Crampon Straps

Updated Mar 2009 - We do NOT guarantee this will work for YOU!
Below are opinions and pictures from Eckert and Wilson

Maintained by Steve Eckert. See also the companion Ice Axe Straps page.


Arun Mahajan notes: Worth mentioning here is that several crampon manufacturers make anti-balling plates that fit on the underside of their crampons. Once applied, snow balls up very little, if at all. On my Charlet Moser mountaineering crampons, I have affixed their 'anti-bott' anti balling rubber plates with good results. Surely someone must have figured out a way to have the same effect with duct tape!


Paul Wilson's opinions, see also Eckert

outer edge view of standard crampon strap inner edge view of standard crampon strap

View 1 shows the ankle strap making a turn around the ankle which is preferred. But if you have big feet the one turn is suffieicnt as shown in View 2. Note the heel bail. All strapon crampons should have this bail as it keeps the heal down by snaping into the notch at the heal of the boot. SMC models are pictured and you can look at their pictures at http://www.smcgear.net or 800-426-6251. If your crampons do not have the bail, make one with a coat hanger. SMC sells three kinds of straps. Note that they show a picture for the simple straps which is incorrect.

Do it as follows:
Thread the simple strap system shown - thread from the outside toward the boot for each connection. Take note that at each buckle the strap crosses over its self to clinch the connection thus minimizing slack in the total strap system. This is very important to keep the crampon on your boot. For other various strap setups refer to Freedom of the hills.

If I were to buy straps again I would go with the SMC Scottish. Two straps per foot.

Your choice depends on the use. Rigid 12+ point step-ins for ice climbing. 10 point for snow travel and easy glacier travel. 12 point for expeditions and serious glaciers where they get steep and you need the front points. The CMC schools like Andy's use 12 point SMC's as we believe that training on a steep icy glacier is absolutely necessary.

Some prefer the step-in for ease of putting them on. However a perfect fit is required and most of us have had to tweak the darn things to get a fit which results in a bomb proof install that does not come off. This tweak usually involves grinding the boot as well as bending the toe bail. Not an easy task.

The rigid ice climbing step in's have served me well over the years for both ice climbing and glacier travel. They are a bad choice for glaicer travel due to excessive clumping/balling. I gave up adjusting them to fit my new boots so they are religated to the old ones. A step-in with a connection between the toe bail and the anckle strap is a good feature to help keep the toe bail from poping off. Look at Stubi

I have some new SMC's which have the old fashoned strap binding . The result is these 12 point things can be adjusted to fit all my boots, both leathers and different plastics and they are hinged so it is easy to walk in them with a flexible boot (leather). I will upgrade them to the scotish binding before next usage. The strap s can be adjusted to fit over the overboots some use for expeditions. Look at "www.smcgear.net" for a picture of the straps.

The biggest drawback for any 'strap' vs 'step in' is the great difficulty to put them on while at altitude and in below zero temps. It usually take two people to get it done. Even then frost bite is a real possibility, to say nothing about the frustration.

If I were to start over I would look closely at the following in the Mountain Gear catalog:

  • Grivel G-12 with a anti-snow plate to reduce balling (twice the cost of SMC's). A modernized scotish with a heal bail At least it works like a scotish.
  • Charlet Moser Black Ice (12 pt scotish with a heel bail).


    Steve Eckert's opinions, see also Wilson

    two views of custom step-in crampons
    Click on either picture for a higher resolution image.
    two views of custom crampon straps

    I have the step-in version of Charlet Moser Black Ice, shown on my Scarpa Invernos, and they are the best crampons I've owned. The front *four* points are more aggressive than some, all oriented for front-pointing, but not all vertical (so they still hold well in snow). Note as of 2009: Charlet Moser seems to be off the market in the USA, but I just bought a flexible pair of Petzel Vasak crampons that seemed very similar to the Charlot Moser crampons in the picture... and found that the straps on these brand new Petzel crampons say Charlet Moser! They have the features I like from the older Black Ice model, and they come with a variety of straps and metal bail options.

    Also shown in the pictures above are my custom (CHEAP) straps holding old flexible Salewa crampons on Asolo 535 general purpose leather boots.

    People with big feet should take note that an extender bar is available for many crampons, and I needed it to put the Black Ice crampons on my size 13 Scarpas. With the extender in place, the max distance between points is over an inch less than other models. (These are hinged semi-rigid, and the distance I'm talking about is between the back point of the toe section and the front point of the heel section.) If you ever step on a suncup ridge and wind up touching no points at all, you'll understand why this matters!

    Paul said 'Most of us have had to tweak the darn things to get a fit which results in a bomb proof install that does not come off. This tweak usually involves grinding the boot as well as bending the toe bail.' Opinions vary on whether bending the bail weakens it. Good stores will tell you not to. I use a large bench vise and large wrenches to bend mine slowly, rather than using a hammer (high impact) or pliers (surface damage). Scarpa has a MUCH deeper toe bail slot than Asolo or Koflach, at least the ones I've seen, so fit is less critical. Even so, I had one pair that popped off - sold 'em, bought Black Ice, haven't had a problem since. The ankle strap shown for the heel bail is sometimes supplemented with a strap that connects to the toe bail, but I think that just encourages the toe bail to pop out of rigid boots and doesn't really hold the bail in place once it pops out.

    Also look for field-adjustable fit with no tools. The coarse adjust on the Black Ice needs tools, but there is also a thumb screw on the heel bail that can be easily tweaked by hand in the field.

    DESCRIPTION OF ONE-PIECE CUSTOM STRAPS:

    I started with an army surplus spring buckle, because it doesn't slip and it's stronger than the fastex buckles you find on packs. Cold plastic isn't something I'll trust my life to! I sewed a single piece of nylon webbing to the buckle and saved about $50 on straps.

    Start at the heel, run the straps back and forth over your boot to each strap loop. The toe strap may go around the front of your boot or over the toe, depending on where your loops are. When you get back to the opposite heel loop, GO BEHIND THE BOOT instead of coming back around the front of the ankle.

    Most people do not go on around, and their heels often come out as a result. After passing behind the heel, come around the front of the ankle and connect to the buckle on the other side of the heel. The buckle is OPPOSITE the loop it is closest to, and that part of the strap crosses another strap behind the heel.

    This heel strap crossing is NOT what you'll see in most illustrations, but I think it works better than the norm! It basically eliminates the need for the metal heel bail Paul mentioned, and flexible boots have a way of shedding both heel and toe bails. Note that the first part of the straps to loosen up is usually the heel, and with one quick tug of this strap you can tighten that part without crushing your toes. The Scottish straps have two buckles, which gives you more tightening options but also takes longer. The single long piece of webbing I use has been pressed into emergency use as a tie-down strap for gear and a rap sling.