Can I use crampons on trail-runners for day-summit attempts?

How do you feel about trail-runners versus hiking boots for light backpacking and day summits? Also, can you put crampons on trail-runners if you encounter snow? Phong Seattle, Washington

Aug 7, 2008
Outside Magazine
Black Diamond’s Contact Strap crampons

Contact Strap Crampons


You know, it really depends on the individual. Speaking broadly, I much prefer to see people in full-coverage, ankle-height footwear. I simply believe the support is better, the foot protection (especially in the sole) is better, and the traction is better. Trail-runners are…trail-runners—running shoes in drag. Compared with hiking boots, they’re shorter, lighter, and have softer midsoles.

That said, plenty of people hike in trail-runners and do just fine. On good trails, with light loads, I’d let the health of your ankles be your guide.

And sure, you can put crampons on trail-runners. What you need is a set of crampons with somewhat traditional straps. CAMP’s Universal XLC 490 crampons ($125) are moderately aggressive 12-point crampons with a strap system that allows them to fit over nearly any kind of footwear. They’re also very lightweight, so they won’t feel too clunky on trail-runners. Black Diamond’s Contact Strap crampons ($120) are nearly identical.

For slippery but non-technical snow, ice, or even steep grass, Petzl makes what’s called an “instep" crampon—think, crampons minus the toe points. The Crab 6 ($75) is a light six-point crampon that also will fit over most any shoe.

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