Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro Review

Hillsound Trampon Pro Campons
Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro

While the small spikes on Kahtoola Microspikes and Hillsound Trail Crampons can provide extra winter traction on icy trails, there are times where you want a more aggressive crampon for winter hiking and light scrambling. While you can use heavy-duty mountaineering or ice-climbing crampons, they require the use of a rigid mountaineering boot which is overkill for winter hiking and far less comfortable than a softer insulated 200g or 400g insulated winter boot. You also can’t use soft insulated boots with ice climbing or mountaineering crampons because the soles flex too much and the crampons will pop off or break.

Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro

Weight
Durability
Binding
Traction
Comfort

Extra Traction for Soft Winter Boots

Hillsound's Trail Crampon Pros are different from microspikes because they have substantially longer spikes and because they come with anti-balling plates like many mountaineering and ice climbing crampons, to prevent the snow balling effect. They also provide real crampon traction for hikers who want to use non-rigid soled shoes such as insulated hiking boots and pacboots for winter hiking.

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Hillsound’s Trail Crampon Pros are different from microspikes and mountaineering crampons because they can be used with soft-soled boots. They also come with anti-balling plates to prevent the snowballing effect. This occurs when snow freezes to microspikes or crampons and clumps up underneath forming a ball of snow that makes walking difficult.

Hillsound Pro Crampons also have longer and more penetrating spikes than microspikes, but are shorter than a full mountaineering crampon like the Black Diamond Contract Strap Crampon, which makes them much easier to walk in.

How much longer? Here’s a side by side comparison between Kahtoola Microspikes, Hillsound Trail Crampon Pros, and Black Diamond Contact Strap Crampons that shows that they’re twice as long, halfway between Microspikes and a strap-on mountaineering crampon.

Mfg.KahtoolaHillsoundBlack Diamond
ProductMicrospikesTrail Crampon ProContact Strap Crampon
# Points101010
Point Length1 cm2 cm3 cm
Front PointsNoYesYes
Weight12.6 oz23.6 oz32.0 oz

As you can see, the Crampon Pro’s also have front points, unlike Microspikes, making them a better choice for moderate angle scrambling over ice-covered rock. They’re not stiff enough or long enough for real ice climbing, which remains the domain of rigid mountaineering boots and step-in crampons, like the Black Diamond Cyborg or Sabertooth Pros.

Hillsound Trampon Pro Crampons - Ratchet Binding
Hillsound Trail Pro Crampons – Ratchet Binding

But my favorite thing about the Crampon Pros is their unique ratcheting binding and the way in which it links the front bail and the heel cup to provide a very secure fit.

Each crampon has two plastic straps attached to its front by heavy-duty rivets. These crisscross over the front of the foot and run along the sides of your boot or shoe. Similarly, there’s a heel cup at the back of the crampon that loops around the back of your shoe and is riveted to ratchet buckles on both sides of the boot.

In order to secure the Crampon Pro to your boot, you simply feed the front plastic straps into the ratchet buckle and ratchet the plastic straps until they’re snug. To release the crampon, you just pull on the other end of the ratchet buckle and plastic strap is released. Here’s a video that demonstrates the system.

It’s important to adjust the length of the crampon to match the length of your boot. Hillsound provides an easy pin-based locking mechanism to do this so that the front points and heel points are at the boot edges and not father or nearer together. This eliminates the need to carry tools to adjust the crampon length which is a big bonus.

The crampon teeth are also made of steel for better wear and they feel more like mountaineering crampons than microspikes when worn. Similarly, the crampons are right and left foot specific, unlike Microspikes which are not.

Recommendation

For me, the biggest benefit of this product is that I get to wear a substantially lighter weight winter boot or trail runners with the Hillsound Trail Crampon Pros on higher peaks than I’d ever venture on in my microspikes, and I can leave my heavyweight mountaineering boots and massive crampons at home. The ratchet binding is also very slick and easier to adjust than a strap-based binding, making this product a real breakthrough in my opinion.

Disclosure: Hillsound provided the author with a sample pair of Trail Crampon Pros for this review. 

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6 comments

  1. Would you recommend these over the Kahtoola K-10?

  2. What is the black boot used in the photo? Do you recommend it for winter hiking?

  3. Hillsound states that this crampon is not compatible with soft soled boot but you say in the review that this works with trail runners. I am confused.

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