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Reviews > Snow Gear > Crampons > Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro > Test Report by joe schaffer

Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro

Test Report by Joe Schaffer

INITIAL REPORT - December 28, 2018
NAME: Joe Schaffer
EMAIL: never2muchstuff(at)yahoo(dot)com
AGE: 71
HOME:  Bay Area, California USA

     I enjoy California's central Sierras, camping every month with a goal to match my age in nights out each year. For comfort I lug tent, mattress, chair and such. Typical summer trips run 5-8 days; 40 lb (18 kg), about half food and water related; about 5 miles (8 km) per hiking day. I winter base camp most often at 6,000 to 7,000 ft (1,800 to 2,000 m); 2 to 3 nights; 50 lb (23 kg); a mile or so (1.6 km) on snowshoes. Sometimes I tug a sled over packed and/or icy terrain.

Product: Trail Cramponside Pro

Manufacturer:  Hillsound Equipment, Inc.
   Features (excerpted from mfr. website)
    X-shaped polycarbonate harness reduces pressure points found in many conventional crampons
    Anti-balling plates stop snow from balling under the device and affecting traction
    Utilizing simple ratchet buckle bindings, these crampons can be fastened to most footwear effortlessly
    Alpine stoppers (included with product) prevent buckles from loosening in deep snow
    NEW: Length adjustable with tool-less spring bar
    Light and compact to fit in your pack
    4 heel spikes give excellent traction on descents

Tech Specs:
    Spike Material: Heat-treated carbon steel
    Spike Height: 3/4" - 1″(2 cm-2.6 cm)
    Spike Number: 10
    Weight from diagram (pair):  23.5 oz (667 gm) Regular;  24.8 oz (704 gm) X-Large

Recommended for:
    Non-technical Approaches
    Glacier Walking
    Wet/Snowy/Icy Trail
    Ice Sheets
    Deep Snow

Limited warranty: 2 years

MSRP: $79 US
My Specs:  (Regular)
    Weight: L 12 1/4  oz (347 gm)
                 R 12 1/4 oz (349 gm)
                 Clips: 1/2 oz (13 gm)
    Pair: 24 1/2 oz (709 gm)

Received: December 27, 2018

My Description:
    These are moderate-use steel-frame universal crampons that work with almost any hiking footwear. The bindings flex a little but don't have much stretch. The binding straps are 5/8 in (16 mm) wide. The toe and heel harnesses are about 3/32 in (2 mm) thick. The adjusting straps on each side have a ratchet surface to interface with the buckles. The heel binding anchors in two places with rivets, leading up to the heel-cross strap which is riveted to the connectors. The connection from heel to the toe strap is the ratchet-strap, which runs from nearly the crossover at the toe box for 7 1/2 in (19 cm) on each side of the shoe, through the ratchet buckle. The toe harness is a single piece riveted to the frame on each side of the toe box and then crosses at the top of the toe box, where the 'X' is riveted to the ends of each ratchet strap of the harness. The ratchet strap slips through a ratchet buckle and then can be pulled to desired tension. Pulling up on the front end of the ratchet buckle releases the strap so it can be pulled out. A second lever in the back of the ratchet buckle also will swivel up by pulling on it, and to make that a bit easier there is a short cord pull. This is the ratcheting part of the mechanism. After slipping the ratchet binding through the buckle and ratcheting the strap to desired tension, the alpine stopper can then be slipped onto the strap and pushed up to 'lock' the buckle.
    The steel frame sports 10 sharp spikes. The frame is painted black; the stem stamped either left or right. Bright orange plastic anti-balling pads are riveted under the forefoot and heel; five rivets in front and four in the heel. These pads are concave (from the top) to allow clearance for the stem connecting the front and back parts of the crampon. The stem slides freely forward and back in the forefoot, with a stopper to prevent the stem from being extracted. At the heel end a row of a dozen holes in the stem allow fixed adjustment travel of about 3 1/2 in (90 cm) in increments of about 1/4 in (6 mm). The adjuster is a pin mounted to a spring-steel tab. Lifting up the tab far enough pulls the pin out of the stem hole and allows the stem to slide. In use, the tab cannot come up as the user is standing on it. For my size-9 hiking boot, the crampon extends to about 11 1/2 in (29 cm); and then will retract to about 8 1/2 in (22 cm) for packing.
       My first impression was that they are too small and I put them back in the box to return them. The front part of the crampon slides back and forth, and I errantly presumed that to be the adjustment. (Been a while since I've used crampons.) On second thought it occurred to me that the sizing couldn't be that far off, so a little bit of a look caused me to see that the heel end of the crampon also can be made to slide back and forth. Duh. Just like regular crampons. But perhaps a box-printed suggestion to see the video on the Hillsound website for folks who may not be familiar with crampons or who've forgotten how to use them. The clip appears at the bottom of the web page.
    Hillsound makes it abundantly clear these are not for rugged adventure. The product includes a small package of secondary locks (alpine stoppers) to add to the straps after installing the crampons. I shan't speculate nor offer an opinion that might prove wrong, but I can say at this point in the test that my level of skepticism can only be diminished. The product pic on the box does not show the stoppers in place; on the website it does. I'll be able to report on how well my cold arthritic fingers can manipulate the strap through the ratchet and then slip on the alpine stoppers, assuming I'm able to find them. The little note with the little pieces says they are to thwart snow build-up that might otherwise cause the buckle to release.
    The crampons aren't particularly light. They aren't particularly easy to put on, though I've never had any that are and kudos for the initiative to try something maybe easier for non-technical hiking. I see spikes serious enough to gain purchase on almost any slope, and I'll have to remember the admonition to avoid trying much angle if there's any consequence to the harness giving out.
    I might also add that my experience with plastic-type binding material is not altogether positive; being somewhat like me--it gets old, cold and breaks. I'm thinking my impression initially would be substantially positive were the binding nylon webbing and the buckle double-ring.
    The anti-balling pads look terrific. They are super-slick and provide good coverage with almost nothing for snow to grab.
    My take at this point is that the anti-balling pads and the steel frame are all carefully thought out and well designed.

Quick shots:

a) strong frame
    b) aggressive spikes
    c) slick anti-balling pads
Thank you Hillsound and for the opportunity to test these crampons. Field Report to follow in two months and Long Term Report in four months.

Read more reviews of Hillsound gear
Read more gear reviews by joe schaffer

Reviews > Snow Gear > Crampons > Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro > Test Report by joe schaffer

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