Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra

Reviews

3

The Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultras are a really well…

Rating: rated 4.5 of 5 stars
Source: bought via a "pro deal"
Price Paid: $35

Summary

The Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultras are a really well made product that performs well on icy trails. These type of trail crampons really enable you to enjoy hiking whenever your favorite trails are icy and are really great to have and share with a friend to give them a little greater confidence in following you out on an icy springtime hike.

Pros

  • Good design
  • Easy and quick to put on and take off
  • Each size can be used on a wide size range of boots and shoes

Cons

  • Unsure of the durability of the rubber element of the design

I have had a pair of these Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultras and also a pair of the Hillsound FreeSteps6 and found them a great addition to my pack and have really enjoyed using them while hiking when trail conditions can be challenging.

My medium pair of Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultras weigh 15.9 ounces with the storage bag included and 14.8 ounces without.

IMG_3848.jpgThe storage bag is made from a heavy weight nylon that the crampon points will not poke through when the bag with the crampons are stored in your pack. The storage bag also has a little bit of helpful information in that Hillsound has printed several International Rescue Signs on the outside of the bag in case you ever run into a situation where they might be needed.

IMG_3849.jpg
The crampons themselves are composed of six plates that each have three points that are about 5/8 of an inch high to provide traction. The plates are all held together with sections of chain that are then attached to a large rubber band that is what is used to hold the crampon to the boot. The plates and chain are all made from stainless steel and in the year that I have had my pair I have always let them dry out after a hike before I pack them away and have not seen any signs of rust or corrosion.

Each crampon also has a simple velcro strap that is used to further secure the crampon to your boot and to help prevent the crampon from rolling off your boot when crossing a side slope, which can be an issue with these types of crampon designs when they are used beyond being a simple traction aid on the trail.

Here is a bottom view of an individual crampon showing how everything is assembled.

IMG_3851.jpgHere is a top view showing the rubber element.
IMG_3852.jpg
If there is a weakness of this style of crampon design I think it would be with the longevity/durability of the rubber element. The rubber used is very stretchy (or has significant elongation for you engineering types...) which is a critical element of the design as it is what allows the crampon to be installed on several sizes of boots and is also what holds the crampon on during use.

Being so soft and stretchy it seems as if the rubber might be susceptible to various chemicals, so I make it a point to try and avoid exposing the rubber to anything questionable (gas, solvents, etc.). I also try and avoid situations where the rubber element could be cut or nicked in use, so if I were to come to a long scree slope with minimal icy conditions I would most likely remove my crampons.

There is a front and back to the crampon and the toe area has a "front" label molded into the rubber.

IMG_3854.jpg
The size of the crampon is molded in the rubber at the heel end.


IMG_3855.jpg
This is how the medium Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultras fit on my men's size 10 Raichle boots. The mediums easily fit on my boots and I have loaned them to a friend who was able to install them on his size 13 boots, which were also Raichles.

IMG_3857.jpgHere is a view of the bottom.

IMG_3863.jpgHere is a view of the toe area which shows a wire feature between the two chains in the toe area that help prevent these chains from spreading as you go downhill or kick into a slope and is an important feature to have on any crampon of this design.
IMG_3859.jpgHere is a detail of the heel area.
IMG_3860.jpgHere is a closeup of how the velcro strap goes over the foot and simply loops around the rubber element.
IMG_3864.jpg

Overall these are a great trail crampon and really enable you to enjoy a hike on an icy trail. I have also used these while helping to do some trail clearing work where we were climbing on a lot of wet mossy logs on a steeper slope and the Hillsounds really helped out.

I also can't emphasize how helpful a crampon like this is for someone who doesn't have a lot of experience hiking in mixed conditions where it could be icy and it really can help make their experience all that more enjoyable.

I've also been doing search and rescue work in our area for a number of years and we carry extra pairs of Hillsounds in all our trucks. Each year we have a number of missions involving helping people who head out on what is a slushy hike on a sunny afternoon, but late in the day when the sun goes down and everything turns icy, they find themselves stuck and unable to proceed. Being able to slip a pair of these crampons on our subjects makes it a lot easier trip helping them back out after we reach them. 

Again, overall I really think the Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultras are a great trail crampon and I wouldn't hesitate recommending them to anyone looking for a trail crampon.

G00SE MODERATOR

Solid review, Mike. Our winter was so mild this year that I never broke out my snow boots or my running cleats!


2 months ago
Alicia TRAILSPACE STAFF

Nice review, Mike! Those look like solid crampons. I haven't used Hillsound personally, but they seem to make quality crampons/traction.


2 months ago
Mike Mineart

Thanks Goose and Alicia, and Goose our winter out here was the exact opposite as we still have a snow pack well in excess of what we would normally have for this time of year.


2 months ago
LoneStranger

Mike do you know what makes them Ultra? I'm curious how these differ from the HTCs that aren't Ultra. Is it the bag, the size of the spikes, or what?


2 months ago
Alicia TRAILSPACE STAFF

The models go: Crampon, Crampon Ultra, Crampon Pro. There are differences in the number and placements of spikes (11 vs 18), plus the Ultra has stainles steel spikes, is lighter weight, and is suited for trail running. Among other things, the Pro also has anti-balling plates.


2 months ago
LoneStranger

Thanks Alicia! Now that I knew what to look for I counted the spikes and found more in Mike's pic than on my pair and noted the difference in the metal. So glad to hear it was more than just the bag :)


2 months ago
Mike Mineart

Another difference between the Crampon Ultra (along with the Freestep6) and the Crampon model is that the plates with the spikes are smaller on the Ultra and I think they may pack a little easier in your pack (especially with the nifty bag that is included) then the larger plates on the Crampon model. I think the Crampon model probably provides better traction on harder ice because of the larger plates, especially if you are wearing a boot with a more ridged sole.


2 months ago
Alicia TRAILSPACE STAFF

Thanks, Mike! LoneStranger, I'm glad there's more offered than just the bag!


2 months ago
0

Crampons grip great on ice covered trails, especially…

Rating: rated 4 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $60

Summary

Crampons grip great on ice covered trails, especially the steeper sections. The Velcro keeper strap is a plus for keeping the crampon on the foot.

Pros

  • Great grip on ice, especially the steeper sections
  • Bag for storage

Cons

  • None so far

Crampons grip great on ice covered trails, especially the steeper sections. The Velcro keeper strap is a plus for keeping the crampon on the foot. The rubber portion grips the boot as expected.

Materials seem to be well situated for the expected abuse.

Second season of use, so do not know how long the crampons will stay sharp.

Alicia TRAILSPACE STAFF

Welcome to Trailspace, Tim. Thanks for your sharing your first review. What kind of trails do you you use these crampons on?


1 year ago
0

This product is best for trail runners who need more…

Rating: rated 3.5 of 5 stars
Source: received it as a sample, freebie, or prize (Hillsound)

Summary

This product is best for trail runners who need more traction to get them through runs where they may encounter snow, ice, mud, or all of the above. It could also be used for persons looking for a lightweight hiking crampon.

Pros

  • Easy to take on and off
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Toe bar tends to move around
  • Velcro strap doesn't stay put

I have used these in quite a few runs as of late in everything from ice, snow, and even a bit of mud in some places and have not been disappointed. They are super easy to put on and take off if the conditions are variable. I use them primarily for trail running and found that sometimes I did not require so much traction so I would remove them and put them in the handy carrying bag and stuff them in my pack.

The only complaint I have is the Velcro strap moves around a little bit. Where it loops under the rubber tends to cause the rubber to turn on it's side rather than lay flat. I also have had a problem with the toe bar riding up over the top of my foot rather than stay around the front of my toe.

As for the spike plates on the bottom...Excellent. They are super durable and grip well to various types of terrain.

(DISCLOSURE: The manufacturer offered free product in exchange for sharing this review.)

0

They are awesome, much better than the other options…

Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $69.99 less 20% discount

Summary

They are awesome, much better than the other options out there. I use them for hiking up steep mountain-packed trails in winter and shoulder season hikes when there might be ice. Definitely recommend.

Pros

  • Holds very well to the boot.
  • Longer spikes and and velcro adds extra insurance

Cons

  • None, they are awesome, my favorite piece of fall/winter gear

The Hillsound Crampon Ultras are a real step-up from the competitor's brand. The spikes are more grippy, the material used to stretch around the boot is superior, and the Velcro strap will ensure no more lost Microspikes! It does happen in certain conditions (learned the hard way). Love the product.

0

Excellent traction in various conditions — I use…

Rating: rated 4.5 of 5 stars
Source: received it as a sample, freebie, or prize (Hillsound)

Summary

Excellent traction in various conditions — I use them for winter hiking, but have to think they'd be great for trail running, walking, etc. Spike height is tall enough to bite well in snow or ice, but not so tall that you feel unstable on rock faces. My one complaint is that they'll snowball on you in milder temps with wet snow (like many other traction devices). But if the temps are cold, they're awesome.

Pros

  • Great traction, especially on crusty snow and ice
  • Good, secure fit with velcro strap

Cons

  • Snowballing in wet snow
  • Spikes aren't huge, so traction in deeper snow isn't great

I've taken these on a couple winter night hikes, and have been very happy with their performance so far. They grip your boot firmly and the velcro strap acting like a safety measure to make sure they stay put, even if you posthole into some deeper snow. (Only attach it loosely, though, because it'll pull the rubber out of shape if you crank it down. But it doesn't need to be tight to do its job.) You can put both on in about 10 seconds and be on your way.

Zero issues on frozen, snow-covered terrain. Hiked up/crossed frozen streams easily. Tons of traction, and hardly noticeable on your feet. Performance was best in colder weather, but in milder temps with wet snow, my spikes did start to snowball a bit. Just a matter of knocking your boot against a tree trunk/stump/rock periodically to free them up, but still an inconvenience.

Other traction devices have the same problem, so that's not really a ding against the Hillsounds. But Hillsound's less expensive Freesteps have little silicone pads to help prevent that from happening, so it would have been nice to see something similar on these.

Overall, these have performed great. They seem very well made, with durable rubber and stainless steel chain/spikes. They come with a storage pouch, too, which makes carrying/packing them a piece of cake without worrying that a spike might tear up your backpack. Recommended.

(DISCLOSURE: The manufacturer offered free product in exchange for sharing this review.)

0

This crampon is aimed more towards the trail runner.

Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $63.94

Summary

This crampon is aimed more towards the trail runner. I primarily bought them for that reason, but I haven't had the chance (weather) to use them for running yet. I used them on a recent hike in the White Mountains of N.H. and they were perfect. Not only were they great for hiking, but even when I thought I could take them off I kept them on since they worked so well.

Pros

  • More spikes to spread out the load
  • Very durable steel
  • Hold up despite abuse on rocks

Cons

  • The velcro strap seems like it's not needed really
  • Slide off the front of the toe if the shoe's upper is loose

They have slightly shorter spikes than the Hillsound Trail Crampon. My friend had that pair and while they worked well for him hiking I think that the Crampon Ultra will be a much more well rounded pair of crampons that I can use running as well as hiking. I like that they have smaller more spread out spike plates and like that there are more points to spread the load out.

They are quite easy to put on and I like the addition of the little bag they come with since they could have potentially poked holes in my backpack. I think that the addition of the velcro strap was extraneous, but it does put the brand name out there.

They are very well made. Being an engineer I love that they put the tensile strength and Rockwell C hardness on the specs. The spikes I'm told are 1.5cm long while the trail crampons are 2cm long. They seemed shorter than that though. I thought they would slip around and be like skating when used on just rocks, but they allow just enough rubber to get through that your shoes won't slip when you aren't actually on ice or snow.

We just went for a 9.5 mile hike, but they were indispensable considering the conditions. My friend was having a really hard time slipping around even after we got to a bit less ice so he slipped them on and was quite amazed at the traction they gave! The steel seems barely scratched despite the many rocks I was grinding them into.

I went back and forth between buying these and buying the updated Kahtoolas, but I'm very glad I picked these in the end. Thanks, Hillsound!!

Aaron

DISCLAIMER: I forgot to mention that because I reviewed this product, Hillsound is sending me a free set. 

UPDATE 1/12/14: 

After using the crampons for running with my Altra Lone Peak trail shoes I have to say that they will not work very well if your shoes have a bit of a loose toe. The Lone Peaks are designed to have a wide toe box for more "natural running", but I found that because of this feature the crampons would slide off the front of the shoe to the outside. They were still usable but it was annoying. This didn't happen with a regular running trail shoe. I'm curious if the Lone Peak 1.5 has issues like this.

Also, I had quite a bit of ice buildup later on during the run, but the snow / ice was a bit slushy at times.

Overall I still really love these crampons. They just have certain conditions where they work well and other conditions where they aren't necessary.

2013-12-21-16-11-45.jpg

0

Handy product to carry in your pack any time there…

Rating: rated 4.5 of 5 stars
Source: tested or reviewed it for the manufacturer (Kept it and use it)

Summary

Handy product to carry in your pack any time there might be snow — compact, easy to put on/off, not heavy.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to put on
  • Nice carrying case

Cons

  • None so far

Used my new Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultras while hiking the Lower Hollyburn Loop last week. They were easy to put on — didn't have to take my pack off.  Once they were on I forgot all about them — didn't feel any difference. 

Great traction on the packed down crusty snow. I was the only one who didn't slip going down the gills. And when we dropped to lower elevation, I barely broke stride to remove them.

I got them because there were many times last winter when I was snowshoeing that I found the snowshoes just didn't work — trail was too packed down. I think these are going to fit the bill and can't wait to try them again. I'll definitely carry these in my pack whenever we head up the mountains.  Great product!

(DISCLOSURE: The reviewer received free product from the manufacturer in exchange for sharing this review.)

0

Absolutely perfect traction in these. They're really…

Rating: rated 4.5 of 5 stars
Source: The reviewer received free product from the manufacturer in exchange for sharing this review

Summary

Absolutely perfect traction in these. They're really easy to put on and take off, and you barely know they're on, except for the extra grip they give.

Make sure to try them on as they fit perfectly on my trail running shoes, but weren't ideal on my hiking boots. Tightening the velcro strap causes the rubber to roll up slightly, though this isn't a huge problem.

I'd recommend these to all my friends, despite the latter two points above!

Pros

  • Super grippy
  • Easy to get on and off
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Toe-bar sat a little funny on my hiking boots
  • Velcro strap causes side to roll up

I have used these on a couple of hikes in the snow and ice up Hollyburn Mountain in North Vancouver. I was able to put them on with only one hand, which is a bonus! Once they were on I hardly noticed them.

As I said above, they were fantastic with my trail running shoes since they didn't slip around at all, but they did slide slightly on my hiking boots. It seemed that the toe-bar didn't fit my hiking boots as well as it did the running shoes. That being said, they still functioned well!

I can see myself using these for winter and spring running in the mountains a lot!

These crampons seem really well made in terms of materials. Everything feels thick and heavy duty, but light at the same time. The only other issue has to do with the velcro strap, I noticed that the velcro can cause the rubber to roll up a little when you cinch it tight. Since it's not really required this isn't such a big deal.

Try on a pair of these and take them for a test hike, you'll love them!!

(DISCLOSURE: The reviewer received free product from the manufacturer in exchange for sharing this review.)

0

The 18 spikes give excellent traction and the large…

Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
Source: received it as a sample, freebie, or prize (Alpine Start store / Hillsound)

Summary

The 18 spikes give excellent traction and the large back tab is very useful. Overall a great snow and ice traction device for icy trails and moderate icy snow fields.

Pros

  • Excellent fit
  • Great traction
  • Perfect stuff sack

Cons

  • None

I used the Trail Crampon Ultras Nov. 26 on the Black Mountain Trail to Eagle Bluff and the following day near the first lookout on the Elk-Thurston trail.

They slipped onto my boots easily. My partner's traction device had 8 spikes while these crampons have 18; the difference was noticeable. The traction was significantly better.

The velcro straps could be useful, however I like the fact that the straps can be removed.

On the North Shore this device is essential during the winter and spring.

0

These crampons have insane traction and are super…

Rating: rated 4 of 5 stars
Source: received it as a sample, freebie, or prize (won as draw prize at Phantom Trail Race)

Summary

These crampons have insane traction and are super light for hiking and running in the snow. I had a couple problems with the toe-bar, but was able to fix that.

Pros

  • Unbelievable traction
  • Super light

Cons

  • Fit wasn't right on my Altra shoes (big deal, but fixed)
  • Side rubber rolled when tightened (not a big deal)

I'll only list a few of the highlights of my experience with these as I wrote an in-depth gear review on my blog when I got them (see below for a link).

The traction and grip with these is outstanding. I used them in snow and on ice and they didn't slip once!

The spikes and chains feel very sturdy and the upper rubber is nice and thick, not flimsy.

Despite the two points above, they feel extremely light and barely noticeable when you're wearing them.

I did have a couple of issues with the fit of them since the shoes I was wearing them with are anatomically shaped. That is to say that they aren't pointy in the front. This caused the crampons to slide around somewhat. I was able to fix that by making a small modification to them (see the second link).  For a comparison, my partner has a more pointy pair of shoes that she used her crampons on, and they stayed put, no sliding around.

The other qualm I have with these, though it's not very important, is that the upper rubber rolls up slightly when tightening the velcro strap. This really isn't a problem, but I figured it could have been resolved by adding a small eyelet through the middle of the rubber portion.

For a detailed review check out:

traileffect.com/2013/11/hillsound-trail-crampon-ultra-gear.html

and for a follow-up post:

traileffect.com/2013/12/modification-to-my-hillsound-trail.html

Hopefully I didn't scare anyone off of these. They really are great and I plan to use them A LOT this winter!

0

Light, easy to use trail crampons. Slip on easily…

Rating: rated 4.5 of 5 stars
Source: received it as a sample, freebie, or prize (A promotional prize from the manufacturer)

Summary

Light, easy to use trail crampons. Slip on easily over hiking boots, and are perfect for winter hiking or trail running.

Pros

  • Light
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Good traction

Cons

  • None yet

I used the Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra, which I received through a promotional offer, when I hit snow at the end of a long uphill hike. They were easy to put on and performed as promised, making those last steps faster and easier. They were light and flexible enough that I barely noticed that I was wearing them when running to celebrate the end of the hike.

I held back from the full five stars because I have not used them enough to know how they perform under more extreme conditions or over time, and because the instructions mention there is a chance of rust, but again I can't know yet if that will be an issue.

Also I am not in love with the look of the velcro strap, though it does its job well. 

0

Lightweight, stay on, good traction — I love them!

Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
Price Paid: 80

Summary

Lightweight, stay on, good traction — I love them!

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Traction
  • Easy on and off

Cons

  • None yet

Great crampons for winter hiking where it is icy. Easy to use and lightweight.

0

These are great and have earned a permanent spot in…

Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
Source: received it as a personal gift (kept it and use it)

Summary

These are great and have earned a permanent spot in my backpack!

Pros

  • Easy to put on
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • None so far

Winter is here! At least in Garibaldi Park. Used my brand new Trail Crampon Ultras on a trek up to Elfin Lake this past weekend. They were great — so easy to put on and no adjustments needed. No slipping or sliding and I hardly noticed I had them on. 

Used them again on a hike up Black Mountain on December 14 — not a lot of snow but very slick ‚ crampons worked extremely well — no slipping and no problems when the snow was thin and I hit rocks - nice.

Need to make sure that you dry them after using so they don't rust.

Thinking this would make a great Christmas present!

While I received a pair of gaiters from the manufacturer for writing this review, I would have received them whether the review was favorable or not. 

(DISCLOSURE: The reviewer received free product from the manufacturer in exchange for sharing this review.)

0

The crampons slip on to my hiking boots without any…

Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
Source: tested or reviewed it for the manufacturer (Kept it)

Summary

The crampons slip on to my hiking boots without any problems. There is a velcro strap with keeps them attached to the boots, even while running downhill. And I was able to stand on ice covered rocks with confidence. They work excellent !!!

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Stayed on - never fell off
  • Excellent traction never slid

Cons

  • None!

I used the TRAIL CRAMPON ULTRAS to assist me up one of the 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks, New York. Even though it was 15 below zero and there was a 2,000 foot elevation gain, the crampons made my climb easy !!!!

(DISCLOSURE: The reviewer received free product from the manufacturer in exchange for sharing this review.)

0

My FAVORITE crampons! I wear these crampons several…

The author of this review is a Hillsound Ambassador.

Source: tested or reviewed it for the manufacturer (Keep it!)

Summary

My FAVORITE crampons!

Pros

  • Super sturdy!
  • Super lightweight!
  • Easy to put on and take off!

Cons

  • NONE

I wear these crampons several times a week for winter hiking and trail running. They are AMAZING. Very lightweight for trail running, yet sturdy enough for any type of terrain!

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