Hillsound Trail Crampons are a winter traction aid that’s tailor-made for hiking on inclined trails covered with hard ice or packed snow where you need longer and sharper spikes to penetrate the surface and give you a good grip. They’re compatible with insulated winter hiking boots, regular hiking boots, trail shoes, and trail runners and don’t require any special skills or tools to use. Made with carbon steel, they’re also quite durable and can be worn in mixed conditions that include ice intermixed with rock. If over time, you do manage to wear them down, they can also be resharpened with a file.
Specs at a Glance
- Number of spikes: 11
- Spike Length: 2/3″
- Harness: Elastomer
- Materials: Carbon steel spikes and plates, stainless steel chains
- Sizes: Multiple based on shoe size
- Gender: Unisex
- Weight: 18.4 oz, size XL
Hillsound Trail Crampons have more aggressive spikes than simple chain-based winter traction aids like Kahtoola Microspikes or Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultras. While their spikes hang from chains like those other products, the spikes are connected together by carbon steel plates that direct their effect in a more concentrated and coordinated manner.
That extra level of predictability is required when you hike over hard ice, wet ice, or mixed rock and ice, especially on inclined surfaces where a slip can be problematic. They’re similar to real mountaineering crampons in this respect but are lighter weight, don’t require any special footwork training to use, and are compatible with any type of footwear, including soft-soled boots and shoes.
They differ from mountaineering crampons because they don’t have front spikes for climbing very steep terrain or vertical walls, in addition to the fact that they have much smaller spikes. They also don’t come with anti-balling plates, which are plastic plates bolted to the bottom of mountaineering crampons that prevent snow from balling up and sticking to the underside of the crampons.
In certain circumstances, wet snow can ball up under the Trail Crampons. But it is often broken up by the movement of the chains connecting the carbon steel plates underfoot. A good whack of your trekking poles is also an effective way to knock any lingering snow off the spikes as well.
The Trail Crampons have an elastomer harness that holds them onto your footwear and makes them very easy to slip on or take off. I usually attach mine to a backpack strap with a carabiner and carry them that way.
There’s also a velcro strap that goes over the top of your boot to prevent the Trail Crampons from popping off and getting lost if you don’t notice they’re missing. This happens with Kahtoola Microspikes which use a similar elastomer harness, but don’t provide an added velcro strap.
Fit is very important though because the front and rear spike plates will slide off the left or right sides of your boots or shoes if there’s too much slack in the harness. This isn’t dangerous, but you’ll lose a significant portion of your traction if the spikes are not under the soles of your shoes. Hillsound has a wide range of sizes to dial in a good fit, but they size the trail crampons differently, depending on the type of footwear you use. Something to be aware of.
How do you know when you should use these Hillsound Trail Crampons instead of Kahtoola Microspikes or Hillsound’s Trail Crampon Ultra product, which both have much smaller spikes?
Good question. If you find yourself hiking on a trail with thick ice, especially ice with a dry surface, you may find that the smaller spikes bounce off the ice and don’t bite into it. That’s a good time to switch to Trail Crampons. Additionally, if you’re hiking up a moderately steep incline or descending one, the longer and sharper spikes on the Trail Crampons will provide a better push-off on the uphill and or heel braking on the downhill. You’ll learn this with experience, but those are the situations to look for.
Hillsound Trail Crampons are a winter traction aid for hiking on icy trails where you need longer and more penetrating spikes than those provided by microspikes. They have an elastomer harness that is compatible with a wide range of soft-soled boots and shoes from insulated winter hiking boots to trail runners. While they are not as aggressive as mountaineering crampons, they are much lighter weight and require no special training to use. I carry mine on almost every winter hike I take and view them as an indispensable tool for winter peakbagging in mountainous terrain.
For a more detailed description of the differences between the Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra, the Hillsound Trail Crampons reviewed here, and the Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro, see Which Hillsound Trail Cramponsis Right for You?: How to Choose. If you still have questions, just ask in a comment. I’m happy to help.
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