Crampons (ice traction for your feet)
I’ve been meaning to write a post about crampons, and how I believe they are an important prep for anyone living in an area with the potential for ice storms. Seeing that a significant chunk of North America is blanketed with snow and ice at the moment, now seems like a good time to discuss.
If you’ve ever experienced a significant ice storm, you know it shuts down everything. Simply walking from your front door to the sidewalk can be dangerous. An ice storm can paralyze an entire city or region – forget driving, you’ll struggle to simply walk. If you don’t believe me, I suspect you’ve never experienced a true ice storm (lucky you!). Sadly, I live in an area that gets them routeinly. They are not fun, but far more manageable if you have a good pair of crampons.
Crampons are a traction device that attach to your shoes and allow you grip and navigate the otherwise impassable icy world. They work very much like the chains you’d put on your tires, so you’ll want to identify and size the shoes/boots you’d planning on wearing when using them before you make your purchase.
Crampons come in differing designs ranging from purely urban use to climbing a glacier. Your choice will largely be dictated by your environment, especially how hilly it might be. Navigating ice on a flat surface is one thing, navigating it on an incline something completely else.
I am a particular fan of the Ice Trekkers Diamond Grip crampons. They are a medium-duty crampon that are well made and good for varying conditions. I use them when I’m walking my dog or going for a winter hike, and paired with my Vasque Breeze winter hiking boots they make me feel secure whether I’m walking down a sidewalk or up the side of a mountain. There are lighter-duty models out there as well which are significantly easier to attach/remove from your boots. If you struggle with hand strength you might consider one of the rigid/flat-bottomed ice cleat models that are solely designed for urban use. If you plan on using your crampons for winter hiking/ ice climbing only, get a heavy-duty model, but don’t expect to be able to walk on a sidewalk with them.
One additional note- crampons are a lot like tire traction chains. They take a beating when you use them, and they will eventually break. Like chains, I think crampons are definitely worth spending a few extra bucks on.