Judy Armstrong tests lightweight spikes for less serious terrain.
This review is part of our crampons gear guide, and was first published in the February 2018 issue of The Great Outdoors.
Important safety note: these are spikes designed for less serious walking. They are not full-featured crampons for alpinism or steeper slopes.
Full-on crampons can be overkill if you’re winter walking on gentle terrain. Nortec’s Alp spikes are lightweight, compact, and suitable for level or undulating going. Two lightweight chromed steel plates locate under the front and rear of the boot, linked to each other and the elastomer harness by chains. As the super- stretchy harness is pulled over the boot, a slim wire bail helps locate the chains at the front and stop them spreading too far apart. Elasticated Velcro straps can be added over the forefoot to stabilise the harness; I found these worked well. There are 13 points; longer (1.5cm) front and back, slightly shorter in the centre of the boot. They bite well into icy surfaces or hard snow; they’re not intended for deep stuff. Snow does ball up in the chains and around the plates; I found oiling them before use worked fairly well (oiling afterward is also a good idea; the chrome soon rubs off the points, leaving them prone to rusting).
Walking comfort is good, as they are lightweight and flexible, and they are very suitable for lightweight boots and running shoes. Alp are supplied in a zip-top bag with a webbing handle. This is very easy to use: the bag can be clipped to the outside of a pack for instant access, and the wide-opening top makes it simple to store and extract the crampons. When you’ve slashed your fingers a few times trying to cram conventional crampons into an undersized bag, you’ll see why I appreciated this detail.