons for Ice Climbing and Dry Tooling

5/5 Overall Rating

Petzl Dart crampons are mono-point crampons and used in ice climbing and dry tooling.

At only 745 grams, these dual-point crampons are very lightweight and have a total of 11 points. It has a step-in feature which gives you secure footing. 

This is a lightweight, precise and practical option for crampons and can be set up for mono or dual points, and there are two length options.

These C3 crampons are suitable for ice climbing and technical mountaineering. They will work perfectly with B3 mountaineering boots.

Main Features
  • Mono-point allows for efficient and precise kicks and bites as well as precise placement on micro-edges
  • LEVERLOCK FIL binding system is compatible with all technical mountaineering and ice climbing boots with front and rear welts.
  • Asymmetrical front points for maximum surface area coverage on mixed climbs, and
    lateral secondary points for stability on hard ice
What we like
  • Lightweight (745 grams)
  • Can adjust the length and the orientation of the front points
  • Anti-snow system
What we dislike
  • Replacement front-points are fairly expensive

3. Black Diamond Serac Crampons (C2)

Black Diamond Equipment - Serac Strap Crampons

4/5 Overall Rating

The durability of the Black Diamond Serac makes them reliable and sturdy while the design remains lightweight, making them ideal for alpine approaches.

This is a versatile crampon with three options: clip, strap or pro. This means they can be worn with almost any mountaineering boot. The strap version is adjustable and used with non-technical shoes.

These are very strong crampons with 12 points made from stainless steel to prevent rust. The horizontal points offer a great deal of stability.

These C2 crampons are suitable for technical winter scrambles, winter climbing or alpinism. They will work perfectly with B2 or B3 mountaineering boot.

Main Features
  • Anti-balling plates to prevent build-up under grips
  • Low-profile micro-adjust heel bail
  • Horizontal front point offers stability
  • Includes front and rear dual-density ABS
  • Three different configurations (Pro, Clip, and Strap) that allow them to be paired with any mountain boots
What we like
  • Great traction
  • Easy to use
  • Durable, corrosion resistant and long lasting
  • Comes with an HDO Sport cooling towel
What we dislike
  • Heavier due to 12 points
Key Takeaway

For all the above reasons combined, the Black Diamond Serac Crampons has a biting, stable design which makes for great technical alpine climbing.

4. Camp Stalker Universal (C1)

Camp Stalker Crampons - Universal

4/5 Overall Rating

The Camp Stalker Universal crampons are suitable for hiking, trekking, mountaineering, ski mountaineering and backpacking.

Made from a tough chromoly steel that lasts forever and the 12 robust points have excellent traction. These handcrafted crampons are made to fit most mountaineering and hiking boots. 

They have a thermoplastic heel and toe harnesses that wrap around your boot and are secured with durable nylon straps. Plus, the flexible linking bars with pre-shaped front platforms adapt as you walk!

While these crampons are slightly heavier than others, this also makes them very sturdy. They work great on beds of rock and steep snow.

The Camp Stalker crampons are very popular among hikers and are easy to use during their winter hiking adventures or high altitude hikes. When climbing across snow and ice over steep inclines (45 degrees), these crampons will work great.

Due to their versatility, durability and affordable price tag, it's easy to see why these are Camp's best selling crampons!

These C1 crampons are suitable for winter walking, glacier traverses and classic mountaineering. They will work perfectly with B1, B2, or B3 graded boots.

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Main Features
  • Dynamic anti-balling plates to prevent snow build up
  • Made with chromoly steel
  • CC4U wear indicators on the side points which show when it is time for replacement
  • Fits boots of European sizes 36 to 48 or US 5.5 to 15
What we like
  • Carry case included
  • Size adjustment requires no tools
  • Affordable
What we dislike
  • A little heavier (948 grams)
Key Takeaway

The Camp Stalker Universal are made for winter hikes and trails, making them great for hiking; but it's best to consider a higher graded crampon for more technical and intense climbing. 

5. Petzl Lynx (C2)

PETZL - Lynx, Modular Crampons for Ice and Mixed Climbing

4.5/5 Overall Rating

Petzl Lynx crampons are the best choice for vertical ice climbs. The Lynx is easily one of the most popular ice climbing crampons available!

The front bindings are interchangeable, meaning they can work as either a step-in or a hybrid. Both versions utilise the toe clip and strap which makes this an extremely versatile crampion that can be used on mountaineering or regular hiking boots.

If you need stronger penetration of the ice, simply adjust the front points using a single screw. Plus, the front binding toe clip is easily adjusted to fit the welt of any boot!

It is adaptable using one screw. It can be modified as long mono-point for dry tooling, long dual-point for gullies, asymmetrical dual-point for mixed climbing, and short dual-point for ice climbing.

These crampons can be adjusted as C2 or C3 crampons and work well for ice and mixed climbing. They will work perfectly with B1, B2, or B3 graded boots.

Main Features
  • Interchangeable Front Bindings For Step-in Or Hybrid (can become C2 or C3 graded crampon)
  • Length and orientation of the front points can be changed 
  • Anti-balling plates
  • LEVERLOCK UNIVERSEL bindings are compatible with all hiking and mountaineering boots with rear welts
  • FAKIR storage pouch
What we like
  • Comes with a carrying case
  • Adaptable
  • Versatile (can be used with almost any mountaineering or hiking boot)
  • Includes a tote bag for storage
What we dislike
  • Costly
  • Back stop for boots is not adjustable in height
Key Takeaway

The Petzl Lynx are extremely versatile! If you can afford them, these come highly recommended. 

6. Grivel G12 Cramp-O-Matic Crampon (C3)

Grivel G12 crampon Cramp-O-Matic yellow/grey

4/5 Overall Rating

Grivel G12 Cramp-O-Matic Crampon are our top choice for general mountaineering adventures.

It is an older crampon but has stood the test of time and is proven to perform! It's the perfect all-rounder and is coated with plastic to melt snow foster. This, combined with the anti-balling plates means snow won't be a hassle at all.

It has a semi-rigid design which allows for compatibility with a variety of boots and is designed using lighter chromoly steel to keep you moving at ease. Plus, it's hand adjustable and folds away easily!

This is a durable and excellent quality crampon, which also features 2+2 front points, 3D relief stamped for increased rigidity and a horizontal frame to reduce flex.

The Grivel G12 Cramp-O-Matic is a C3 crampon and works well for ice climbing and technical mountaineering. They will only work with a B3 graded boot.

Main Features
  • Anti-balling plates coated with plastic
  • Lighter Chromoly Steel
  • Three-dimension relief stamping increases strength and rigidity of the frame
  • Fits European sizes 36 to 47
What we like
  • Very durable
  • Hand adjustable and easy to pack away
What we dislike
  • On the heavier side
Key Takeaway

The Grivel G12 crampon comes in a New-Matic version which is a C2 graded crampon that can be used for winter climbing and apline climbs. It is a great option for less technical climbs and work with a B2 or B3 boot.

Crampons Buyer's Guide

Crampons are totally necessary if you plan to climb glaciers and icy terrains. What kind of crampons you purchase should ultimately depend on the activity you want to use them for, and there are several aspects to consider per activity. 

They are designed with a specific purpose in mind and are graded according to their purpose and fit. Different grades are compatible with specific boots. It is highly important to have the correct crampons for your boots and that the crampons are reliable when climbing on slippery and steep icy surfaces!

Use our guidelines below to find the right pair for you.

Crampons & Boots

Boots 

Boots are graded according to their suitability for certain terrains and activities. they rank from B0 (not suitable to use with crampons) to B3 (the most technical mountaineering boots).

Crampons

Crampons are also graded according to the technicality of your climb and to the binding of the crampon to your boot. 

  • C1 Crampons are suitable for winter hikes and glacier traverses. They are compatible with B1, B2 or B3 boots.
  • C2 Crampons are suitable for technical winter scrambles, winter climbing and alpinism. They are compatible with B2 and B3 boots.
  • C3 Crampons are suitable for ice climbing and technical mountaineering adventures. They are to be used with B3 boots only!


Crampon Frames & Material

Crampon frames depict the durability and strength of the overall crampon design. The 3 characteristics that you should take note of in a crampon frame are its material, weight and alignment. Crampons made of steel offer durability that makes them necessary for technical, steep and icy terrain.

Steel crampons are generally the best for mountaineering.

Stainless-steel crampons have the same benefits, as well as being rust-resistant and extremely strong.

Aluminium crampons are better for approaches and ski mountaineering and tend to be the lightest, but with a typically decreased durability rate and less strength. Therefore, their lightness makes them ideal for alpine climbs, but they will wear out faster than steel on technical, rough climbs.

As for frame alignment, modern crampons have progressed to generally have horizontally oriented frames, which can flex for walking and keeps your feet closer to the ground than vertical frames would (which increases stability).

Points/Spikes

Traditionally, crampons have 10 underfoot points and two front points that can be vertically or horizontally oriented – so 12 twelve points altogether. 10-point crampons are usually reserved for basic snow travel and ski mountaineering, with a limited capability for intense climbing.

The nature and shape of your crampon’s front spikes are where you should focus your attention to when buying crampons.

Vertically oriented front points are rigid and sharp to act as an ice-tool pick. They are much more precise than horizontal points, with the ability to slip easily into cracks and fraction ice less. They are generally adjustable and replaceable and preferred for steep mixed climbs.

Horizontally oriented points are amazing for alpine treks. They navigate through snow much better than vertical points and can perform really well on vertical ice.

Points are either modular (adjustable), which you can reconfigure to support your type of activity, or non-modular (fixed).

Binding Type

The binding type of the crampon is the way it attaches to a boot, and it is important to take note of what shoes you plan to wear so that you can correlate your crampons accordingly. Bindings comes in 3 types.

The first is called hybrid, which feature a heel lever and toe strap. To use a hybrid, you need a boot with a stiff sole and heel groove or welt to hold the heel lever. Hybrids are nice and easy to use.

The second is the step-in binding. Here, a wire bail holds the toe in place and a heel cable with a tension lever connects the crampon to the heel – this results in a very secure system. Commonly an ankle strap is included in this binding. To use this binding you need boots with rigid soles and a 3/8” or larger welt or groove on the heel and toe.

Lastly, the strap-on system contains a pair of nylon webbing straps and can be used with any boot or shoe. This makes them great if you are using multiple boots with the same crampon.

Intended Use & Conditions

The last major point should draw back to what activity you would like to do.

Snow Walking

Opt for aluminium or steel crampon frames with 8-10 points, including fixed horizontal frontpoints, and strap-on binding.

Hiking

Steel crampons with 10 points, with fixed horizontal frontpoints, is ideal, and any type of binding can be used. The same applies to technical mountaineering, although we recommend aiming for 12 points instead of 10.

Waterfall Ice and Mixed Climbing

Steel crampons with 14+ points, including modular vertical frontpoint, with either a hybrid or step-in binding is recommended.

Crampons

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