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Reviews > Snow Gear > Crampons > Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro > Test Report by Richard Lyon

HILLSOUND TRAIL CRAMPON PRO
Test Series by Richard Lyon
Hillsound 1

Initial Report January 1, 2019
Field Report expected early March 2019
Long Term expected early May 2019

PERSONAL DETAILS and BACKPACKING BACKGROUND

Male, 72 years old
Height: 6' 4" (1.93 m)
Weight: 210 lb (93 kg)
Email address: Montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Outside Bozeman, Montana USA, in the Bridger Mountains
Shoe size: 13 US / 47 EUR

I've been backpacking for nearly half a century, most often in the Rockies. I do at least one weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips.  I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 10000 ft (1500 - 3000 m).  I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp.  Though always looking for ways to reduce my pack weight, I still tend to include my favorite camp conveniences. I always sleep in a floored tent and like hot meals. Winter activities are often on skis or snowshoes.

INITIAL REPORT - January 1, 2019

THE PRODUCT

The name says it all. The Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro is a set of cleats "designed for hiking," as the manufacturer states in the first sentence of the User Manual that accompanies the product. The next sentence is equally direct and clear - "These are not mountaineering crampons and are not made for technical climbing."

Hillsound 2Manufacturer: Hillsound Equipment, Inc., Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Website: hillsound.com
Product: Trail Crampon Pro
Related products: Hillsound offers four other models of non-technical hiking crampons.
Size: XL [for boot sizes 12-15 US/46-50 EUR]; also available in Regular
Weight, listed: 704 g / 24.8 oz per pair
Weight, measured: 25.2 oz / 714 g, without Alpine Stoppers
Number of spikes: Ten, six on the forefoot and four on the heel.
Spike height, listed and measured: 2 to 2.6 cm / 0.75 to 1 in
Spike material: Heat-treated carbon steel
Warranty: Two years from date of purchase, to the original buyer, for defects in workmanship or material; wear and tear are excluded. Hillsound recommends repair and warranty service through the retailer from which the product was purchased.
MSRP: $79 US
Includes: Two crampons, left- and right-specific; four Alpine Stoppers [see below]; Users Manual with information in English and French

Each crampon has two steel plates and each plate has an anti-balling plate [orange] riveted on its underside. As more fully described below each crampon has two adjustment mechanisms: a steel lever on the rear plate to adjust overall length, and a ratchet on the strap buckles to adjust for height and girth of different footwear. The connecting bar has "Left" or "Right" engraved on it.

The spikes are held in place by an X-shaped polycarbonate harness that sits atop the boot. A rivet at the axis of the X allows some flexibility. This design is new to me. My other cleats have either fabric hook-and-loop straps that cross the front and top of the boot or a rubber or metal connector that runs from front to back along the boot's sides. Hillsound asserts that the Crampons' design reduces pressure points.

TRYING THEM ON

I tried the Crampons on four pairs of boots: OBOZ Bridger 8" Insulated [tested on this site]; another 8" OBOZ model, probably Wind River; OBOZ Bridger Low; and Sorel apres-ski boots. After adjustment the Crampons fit the first three easily but could not be extended long enough to fit the Sorels. This was expected; Sorels are bulky boots not intended [and not used by this writer] for extended hiking.

Adjusting the length is easy. I simply raised the lever on the heel piece and inserted the mold into the penultimate forward slot for the over-the-ankle boots, and the antepenultimate slot for the low-cuts.

Fitting to specific boots is also easy. After setting the proper length I place the boot's toe between the two toe straps, aiming for a flush fit with the attachment point of the straps at the middle of the boot, just under the bottom of the laces. Fit the heel into its place, then run the ridged straps through the ratchet buckles on each side, tightening each so that there's no movement of the Crampon.

I heartily endorse Hillsound's understated suggestion that it's much easier to complete this operation while seated. I'll add another one, to attach the Crampons before donning one's boots.

The right-hand Crampon on the Wind River boot, on the right below, has the Alpine Stoppers attached. These are also easy to install by pressing in on the small nubs on each side of the Stopper and moving the Stopper as far as it will go, up against the Crampon buckle. Hillsound recommends using these pieces whenever snow deeper than five inches [12.5 cm] is expected. They are designed to eliminate movement of the ratchet caused by pressure from the snow.

Hillsound 3 All adjustment and installation instructions are laid out in non-technical, easy-to-understand English [or French, if you prefer] in the User Guide and the small instruction sheet that accompanies the Stoppers. I found the entire operation intuitive as well.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

To begin with the most obvious, these are stout cleats, with each spike considerably longer than those on many other traction aids that I own or have owned. The toe spikes, set diagonally on the front of each Crampon, are a first for me outside of the few times that I have donned true mountaineering crampons. I plan to concentrate testing on steeper and deeper terrain, as much off-trail as possible.

I like Hillsound's use of polycarbonate rather than chainlink metal for the straps. I've had considerable trouble with linked spikes' breaking from use, which thanks to Murphy's Law has usually happened at very inopportune times and places.

The Stoppers seem to me to be well-intended, as I have encountered slippage of ratchet-controlled straps on various products.  Use of plastic worries me a bit as it can turn brittle in colder temperatures. But Hillsound claims that the Stoppers [and the rest of the product] have been tested successfully down to -50 C [-58 F], a range that I consider devoutly to be avoided. 

MAIDEN VOYAGE

The Bridger Range, where I live, had a decent blizzard a few days ago, leaving about eight inches [20 cm] of fresh snow. With the Crampons on my Insulated OBOZ Bridgers I took a thirty-minute hike through the draw behind my house this morning. Sunny, windless, and a brisk 4 F [-15 C]. Good, firm grip throughout; I had no need of ski poles even on the steepest inclines. A very promising start.

INITIAL LIKES

Simple yet functional design and very easy to adjust, put on, or take off.

Big-time spikes.

INITIAL CONCERNS

Use of plastic in the Alpine Stoppers

I'm afraid I'll misplace the Stoppers. They are small and must be removed each time I take off the boots.

DISLIKE

The second of my Concerns would be ameliorated had Hillsound included a storage pouch, which of course would also be useful in keeping the spikes back-to-back when in my pack. I plan to purchase one [MSRP $10 US] as soon as possible.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

My Initial Report ends here. Check back in two months' time for my Field Report, won't you? My thanks to Hillsound and BackpackGearTest.org for this testing opportunity.












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Reviews > Snow Gear > Crampons > Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro > Test Report by Richard Lyon



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