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’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.
|Product||Microspikes||Trail Crampon Pro||Contact Strap Crampon|
|Point Length||1 cm||2 cm||3 cm|
|Weight||12.6 oz||23.6 oz||32.0 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.
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.Editor's note: If you’re thinking about buying gear that we’ve reviewed or recommend on SectionHiker, you can help support us in the process. Just click on any of the seller links above, and if you make a purchase, we may (but not always) receive a small percentage of the transaction. The cost of the product is the same to you but this helps us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides. Thanks and we appreciate your support!