I bought myself a pair of super-lighweight, 12 point, step-in CAMP Aluminum Nanotech XLC Crampons last winter to reduce the level of effort required to hike in full crampons. Weighing 16.2 ounces per pair, including optional ABS plates, they weigh just a few more ounces than Kahtoola Microspikes (12.5 ounces), making them they are ideal for hiking on packed snow and icy routes where you want the control and edging capabilities of a step-in crampon without the weight of steel.
For example, I own a pair of Black Diamond Sabertooth Pros which are steel crampons designed for hard-core mixed routes (rock and ice) and vertical ice climbing that weight 40.6 ounces per pair, including ABS plates. They’re great for that purpose, but take a lot more energy to hike in for any duration, and require that I carry something like microspikes to save energy on long approach hikes up high peaks (like Mt Washington.)
Of course, there is big difference in durability between steel crampons and aluminum crampons, which can wear down very quickly if you try to use them in the same range of conditions as a steel crampon. Aluminum points can still be sharpened like steel points using a Mill Bastard File if you want to extend their lifetime out a few seasons, but aluminum is a more brittle than steel so you need to take some care not to file the points to thin. That said, your points don’t need to be that sharp for walking on more horizontal snow or ice because your body weight will drive the points into the surface with plenty of force to get a good multi-point grip.
Hybrid Aluminum and Steel Points
One of the nice things about the Nanotech XLC is that it is a hybrid crampon with steel points in front for kicking into ice-covered rock and aluminum spikes underneath to save weight. This adds a bit more durability to the crampon particularly for ice-covered scrambling when you need forcefully kick in higher angle ice. For example, I had to down climb a 20 foot drop this past weekend over some flash ice on a 7o% grade with a full pack. I kicked in my front points and used my ice axe in dagger mode for balance, climbing down the face just as I would have with steel crampons.
The front steel points are riveted and spot welded to the aluminum frame, as shown above. I’m not sure how this will bode in terms of durability, but I haven’t noticed any performance difference after a half-season of use. CAMP claims that the steel points are made with a steel alloy that is 60% stronger than regular steel allowing for a significant reduction in the amount of metal used, thereby decreasing weight while maintaining strength.
Overall, I’m very pleased with these crampons because they can be used on most peaks I climb in winter and obviate the need for me to carry microspikes in addition to a pair of step-in crampons on long approach hikes. Given that weight reduction (which is close to 2 pounds), that’s a durability trade-off I’m willing to make, although I expect I’ll be able to make it through a full winter season without having to sharpen the Nanotechs at their current rate of wear.
Disclosure: Section Hiker (Philip Werner) bought this product using his own funds.
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