HILLSOUND TRAIL CRAMPON PRO
TEST SERIES BY MIKE PEARL
INITIAL REPORT - December 28, 2018
Hanover, New Hampshire, USA
5' 9" (1.75 m)
155 lb (70.30 kg)
I have a great appreciation for the outdoors and get out at every opportunity. I am a three-season, learning to be a four-season backpacker and year-round hiker. Currently, my trips are two to three days long as well as an annual week-long trip. I utilize the abundant trail shelters in my locale and pack a backup tarp-tent. I like to cover big distances while still taking in the views. I have lightweight leanings but function and reliability are the priority. I mostly travel woodland mountain terrain but enjoy hiking beautiful trails anywhere.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Year of Manufacture: 2018
Made in Korea
Manufacturer's Website: Hillsound.com
Sizes Available: Regular and Extra Large
Size Tested: Regular
Regular fits shoe sizes US Women's 7 through US Men's 12 or EU 37 - 46
Extra Large fits shoe sizes US Men's 12 though 15 or EU 46 - 50
This is meant to be a guide only actual fit depends on type, style and make of footwear.
Listed Weight: 23.5 oz (667 g) for regular pair and 24.8 oz (704 g) for extra large pair
Measured Weight: 24.6 oz (698 g) regular pair
X-shaped polycarbonate harness
Ratchet buckle bindings
Length adjustable with tool-less spring bar
Four heel spikes
Heat-treated carbon steel spikes
3/4 to 1 in (2 to 2.6 cm) spike height
Ten spikes per crampon
The Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro's are categorized as "winter hiking traction". They are recommended for use during winter hiking, glacier travel and backcountry hiking. They are not mountaineering crampons and not designed for technical ascents or ice climbing.
Additional guidelines are to avoid use on stairs or indoor surfaces. Only use crampons on icy or snowy terrain. Use with footwear that has a rigid or semi-rigid sole.
Hillsound crampons have a 2-year limited warranty for the original retail buyer, only against damage due to poor workmanship and/or defective materials, excluding normal wear and tear, oxidation, alterations and modifications, damage by mechanical force, improper storage and maintenance, and uses for which the product is designed.
The Pro's arrived inside a cardboard box. The outside of the box listed the features of the crampons in both English and French. Inside the box I found the crampons, alpine stoppers and instruction pamphlet. Taking the crampons out of the box the first thing I notice is how the front plate slides on the length bar. This gives me two thoughts, this should make them more compact for stowing in my pack and this could be a point of stress / fatigue and failure. Next the spikes came into view. They seem well placed to "grab" and hold traction. They have a decent point and appear sturdy. The rear plate is intuitive and easy to adjust. All the hinge points of the bindings freely move and look solidly attached. The buckles are the most attractive feature to me. I am not a big fan of D-ring buckles which I have the most experience with. The ratchet buckles are so easy to use I think I could work them with gloves on. The alpine stoppers are easy to slide onto the straps and prevent the buckles from moving. However I am concerned about the potential of dropping one in the snow. This would negate the benefit of keeping my gloves on when adjusting the straps.
All materials, components and construction of the crampons are of good quality. I can find no flaws or defects in the crampons. All parts appear sturdy and rugged. At first pass I was slightly concerned with the straps and cold temperatures. Then I read in the instruction pamphlet that the crampons have been tested to -50 C (-58 F). At lower temperatures the polycarbonate buckles and metal can become brittle and break. I highly doubt I will ever encounter such an extreme temperature so that concern is dismissed.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
I find the crampons to be fairly intuitive and was able to attach them to my boots without instructions. However there are a few moving parts that reading the instructions helped clarify. The last thing I want on a dicey trail when relying on a traction device is for it to fail due to user error. With that in mind I carefully read the instructions.
The first thing the instructions cover before even putting the crampons on is safety inspection.
Before every use it is recommended to check every component; buckles, straps, fasteners and metal of each crampon for damage; breaks, tears, bends or warping. Test each crampon for proper fit prior to use, I would insert here "at home". Inspection prior to using them when the trail gets icy or even at the trail head is too late. A failing crampon at this point could wreck a hike.
Next is fastening and removing the crampons to the footwear. The instructions mention this is easiest while seated. First is adjusting the crampon for correct length. This is done by pulling the front plate forward until it stops. Then lifting the tab on the rear plate raising a pin allows the length of the crampon to be adjusted. There are twelve holes along the bar to fit the pin to optimize proper fit to footwear. This is the tool-less spring bar length adjustment.
Now the crampon can be fastened to the footwear. Place toe on front plate so the two front straps sit flush with the front of footwear. Wrap the X-shaped straps around the foot and pass straps through ratchet buckles. Tighten buckles until the crampon does not move on footwear. Check that front and rear plates sit square under forefoot and heel. The heel strap should fit snug against the back of footwear.
If wearing the crampons in deep snow the alpine stoppers can be used to prevent the ratchet buckles from loosening. Snow can build up between the X-strap and ratchet buckles, lifting the buckle and loosening the crampon. The alpine stoppers are directional the end with the wider opening is labeled "in / lock". The end of the strap is inserted into this end. The stopper is then slid up the strap until it rest behind the buckle. To remove squeeze the plastic tabs on the sides of the stopper and slid down the strap.
To remove the crampons, with alpine stoppers removed pull up on the front tab of the ratchet buckle. Slid the straps out of the buckle and remove foot from crampon.
The crampons having pointy metal parts require proper care and transportation when not in use. After each use, clean with fresh water, dry with clean cloth and store is cool dry place. To prevent rust apply a thin coat of oil on the steel plates, hinges and spikes by wiping with a oil soaked cloth. The use of a sturdy bag is suggested to protect both the spikes and personal belongings when the crampons are not is use.
TRYING IT OUT
I adjusted the length of the crampons with my boot removed. I found it easier to manipulate the boot and the crampon to inspect proper fit. It took me three moves of the rear plate pin to achieve the correct length. Then with my boots on I attached the crampons while sitting. I did this on a bench outside on the crusty snow covered ground. The crampons are a breeze to put on. I lifted both toe and heel straps opening the binding and making positioning my foot easy. Then folding the straps onto my boot I feed the straps into the buckles and a few ratchet clicks had the crampons snugly on my feet.
The crampons dug into the snow with each step. While I noticed the bite into the snow with each step I did not feel any other mentionable difference. The length bar has a fair amount of flex to it allowing for a pretty natural stride.
Removing the crampons are even easier than putting them on. Just lifting the buckle and pulling the strap out does it. The straps fold down, the length bar slides into the front plate and placing spikes to spikes they are compact and easy to carry. My winter day pack has a few external attachment points and the crampons fit there securely. My winter overnight pack has external pocket for traction devices and the crampons fit with room to spare.
I think I am going to like the Trail Crampon Pro's. The level of traction and ease of use combine to make this a great winter hiking traction device. They seem to strike a great balance between aggressive and user friendly.
The Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro's are a smartly designed and well made winter traction device. They are aggressive without be intimidating to use. I like that they are adjustable and compatible with a variety of footwear. I think the tool-less adjustment is key here to easy and reliable use. I have only two concerns at this point. The wear and tear related to the movement between the front plate and length bar. And the possibility of loosing one or more of the alpine stoppers to a drop in the snow. As I write this we are experience an unwelcome thaw and freeze cycle. The silver lining here is the Trail Crampon Pro's are perfect for such conditions and I am eager to crunch some ice with them.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.
This concludes my Initial Report. Over the next two months I will gather experience in the field with the Trail Crampons Pro's. Please return then for my Field Report. I extend my appreciation to both Hillsound and BackpackGearTest.org for making this test series possible.
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