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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


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.


For me, the biggest benefit of this product is that I get to wear a substantially lighter weight winter boot 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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  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. I got a pair of these and a pair of the K10s and I’m finding that the heel cup is a little too narrow for my size 9 wide Oboz Bridgers in both sets of crampons. I have not taken either out on trail yet. The K10s are closer to fitting properly but I like the attachment system and more aggressive spikes on the Hillsounds better (Hillsounds are a bit narrow in the forefoot as well).

    If I wear them as is, will the soles of the boots “break in” to the crampons (boot rubber compacting in the hotspots) or am I more likely to just break the crampons / lose my footing?

    • I wear both with size 10.5 oboz bridgers and they fit fine.
      Try the Kahtoola KTS crampons. They have a different heel binding that fits wider soled boots.

      • Christopher Evans

        I have left a review of the Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro a while back. My experience with the is that they are very slippery when walking on frozen snow. The spikes bite only until the surface meets the anti bot and then they become dangerously slippery. Not what you would expect from such a product.
        I wear crampons quite often as I live near the North Shore Mountains of Vancouver, B.C.
        The mountains are my front yard, if I’m not skiing, I’m snowshoeing or hiking in crampons when the surface hardens up as it so often does here. I bought my Trail Crampon Pros directly from Hillsound here in Vancouver and was excited because of the simplicity of the product vs my strap on “real” crampons. After slipping and sliding for a while and coming to the conclusion that they were a liability and not safe in the current conditions, I had to take them off and reach into my pack for my “just in case” Kahtoolah Micro Spikes to get down the mountain.
        I had the Trail Crampon Pros long past the return date so that was not an option. They now just sit on the shelf in my gear closet. I don’t feel comfortable selling them as I truly do believe that at least around here and with my experience, they are a liability and not safe.
        Just my opinion based on my experiences.

        • Have you sharpened them? You just need a mill bastard file. File the thin side only, pushing from the frame out to the end of the point. I find that I need to tune mine up once in a while since I hike on mixed rock and ice. Stomping is also a useful way to get bite with these pros or regular mountaineering crampons. If I need traction, I take it!

        • what is the anti-bot?

        • It’s the thing that keeps snow from sticking to the crampon from below.

  4. Christopher Evans

    Actually, it’s not the teeth that are the issue, it is the super slippery anti bot. If the teeth aren’t firmly planted, it’s like walking on ice. I think the anti bot should be replaced with a non slippery but still flexible material. Maybe even roughen it up with some sandpaper to stop it from slipping.

    • Christopher, I do not own the trail crampon pro but I can see how they could be a problem. It looks like accept for the rear two teeth they are all oriented front to back. In frozen granular snow that is deep enough to hit the plastic plate without the teeth grabbing on to anything solid it looks like there would be minimal resistance forward and backward. I have the hillsound ultras and there are teeth oriented perpendicular to the direction you are walking and also the chains themselves add quite a bit of resistance in loose frozen snow. I think the trail crampons look like they have minimal perpendicular surface area to add resistance forward and backward in the snow conditions you have. I think if you were walking on ice this would be irrelevant and they would work well. My guess is that full crampons would have a similar issue for you in your conditions.

      I think if you were hiking in the white mountains in those conditions people would suggest snowshoes like the lightning accents not to keep you from sinking in but to add the greater perpendicular traction bars. I maybe wrong though.

      • I have the Lightning Ascents (older model) and other than the 4 strap binding, have nothing but praise for them. Excellent traction.

  5. Have you had any trouble with the bindings coming loose or breaking? The Amazon reviews (even after the 2017 redesign) seem to have quite a few accounts of this problem. It seems like the clip comes unbuckled in snow over 4″ deep, and as a beginner/intermediate winter hiker in the Whites, I’m not sure how often those conditions are likely to happen while wearing crampons rather than snowshoes. I’m more worried about the ratchets breaking due to cold, which seems like a bad failure to have in crampon-requiring conditions.

    • I’ve never had a problem no. The ratchets have never broken on me and have never come unclipped. I suggest you ignore Amazon reviews. Most people have no idea what they’re talking about and have not used the product for more than a week, if even that.

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