The Best Crampons for Winter Adventures 2023

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From ice climbing to mountaineering, crampons are necessary for most mountain adventurers. Unless you steer clear of snow and ice altogether, chances are you’ve found yourself wearing, or wishing you were wearing, a pair of crampons.

There are several different types of crampons and crampon attachment styles, all useful for different activities and boots. Which you choose depends on what you need them for and the types of footwear you use most. Fully automatic crampons won’t fit on hiking boots, whereas strap-on crampons won’t provide the secure fit necessary for ice climbing.

It’s also important to consider whether you need vertical front points (better for ice) or horizontal front points (better for snow). Or maybe you need microspikes. Then you have to consider the material your crampons are made out of. We’ll get into this and more in this guide to the best crampons.

The best crampons

Best crampons for any boots: Black Diamond Contact Crampons

black diamond contact crampons

  • Stainless steel construction
  • Flexible toe and heel strap fits most footwear
  • Durable nylon straps
  • Anti-balling plates


  • Compatible with any footwear
  • Horizontal front points help in deep snow and steep terrain


  • Not great for technical ice climbing
  • Not as secure as automatic crampons

I wore these stainless steel crampons while guiding on a glacier in Alaska for the summer. They can take a beating. If you’re looking for an all-around pair of mountaineering crampons for glacier travel and snow and prefer strap-on bindings, these are a great option. They are more affordable than some of the more technical crampons. The full strap attachment system works with regular hiking boots, mountaineering boots, or even trail running shoes.

These are not the best crampons for ice climbing because of horizontal front points (although I have top-roped steep glacier ice and water ice in them), but they are great for low-angle ice and packed snow.

See Black Diamond Contact Crampons on Amazon

See Black Diamond Contact Crampons on REI

See Black Diamond Contact Crampons on Black Diamond

Best aluminum crampons: Camp XLC 490 Universal Crampons

camp xlc 490 universal crampons

  • 7075-series aluminum alloy
  • 585g per pair
  • Strap on bindings
  • Anti-balling plates


  • Lightweight
  • Compatible with any boots or trail runners
  • Great hiking and mountaineering crampons


  • Not as durable as stainless steel
  • Not ideal for ice climbing

For some alpine climbing, snowy trails, and mixed terrain, it’s often not clear how much you will need your crampons. You need to bring them because you expect some amount of packed snow or ice. But if you don’t expect to wear them the whole time, weight and packability matter. In situations like these, aluminum crampons are a great option. Aluminum crampons don’t have the same durability as steel crampons, but they work well if you’ll be mostly traveling on snow and don’t expect to walk on any rocks. I use these crampons as a “just in case” pair because they’re light enough to bring anywhere. They’re great for glacier travel and lightweight mountaineering.

These feature a universal binding that fits most boots, with or without toe and heel welts. Dynamic anti-balling plates keep snow from accumulating under your feet. Plus, it’s easy to adjust the length for a secure fit.

See Camp XLC 490 Universal Crampons on Amazon

See Camp XLC 490 Universal Crampons on REI

Most versatile crampons: Petzl Lynx Leverlock Modular Crampons

petzl lynx leverlock modular crampons

  • Modular
  • Step in/Hybrid attachment
  • Tempered steel crampons


  • Adjustable for different boots
  • Front points are adjustable
  • Great all-around crampons


  • Expensive

These highly versatile crampons from Petzl excel for ice climbing but they also work well for steep snow, mixed climbing, and more. The modular design allows the user to adapt them to their needs. For example, the interchangeable front binding adapts to boots with or without toe welts. And you can configure the front points in a short, long, or asymmetric position or create mono-points.

The Leverlock heel bail is designed for boots with a heel groove and the bails’ height can be moved up or down to fit your footwear. These crampons include low-profile anti-balling plates to decrease snow buildup under your feet without reaching the front points. They have linking bars that fit sizes 35-45 (US 5-11) and a carrying case. We love these crampons because you can use them with various boots (as long as they have heel welts) and you can configure the front points for any climbing style. They’re ideal technical climbing crampons for anyone, at any point, in their climbing career.

See Petzl Lynx Leverlock Modular Crampons on REI

Best monopoint crampons: Petzl Dart Crampons

petzl dart crampons

  • Mono point adjustable front points
  • Stainless steel crampons
  • Nylon webbing straps


  • Great for steep ice climbing
  • Lightweight


  • Not ideal for deep or wet snow
  • Not compatible with hiking boots

If you do a lot of technical ice climbing, mixed climbing, and dry tooling, a mono-point crampon is your best friend. The singular front point allows for more precise foot placement, which can sometimes be the determining factor between sending the route and sending the whole pillar of ice crashing down with you attached. Petzl’s Dart crampons are one of the best options for mono-point-specific crampons, although several of the models on our list allow you to configure the front points with mono or dual points, similar to the Dart. These crampons also allow you to add a second front point with long and short options.

Lateral secondary points stabilize cauliflower ice, snow, hoarfrost, and other softer surfaces. Plus, all the front and secondary points are toothed for better penetration and stability in ice. The anti-balling plates limit snow buildup and replacement parts can be bought to extend the lifespan of the crampons. These crampons attach with an automatic binding that only works with boots with both a toe and heel groove. At 820g per pair, these are fairly lightweight for technical crampons.

See Petzl Dart Crampons on REI

See Petzl Dart Crampons on Amazon

Best ice climbing crampons: Grivel G22 Plus Cramp-O-Matic EVO Crampons

grivel g22 plus cramp o matic evo crampons

  • Hot-forged Chromoly steel
  • Antibott anti-balling plates
  • Step-in crampons


  • Great all-around crampon
  • Hot-forged chromoly steel grants plasticity for stability in ice
  • Durable


  • Expensive

Grivel is a well-known name in ice-climbing gear. The G22 is the newest and most technical of Grivel’s crampon offerings. Made out of hot forged Chromoly steel, these crampons are durable and easy to sharpen once they lose their edge. Plus, these crampons are newly updated for the 2022-23 winter season, with a new heel adjustment system that allows them to fit most boots. The length adjustment has been upgraded to easily change sizes while wearing bulky winter gloves and the adjustment levers terminate in sharp points to provide extra stability on icy trails.

The serrated front points provide plenty of stability while climbing technical ice and are removable and adjustable so that you don’t have to get rid of your crampons when the front points wear out. An ankle strap helps keep the crampons attached without too many straps that can get in the way. Plus, for winter mountaineering or wallowing through snow on the approach, these crampons include Grivel’s patented proactive antibott technology that uses your weight to push away accumulating snow.

See Grivel G22 Plus Cramp-O-Matic EVO Crampons on REI

See Grivel G22 Plus Cramp-O-Matic EVO Crampons on Amazon

Best ski mountaineering crampons: Petzl Irvis Hybrid Crampons

petzl irvis hybrid crampons

  • Hybrid steel and aluminum crampons
  • Can be used with boots with or without toe welts
  • Modular construction
  • 570g per pair


  • Great ski mountaineering and touring crampons
  • Lightweight
  • Low bulk storage and transport


  • Aluminum heel piece is less durable
  • Not ideal for ice climbing

For ski mountaineering, you need something that you throw on for the uphill but won’t weigh you down on the downhill. These ski mountaineering crampons combine the Petzl Leopard and the Petzl Irvis crampons. The front part is made of stainless steel to provide durability and stability on ice or rock, while the aluminum heel piece optimizes weight. Plus, the Cord-tec flexible linking system allows for easy storage and portability and keeps these crampons lightweight.

The anti-balling plates help keep snow from building up under the crampons, while the wide, flat front points provide stability and traction in snow and ice. These crampons can attach with a step-in or hybrid binding, depending on whether or not your boots have a toe welt. Plus, the Alpen Adapt system makes these crampons modular, so you can switch out various parts of the crampons when they wear out or for different purposes.

See Petzl Irvis Hybrid Crampons on Amazon

Best winter traction devices: Yaktrax Pro Traction Crampons

yaktrax pro traction crampons

  • Traction cleats
  • 1.2MM steel coils
  • Heavy-duty rubber construction
  • Durable rubber foot frame
  • Available in sizes small to XL


  • Easy to slip on
  • Great traction on flat ground
  • Affordable


  • Sizing isn’t always accurate
  • Can break if worn on the wrong surface

These are not crampons for ice climbing or mountaineering. Instead, they’re designed for added traction when walking on level ice or snow. The traction comes from the small metal coils made from 1.2MM high-strength steel. The idea behind this traction system is to give as natural a feel as possible. Crampons might feel like overkill when you’re out walking the dog on hard-packed snow or hard ice roads, but Yaxtrax are necessary.

Another huge advantage is that they’re easy to slip on. There are no complicated bindings, just a simple strap over the top of the boot.

See Yaktrax Pro Traction Crampons on Amazon

See Yaktrax Pro Traction Crampons on REI

Best microspikes: Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System Crampons

kahtoola microspikes traction system crampons

  • Hardened stainless-steel spikes
  • Welded chain
  • Elastomer shoe harness
  • Available in sizes small to XL
  • Available in red and black


  • Great traction on ice
  • Easy to slip on
  • Durable


  • Can break if you get the wrong size
  • Not comfortable on concrete

Kahtoola MICROspikes are a great, durable option for hiking and walking in most winter conditions. They have a fantastic reputation for adding grip and stability in snow and ice but are also durable on rocks or pavement. The spikes are made from hardened stainless steel, so they won’t snap if you step on a hard surface. And the chain that holds it all together is welded for maximum strength.

They are designed for ice walking and hikers favor them because they perform well on multiple surfaces and are easy to slip on and off. All you have to do is step into the MICROspikes, and the rubber harness adjusts to your foot. That is, if you buy the right size. If you buy the wrong size, they can break pretty easily.

See Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System Crampons on Amazon

See Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System Crampons on REI

Best traction device for winter running: Yaktrax Run Traction Cleats

yaktrax run traction cleats

  • 1.4MM steel coil
  • 3MM carbide steel spikes
  • High-strength natural rubber
  • Available in sizes small to XL


  • Best for running on snow or ice
  • Lightweight and low-profile
  • Easy to slip on


  • Not as grippy as other options on this list

The Yaktrax Run Traction Cleats are designed for runners that want to train in the winter. They are similar to the Yaktrax Pro Traction Cleats but have a few key differences. First of all, the design is low-profile, and the cleats are lighter to make them easier to run in. And, if you look at the bottom of the cleat, you’ll notice that the 1.4MM steel coil is only on half of the cleat.

The front section of the cleat has a rubber area with 3MM carbide steel spikes that provide more control at high speeds. The other major difference is the two straps at the front of the cleat designed to keep the toe in place. The bottom line is that these are the best crampons for running.

See Yaktrax Run Traction Cleats on Amazon

See Yaktrax Run Traction Cleats on REI

Why trust us

This writer has spent countless hours in crampons, from guiding on a glacier in Alaska to climbing frozen waterfalls in the San Juan mountains. She has tested out many different types of crampons for hiking, ice climbing, winter running, glacier travel, and ski touring. She values durability, precision, and security in crampons and traction devices. She also currently makes a living writing about outdoor gear, so she is aware of gear trends, new arrivals, and the ins and outs of various proprietary technology.

Who this is for

From skiing to ice climbing to hiking to walking the dog, it’s important to have the right gear. And if you live somewhere with snow and ice, you know how slippery even walking down the street can get. A winter traction device like Yaxtrax partners well with waterproof winter boots to provide the security you need for walking or running. But if you’re a climber, skier, or mountaineer, then crampons are necessary — sometimes year-round.

How we picked

We chose the crampons and traction devices on this list through personal experience and testing, researching the best crampons on the market today, and talking to other ice climbers. We have chosen some of the best options for icy terrain, whether you’re going for a walk or climbing Denali.

How we tested

We have tested crampons in Washington, Alaska, and Colorado and have done our best to find the best options for various categories. The best crampons for mountaineering are not the same as those for ice climbing. We have hiked in deep and packed snow, climbed waterfalls, climbed steep crevasses on glacier ice, and trekked on hard ice plus snow-covered glaciers.


Features to look for in crampons

Front points

The front points on your crampons are the two (or one) points sticking forward on most crampons. Front points come in both vertical and horizontal orientations.

Horizontal front points

Horizontal front points are better for snow. The horizontal orientation provides more surface area for flotation, or to support your body in snow or soft ice. Horizontal front points are great for hiking or low-angle climbing but are not ideal for steep ice climbing because it’s harder to get purchase in steeper terrain, and they can shatter the ice more easily.

Vertical front points

Vertical front points on crampons look more like ice axes, often including teeth that help to “bite” into the ice surface. They are much better for ice climbing and mixed terrain. On the other hand, they tend to sink into the snow and require more precision, so they are not as good for mountaineering or flat walking.

Mono points

Mono points are a version of vertical front points, but instead of having two, you only have one. This is used for very technical thin ice and mixed climbing when you need to be incredibly precise with every foot placement.


Many of the crampons on this list are made out of stainless steel, however, there are times when stainless steel is too heavy, especially if you know you’ll be carrying your crampons more than wearing them. In those situations, aluminum crampons or a hybrid aluminum/steel combo are a good option. Also, consider how long you want your crampons to last or how long you want to go before resharpening your points. Stainless steel will last a lot longer than a lighter material such as aluminum.


Crampons attach in a few different ways, and this mostly depends on what footwear you plan to wear with them.

Strap-on crampons

These are the least technical crampons for use on flat or moderate terrain. They attach primarily with nylon straps that wrap around your foot and are secure to keep the crampons on. They are the least secure and are not great for anything technical. But they work with any footwear since they don’t depend on toe or heel welts.

Hybrid crampons

Hybrid crampons include elements of both strap-on bindings and step-in bindings. They have a heel lever that clicks into a heel welt on your boot, which keeps the crampon secure on your foot. But in the front, instead of a metal bar, like step-in crampons have, they typically use a rubber harness and nylon straps to adjust the fit, like a strap-on crampon. Hybrid crampons work with semi-stiff sole boots that have a heel welt but no toe welt. They are typically designed for mountaineering and moderate ice but are not ideal for steep ice climbs.

Step-in crampons

Step-in crampons are the most secure and the best crampons for technical ice climbing. They feature a heel lever that fits into a heel groove and a metal bar that fits into a toe groove. As long as the crampons are fitted to the boot, they lock in tightly and provide a secure surface for finding purchase in ice. These crampons only work with boots that have both a toe and heel welt.

Weight and packed size

If you’ll be carrying your crampons for long distances in your pack, weight and packed size matter. However, smaller and lighter crampons often compromise durability and security.


Crampons FAQ

Q: What are crampons?

A crampon is a device that fits onto a boot or shoe to improve traction on snow and ice. They have metal spikes that penetrate the surface and stop the wearer from slipping. You can find many different styles of crampons for a variety of activities, from winter trail running to technical ice climbing.

Q: How do crampons work?

The metal spikes (or rings) penetrate the snow or ice and stop the wearer from slipping on the surface. When used to climb ice or steep terrain, the front points dig into the surface, allowing the wearer to stand primarily on their toes and feel stable while moving upwards on steep slopes.

Q: Can you put crampons on any hiking boots?

No, you have to find the correct type of crampon for your boot. Step-in crampons for ice-climbing and mountaineering will not fit on hiking boots. They need a stiff-shank mountaineering boot to work properly. The only crampons that will fit most hiking boots are strap-on crampons or microspikes.

Q: What are microspikes vs. crampons?

Microspikes are similar to crampons but have smaller spikes and are used on fairly level ground. Crampons have larger spikes and are used for everything, from level snow and ice to vertical climbs.

Q: How do you attach crampons to boots?

There are three different methods of attaching a crampon: strap-on bindings, hybrid, and step-in. Strap-on crampons attach with nylon straps that wrap around your foot to keep them secure. Hybrid crampons use a combination of straps and a heel lever. Step-in crampons use a heel lever and metal bar that fits into a toe groove to attach to the boot.


  1. How To Use Crampons – REI Co-Op
  2. Crampons vs Microspikes: What To Use When – Limitless Hiker