One of my enemies in the winter is ice. The cold won’t keep me inside as much as ice on the ground will. So when I was given the chance to test the Trail Crampon ULTRA from Hillsound, I took them up on their offer right away. Someone must have tipped them off to how much trouble I have making it to the mailbox on the really bad days.
To be clear, these are not for walking from your front door to the mailbox and back. The Trail Crampon ULTRA offers the kind of traction needed for long winter hikes, trail running, and even trekking across glaciers, but with the extra benefit of lighter weight. On average, they weigh about 2.5 ounces less than the regular carbon steel Trail Crampons. A few ounces less may not sound like a big deal, but when you’re lifting your feet thousands of times, it adds up. And as in most sports and athletic activities, exotic materials equals better performance. So Hillsound uses 420J2 stainless steel for their spikes, giving them a rating of 46HRC on the Rockwell scale. How hard is that? Your camp axe is probably rated about the same. With six sets of three spikes each, they bite, don’t give up, and won’t wear out.
Putting them on is pretty easy, thanks to the durable elastomor (rubber) harness that goes around your shoe or boot, with a velcro strap for extra security. Once they were snugly attached to my boots, I went out looking for ice and hard packed snow, of which there is no shortage during Utah’s winter. I tried them on flat, icy surfaces, and a few short but steep climbs. The front spike sets are narrow, yet their placement is perfect for climbing. At the heel is a larger plate, which allows you to go downhill with an equal amount of confidence. Over the course of several outings, not once did I feel like I was going to lose traction, but I also didn’t notice any extra weight on my feet either. And when I was done, removal was quick, easy, and tidy, since Hillsound includes a handy drawstring storage bag too.
The Trail Crampon ULTRA is offered in five sizes from XS to XL, each covering a range of about three shoe sizes that spans women’s size 5 to men’s size 15. Their large (10-12) fit my size 12 boots perfectly, but it is suggested that you try them on your footwear before purchasing. A heavier boot with more aggressive tread may have required the XL, which fits 12-15. The MSRP of $69.95 is quite reasonable for the extra durability and reduced weight of stainless over carbon steel. If staying upright in the snow and ice is important to you, visit hillsound.com.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Trail Crampon ULTRA for free from Hillsound, in consideration for review publication