OR -C.A.M.P. USA
Universal XLC 490 Crampons
Oct 27 '10
lb (89.40 kg)
|US9 E (UK7, Europian 41)
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.
|C.A.M.P. USA Inc.
|Listed: 17.3 oz (490 g)
Measured: 21.4 oz (608 g)
Listed: 14-19" (36-48 cm)
courtesy of campusa.com
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.
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).
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.
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 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