Get a grip … with a pair of Kahtoola crampons |

Get a grip … with a pair of Kahtoola crampons

Paul Conrad

It wasn’t the hard fall on the sheer ice at the Moto X course, but the slip on the side of the superpipe in front of hundreds of people that made me decide to get a pair of crampons. Physically hurting myself isn’t a concern – I heal. The real pain comes in being totally embarrassed.Looking at what other photographers in the media center wore on their feet, I noticed plenty of crampons with razor sharp spikes that seemed better suited for the verticals of frozen waterfalls than the hard-packed snow found at the X Games. My budget couldn’t budge, so they had to be inexpensive.

I shopped around Aspen and could find only the hard-core crampons that only mountaineer Sir Edmond Hillary and his ilk would use. I was making a trip to Glenwood Springs anyway, so I decided to stop at Gart Sports, Summit Canyon and Army & Factory Surplus.I first checked out Army Surplus, where they had a pair of Kahtoola KTS aluminum crampons for $100. They looked nice and were reasonably priced. But being a comparison shopper, I had to check out more stores. Summit Canyon had crampons for serious winter climbing; Garts had nothing. So it was back to the Kahtoolas. The first thing I noticed was that rather being rigid, these crampons had a flexible bar on the bottom that made it easy to walk around. The second was how light they were – no heavy metal spikes, which made it even easier to walk around. Fastening the crampons to my boots was a little awkward, but once I had all the straps adjusted properly, they were easy to put on and take off. A simple pull on the front strap to tighten them around the toe, a click on the heel strap, and they were good to go.

The next day at the X Games, I donned the crampons and headed out. I worried the spikes would grab onto my pant legs but they didn’t. (They are situated far enough in so they completely cleared the pants.) Plus, I didn’t feel them on my feet; the flexible extender bar and light weight made them almost unnoticeable when walking.The box states the crampons will fit on running shoes, hiking boots and even snowboard boots. They fit fine over my Columbia Bugaboos. The real test, though, was walking up to the deck of the superpipe. Not a single problem. They gripped well and made it easy to stand on the hard-packed incline. In short, the Kahtoolas made it easy to do my job with out worrying about embarrassing myself in front of hundreds of people watching the competition – perfect for anyone who needs a pair of crampons, but not ones necessarily suited for a winter climb up the Maroon Bells.

Cost: $125 list price; mine were $100 at Army & Factory Surplus in Glenwood Springs.Weight: 19 ounces for aluminum; 23 ounces for steel.Shoe Size: To fit size 4 men (5 1/2 women), to 15 1/2 men (17 women). Smaller if using on snowboard boots.