If you want to start hiking where there’s snow or slippery and wet terrain, crampons are a great addition to your gear. Crampons are spikey traction devices that attach to footwear and provide better grip and stability. They are mainly used for icy and snowy terrains.
Many people mistakenly call them “clamp-on,” but that is incorrect. Crampon is a french word for a 10-point style piece of climbing gear designed in 1908. You might also find crampons with 2 points (tines) in the front to make climbing steep terrains easier.
There are different types of crampons for different purposes. So let’s see if they’re good for hiking and what you need to know before buying any.
Can You Put Crampons on Hiking Boots?
Yes, you can generally put strap-on crampons on your hiking boots. But a few factors will decide if your hiking boots and crampons are compatible.
The main thing to consider is the crampon flexibility compatible with your hiking boots. Moreover, the different types of crampons, sizing and fitting, accessories, and the terrain you plan to hike on are some more things to consider. It would be best to get familiarized with flexibility grading and sizing to ensure a comfortable fit.
If anything between your crampon and hiking boots is off, you might have a hard time hiking. It is important because it can be dangerous to lose grip while walking or climbing ice.
Ensure Flexibility Grade Will Work Between the Crampons and Hiking Boots
Before buying some hiking boots, crampons or both, you must understand how flexibility grading works. Both your boots and crampons are graded in different extents of flexibility. Boot grading is as follows:
- B0: very flexible soles and uppers, best to use while trekking and walking on hills, not good in snow
- B1: rigid midsoles and flexible uppers, best for longer mountain hikes, winter hill walks and hiking, not very good in snow
- B2: stiff midsoles and uppers, best for mountaineering and easy mixed climbing on lower grade snow.
- B3: most stiff soles and uppers, best for mountaineering on steep, icy terrains and mixed climbs in all grades of snow.
Now, let’s look into the crampons flexibility grades:
- C1: strap-on crampons that are very flexible, easy to secure with most hiking boots. Best for walking in winters and flat route glacier traversing.
- C2: hybrid crampons that are stiffer than C1s; they might need to be secured to heel welts. Best for climbing in winters and inclined routes/alpinism.
- C3: step-in crampons that are very stiff must be secured from boots toe to heel welts. Best for steep and icy slopes and difficult routes and climbs.
Next, you must ensure that your boots are stiffer than your crampons. If the boots are not stiff enough, you could lose the crampons mid-hike. Stiff soles help with secure attachment and prevent further issues.
B0 boots are not suitable for crampons. B1 boots are suitable for C1 crampons, and B2 boots are suitable for C1 and C2 crampons. B3 boots are suitable for all 3 crampon grades.
What Are Crampons Made Of?
Crampons are usually made of steel alloy, lightweight aluminum and sometimes both. Their best purposes can vary depending on the material they’re made of. For example, lightweight crampons are best for alpine ski touring.
However, heavier crampons might be best for trekking/hiking or climbing snowy, icy terrains or frozen waterfalls. You could also use them in non-snowy, non-iced conditions.
Choosing the Correct Crampon Binding (3 types)
As mentioned earlier, there are 3 types of binding. Each crampon flexibility grade has a different type of binding. It is important to select the right binding for you for your safety!
The three bindings are strap-on, step-in or hybrid. You will often find strap-on binding on C1 and C2 crampons, hybrid binding in C2 and C3 crampons, and step in on C3 crampons. Each binding is best for a certain set of activities, though.
For example, waterfall ice and mixed climbing require hybrid or step-in binding, while snow walking/hiking requires strap-on binding.
Sizing Your Crampon
Most crampons come in one size, but there’s an adjustable center bar to change lengths. There can be some variation in sizes, but they are pretty limited. Size specifications are usually found in the following ranges:
- EU size 36-46
- UK size 4.5-11.5
- US size 5-13
How To Attach Crampons To Hiking Boots
Fortunately, crampons are pretty simple to attach to your hiking boots. You can also search for videos to explain it to you. However, let us explain how to attach different crampons.
- C1 strap-on crampons
you will first adjust the crampon to be slightly bigger than your boot. Then slip your boot into it and adjust it to fit comfortably and securely the toe cage and heel binder. Lastly, loop the straps around your boot and tighten them properly.
- C2 hybrid crampons
You will place the front of your boot into the crampon’s toe cage. Then you have to lock the heel clip on your boot’s heel welt. Finally, loop the straps around your boot and tighten them up.
- C3 step-in crampons
Like the hybrid binding crampon, you have to fit the front of your boot in the toe cage. Once you’ve done that, lock the heel clip on your boot’s heel welt. Loop its straps around your boot and make sure it is tight.
To conclude, you can use crampons with hiking boots. You need to size them correctly and choose the appropriate flexibility grade and binding for you. You also need to make sure your boot’s flexibility grade is compatible with crampons.
We hope that we’ve answered all your questions about crampons and hiking boots. You’re now ready to buy yourself some crampons and hike up and down that snowy and icy trail you’ve heard about! Remember, choose the correct crampons and stay safe out there.