Gear Guy


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


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.

The 2008 Summer Outside Buyer’s Guide is now online. From riding to trail-running to camping, get reviews of nearly 400 gear must-haves.

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