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Kahtoola K10 Ultralight Hiking and Trail Running Crampon

Kahtoola K10 Ultralight Crampons
Kahtoola K10 Ultralight Crampons

Winter traction specialist Kahtoola has come out with a new ultralight crampon this winter called the K10, which is a full hiking and trail running crampon designed for shoes with flexible soles ranging from trail runners to soft-soled hiking boots. Featuring a very flexible leaf string and superlight Chromoly steel, the K10 Crampons weigh just 21 ounces per pair (23 ounces with anti-balling skins), with burly 3/4 inch crampon teeth. Comparable to the Kahtoola KTS Crampon, which I reviewed two years ago, the K10 is much more comfortable to wear than its predecessor, in addition to being substantially less expensive (MSRP is $99.95, including anti-balling skins.)

The major difference between the K10 and the  KTS crampons is that the KTS has a more secure front binding than the K10 and longer 1 inch spikes, making it more suitable for more advanced routes and hard ice. In comparison, the K10 is a major step up in aggressiveness from Kahtoola MICROspikes, and suitable for thicker ice and packed snow where you want the added control of a crampon instead of independent points loosely connected by chain links.

Styled as a full crampon, the K10 has 10 spikes arranged in a traditional crampon pattern with 6 under the ball of the foot and 4 under the heel. These are connected by an adjustable bar called a leaf spring which is flexible enough to bend when walking over uneven surfaces. In contrast, traditional mountaineering crampons are extremely rigid and can only be worn with heavy mountaineering boots with soles that have no flex whatsoever.

Adjustable Leaf Spring Connects the Front and Rear Crampons
Adjustable Leaf Spring Connects the Front and Rear Crampons

The leaf spring can be adjusted without a tool making it convenient to switch between boots or trail runners . Size-wise, the leaf spring fits US men’s size 6-13 and women’s 7-14 for non-insulated boots and shoes, and US men’s 5-10.5 and women’s 6-11.5 for PAC boots and other large insulated hiking boots, including the Garmont Momentum Snow GTX boots which I favor for non-technical winter hiking on unbroken trails.

The K10 Crampon can fit PAC boots and larger insulated hiking boots
The K10 Crampon fit PAC boots and larger insulated hiking boots

This degree of footware compatibility is simply fantastic because it means you can combine a heavy insulated PAC or non-technical winter boot with an ultralight crampon for winter hiking. In my experience, it’s easier to fit a larger boot with the K10 crampons than the earlier-made KTS ones because the K10 binding  is simpler and made out of more flexible plastic.

The K10 has a new quick-fit binding system that uses webbing to secure the front and back of your foot to the crampon. One strap runs over the top of your shoe/boot just behind the toe kick and the other cups your heel in the rear binding by looping over the front of your ankle, with a small hook that attaches to your front laces to prevent the webbing strap from riding higher.

K10 Crampon Quick-Release Binding System
K10 Crampon Quick-Release Binding System

These two straps provides a very secure and reliable binding between your footware and the K10 crampon for hiking or trail running. The binding is also very comfortable, especially above the ankle, because the quick release buckle can be positioned to the side of the foot rather than the top where it would cause more friction and discomfort.

Like more technical crampons, the K10 comes with anti-balling skins which prevent the buildup of snow and ice, so-called balling, under the foot if you find yourself walking through water or snowmelt. These are pre-cut synthetic templates that fit over the crampon spikes and weigh a fraction of what traditional crampon anti-balling plates weigh. If you switch between different footware frequently, the skins can get in the way of the K10 leaf spring adjustment, but they are easy to take off and put back on and present a minor inconvenience.


I really like the Kahtoola K10 crampons and think they’re a huge improvement in terms of usability and fit over the more expensive KTS crampons. Although they have shorter spikes than the KTS crampons – by 1/4 of an inch – they are so much easier to adjust and so flexible that I plan to start using them exclusively when I want more winter traction than MICROspikes can provide for non-technicial winter boots or trail runners.

Disclosure: Philip Werner (SectionHiker.com) received a complementary pair of K10 Crampons from Kahtoola for review. 

The Kahtoola K10 Crampon is available from the following retailers:

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  1. Thanks Philip! I found taking the snow shedding plate off and putting them on to be a bit of a hassle. For mine they needed a set of pliers. Aside from that I’m 100% in agreement. Kahtoola got it right!

    Although, I can’t imagine trail running in them.

    • It gets a lot easier with practice :-)
      These crampons and the binding are so good that I can run in them. I have been experimenting with trail running again (we will see) and the fit of the k10 is so good I barely know I am wearing them.

  2. I tucked it into the rubber loops. I’ve prematurely cut stuff off gear in the past so I’m careful not to do it anymore if it can be avoided. You really want the extra length for bigger boots if you switch between trail runners and insulated boots.

  3. Thanks, Philip! Your review came just in time for me, as I was planning to head to REI this week to find me some crampons. I love that you can run in them, too, as I love trail running and was trying to figure out how I could get some in this winter. I’ll have to check these crampons out.

  4. How about these compared to something like the Hillsound Trail Pro crampons?

  5. Sweet! I always want to find something better than my micro spikes, but I refuse to wear stiff boots. Might be worth checking out. Phil, have you tried these with those Forty Below overboots you got last year or the year before? I find my overboots add a lot of bulk to my feet, so my micro spikes barely fit over them. Curious what the fit would be with the K10…

    • I seem to remember trying the KTS crampons with the overboots and they worked fine. Joel at 40 below recommended that combination. These are even better for big “clown” shoes than the KTS because the front binding is simpler, so I’d reckon they’d e fine. They’re also designed with PAC boot compatibility in mind,

  6. Size 11?? Is this for an expedition by the 7 dwarfs to rescue snow white from the snowy White Mountains? Can we please launch a petition to Kahtoola to start accomodating those of us who don’t need to wear flippers while scuba diving? Size 14, 15? I *love* my MICROspikes, but the largest size available fits my winter boots just b-a-r-e-l-y. If the snow top layer is frozen, pulling my foot out of the posthole is sometimes enough to dislodge the rubber bit on the heel, and make them spikes launch *ploiiink* into orbit. Kahtoola, pretty please?

  7. Philip, how would these crampons do above treeline in the Whites? I’m concerned that the spikes are shorter than other crampons. Does that matter?

    • They’re not as long as a full mountaineering crampon and really designed for soft boots instead of mountaineering boots – so I wouldn’t use them on anything really serious like Washington, the northern presidentials or franconia ridge. But on lesser hikes, where you’d wear a soft boot – like a Garmont Momentum – they’d be fine. For example, I plan to use them this weekend to climb Garfield, but that’s about the highest peak I’d use them on, because it has such a small above treeline area.

  8. Nice review thanks. I put in the search term ‘Kahtoola K10 crampons with trail runners’ and this was the first result. You’ve even tested them using the exact same trail runners as I use!

  9. Great review and just what I’ve been looking for. Ordered a pair on sale. I’m at the small end of the size range, so keeping my fingers crossed.

  10. Hi Philip. Best wishes for a healthy 2014!
    Nice review. Ordered a pair for the next snowy (BUT SUNNY!!) Challenge in May.

    • Best wishes to you too Willem! We ended up leaving our traction and ice axes at home last year although it was a close call. We didn’t really need them in the end, But we did stay low through the Lairig Ghru instead of climbing because snowshoes were needed for drifting snow on the tops.

  11. 31 Jan. 2015: Gave my new Kahtoola K10’s a test hike today. Conditions were 20 degrees F, about 10 inches of powdery snow over hard pack and ice. Traction was great, but terrain was not particularly challenging. The K10’s did not shift at all on my boots (Scarpa Kailash GTX), in contrast to my Kahtoola Microspikes (which, even so, give really impressive traction and weigh nothing in one’s pack). But, I discovered two flaws when I got back to my car and tried to remove the K10’s. First, the K10’s are retained by heel and toe straps that fasten with smallish Fastex-type plastic buckles. I discovered that a small buckle of this sort is hard to undo when your fingers are cold. But, far more importantly, one of the buckles iced up and could not be opened until it thawed. Fortunately the frozen buckle was at the toe strap and I was able to remove the crampon from my foot by undoing only the ankle strap. So, I think the K10 would be an excellent crampon, but it needs a different fastening system, one that is less prone to ice up and one that is easier to use with cold fingers.

    Update (1 Feb. 2015): Used K10’s on much more challenging terrain today (http://www.mapmyfitness.com/workout/862518819) with substantial elevation gain/loss. Traction was superb and the crampons did not shift at all on my boots. At the end of the hike, one of the strap buckles was again difficult to release due to icing, although the buckle finally did release. However, another possible design flaw was revealed. The rear snow release skin came off both crampons during the hike (maybe I’ll find them on the trail come spring) and now need to be replaced, and they cost $19/per set. Fortunately, the crampons did not ice up even though the skins went missing. (I informed Kahtoola and they quickly sent me a new set of skins in the mail. I’m hoping the replacement skins stay put.)

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