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Minimal shoes and crampons? An idea...
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Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Minimal shoes and crampons? An idea... on 10/27/2011 03:07:43 MDT Print View

Next summer I want to hit the sierras pretty early, and that will inevitably mean steep snow filled mountain passes to climb over. I have never used cramp-ons or ice axes, so this is new to me.

But I really don't want to wear boots. I like light, minimalist shoes. I have done many backpacking trips wearing just low cut converse chucks or similar shoes.
They worked fine, but I have a question: Would the flexibility of the shoe cause problems with cramp-ons? I know they do make cramp-ons for trail runners. If flexibility is an issue, would inserting a stiff plate in between the sole and insole solve that problem?

Basically what I am saying is, I want to traverse early summer snowfields and mountain passes with highly flexible sneakers.

Derek Goffin

Locale: North of England
Minimal shoes and crampons? on 10/27/2011 05:11:57 MDT Print View

This works, we do it all the time. Kahtoola steel are best. They have their limits on steep slopes but they fit trail runners and stay on. Grivel 10's also work but we have had them come off on very flexible shoes. Other rigid crampons break from flexing without stiffness of boots.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Crampons..... on 10/27/2011 06:16:15 MDT Print View

or Microspikes? You can easily use trailrunners with Microspikes or something similiar. Microspikes may twist on the shoe especially on steep traverses but I would take that combo again if I were crossing the Sierra in June. If it's later than June during a normal snow year I wouldn't even take even microspikes. They are not needed IMHO. I know other thru hikers used full crampons with trailrunners but I can't speak to how well the system worked.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Crampons..... on 10/27/2011 15:01:36 MDT Print View

How well do micro spikes work in serious mountaineering? I have always wondered about those things. When I say I want to start early, I mean really early. Could you use them with a more flexible mukluk style shoe for serious winter mountaineering?
I am really new to this, so obviously I am going to get experience before trying anything.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Crampons..... on 10/27/2011 17:33:00 MDT Print View

"When I say I want to start early, I mean really early. Could you use them with a more flexible mukluk style shoe for serious winter mountaineering?"

I'm not sure what you mean by serious mountaineering, but I will assume you mean situations where a mistake could be fatal, on unforgiving terrain. If that is the case, I would strongly recommend going with regular crampons to start with and then, with some experience under your belt, decide whether or not you could get away with micro spikes. I suspect you would stay with the regular crampons. Micro spikes have neither the depth of spike or structural support for steep, hard snow/ice.

Be very cautious, Justin. On serious snow/ice slopes, your first mistake can easily be your last.

Edited by ouzel on 12/09/2011 17:12:39 MST.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
microspikes on 10/27/2011 20:36:30 MDT Print View

can come off or rotate on your shoe ... be aware of that

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: microspikes on 10/27/2011 20:43:29 MDT Print View

Rather than Microspikes, last weekend I carried YakTrax traction for my boots as I crossed snowy Mono Pass the California Trans-Sierra Dayhike. There was a possibility that I could get into some gnarly snow and ice, so I carried tiny rolls of duct tape. I figure I would run the tape right around the instep of each foot, and that would hold them on in case they were loose.


drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Minimal shoes and crampons? An idea... on 10/27/2011 21:35:09 MDT Print View

Kahtoola crampons should work fine as long as you fit them properly. Microspikes can work well, but I don't like how the element under the ball of the foot digs in. It dug in hard enough that it created a permanent bulge in my trail running shoes.

Richard Fischel
How well do micro spikes work in serious mountaineering on 10/28/2011 07:47:51 MDT Print View

the first time you find yourself step kicking or needing to front point in mukluks and microspikes you will have wished you'd been wearing proper boots and crampons. sure there are those that climb k2 in huarache sandals, but that's not you, at least not yet. while it's not everybody's learning curve, you can start out easy or start out over-equipped. under experienced and under equipped is a bad combination anywhere, but particularly in the mountains on snow and ice. once you get out you will be amazed at what a little bit of sun and temperature change will do to the conditions of the snow/ice. enjoy the learning experience.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Kahtoola KTS Crampons on 10/28/2011 08:11:44 MDT Print View

Kahtoola KTS crampons are designed for trail running shoes.
they come in :
Aluminum - lighter weight but slightly shorter spikes and not as durable
Steel - a little heavier, longer spikes, more durable

I own a pair of the steel ones and they work great on my regular trail runners.
I've done 40* snow in them. not sure I would want to do 40* ice in them though.

Kahtoola KTS Crampons


Richard Fischel
Re: Kahtoola KTS Crampons on 10/28/2011 08:36:34 MDT Print View

the kahtoola's look nice. probably work well with trail runners for french technique. not sure if they'd be much help in you needed to kick steps.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Yaktrax on 10/28/2011 08:50:24 MDT Print View

Yaktrax aren't so good if there are rocks around too. They cut into the rubber pieces underneath your feet, which then break, which cause total failure.

Most of the slippery places I go also have some rocks from time to time.

Kahtoola have just metal underneath your feet so would be better.

J Her
(sailfast3r) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Cross country running spikes on 10/31/2011 09:55:20 MDT Print View

What about cross country running spikes for your particular application?
They will not replace proper training, technique and knowledge in the steeps, but they may provide you the traction you are looking for in slippery conditions.

whitenoise .
(whitenoise) - F
Grivel AirTech Light on 10/31/2011 13:17:32 MDT Print View

Pick up some Grivel AirTech Lights and call it a day. Aluminum, full-featured crampon with front points that fits running shoes and mountaineering boots. Weighs 17 oz. for a pair. A large pair of Kahtoola Microspikes weighs 15 oz. without anything close to the traction of real crampons.

EDIT: And, to top that off, the Grivel AirTech Lights are also lighter than the Kahtoola KTS Crampons, with points that are nearly an inch long. I've used the AirTechs crossing glaciers and front-pointing on snice with trail runners, though I wouldn't recommend it because you just don't have the rigidity. But you can if you need to. Plus, if you want to do any mountaineering, you have a pair of light crampons for snow travel. Note that the aluminum will wear much faster than steel anything.

Edited by whitenoise on 10/31/2011 13:25:45 MDT.

Kai Larson
(KaiPL) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Grivel AirTech Light on 10/31/2011 19:04:55 MDT Print View

I have the Grivel AirTech Light aluminum crampons.

I also have the Stubai Ultralight Universal aluminum crampons.

I prefer the binding and the points on the Stubai. Both are good lightweight crampons.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Minimal shoes and crampons? An idea.. on 12/09/2011 16:37:40 MST Print View

Crampons made for boots may put too much pressure on your forefoot or toes.

Look at the mounting. I have some Black Diamond Contact Strap Crampons. They're not much heavier than the KTS Steel and probably have better grip. I really like them on moderate terrain with light boots. One time I tried them out with trail runners and overshoes (NEOS). Too much pressure on my toes due to the way they strap on. This is where the Katoola KTS is better with more straps to spread the load out. I wouldn't use regular crampons on shoes with a soft forefoot for this reason.

Ted E
(Mtn_nut) - MLife

Locale: Morrison, CO
crampons vs. microspikes on 12/16/2011 12:23:38 MST Print View

On softer snow, microspike will be able to do anything that crampons will do, you make just have to kick your steps into the snow a little more. i took microspikes and used them with INOV-8s to climb Gannett peak a year and a half ago. they worked great, with a mountaineering axe.

on icier snow, where you really need traction, you will want real crampons, which the Katoola KTS's will be the lightest full steel crampon you can find. the steel ones are much beefier than the aluminum ones, with longer, sharper points. i have a set and i love them.

Personally, i would worry about my feet getting cold in lightweight flexible running shoes if i was doing any extended amount of climbing on snow. i know my feet were a bit cold, and i was climbing in the sun all day in july on gannett. Your shoes will get wet from the snow. wear some vapor barrier socks on the outside of your regular socks, and you might not have to deal with getting cold, wet feet.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
microspikes on 12/16/2011 12:38:24 MST Print View

with microspikes and other such in snow ... be careful of balling .. there are no anti-bots

also make sure you know the french technique in case you do find yrself at an icier section ...

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Minimal shoes and crampons? An idea... on 12/16/2011 12:41:48 MST Print View

I too am a low-cut shoe guy. I picked up a few pairs of a Go-lite model. Low-cut, with a flexible gaiter that can be slipped in and out of slots on each side of the shoe and clips to a fasten front and rear. Pretty dang lightweight combination.

I pair that with old 4-points in-step crampons I have lying around. It sounds like you're talking some major mileage though, so how about Hillsound Cypress 6 Crampons:

I like your logic to try to keep weight off your feet. I've always heard and find it runs pretty true: A pound off your feet is worth seven pounds off your back.

Two very important points:

If you're on high-angle snow or ice, you need an ice axe and you need to have practiced with it until it is second nature. Maybe self-arrest grips on your poles would suffice depending on your routes.

Self-arrest poles, one example:

(Also good for getting to the front of the ski lift line!)

And take an avalanche class. One that includes a field trip after the classroom work. REI offers them, I'm sure others do as well.

And something I've often experienced: Going up a slope, I'm nervous about falling and sliding to my death below. So my ice axe is at the ready and I'm a little tense. Then, when descending, I find I can't even get a good butt slide down that same slope and I move over to a steeper slope to get a better ride (controlled easily with the ice axe). Moral: I didn't need to be so nervous on that slope on the way up. At least not about the sliding. Spring avalanches, though? Something to be very aware of.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Minimal shoes and crampons? An idea... on 12/16/2011 13:31:01 MST Print View

Well, when I say minimal shoes, I don't mean trail runners. I mean like vivobarefoot trails.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Minimal shoes and crampons? An idea... on 12/20/2011 11:51:36 MST Print View

That's a whole different ball game. Frankly you may be SOL.

While you can do anything you want, some activities may not be prudent to pursue given a certain level of experience. Fact is there are no crampon products designed for shoes that soft. The issue isn't the toe-heel flex (plenty of products work with that like KTS's and such). The problem is the side to side flex such soft soles have.

Even trail runners have soles stiff enough that you can strap crampons on tightly enough that they won't come off. To get the same secure fit though with any minimalist shoes (including mukluks) will cause the sole to buckle. Even then the shoe will probably work it's way out of the crampon and be more of a pain than it is worth.

While Light is Right works, there are diminishing returns. Remember we're genetically designed for savannah running, not icy mountains. If we were, we'd all be climbing Everest naked. You're going to have to beef up your footwear for icy snow...the good news is not very much. Many of the 300ish weight Inov-8s should work well.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
An idea for MYOG crampons for those lightweight shoes on 12/20/2011 12:41:21 MST Print View

Justin: Wow!, you're talking some lightweight shoes. As an aside, how so you find them on summer trails (roots, rocks, etc)? I'll hike in anything for 20 miles, but over 25-30 miles in day and I found, long ago, that I (personally) needed a little stiffness in the sole or my feet felt beat up by the roots, rocks, etc. Hence I stepped up to Nike Lava Domes when they first came out and left the running shoes behind. Happily. But if those Vivobarefoot Neo Trails work on the trail, 9.2 oz would be fabulous! (per shoe or per pair?)

Dustin: If those Vivobarefoot Trails are as light as they look in the photo, I concur that it may be an uphill battle to make them work on snowfields. But I had an idea:

This isn't high-angle mountaineering, right? No front-pointing. Just something that provides some grip. Maybe a little floatation*?

*4 of us did a snow camping trip. All the same weight, similar pack weights. The two of us in size 11 shoes almost never plunged through. Both guys in 9 shoes plunged through frequently. Very easy going for us, very hard going for them because of slightly too little floatation for the conditions that day.

So here's the idea: 12" x 5" plywood under each foot. With wide straps to secure the light shoes onto the plywood. Maybe a heel and toe cup cut from a tin can. Some combo of lugs (made from plywood bits and gorilla-glued in place) and/or 3/16" bolts with their bottom ends sharpened into spikes. It would double the floatation of a size 9 shoe. <$10 of parts. So, after the snowy passes, you just throw them away, hand them to someone else, or burn them and pack out the bolts.

I'd see two design approaches:

Quick, dirty and cheap: 3/4" plywood, router out the space between the lugs, use velcro straps designed to secure garden hose and extension cord bundles.

Light and fully featured (maybe you mail them to and from yourself for the snow sections): 1/8" door skins on a foam core. Lugs and spikes on the perimeter of the bottom. Multitask the bolts by using threaded rod such that they project below to be spikes but project above to be heel and toe cups. And (I think this is a potentially cool idea): also make some foam-core wedges for side stepping on hills. 25 degrees or so would take so much of the ankle work out of traversing a hillside.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Minimal shoes and crampons? An idea... on 12/20/2011 13:28:17 MST Print View

Honestly, weight is not my worry with going with minimal shoes. I just hate wearing stiff soles or anything with arch support. It makes my legs hurt. My whole life I have hiked hard in just regular vans shoes. I usually ripped out the insole. Once they are worn a little, they have about 4mm soles. Very floppy and definitley feel like I am walking barefoot. I have also done lots of hiking in just water shoes. Also, I walk barefoot around town.
Anyways, I smashed the hell out of my ankles and legs, and I kinda adapted to a certain way of hiking. I have been in situations where I was "required" to hike in boots and it wasn't fun. Kinda like how big boot wearing backpackings complain about their feet and legs killing them if they hike with tennis shoes, I am the opposite.

With the vivobarefoots I plan on leaving the insoles in which add a lot more thickness and support. The shoes might be a little too barefoot for me, but it's just something I need to see for myself. As for rocks and roots, I have encountered some ouchies along the way, however I have never done anything over 15 miles in a day so I couldn't say for sure on that.

I guess I am SOL with the crampons. That was the point of my original post, I wondered about inserting as stiff plate for the times I needed to use them. I am starting to think that wouldn't work though.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: minimal shoes and crampons on 12/20/2011 13:45:10 MST Print View

I used Camp Magix 10s with LaSportiva Crossleathers this past winter/spring. Great crampons, but I wouldn't want any less beef in the shoe for snow and ice use.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Minimal shoes and crampons on 12/20/2011 13:52:39 MST Print View

I've used CAMP XLC 490s paired with New Balance MT101s. I wouldn't want to go past 45/50 degrees with this combo (brutal on the ankles), but it has worked fine for general snow travel so far.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Minimal shoes and crampons? An idea... on 12/21/2011 22:29:22 MST Print View

I'm almost wondering if I should just carry around an extra pair of stiff shoes just for ascending. That's how much I hate stiff shoes.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: stiff shoes on 12/22/2011 08:17:36 MST Print View

Justin, I don't hate stiffer shoes quite as much as you, but finding a pair with a good fit and no arch support might be worth it for this trip. Even when you don't need crampons, kicking steps is a lot easier with a bit of beef in the sole and around the toebox. Some of the lighter but not superlight Inov8 or Sportiva shoes could suit you.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: re: stiff shoes on 12/22/2011 23:28:58 MST Print View

To clarify, I don't plan on doing anything that would be fatal if I made a mistake. I just want to ascend late spring/early summer snowfields in the sierras. Obviously they are a slipping slide, pretty steep, but not that dangerous unless you hit an exposed rock or didn't have a way to self arrest.
I'm not kick steeping up a near cliff with ropes or ascending frozen mountains.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Insoles on 12/23/2011 00:12:02 MST Print View

How about carrying a pair of stiff insoles (carbon maybe) that you can insert when needed?

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Insoles on 12/23/2011 02:49:53 MST Print View

lol mike, that was actually the point of my first post. That could work, but would need some experimenting. If I used them hard, I might want something high top so my heel wouldn't slip out.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
I'm confused on 12/23/2011 06:15:52 MST Print View

Are you talking about hiking or mountaineering? You talk snowfields which could mean either. I suspect given your level of experience that you are talking about an early season hiking trip on snow. With early season hiking you may find vastly different conditions as the day wears on. You can use this to your advantage to have optimium conditions for a given area. For example; in the morning the snow may be rock hard and full crampons the best gear for steep terrain. Wait two hours and you can walk without any crampons or spikes. Wait another two and you could be postholing up to your knees.

As far as five fingers. I followed the tracks of someone wearing them coming off Forester Pass on the PCT. It was unbroken snow for miles. Frankly he seemed to do fine in them, no sign of slipping or falling and given his stride he was moving at quite a fast pace. I would never do it but to each their own.

I used to really enjoy early (April/May/June) Sierra trips until I got more than my fill of snowshoeing without snowshoes on the PCT this year. But step into this carefully, the margin for error is much less than a typical summer trip. If you could have seen the devastation in the Sierra this year due to avalanches you would have a whole new respect. There were avalanche trails in areas that I would have never expected to see them and the destruction was incredible. I would reco taking a couple of trips out of Hetch Hetchy up to Vernon or even Tilden Lake, depending on your desired length. That area is a great place to learn snow hiking or snowshoeing in the Sierra prior to more aggressive trips down into the SEKI area.

Finally, use those early trips to test out gear combinations that work for you. It took me three attempts to do the 45 mile Tilden Lake loop out of Hetch Hetchy a few years back. Each time I honed my gear and skills until I was able to succeed.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
minimal on 12/23/2011 12:14:54 MST Print View

i think the hardest thing wouldnt be the stiffness ... as i noted you can use the french technique if needed ... and some crampons and micros are desgined to work with more flexible foot wear

the problem may be the attachement points ... those are generally made for a normal shaped shoe or boot ... the straps may not hold the crampon properly to yr footwear, or it may cause tightness, bad fit ... etc ... which can also be a safety issue should they come off mid way

Edited by bearbreeder on 12/23/2011 13:36:13 MST.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Soft shoes, stiff board. on 12/23/2011 14:00:08 MST Print View

Okay, so I tried out my idea. I'll post a pic here and write it up over under MYOG. Needs two tweeks, but a 5" x 15" piece of plywood gave me nice floatation and was comfortable in my softest, most slipper-like shoes (a pair of Merrill's slip-on low-cuts in mesh fabric).Floatation versus postholing

I tried undisturbed snow, shoveled-refrozen snow banks and the icy driveway.

In undisturbed, I got much less postholing (2-3") with the plywood than with the plain shoes (4 to 16"). In refrozen shoveled snow, neither sunk in but like on ice, I got much better grip because of the 8 screw tips pointing out.

400 grams for one. So not SUL, but it only took me 32 minutes to make and test. With tweeks and varnishing, maybe 1.5-2 hours and $8 of materials. So I'd be fine mailing them to myself just before the snowy passes and tossing them when not needed.

Details in MYOG

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Cramps on 12/23/2011 14:52:02 MST Print View

Sorry if I sounded a bit harsh, cabin fever doesn't sit well with me. I still think finding a crampon will be difficult for the vivo class shoes.

Now picking up a light pair of trail runners with some body stiffness and using them only when necessary with light crampons may be a way to go. This is essentially the technique mountaineers use (lighter boots for approach hike, then switch to heavier boots/double plastic for the more difficult terrain).

I understand hating heavy boots, I do myself (I too grew up wearing skate shoes that turn into basically moccasins as they wear out). I do love my Inov-8 Roclite 315s for hiking though. Very light, lots of heel to toe flexibility but stiff width that strapping crampons for light duty should work out well. You can also usually find them for under $100 (sometimes much less). The 295s and a few others should work as well, under 250gm though they may become too soft.

Yaktrax may still work for your purposes and are cheap enough that you could test them out before hand, but durability is still a concern.

I like David's thinking of simple floatation device (maybe a pair of used tennis racquets...old school snow shoes!). However if you're looking at angled terrain then you'll still want crampon capability unfortunately.

Again I'd recommend giving inov-8s a shot if they fit you, they may be comfortable enough for full time winter use if not at least for snow field travel.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: I'm confused on 12/23/2011 16:01:28 MST Print View

Sorry for the confusion greg. I don't want to climb mountains, I just want to hike places. And that might mean some steep, slippery approaches.
You know, when you want to go somewhere and the rangers tell you there are still snowfields in the mountain passes that require cramps.

Edited by justin_baker on 12/23/2011 16:04:09 MST.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Got it! on 12/23/2011 16:55:00 MST Print View

If you like the VFF it we be worth taking those out on a trial run. I would also take backup. Since you are talking snow hiking then there are many options. There were folks on the PCT that went without trekking poles, ice axe or any type of crampons. Most of the PCT passes are very straight-forward. The exceptions are the south side of Forester and Mather. Many of the others are basically a walk up or slide down a moderate to easy incline.

Have fun, early season trips are cool. If you want I can give you a few routes that I've done.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Minimal shoes and crampons? An idea... on 12/24/2011 00:19:38 MST Print View

finger shoes might work differently, but I thought I would post this here:

Jane Howe
(janeclimber) - MLife
no traction device on 01/05/2012 13:40:31 MST Print View

Well, if you are good at snow and ice terrain, then you do not need any traction device. I hiked on Mt. Baldy a year ago, when others wearing crampons and microspikes over their boots, I was fine with just a pair of La Sportiva approach shoes.

Richard Fischel
Re: no traction device on 01/05/2012 15:01:50 MST Print View

so jane, how did you get so good?

Jane Howe
(janeclimber) - MLife
Re: Re: no traction device on 01/05/2012 21:56:18 MST Print View

Well, I learned ice climbing and mountaineering from the best ice climbers and alpinists. They taught me to be light and fast. It is my experience that trail running with minimal footwear or just barefoot is very beneficial. It is amazing that it trains all the muscles that can give me sure footing. However, I still think proper footwear is necessary on snowy and icy routes for safety and protection. The first time I climbed Mt. Rainier with heavy plastic boots. The fifth time I climbed with very light leather boots on Kautz Glacier route (up to WI2). I did not wear approach shoes because I had to prepare for the worst. There are many crevasses on Kautz Glacier route. It is not a heavily traveled trade route. If I fall in, I need the stiff sole and crampons for getting out of the crevass. But when I soloed the Dream Weaver Route on Mt. Meeker, I only wore approach shoes and crampons (about AI2, easy 5th class rock) because that route does not have crevasses. Just my two cents.

/A .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Re: Re: Re: no traction device on 01/06/2012 16:18:51 MST Print View

Welcome to BPL, Jane!

I concur with you to some degree, acknowledging that it can be challenging to judge when to use them or not (hence this thread, perhaps). Several people have climbed Mt. Rainier with trail runners and at least one in sandals, but they also were very experienced and scouted the routes in advanced with more traditional gear so that they knew what they were getting into. There are some fairly light alpine boots out there from Garmont and Salewa that have served me well on Rainier (including steeper, less climbed routes) and other glaciated peaks. My backcountry learning experiences on snow and ice were sans crampons or boots and we faired well also, but it also can slow you down considerably and having traction devices can pay for their weight in travel efficiency in many situations. Some low angle glaciers in the Anatolian highlands, for example, have such bullet-proof ice, I would not venture on them without full steel crampons, even if you only use them 5% of the time. In Colorado, on the other hand, the soft snow often encountered can be quite forgiving.

Knowledge, judgement, and the fear of God are among your greatest tools.

christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
Re: Re: microspikes on 02/28/2012 02:55:43 MST Print View

Hey Bob,
I just saw your post about using yaktrax as opposed to microspikes. Were they adequate? What kind of conditions did you use them in?

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
minimal crampons. on 02/28/2012 12:38:37 MST Print View

Yaktrax: don't use them, they break; microspikes have completely replaced them in New England.
Microspikes: work well when it's not steep. They don't work so great on hard ice. This winter we have lots of ice/crusty snow. Microspikes work but are marginal even on fairly flat trails here with lots of hard ice. They can roll off your feet on steep slopes. They don't have enough points on the heels, so you have to be careful going down a slope or you'll fall.

Camp Magix and Hillsound Pro trail crampons. These are very similar. They should work on most light shoes. The attachment to foot is much more secure than Microspikes. The crampon teeth are longer and sharper than microspikes and somewhat shorter than real crampons. They are suitable for almost all winter hiking in New England. If a fall means death or injury, I'd want traditional stiff boots and real crampons (and ice axe). I have the Camp Magix and like them. On really minimal running shoes you might need to add some foam padding to the straps.
Camp makes a number of models that can be used with soft shoes.
The non-Pro Hillsound trail crampons get poor reviews (breakage).

Extending any of these 'less than full crampons' to their limits is something best left to someone with much more mountaineering experience than I have.