Crampon Guide NZ

There are two very important questions when picking out crampons to use in NZ: what are you going to be doing, and what boots do you have?

There are different crampons for everything from traversing glaciers and high pass winter tramping to eyeing up climbing courses at the Remarkables Ice & Mixed Festival and scoping out wild and wicked South Faces. This is your guide to figuring out which crampons are right for you.

crampons in nz

What boots do you have?

Different crampons work with different types of boots, so let’s start by seeing how stiff the soles of your boots are. The British came out with a really useful system for gauging boots back in the day, this is the B boot and C crampon scale. If you’re not sure where your boots sit, go put your shoes on and stand on a step, then read the guide below to see where they sit.

 

B0 Super Flexible Boots

Did you stand on the step and you just found yourself doing calf raises? These shoes should be really comfortable and flex with your foot, ideal for smoother terrain or moving quickly, for example the Salewa Alpenrose or La Sportiva Boulder X Mid. These boots are unsuitable for traditional crampons, but if you’re wanting some more traction on mellow trails in winter conditions Micro Spikes would be the way to go.

 

B1 Flexible Boots

Maybe you didn’t need to put your whole foot on the step, just most of it to maintain minimal flex. These boots are comfortable and sturdy. Ideal for tough terrain when there’s no snow around, built for the scree slopes of Arthurs Pass. They’re a bit burlier and more supportive than a B0 boot, check out the Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid for a comparison. These boots aren’t designed for technical or rigid crampons and they have no toe or heel weld. However, there are some softer, “walking” crampons that can safely be used with these for glacier travel or winter walking.

 

B2 Half and ¾ Shank Boots

If you stood on the step with the ball of your foot and it still more or less held its shape, then you probably have a B2 boot. If you want to get technical about it, these are boots with a half or ¾ shank.[i] In the real world this means that the boots have got a wee bit of flex to them in the front when you’re walking, but they’re pretty rigid overall. B2 boots will often have a heel weld designed specifically for crampons and are rigid enough for many traditional crampons. These boots cover the range from winter tramping boots like the Salewa Rapace, to light alpine boots like the La Sportiva Aequilibrium ST Gore-Tex or the Scarpa Manta Tech Gore-Tex, we have women's and men's available in the range.

 

B3 Full Shank Boots

These boots are a real beast of a boot, if you put your toe on the edge of your step, it’ll feel like a ledge. They’re hard work to walk long flat distances in, but for those days where you’re getting up close and personal with the socked in summit couloir or an ice cliff make sure you are in these types of boots. The La Sportiva Nepal Evo and Cube are brilliant examples of a full shank B3 boot.

 

Which crampon is best suited to my boots?

Now that we’ve established which category your boots fall into, we can determine the best crampon attachment system for your boot. There are strap-on/C1 crampons, hybrid/C2 crampons and fully automatic/C3 crampons.
As a rule of thumb, a B1 boot can take a C1 Crampon, a B2 boot can take C1 and C2 crampons, and a B3 boot can take C1, C2 and C3 crampons.

Strap on /C1 Crampons
Strap-on crampons do that; they strap onto the boot. They take a bit longer to put on but for boots that are softer or have no heel and toe weld, they are perfect. If you have B1 Boots, then strap-on / C1 crampons are the most appropriate attachment system.

Semi-Automatic /C2 Crampons
Hybrid or semi-automatic crampons can go on most B2 and all B3 boots, they’re designed for pretty rigid boots with a heel weld. They clip on at the back and then they strap on at the front. They’re faster to put on than a strap-on crampon and nice and secure on your feet. This is a favourite for all-rounder crampons and even some technical crampons.

Fully Automatic Crampon /C3 Crampons
If your boot has a heel and toe weld it can take a fully automatic crampon that clips on at the front and the back. They’re fast and easy to put on, but if your boot has any flexibility this crampon can pop off. Only for those with rigid beasts of a boot (B3).  

Which crampon for which sport?

Winter Walking

If you’re looking for a one-size-fits-all crampon for winter tramping to light mountaineering to glacier travel, then an all-rounder crampon is for you. These crampons have horizontal front points that are a bit smaller than a technical crampon, which makes it easier to walk across flatter terrain without catching your foot in the snow. Some all-round crampons are a steel alloy, these are fantastic and strong, like the Grivel G10 EVO, but heavier than their aluminum counterparts. If you’re expecting to be on your front points, steel is more suitable because it is less prone to flexing.  If you have a really flexible boot you may need a long flexible bar, to get the best fit.  

 

New Zealand Mountaineering

For New Zealand mountaineering, a steel crampon tends to work better though. Outdoor adventures in New Zealand often involve walking over rock and moraine, with mixed climbing being a staple of most alpine routes. The sturdiness of steel makes it more appropriate for these rougher conditions. All-round crampons can suitably be worn with B2 or B3 boots, depending on their attachment system and personal preference.

Some popular all-rounders include the Grivel G12 EVO, the Airtech, and the Petzl Vasak.

Technical Ice Climbing

If you’re hunting for an ice climbing crampon, looking at some gnarlier South Faces or you think you’ll be spending a fair bit of time front pointing you might want to consider something a bit more aggressive. Technical crampons have longer (and often modular) vertical front points with aggressive serrated edges designed to bite into the ice. Their rigidity and vertical front points make them perfect for technical ice climbing. But if you’re spending much time walking in them or climbing in snow/soft ice as well, then a steel all-round crampon would be more suitable. Technical crampons can be more rigid than an all-rounder, so you’ll definitely need a solid B3 boot if you’re eyeing up crampons in this category.

An excellent technical crampon is something like the Grivel G-14, or the Petzl Lynx.

 

Ski, Run, & Super Light Weight

There are some crampons that are a bit more niche and don’t really fit into either category. There are ski boot specific crampons for a lightweight ski touring option such as the Petzl Irvis Hybrid or the Grivel Ski TourFor fast packers, trail runners and trampers who need something to use in a pinch, but they have shoes/boots that are too light or soft for a traditional crampon then Microspikesare the way to go, check out the Grivel Anti Slip - Explorer or the Kahtoola Microspikes.  There are also softer crampons and crampons without the traditional bar like the Petzl Leopard for another lightweight option still designed for boots. 

Whether you’re looking for something light weight to throw in the pack for ski touring or fast packing missions, an all-round mountain adventuring crampon or looking at super technical ice climbing, there will be a crampon that’s just right for you. If you’ve got any questions you can message us online, give us a call, or better yet come and have a yarn with us in store.

 

[i] A shank is the extra supportive part of the midsole made of nylon, carbon or steel, not just a delicious part of a lamb.


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