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May 16 2016

Review: 5-point ‘pons, Tech Crampon 250

 

Tech Crampon 250. Light. Small. Effective. Recommend a better safety strap though.

Tech Crampon 250. Light. Small. Effective. Recommend a better safety strap though.

Years ago the thought entered my head while kicking steps up a couloir that I really didn’t need a full set of crampons to boot up it, but some teeth at the toe would be nice. No doubt the same thought has entered your head if you’ve ever cramponed up a steep couloir. Alpinists would say not having a full set of points when climbing ice is not a good idea. That’s true, but I’m talking about skiable snow, which may be firm, and is advised to never be blue or glazed. For firm but skiable snow, most would agree a full set of points isn’t required, only a set of fangs up front. Which is exactly what the Tech Crampon 250s are, a pair of 5-point crampons at the toe.

For Ski Mountaineers only

In case that isn’t clear, the fact that these 5-point crampons attach to the tech inserts of ski boots pretty much requires they will only be used by those ‘poning for turns. They are clamped to a ski boot via the tech inserts, using a static tine on the left plus a threaded pin on the right side that you tighten by hand. To add extra tightening power, there’s a slot in the screw head where a simple penny would provide plenty of torque to get ‘em tight. Chances are you don’t have any change in your pockets in the backcountry so I recommend simply checking the tightness after a few steps. You’ll probably find the thumb screw could use another half a turn, hopefully less.

The Fiddle Factor

Tech Crampons work on AT and NTN boots.

Tech Crampons work on AT and NTN boots.

As with everything using Dynafit’s patented (but no longer protected) 2-pin tech system, your first inclination is to not believe those two pins are enough. For those new to the scene, there are well over a million skiers who can confidently state that the 2-pin system holds quite well, and a much smaller percentage who might add, “too well!”

With these 5-point crampons there is no safety release mechanism, so you need not worry about these letting go provided they are seated in the inserts and snugged up tight. On my recent trial climb I checked ‘em after about 250 vertical feet, only because I had just passed a thin zone of snow and was gripping the underlying gravel. If anything would cause ‘em to work loose, granite would do the trick; I checked and found each one allowed another half turn before feeling hand tight, which, based on results, was enough. The underlying granite made me glad these were solid steel, no worries about durability.

Small & Light

Of course, the weight of these crampons is, as expected, paltry compared to typical crampons, 250 grams per pair (9 oz.). And less than half the size, which means they take up less room in your pack. The best part though, is how much less effort you need to expend when climbing, especially at higher elevations, say two miles high in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. That’s when you want every advantage you can get to conserve energy and having pointy toes means you don’t have to kick twice to get a step you can rely on. Admittedly they don’t provide as much purchase when doing French technique, so they have limits on a traverse depending on snow texture, but they always work German style. At least for AT boots.

With NTN boots, there is a wider sole to add a bit more bite on a sidehill step so they work quite acceptably Frenchy-style, but the flexibility of the sole adds a limit to how steep one can front point in tele boots (as has always been the case). The fact that these 5-point ‘pons work for tele-mountaineers too is great news. However, be aware that on some boots you may need to grind a bit of the plastic behind the inserts so they don’t cause the pins to spread apart.

Set Up

Adjust the washers so the bumper contacts the front of the shell at the toe, and remove any excess rubber behind the inserts on NTN boots.

Adjust the washers so the bumper contacts the front of the shell at the toe, and remove any excess rubber behind the inserts on NTN boots.

To make these crampons usable in the field you need to do a bit of preparatory work adjusting the fit. This is done by adjusting the position of a bumper that rests against the toe of the shell by adding washers. With the right number of washers, the crampon should fit securely over the toe with a minimal amount of movement around the axis of the pins. Once adjusted, they’re good for your boots and few others.

On a practical note, mark the location of the insert cones on the top lip of your boot toe so you can get the crampon pins lined up more reliably on the inserts, not the plastic. Miss the cone and you’ll be drilling a hole in the surrounding plastic.

Consequences

Carrying the 5-point crampons will have consequences. Expect to expose your ski pants to fangs more often, so you might want to reinforce those cheap faux ankle patches. More importantly, practice your pedal hop turn because with these tools at-the-ready you may be tempted to nab a few more 50-degree couloirs than you did before.

As with all fanged foot devices, follow the rules. Just one. Don’t fall. The results may not be pretty.

Tech Crampon 250

MSRP: $120
Weight/pair: 250g • 9 oz. • ½+ lb.

© 2016
 

  • Alex

    I got my partner a pair of them and she loves them. No problem with French technique in most hard snow conditions and then front pointing was obviously nice and easy. They fit quite nicely between a set of ski crampons also.