Judy Armstrong reviews an excellent pair of aluminium crampons.
This review is part of our crampons gear guide, and was first published in the February 2018 issue of The Great Outdoors.
Grivel have an immense range of crampons, from snow spikes to ultralight ski touring kit to heavy-duty steel monsters for serious routes. We chose Air Tech Light New Classic as a blend of low weight and high performance for walking, glacier travel and lower-grade climbing.
Quality and finish are extraordinary on this aluminium 12-point crampon. First impressions are of dexterity, which is partly the gently asymmetric shape but mostly the lack of heft on the feet. Of course, aluminium crampons may feel fabulous, but they are inherently less durable and should be used on snow, not rocks… unlike steel, alloy points will blunt very quickly if you start walking on the hard stuff.
Ten points are in contact with ice while you’re walking, with two out front for steep climbs (up or down) and traverses. The set-up feels very positive on the boot – the stability is exceptional for an aluminium crampon – with good bite into hard snow and security while walking.
The central, slightly curved Flex bar allows the foot free movement without over-stressing the crampon.
The test model had the New Classic binding system of thermoplastic harnesses front and rear, but New Matic bindings (front harness, heel clip) are also available. Grivel class them as semi-rigid.
Size is quickly adjusted with close-spaced holes in the central bar; they genuinely work with large and small boots. Strapping is smooth, simple and secure with large, glove-friendly rings and pull tags. The Anti-Bott plates have real ‘bounce’: there is no chance for snow to ball as it is repelled instantly.
The best aluminium crampon I’ve tested in the past was the Black Diamond’s Névé strap; these are lighter and, in my opinion, better. A top choice if you are likely to carry, as well as wear, the crampons, and for ski touring and weight-sensitive expeditions. Just remain aware of what you’re stamping on, to give them the best chance of longevity. The only negative: no bag is provided.