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Crampon Attachment

Crampons attach to your boots in a number of ways. It is important that your boots and crampons are suitable for one another and – as a rule – your crampons should be no stiffer than your boots. A rigid crampon with a flexible boot is liable to falling off, causing ankle injuries, and suffering metal fatigue or breaking.

 

Crampons can be categorised into 3 types, Flexible (C1), Semi-Rigid (C2), and Rigid (C3)(see Crampon Types). Boots can also be broadly categorised into 4 types as per the table below.

 

Boot Type Key Features
B0
  • General walking boots
  • Leather or fabric construction with flexible sole
  • Not suitable for crampons
B1
  • General hill walking boots
  • Supportive leather or leather/fabric construction
  • Semi-stiffened sole
  • Compatible with C1 crampons
B2
  • 4-season mountain boots
  • High supportive uppers made from thicker leather
  • Fully stiffened sole designed for climbing
  • Compatible with C1 crampons but better suited to C2 crampons
B3
  • 4-season technical mountain boots
  • High supportive uppers made from rigid leather or plastic
  • Fully stiffened sole designed for technical climbing
  • Compatible with C1 & C2 crampons but better suited to C3 crampons

 

This rating system refers primarily to the stiffness of the boot, with category B0 not being suitable for crampons. The stiffness of a particular model of boot will obviously vary depending on the size of the boot. The largest fitting will be more flexible than the smallest, meaning that people with big feet may need to select a stiffer boot than those with smaller feet.

 

Now that you know which crampons and boots are compatible with one another, you should consider crampon attachment or the binding system. The binding system is the means by which your crampons attach to your boots. It is important that your boots are designed to accommodate the binding system of your crampons and that they attach securely. A poorly fitted crampon can cause equipment damage or, worse yet, injury on the mountain.

 

There are three main types of crampon bindings: Strap-On, Step-In, and Hybrid.

crampon binding systems

Strap-On

As the name suggests, strap-on crampons feature nylon webbing that straps the crampon securely to the boot. If the centre bar is compatible with the flexibility of the boot, strap-on crampons will fit most boot types. Strap-on crampons take a little longer to attach and there is always a degree of play between crampon and boot. However, they offer a flexible solution and are suitable for snow walking and moderate ice climbs.

 

Step-In

Step-in crampons will only fit boots that feature heel and toe welts designed for step-in crampons. A wire bail secures the toe of the crampon and a heel cable with a tension lever clamps the crampon securely in place. Step-in bindings attach securely with little or no play and can be removed easily, even with thick gloves on. Step-in bindings usually feature an ankle strap and an adjustable front bail.

 

Hybrid

Hybrid or semi-step-in bindings feature – as the name suggests – elements of the other binding systems. There is a toe strap at the front of the crampon and a heel lever at the back. Hybrid bindings require a stiff sole and a heel grove to hold the crampon in place. However, they are more flexible and forgiving than a full step-in binding meaning that they do not have to fit perfectly into the heel welt. Hybrid crampons are easy to attach and remove in difficult conditions with gloves on.