This may seem like a strange review to post in early July, but for those peak baggers in the northwest, there’s still snow up there in them hills. I remember trying to climb Mt. Defiance in Washington last year and coming across waist deep snow in places. People were turning around and heading back down the Ira Spring trail because there wasn’t a lot of traction. Those that did go on slipped, slid and risked hurting themselves to beat the snow field. All those except for the smart ones that brought their trail crampons.
There are several different companies that make stretch crampons or non technical crampons designed for trail use. I’ve seen at least two and managed to get my hands on a pair of Trail Crampons by Hillsound for my trip to Bolivia.
Trekking around at over 15000 feet means the likelihood of hitting snow patches while on the trail is very high. I wanted something to bridge the gap between technical approaches and something I could whip out, attach to my hiking shoes/boots and traverse that field. The Hillsound Trail Crampons don’t disappoint.
Who is Hillsound?
Hillsound is a Canadian company setup in my backyard of Vancouver, BC. They produce several different Crampon products as well as some quality gaiters that I will be reviewing in another video (you can see them in use in the video review).
What is a stretch crampon?
Stretch crampons are a non technical traction enhancer that you can slip on over your shoes or boots. They’re used by hikers who expect to find areas of snow and or ice on the trails that could pose a danger to or prevent entirely hiking in altitude, or even early/late season hiking. They’re meant to be easy to put on and take off, but still provide enough traction.
What does the Hillsound Trail Crampon Offer?
The Hillsound Trail Crampons have 2 parts, a flexible elastomer top and a heavy duty stainless steel and high carbon steel bottom half.
The stretch harness is made of an elastic polymer that they call Elastomer. It’s flexible and stretchable and stays that way down to 60 below zero. To add extra stability, not that I feel it was need when I’ve used them, but regardless, there’s a strap that goes across the top of your foot to add that extra bit of security.
The spikes (points) are made of nice, hard, high carbon steel that gets a good bite into snow and ice. They’re a nice 3/4 inch long or 1.5 cm too. On the bottom there’s a hinged plate that flexes with your foot to make sure you keep traction when you’re lifting your foot. One thing you need to do is dry them and oil them when necessary, or they can rust. I haven’t had any problem so far, But I can see it being seasonal maintenance, like most gear.
You may have seen other brands with a type of spring covering a lightweight elastic. This is a heavier duty, more secure “elastomer” and it has real spikes. It makes them slightly heavier at 0.7 kg or just over 1 lb, but the pay off is in durability, stability and traction.
In the video review embedded above, you can see how easy they are to put on and take off, even with awkward gloves on.
Conclusions so far
After blundering around in snow, it’s really nice to have a portable and easy to use crampon to slip on on the trail and give me that aggressive traction necessary for hiking on snow and ice. They’re easy to use and I will take them on future hikes for fall and spring to give me that extra bit of traction.
At $60 online, If you’re looking for something to extend your hiking season in cold and snow areas, The Hillsound crew is really working hard and producing some really nice, quality gear. If you haven’t checked them out, stop by Hillsound.com and see what they have to offer.
I’ve only used them on well packed snow and ice and there weren’t any problems. Some have reported balling (snow packing up under the middle of your crampons), so something to keep in mind. I’ll be reporting back on long term results later.
DisclosureAs said previously, Hillsound provided me the crampons at my request. All opinions are my own and what I would tell any friend.