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Reviews > Snow Gear > Crampons > CAMP XLC 490 > Owner Review by David Wilkes

Test series by David Wilkes


Universal XLC 490 Crampons

Oct 27 '10

Tester Information

Name: David Wilkes
Age: 42
Location: Yakima Washington USA
Gender: M
Height: 5'11" (1.80 m)
Weight: 197 lb (89.40 kg)
Shoe Size: US9 E (UK7, Europian 41)


I started backpacking in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have backpacked in all seasons and conditions. I prefer trips on rugged trails with plenty of elevation gain. While I continuously strive to lighten my load, comfort and safety are most important to me. I normally use a bivy sack for shelter. My current pack is around 30 lbs (14 kg), not including consumables.

Product Information


C.A.M.P. USA Inc.

Year of Manufacture:


Manufacturer’s Website:


$US 139.95
 Weight: Listed: 17.3 oz (490 g)
Measured: 21.4 oz (608 g)


Listed: 14-19"  (36-48 cm)

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of
Product Description:
The Universal XLC 490’s are lightweight 12-point aluminum crampons with strap bindings designed to fit hiking and mountaineering boots, even ones that are not specifically designed for crampons. They are not intended for ice climbing or intensive mixed terrain, but for glacier travel and general mountaineering.


When in the market for my first pair of crampons I was in a quandary. What brand, what features, steel or aluminum, will they fit my boots (actually I did not even have appropriate mountaineering boots yet). In reviewing all my options I went with universal fit, light weight and low cost, and given the options I had available to me at the time, the XLC490 fit what I was looking for. As an added bonus they came with anti-balling plates from the retailer I was using (this looks to be an option sold separately if purchased directly from the manufacturer).

So far over the last 3 years I have used these crampons to climb Mt Shasta (3 days), Mt Adams (2 trips, 2 days each), carried them but not used them on a third climb of Mt Adams as well as some other winter hikes.

Wear markerThese are 12 point aluminum crampons, making them lighter than equivalent steel versions, but this also means they are not as strong or durable. They are not suitable for ice climbing or mixed terrain (i.e. rock and ice). The bindings are a combination of thermoplastic heal and toe harnesses, combined with nylon straps. The bindings are designed to fit a wide array of hiking and mountaineering boots. The main body of the crampons consists of two footplates connected by an adjustable bar. The length of the crampons can be adjusted to fit the user’s boots, and when not in use can be collapsed to save space. The crampons include a “wear indicator” stamped on one spike of each crampon. This is to indicate when the crampons should be replaced due to excessive wear.

Crampons attached to my bootThe crampons did not come with much in the way of instructions, but most of their operation I found to be rather intuitive. Adjusting them to fit the length of my boot involved simply adjusting the bar that connects the two footplates via a pin in the heal plate. One thing I realized after a bit of fidgeting was that it was easier to set the initial fit with my boots off. After getting the length set I stepped into the crampon and pulled the toe and heal harnesses snug to my boot. Next I run the strap across the front of my boot and through the loop on the other side, then down through the toe section, and finally back to the buckle. I have found that after a few minutes of use, it is a good idea to retighten the straps to be sure the crampons can’t come off or shift. However since my boots are not the hard plastic shell type, getting the crampons too tight can range from being uncomfortable to quite painful as well as reduce the insulation value of my boot/socks. After a bit of practice putting them on it has become quite easy, however I find getting them on with anything thicker than glove liners on can range from difficult to totally impossible. To get them off I simply pull on the tab attached to one of the rings and reverse the process of putting them on (it is quick and easy). On one trip the straps got wet and iced up making getting them off a bit more difficult but not a significant problem.
When not in use I collapse the footplates, then put them together so the points are facing in, wrap the binding straps securely around them to hold them together. This not only protects the points, but protects my gear from the points. When I anticipate putting them back on I simply clip them to the back of my pack using a carabineer through the toe loop.

Aside for maybe the convenience of automatic bindings, I have no regrets about getting these. Since they spend most of their time in my pack, their light weight is their second best feature (second to the secure but easy on/off bindings). Being aluminum, I expect the points will wear out far sooner than equivalent steel points, but since I purchased these assuming I might quickly ‘outgrow’ them (find them unsuitable to my activities and/or skills) longevity was not a priority for me. That said, with my current rate of use, and the resulting wear, I expect to get a number of years use out of them before wearing them out (assuming I don’t break or more likely lose them first).

Lightweight, secure easy on/off bindings, adjustable size, anti-balling plates, no rust

Bindings can be difficult to operate with gloves and can freeze


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Reviews > Snow Gear > Crampons > CAMP XLC 490 > Owner Review by David Wilkes

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