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Mountaineers wearing crampons cross a snow field

Snow traverse using crampons. Source: Flickr by ribekak.

If you are thinking going mountaineering then you will need to get some crampons, this may also mean buying new crampon compatible boots. But what if you’re thinking of going hill walking in the winter? There may only be small sections of the hike where there is hard snow and ice. You may feel that buying crampons and compatible boots is too expensive and unnecessary. Fortunately there is a solution! Winter hardware manufacturer Stubai have brought out 4 point and 6 point crampons which can be fitted onto most B0 boots.

What are B0 Boots?

The designations B0, B1, B2 and B3 for walking boots refer to the type of crampons that the boot can accept and also give an indication of the stiffness of the sole of the boot. The most common type of walking boot is a B0, which has a flexible sole and is not suitable for use with crampons. At the other end of the scale is the B3, which is a rigid boot primarily used for ice climbing. The B3 boot can accept C3, C2 and C1 crampons. Semi-rigid B2 boots can be used with C2 and C1 crampons, whilst B1 boots can only be used with C1 crampons.

Two mountaineers putting crampons on their hiking boots

Crampons are attached to hiking boots. Source: Flickr by Iversonic.

What are Crampons?

Crampons, or irons as they are sometimes known, are devices that can be fixed to the bottom of hiking boots, enabling the wearer to walk across ice or hard snow. They are essential mountaineering equipment! Made from steel or aluminium, they usually have 10 or 12 sharp spikes, each about an inch long, which grip onto the ice. Crampons usually consist of two sections connected by a metal bar. One section sits under the heel and the other sits under the ball of the foot.

Metal crampons attach under hiking boots for walking across ice

Stubai 10pt C1 crampons and 12pt C3 crampons

C1 crampons are the most flexible and are secured to the boot with straps. C2 are strapped at the front of the boot whilst they a secured by a clip mechanism on the heel. C3 crampons are fixed to the boots with clips at the sole and heel. The rigid B3 boots and large front points on the C3 crampon make them suitable for ice climbing.

Advantages of C0 Crampons

Stubai instep crampons can be used with B0 walking boots. These crampons are unlike those described above in that they have only one section. This single section should fit snugly into the instep of the boot, with two of the spikes under the heel. The Stubai 4 point instep crampon is secured with a single strap around the middle of the foot, whilst the Stubai 6 point instep crampon has an additional strap that goes around the heel.

C0 crampons for winter hiking

Stubai 4pt and 6pt crampons for B0 boots

The main advantage of the C0 crampons is that they are ideal for traversing small sections of ice or hard snow, or for use in an emergency. If you are hiking in Scottish Highlands during the spring for example, you could well encounter mountains trails where there are small patches of compacted snow and for which the added security of an instep crampon will be of benefit. They could also be used for cross-country running in the snow.

Ideal for winter walking, C0 crampons are lightweight and do not take up as much space in your rucksack as regular crampons. And they are much cheaper too!

Limitations of C0 Crampons

It is obvious that without front points C0 crampons cannot be used for ice climbing! Nor can they be used serious mountaineering, climbing or even for hiking all day in winter conditions. It is important for your safety to be aware of the limitations when using C0 crampons.

If you fancy a bit of fun, why not watch the crampon dance!

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