Gear Guy

G10 crampons     Photo: courtesy, Grivel

Q:

Are my hiking boots crampon compatible?

I’d like to start doing some mountaineering and need to buy crampons. I have a great, broken-in pair of REI Spirit II GTX boots. How can I tell if my boots are crampon compatible? And if they are, which ones should I get? David Dallas, Texas

A:REI’s Spirit II boots (now called the Spirit III and selling for $189 at rei.com) are a fine pair of all-around hiking boots. Whether you want to strap on some crampons and take them climbing depends a lot on where you intend to go. For snow or glacier travel up to a 35-degree slope they’re fine. But for extended time on snow, or a climb such as Mount Rainier, they just don’t have the heft to make you real comfortable.

But they’ll certainly take crampons. Heck, trail runners can take crampons. What you want is a pair of fairly old-school strap-on crampons. Grivel’s G10 crampons ($130; www.grivel.com) are the perfect solution. They are easy-to-use, strap-on crampons that have a little less aggressive points and angles than more serious crampons. But I’ve worn them on hard snow close to 45 degrees in slope and they’ve worked well. They’ll work just fine on your Spirits.

For serious mountaineering, however, you’ll want a real mountaineering boot. Asolo’s Titan GV ($270; www.asolo.com) is an excellent light mountaineering/heavy backpacking boot, with tough synthetic uppers and a Gore-Tex liner. They’ll work great with nearly any crampon, and I’d recommend a pair like the Petzl Vasak crampons ($140; www.petzl.com). La Sportiva’s Glacier Evo ($250; www.sportiva.com) is another good all-around mountaineering boot, with leather uppers that are a bit more traditional than those on the Titan. Match them with a set of Black Diamond Sabertooth crampons ($150; www.bdel.com).

Get more advice from the Gear Guy as he picks this season’s top gifts in Away.com’s Holiday Gift Guide. You’ll probably find a few things to put on your own wish list, too.

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