The Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra is a winter traction device that has 18 half-inch stainless spikes connected to an elastomer harness compatible with all hiking boots, shoes, and trail runners. They’re essentially tire chains for your feet, designed to give you better traction for hiking or running on flat or low angle terrain covered with ice or packed snow.
In addition to better traction, there are many advantages to using this type of traction aid over a traditional rigid mountaineering crampon:
- Much lighter weight than traditional crampons, only 16.2 oz per pair.
- No special bag required to carry them, just clip to your pack with a carabiner or stuff in a pocket
- Idiot-proof to put on or take off (no training, fitting, or practice required)
- Compatible will all types of footwear, including soft-soled shoes or boots
The spikes on the lighter weight Trail Crampon Ultra are connected by chains which lets them float freely of one another making them much more comfortable to hike or run with if you have soft-soled footwear. You can even use them to run on thin ice like you find on winter sidewalks and urban running trails.
How do the Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultras perform? They’re easy to put on and take off, provided that you get the size compatible with your boots or shoes. They’re quite good for hiking on packed-out mountain trails covered with snow or ice and provide an impressive amount of traction when hiking up steep slopes. I carry and use them on almost every winter hike I take. The velcro front strap keeps them on and secure. The stainless steel spikes are durable and will withstand tremendous abuse, even when traversing open rock. They require zero maintenance. They’re really quite good, which is why so many winter hikers use them.
Compared to Kahtoola Microspikes
There are two big differences between the Trail Crampon Ultra and Kahtoola Microspikes. The Ultras have slightly longer spikes (see below) and the Ultra has a velcro strap running over the forefoot that prevents the elastomer strap from popping off while you’re hiking.
Spike and length comparison:
- Kahtoola Microspikes: three-eighths of an inch, 12 spikes total
- Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra: four-eights of an inch, 18 spikes total
That velcro strap makes a huge difference in the reliability provided by the Ultra and is the reason why I eventually tossed my Microspikes and switched to the Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra myself. It never pops off and I haven’t lost one yet. When you lose a Kahtoola Microspike during a hike, you’ll never find it again in the snow unless the person hiking behind you notices it when it pops off. After that, it’s gone. You’ll never see it again.
Highly Recommended: Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra
Disclosure: Hillsound provided the author with a sample Trail Crampon Ultra for this review.Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the affiliate links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and some sellers may contribute a small portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.