The CAMP Stalker Universal Crampon is the most popular crampon that CAMP sells. It’s compatible with all boot types, including regular hiking boots, soft-soled winter boots, and rigid mountaineering boots, making it a good investment if you want to use it with a variety of different winter boot systems.
Made with chromoly steel, the Stalker Universal Crampon is optimal for hiking on glaciers, packed and icy trails, and low angle ice, providing excellent durability over mixed ice and rock routes. These 12 point crampons also include plastic anti-balling plates (to prevent wet snow from clumping underneath them) and are relatively inexpensive when compared to the other higher-end crampons that CAMP manufactures.
Universal crampon bindings (also called Strap-on crampons) strap onto boots using a piece of webbing that is threaded through a plastic heel and toe harness. When tightly constricted, the webbing helps lock the boot to the crampon and keep them properly aligned.
The webbing is attached to the outer ring of the heel cup, through the front toe harness, back through the inner ring of the heel cup, over the front of the foot, and then friction-locked between the two metal rings on the outside of the boot. Any extra webbing can be knotted to itself so it doesn’t flap around, or trimmed if you know you don’t need the extra length. It’s important that you keep the two rings on the outside of your boot/foot, so that the front points of your other foot don’t accidentally catch on the webbing when you are walking.
The heel cup on the CAMP Stalker Universal Crampon is relatively narrow and may not fit boots with wide heels, such as certain mountaineering boots, very well. Ideally you want to the heel cup to wrap tightly around the back of your boot so that side loops are in contact with the sides of your boot. This helps prevent the boot and the crampon from becoming separated or misaligned when walking. You also want the inner strap flush against your boot or gaiter, if you wear one, so the front points on your other foot don’t catch on it and cause you to face plant. If this becomes a persistent issue for you, you should switch to semi-automatic or fully automatic step-in crampons, although these only work with mountaineering boots.
It’s best to fit your crampons before you go one your first hike so you don’t make your hiking partners wait around for you to adjust the length of your crampons in the freezing cold and wind. This is done by lengthening or shortening the length of the leaf spring, a flexible bar of metal with punched holes that connects the front and back of the crampon. No special tools or allen wrenches are required to adjust the length of the Stalker which is convenient if you use it with multiple boots: simply lift the rear leaf spring lock and increase or decrease the number of holes between the front and rear crampon halves. Ideally, you’ll want the length to be slightly longer than your boot, by about a half centimeter, so that the crampon can flex and still cover the length of your boot when you put weight on it.
One of the unique aspects of the Stalkers is the alignment of the crampon points. In the picture above, note how the rear points on the front half of the crampon are angled at a 45 degree angle. These points prevent help with braking in soft snow and improve security while descending, an added benefit for less experienced crampon users.
If you’re new to crampons, you might be wondering whether you need such an aggressive pair of spikes for winter hiking. For example, how do they compare against Hillsound’s Crampon Pros, which are easier for novice hikers to use, good for walking on packed snow, and don’t require any special crampon walking technique to use (see The Lost Art of Crampon Walking Techniques?)
It really depends on the terrain you plan to hike in. Hillsound Pro Crampons are ideal for walking on packed trails when you need a little bit more traction than Kahtoola Microspikes, but may be insufficient when you need to climb icy ledges, icy slopes, or walk on hard ice.
For example, if you find yourself walking on high consequence mountain trails where slipping on ice can have dire consequences, like sliding off a cliff or down a hillside, having a pair of crampons like the Stalkers that are much longer, can deeply penetrate hard ice, and provide improved traction is definitely worth it. The same is true if you need to kick into ice with front points in order to climb ice-covered ledges and you need points that are strong enough to hold your body weight while you scramble up the safety.
CAMP’s Stalker Universal Crampons provide excellent value for money if you are need a heavier-duty crampon and want one that is compatible with many different type of hiking and winter boots. At 34.2 oz for the pair (with anti-balling plates), these are not the lightest universal crampons that CAMP makes (see the 24.4 oz Nano Tour Universals) but they are an excellent and hard-wearing choice for general mountaineering and glacier travel.
- Aggressive 12 point crampons provide excellent bite in ice
- Universal binding and flexible leaf spring are compatible with all boots
- Excellent value for money
- Narrow rear heel cup may not fit wide boots
- Webbing can be difficult to release with cold hands
Disclosure: Philip Werner (SectionHiker.com) received a sample pair of Stalker Universal Crampons from CAMP for this review.
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