Mountain boots and Crampons

The following information is intended as a general introduction to the types of mountain boots available and their properties. If you are at all unsure which type of boot is appropriate for the trip that you are coming on then please do speak to us before buying or renting any kit.

What are crampons?

Crampons are accessories that attach to your boots and are used for hiking. Most crampons require a special type of boot, or mountaineering boot. They do not make crampons for hiking boots (these are a totally different type of traction device). The reason is because crampons require a stiff-shanked boot in order to stay attached to your boot safely.

Boot grading for crampons

Boots for any climb over snow and ice need to be of a type that will allow fitting of crampons. Boots are graded according to their compatibility with different types of crampon.

crampon guide.jpg

Boots graded B0 are not suitable for use with crampons. The sole is not stiff enough to prevent them moving differently to the crampon with the result that the crampons will move around and may come off altogether. They are also not very stiff in their upper section and may not provide enough support to your ankle or enough rigidity to allow ‘edging’ of the boot in snow when not using crampons.

Boots Graded B1 are suitable for use with strap-on C1 crampons for use on moderate snow and ice conditions. They have fairly stiff soles so that the crampon does not loosen or come off as the boot flexes during walking. They are also fairly stiff on the upper part so that they provide good ankle support and allow edging in the snow when not using crampons. They are however not so stiff that they are too uncomfortable to walk in off the snow.

Boots Graded B2 are suitable for use with C1 or C2 crampons. C2 crampons have a clip lever at the back and therefore require the boot to have a protruding shelf at the heel for the end of the heel lever to engage with. The boots have a stiffer sole than B1 boots and will help to keep the crampon in place on moderate mountaineering climbs. Some B2 boots are still flexible enough to be used on an approach walk although this is very dependent on the materials and construction of the upper.

Boots Graded B3 are suitable for use with technical C3 crampons. The boot is fully rigid and allows the crampon to be used on more technical climbs (where there is likely to be sustained use of the crampon’s front points) without the crampon loosening. B3 boots are likely to be very uncomfortable for approach walks and trekking as they are rigid and often heavily insulated.

On all climbs or treks where crampons will be used, your boots will need to be rated at least B1 or B2 for use with crampons.

If you choose to purchase your own crampons prior to the trip please ensure that you take your boots to the shop and ask a suitably experienced person to check the fit of the crampons with the boot. Some combinations of boot and crampon do not provide a good match and can lead to poorly fitting crampons and consequent problems on the mountain. If you are planning on using overboots to upgrade the warmth of a boot you will also have to check carefully if the crampon will be secure. You may need to cut out sections of the overboot to align with heel or toe bails.

Boot grading for warmth

Aside from allowing the fitting of crampons, another very important consideration when choosing your mountain boots is that of warmth. For anything other than technical climbing, this is likely to be the over-riding factor in your choice of boot. Different types of boots are constructed differently, with different materials and built up in layers. Usually, on warmer boots, the layers are able to be separated into an inner and outer boot. This helps as it allows you to warm/dry the inners and also to wear them inside the tent.

It sounds obvious when it is pointed out, but it is not just the ambient air temperature that is an issue. If you are walking on snow, your feet lose heat through the sole of your foot into the cold ground. This is made even worse if the snow is not hard packed, as you may be ankle or even shin-deep in the stuff and your whole foot and lower leg may be conducting heat to the snow. Therefore, it is also the condition of the mountain that affects which boots are needed, aside from just the altitude or location.

Inevitably, the warmer the boot the more volume and bulk it has to it and usually the more expensive it is too. Using a boot that is too warm can be as problematic as having one that is not warm enough. It will lead to excessive sweating which is uncomfortable and can ultimately lead to greater chance of blisters, cold feet or even frostbite- when you stop working hard, the sweat conducts warmth away from your feet, or can even freeze.

Above the snowline there are four main options, in descending order of warmth:

  1. Triple-Boots‘ for 8000m or very cold peaks (eg Cho Oyu, Everest, Denali) such as Millet Everest, La Sportiva Olympus Mons, Scarpa Phantom 800. These are constructed with inner boot, shell and super-gaiter.
  2. Plastics‘ like the Scarpa Omega or Vega, preferably with a high altitude rated inner boot for warmth (eg for Elbrus). These are a double-boot with a shell and a liner boot. These can also be upgraded with an overboot (eg 40 Below Purple Haze) if over about 6000m (eg Muztagh Ata), which will usually it up to a limit of about 8000m.
  3. Hybrids‘ like the La Sportiva Spantik or Scarpa Phantom Guide which are a double or even triple boot but the outer boot is not solid plastic so that it can be more dextrous and comfortable. This may also need to have its warmth upgraded. These are popular on Elbrus and trekking peaks in Nepal like Island Peak, Mera Peak and on our Khumbu Peaks trip, and all the way up to Aconcagua.
  4. 4-Season‘ boots like Scarpa Charmoz or Manta; these are what you would commonly use in UK winter conditions. They would be suitable for mountains like Toubkal in winter, Yala Peak, possibly Island Peak and Mera Peak.

Choosing and fitting mountain boots

mountaineering boot and crampon.jpg

If you are buying expensive boots for an expedition it is strongly recommended that you visit a specialist retailer with trained staff, proper foot-measuring facilities (length & width) and a wide range of brands and models. This will allow you to try out a range of different boots before committing to one.

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Another important thing is to take the exact socks that you will wear on the trip with you to the shop. You need to try the boot on with the right sock as this can make a huge difference to the volume and comfort of the fit. Good shops will have also have some simulated terrain so that you can walk up and downhill in the boots. When you get home, wear the boots around the house for a few days, walk up and down the stairs etc. Most shops will allow you to exchange boots within a certain time period as long as they haven’t been used outside.

When fitting your boots, you often need to go up a half size or so from what you would buy in a normal shoe. This will allow for thick socks and some extra space as your feet swell at altitude. Generally, on high mountains, you are walking very slowly and deliberately and will not experience the same amount of movement that you would with a hiking boot. However, you do need to ensure that when walking you do not experience any ‘heel-lift’ inside the boot and that there is sufficient space around your toes for you to wiggle them. Any tighter than this and it is likely that they will either rub and give you blisters or be so constricting as to restrict the blood supply and lead to cold toes.

Note that certain boot brands commonly produce boots of a certain shape, ie. a narrower or wider fit. If your feet are of a certain shape it is worth identifying the most appropriate manufacturer for you. Some manufacturers such as Scarpa have ‘thermo-fit’ liners for their plastic boots; these are heated in an oven and then put on with special toe-spacers, the liner then moulds to the shape of your foot and when it has cools it stays in that shape. When the toe-spacer is removed it leaves some space for your toes with the rest fitting snugly. You will need to go to a shop with this facility to get this done properly.

Below Snowline and Approach Boots

Below the snowline, it is possible to use B0 graded hiking boots; make sure they are worn in, but not worn out, and have good ankle support. However, a good solution for smaller peaks is to use a B1 or B2 Four-Season boot which can then be used on the peak too. This means that you don’t need to bring another set of boots.

To give you a rough idea of which boots you need for some example trips, we strongly recommend that you talk to us and read the trip-specific information before you spend lots of money on new kit.

Can You Use Crampons With Hiking Boots? (Answers Explained)

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.

Table of Contents

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

  • 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.
  • 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

  • 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.

  1. C1 strap-on crampons
  1. C2 hybrid crampons
  1. 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.

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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.

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Best Crampons for Hiking of 2022 (Guide & Reviews)

Close-up on intermediate climber tying her shoelace

When you’re dealing with steep trails or snow-covered paths, having crampons on hand to keep you stable and secure in the great outdoors is a must. Choosing the right hiking crampons doesn’t have to be stressful. However, with so many selections and materials on the market to pick from, the choices can be overwhelming.

We did the work, conducted the research, and narrowed the list down to the top 5 best crampons for hiking on the market currently. For a detailed guide to picking out crampons, plus our top 5 picks (and the final winner!), keep reading.

The top 5 crampons for hiking we recommend for 2022:

The Best Crampons for Hiking Reviews

Ready to discover the top 5 recommended crampons for hiking? Let’s go!

Grivel G10 Crampon

Grivel G10 Crampon on white background

Grivel’s G10 Crampon has 10 rounded steel points that improve your grip while you’re climbing glacial mountains, and they’re not bulky or difficult to walk in.

  • Easy to use
  • Highly durable Chromoly steel
  • Flexible features
  • 10 point design
  • Works with regular hiking boots
  • Not compatible with snow boots
  • Metal design is pretty stiff

The first selection on our list will be the Grivel G10 New Classic, an ideal one-size-fits-all pick for activities ranging from traditional hiking to backpacking to ski mountaineering.

We love these crampons because they are very light with flexible features, so you can adjust them to fit your regular hiking boots. Manufactured from highly durable Chromoly steel, these crampons are much stronger than regular steel and will last you far longer.

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We like that the Grivel G10 Crampon sports 10 points to give you plenty of grip on everything from steep mountains to slippery trails. The number of points on these crampons makes them ideal for both moderate hikes and more intense climbs. They also feature anti-balling plates to enhance your stability.

For a simple set of crampons that are light and user-friendly, you can’t go wrong with the Grivel G10 Crampon.

Grivel G10 Crampon on white background

Black Diamond Contact Crampons

Black Diamond Contact Crampons on white background

Black Diamond Contact Crampons are lightweight while having a stainless steel construction that won’t rust, and the flexible toe straps to fit most boots or gear.

  • Comes in both clip and strap-on models
  • Durable, weather resistant stainless steel
  • 10 point specifications
  • Great for moderate to intense hikes on steep terrain
  • You might need to purchase additional bars to ensure the crampons fit
  • Toe cap could be snug for larger shoe sizes

The Black Diamond Contact Crampons are one of the most lightweight selections on the market currently. If you’ve been on the fence about purchasing crampons because you’re concerned about getting weighed down on the trail, these could be for you.

Designed from stainless steel, we like how durable and weather resistant these crampons are.

The strap-on design means these flexible crampons are a fantastic choice for a wide range of hiking activities, including both moderate hikes and intense cold-weather mountaineering. We also like the 10-point specifications that give you plenty of grip on icy terrain without being uncomfortable or weighing you down.

One element that really makes the Black Diamond Contact Crampons stand out is that you have the option to purchase them in 2 models— clip and strap. If you’re planning on wearing regular hiking boots, you’ll definitely want the strap-on kind.

Black Diamond Contact Crampons on white background

Black Diamond Serac Strap Crampon

Black Diamond Serac Strap Crampon on white background

Black Diamond Serac Strap Crampons are lightweight, come in three configurations, and they have 12 points to increase your grip while fitting any mountain boot type.

  • 3 different models for all hiking needs
  • Anti-balling plates
  • Corrosion resistant stainless steel
  • Power 12 point design
  • Heavier than some other crampon models on the market
  • May not be ideal for more moderate hikes

Another excellent product by Black Diamond, the Serac Strap Crampon features 12 rather than 10 points. The higher point specifications mean that these crampons will definitely provide you with more gripping power on super steep slopes, but they are considerably heavier than the 10-point variety. You can select the Black Diamond Serac Strap Crampon in 3 different models, featuring strap-on bindings, hybrid bindings, or step-in bindings.

The strap-on bindings are best for traditional hiking boots while the hybrid and step-in variety are suited to technical boots. No matter which model you select, all of them feature anti-balling plates so you won’t have to worry about snow catching in the crampons and leaving you with frozen feet.

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We liked that these crampons are designed from corrosion fighting stainless steel, which also makes them a good selection for mountaineering and hiking on steep surfaces.

Black Diamond Serac Strap Crampon on white background

Petzl Leopard Fl Crampons

Petzl Leopard Fl Crampons on white background

Petzl Leopard Fl Crampons features a CORD-TEC flexible linking system that makes them very lightweight and easy to carry, and the FLEX LOCK binding system keeps them secure.

  • Incredibly lightweight at 360 grams a pair
  • Very user-friendly
  • Works with any type of hiking boots
  • Comes with storage bag for easy transportation
  • No anti-balling plates
  • May not hold up as well against very rugged terrain

The Petzl Leopard FL Crampons are made of aluminum, rather than steel, which means they are very lightweight and easy to wear. They weigh in at just around 360 grams total for a pair. So, if you frequently do heavy hiking and need a very light pair of crampons that won’t distract you from your climb, the Petzl Leopard FL Crampons are a quality pair to consider.

Featuring a 10-point design, they sport strap-on bindings which makes them compatible with any type of hiking boot you have. We also really liked their built-in Cord-Tex system which makes the crampons more compact when you need to pack them up and take them on the go. The crampons come with a special storage bag too, so it’s easy to move them from place to place and pull them out as needed.

Petzl Leopard Fl Crampons on white background

Camp Stalker Universal

Camp Stalker Universal on white background

Camp Stalker Universal Crampons secure to any standard mountain boot with nylon straps, and they have durable thermoplastic heel and toe harnesses that adapt to different terrains.

  • Very affordable
  • Highly durable with 12 point, Chromoly steel design
  • Perfect for rough terrain where extra grip is needed
  • Pretty heavy
  • Tends to rust faster than a stainless-steel set might

The final pick on our list are the Camp Stalker Universal Crampons. These weigh quite a bit more than our last selection at 948 grams, but this also means they will offer you great stability on rough trails and steep slopes. We love the durable 12-point design manufactured from Chromoly steel for extra gripping power.

We were pleased to see that these crampons also sport anti-balling plates, a thermoplastic heel, and sturdy nylon straps for user-friendly ease. These are a great option for recreational outdoor enthusiasts who need a sturdy option for longwear use.

Even better, the Camp Stalk Universal crampons feature CC4U wear indicators so there’s no guesswork involved when it’s time to replace them. The crampons also come with a storage case so you can put them in your backpack and take them out as needed.

Camp Stalker Universal on white background

The Definitive Guide to Choosing Crampons for Hiking

Here’s exactly what you need to know to select the right crampons for hiking to meet all your outdoor needs.

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If you’re going to be hiking on icy or snowy surfaces, wearing crampons is nonnegotiable. When hiking in icy alpine settings, you’re most likely going to be wearing synthetic leather or leather hiking boots for durability.

These footwear selections are most compatible with horizontal frame crampons, but your activity is going to be the ultimate determinant of the type of crampon you select.

There are very lightweight crampons designed for regular walking and hiking in winter settings, with regular crampons that are ideal for glaciers, snow, hiking with an ice ax, and good old-fashioned mountaineering.

Here’s a quick overview of the right crampons for common outdoor activities in icy and snowy conditions.

  • Regular mountaineering: Steel semi-rigid crampons with a fixed horizontal frontpoint
  • Technical mountaineering: Steel semi-rigid crampons with a fixed horizontal frontpoint
  • Snow walking: Steel or aluminum flexible crampons with a fixed horizontal frontpoint
  • Mixed climb and waterfall ice: Steel semi-rigid crampons with modular vertical frontpoint

Consider the Frame

The next thing you need to consider when shopping for hiking crampons is the frame. There are different types of frames, with varying materials, weights, and degrees of alignment.

As a rule of thumb, steel crampons are best suited to traditional mountaineering. They are highly durable, which makes them a great pick for icy slopes.

Stainless steel crampons are also compatible with general mountaineering and are very resistant to corrosion, wear, and tear just as regular steel crampons are. Aluminum crampons are best for ski mountaineering and approaches, as they are very lightweight.

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However, they do usually wear out much more quickly than stainless steel or steel crampons do if you’re hiking on rugged terrain.

Horizontally aligned frames are the industry standard now for hiking boots crampons, because they are compatible with the insulated hiking boots that most outdoor enthusiasts wear for extensive excursions.

So, unless you climb in plastic boots (which most hikers don’t these days), you’re going to want a horizontal crampon frame.

Horizontal frames are great because they give you plenty of freedom to walk, the aluminum or steel design aligns flat with the ground, and the bars are resistant to gathering snow, so you don’t get bulked down. Aluminum frames are definitely more lightweight than steel frames, but this also makes them slightly less durable and not quite as sturdy.

If you typically engage in non-technical hiking though, aluminum will serve you well. You’ll just want to stay away from activities like snow and mixed rock climbing with aluminum hiking crampons.


The design of crampons is another key element to consider when shopping for the right pair. You can purchase rigid and hinged crampons, but most of the ones on the market today are semi-rigid.

Semi-rigid crampons perform well in a wide range of weather types, giving you enough flexibility for regular winter hikes but enough stability for icy climbs.

Some crampon models let you alter the linking bar situated between the heel and toe to adjust the device from semi-rigid to fully flexible. While not a part of all crampons, this feature is certainly handy and will ensure more comfort on the road.

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Crampon Binding

Crampons typically sport 1 of 3 kinds of binding to connect to your hiking boots. The first type of crampon binding is hybrid, also known as semi-step or mixed crampons. Hybrid crampons sport a toe strap and heel lever. They are compatible with rigid soled boots with a welt or groove to secure the heel lever.

The second type, step-in binding, features a wire bail that secures the toe, plus a heel cable with a lever to connect the heel and crampon together. Step-in crampons are super easy to put on when it’s snowy outside and you’re wearing gloves. If you select a crampon with step-in binding, your hiking boots should feature rigid soles with a minimum ⅜ inch groove or welt at the toe and heel.

The final type of crampon binding is a strap-on. Strap-on crampons typically sport nylon webbing, so they are compatible with almost any type of hiking footwear you can imagine, provided the middle bar fits with your shoe. It takes a little longer to secure strap-on crampons to your shoe, but they are sturdy enough to hold up against moderate ice.

If you want to use different types of hiking footwear with a single type of crampon, strap-on devices are an excellent choice. Strap-ons don’t have quite the accuracy of step-in crampons though, so you’ll notice a modicum of motion between the crampon and your hiking footwear.

Bear in mind the kind of boot you have, and whether it is rigid, semi-flexible, or very flexible. Make sure the crampon frame is sufficiently flexible to fit your hiking footwear. If you’re not sure which is best for you, a strap-on is always a good choice because it works with almost any type of shoe.


The right crampons for hiking boots typically feature either 10 or 12 points. Points should be situated beneath your instep and adhere to your footwear shape. You may have to adjust the crampon bails to ensure the right point extension, but some newer models include serrated areas so crampons can cling to terrain even when the point doesn’t.

A device with higher points is going to be more rigid and better suited to intense outdoor activities. For example, the majority of 10-point crampons will serve you well when hiking glaciers or ski touring. There are also crampons designed specifically for activities like mixed climbing, with more forceful frontpoints.

Frontpoints (or the points at the front of the device) come in horizontal, vertical, or monopoint configurations. Horizontal frontpoints are best for snow/ice and alpine climbing, while vertical frontpoints are suited to mixed climbs and waterfalls. Monopoint crampons are good for mixed climbing or technical waterfall climbing.

Points can be either non-modular or modular. You can sharpen non-modular points, but they shorten with extended use. They are lighter than modular points and don’t have any moving parts. With modular points though, you can switch out the teeth based on the activity you’re going to be doing.

The Winner

While each of the best crampons for hiking on our list are suited to a variety of user needs, our favorite and the ultimate winner out of the group are the Black Diamond Contact Crampons. There were so many things we loved about these crampons, from their lightweight design to their flexible toecap to their durable stainless-steel exterior.

They are highly durable and weather resistant, with 10-point specifications that make them well suited to a plethora of hiking activities. We were also impressed that the Black Diamond Contract Crampons come in both strap-on and clip designs.

While most hikers will probably use the strap-on bindings, we like the fact that you have the option for both. From freezing hikes to winter mountaineering adventures, the Black Diamond Contract Crampons have you covered.

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