Spikes, Crampons, Traction Devices, What's the Difference? - [USA] Hillsound Equipment

Spikes, Crampons, Traction Devices, What's the Difference?

Often, we receive the question about our Hillsound products: Crampons, or Spikes? Let's settle the debate.

Technically, crampons come in different variations suited for various activities and terrains. However, the term crampon has become well known as a traction device suited for mountaineering. Similarly, the terms Ice spikes, Ice cleat, and Trail crampon have been adopted to describe a traction device suited for non-technical terrain. Safety is important to us at Hillsound, and we want to make sure that our message is clear on where our products fit into these categories. We want to make sure you understand the difference between, for example, our "Trail Crampon" versus a mountaineering crampon by providing you with some information on the key differences between the two!

NON TECHNICAL: Trail Crampons, Spikes, Ice-cleats

 Trail Crampon [US] - [USA] Hillsound Equipment
Pictured: Trail Crampon

To summarize it simply, these products are suited for non-technical terrain and are often used for hiking, backpacking, walking, trail running, and other outdoor activities. Often these products are called by a variety of different names across the outdoor industry, sometimes referred to as Ice cleats, Snow-grippers, or Trail Crampon, among other product names. Each product may be suited to different activities or terrains within these categories. For example, we recommend our FlexSteps™ for an urban environment and our Trail Crampon Ultra's for trail running. However, products in this category are not intended to be compared with a mountaineering crampon (which we will go into in the next section). Here is a list of typical specs to look out for which non-technical traction devices often share:  
  • Often have 1-2mm long spikes.
  • Suited for hiking, backpacking, and trail running on trails with snowpack or ice ( level depending on product design )
  • Not suited for technical terrain or glacier travel
  • Often have a rubber, slip-on slip-off system

TECHNICAL:  Mountaineering Crampons, Ice-Climbing Crampons

The definition of the term crampon is a spiked iron plate worn on boots or shoes for aid in climbing or to prevent slipping on ice, snow, etc. It is often referred to in the context of mountaineering or ice-climbing. Often these products are not recommended for beginners, and the activities involved with their use require adequate training. Here is a list of some of the specs they may have.
  • Larger, longer spikes
  • Different variations used for ice climbing, and mountaineering 
  • Often needs to be fitted to your boot
  • Rigid fit, bindings

Where do our products fit in?

All of our products at Hillsound belong in the non-technical category. We do not make any traction devices designed for technical terrain, mountaineering, or ice climbing. However, our Trail Crampon ProTrail CramponTrail Crampon Ultra, and Cypress6 have been designed to be more aggressive than your average non-technical traction device, with features such as carbon steel plating and longer spikes.
These specs have been added to make your time on non-technical terrain as optimal as possible. Hence, naming it the "Trail Crampon" to define them as a trail-adapted version of a crampon and make sure to state each product's intended use.
Remember to always do your research before purchasing any product - and not only make sure you have the right equipment before heading out, but always bring the ten essentials, leave a trip plan, and check the forecast!

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