Open main menu

Hillsound Trail Crampon

rated 5.0 of 5 stars
photo: Hillsound Trail Crampon traction device

Nothing nano about these spikes. When the trail turns to ice and you need traction that will stick to it, the Hillsound Trail Crampon delivers. Flexible enough to fit a variety of footwear yet securely attached for serious terrain.


  • Long points on the cleats
  • Easy on and off
  • Sturdy hardware
  • Flexibly fits to different size footwear


  • No carry sack included

The Hillsound Trail Crampon combines great traction with a harness that is easy to use and functions well. This is a testament to their design, which clearly took into account the issues less well thought out crampons can bring.

Snug secure fit even on less bulky boots.

Ease of Use:

Anyone who hikes in real winter conditions knows that moment when you feel the trail start to get icy and the question of whether it is worth the effort of stopping to put on the traction device you're carrying. For me, the Hillsound Trail Crampons have made that question much easier because they require so little effort to get into and out of.

The flexible rubber harness is simple to stretch over the toes with the rear needing a little more effort to stretch over the heel. Once on the feet a single, velcro strap provides a little extra security and lets you take up a little slack in the chains across the bottom. The entire process can be completed in a couple of minutes so there is no reason to hesitate to put them on at the first sign of ice.


Meant to take abuse, the cleats and chains are made of steel. You can see after two seasons use that some paint has come off, but the hardware below is fine.

Crampons are about two things; Sticking to the trail and sticking to your feet. The Hillsound Trail Crampon takes both of those seriously. With an articulated front cleat and a total of 11 spikes located in the spots that matter most these crampons stick well to even the hardest ice.

Closeup of the articulated front cleat that will bend much more than any boot or foot.

The free movement of the articulated front cleat allows a natural stride and continuous contact with the ground even as your boot flexes. This really seemed to help when climbing and on days that required using the crampons all day long.

This sturdy strap with velcro attachment wasn't necessary, yet really added to the fit and security.

On even my smallest profiled boots the rubber harness on the upper portion of the Hillsound Trail Crampons seemed to hold them in place pretty well. Hillsound could have left the strap off the top and still had a pretty decently fitting product. I give them credit for adding this feature because it really does make a good product even better.

While perhaps giving an additional sense of security, the bigger benefit was how tightening this strap let me snug up the chains under my boot. This kept the cleat plates in their optimal position on every step rather than moving around under my feet. It also reduced the sound of rattling chains which can be a bit annoying after a few hours.

There are 11 of these 1.5cm/.67" spikes centered around cleats under the heel and ball of the foot.

Construction and Durability:

Hillsound used heat treated carbon steel for their cleats which means that although ice and rocks might chip off some of the paint on the spikes, they won't bend or break easily. The stainless steel chains show no signs of wear at all with no bent or disfigured links.

Flexible fitting upper worked with my largest and smallest profile boots.

The rubber upper harness stayed flexible even in sub zero temperatures. Despite stretching enough to fit my oversized Baffin Impacts they rebounded to fit tight on much smaller boots. After two seasons of use the rubber appears as new with no stretching, cracking or other signs of wear.


Winter camping at its best in the Pemigewasset.

Weight: 448g/15.8oz (XS), 460g/16.2oz (S), 480g/16.9oz (M), 500g/17.6oz (L), 526g/18.5oz (XL)

Testing Conditions:

The Hillsound Trail Crampons were tested over two winter seasons on day hikes and backpacking trips here in Maine and in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with a variety of boots.

Me and the crampons smiling for the camera though the crampons are showing more teeth.


Comparing them to Kahtoola MICROspikes they weigh a few ounces more, but the Kahtoolas have shorter spikes and lack the tensioning strap the Hillsounds have. The Kahtoolas also employ stainless steel cleats as opposed to the heat treated carbon steel of the Hillsounds.

After two seasons of use I am totally comfortable recommending the Hillsound Trail Crampon to just about anyone who is looking for trail traction. They are probably more than you need for making it down the sidewalk, but if you hike or backpack in places that see real ice these spikes provide real traction. They appear as though they will last a very long time which is great, because I intend to use them.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $59.95

A great crampon that stretches over my mega sized Minnesota boots. Sticks, bites, gouges, and doesn't slip off the boot.


  • 4 spike heel
  • Jointed front spike plate
  • Stretches wide and far
  • Doesn't slip off the boot


  • You sometimes slide on angled surfaces.


I use a really big boot to keep my feet warm. Hillsound XL crampons fit over them!

The Hillsound elastomor blend finds a great balance between stretch and durability. On other crampons I've used, the fit is too tight and compresses the insulation to your foot therefore greatly reducing its effectiveness. Hillsounds hug but don't constrict as much as others.

Front spike plate (jointed)

Rear spike plate

They have a good sized spike that bites well. Since they are carbon steel, they look like they are rusting after 1st use. (I just found out that the spikes are carbon steel). Carbon steel immediately oxidizes with any moisture but it doesn't mean it's turning into a rust bucket so don't worry if you see what looks like rust after first use.  The front and midsole chains are welded stainless. There are 7 spikes on the front jointed plate and 4 in the back. My brother was using Microspikes on our last trip and we both noticed that he was slipping more than me. The Microspikes' teeth are a bit smaller. 

The chain eyelets are reinforced rubber and have done well over 2 years of harsh winter use on rugged terrain.

The tops of the spike plates have a few dull teeth that tilt slightly up to keep any sliding from happening.

Because the teeth are only on the bottom and face down, you will get some slipping on angled surfaces when you naturally try to decrease surface area and bite into the ice with the edge of your boot. There's nothing at the edges to help you. 

Back of crampons with small abrasion at top

From my experience, most crampons come off at the heel. The Hillsounds fit snug and don't pull off. I used to use a boot with a heavy lip to keep the crampons on but I switched to a boot without the rubber lip. They just have a rough back with a small convex rubber detail line around the back and the crampons have never slipped. 

Because I hike over jagged basalt in the winter, you can see from the picture that even tough rubber gets cut. I can't avoid that so I'm not holding it against the crampons. 

I've been pretty impressed with the product and have felt that they've served me well. 

Source: received it as a personal gift

Great for winter and icy hiking conditions.


  • Good traction
  • Easy on/off
  • Strap to help secure them to your boots


  • Adjusting on accents/long hikes

These trail crampons have great traction. I put them on when I get on the trail and leave them on until I get back from my hike. I have passed many people either without crampons or basic Yaktraxs on in icy conditions and it was night and day, many of these people trying to "ice skate" up and down the trail using trees or anything else they could get their hands on (including myself) so they would not slip and fall.

I was one of those hikers until I had a terrible hike just outside of Boulder. The conditions were typical for the time according to the ranger, snow on the hillsides and ice on sun exposed areas. I fell a few times trying to make it up the trail, thankfully no hospital trips, but it took me 2-3 hours to cover barely 3 miles. After purchasing these crampons I hiked the same trail, made it much further, 10 miles in about 4 - 4 1/2 hours and not one fall.

They work great on ice and mud. I have a few friends who take them off on rocky stretches without ice, but I leave mine on and have had no issues hiking or with the durability of the spikes. The rubber eyelets that secure the crampon to your boots are the weak point of the design, but after several uses they seem to be holding up without any issue.

I spent some time talking to a local ranger out on the trail about trail crampons and he had the same pair as I did and said he is out multiple times a week on them and they last him about 4 seasons. That gave me some confidence in my pair for the long run.

On long hikes (10 miles or longer) I have had to adjust them throughout the hike. Also when I have gone up steep accents I have had to adjust them. Without the crampons I would have not been able to make it to the steep accents or 10 miles out, so even though having to adjust them is a con I wouldn't be out on the trail without them.

One of the features I like about these is the Velcro strap. This helps secure them to your boots so you won't completely lose them. I walked across a wooden bridge with them and the spikes are sharp enough that they dug into the wood and my feet felt like they were "stuck" to the bridge. The strap helped hold the crampon to my boot, not that retrieving it would have been difficult, but you get my point. I did have to adjust them once I got to the other side because they were halfway coming off.

I paid 60 dollars for mine and that does seem a little expensive for some trail "spikes," but from the amount of people I have seen fall this season alone, including myself, the 60 bucks is way cheaper than a hospital visit for a broken arm, so they are worth every penny. They also allow me to cover more ground since I am not slipping and sliding everywhere.

I will be buying another pair when I wear these out.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $60

Didn't know how much I need them until I took them off.


  • Easy on/off
  • great traction

A late winter training on an icy trail without traction convinced me that I need something more than Yaktrax.  

I bought a pair for my son and myself for an April hike in the Whites. The trails were a mix of ice and snow so we put these crampon on as soon as we hit the trail. We spent two days hiking and I just assumed that because we never had any traction issues that the trail wasn't as slippery as it looked.

When we got back to the car we stopped just before the snow and ice covered trail transitioned to asphalt to take the crampons off. After hike miles on ice and snow we both slipped, they work so well that you can on find out who well when you try walking without them.

These are crampons, but please don't mistake them for mountaineering crampons. There are no toe picks and they are held on by silicone rubber. They are hiking traction devices on steroids. 

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $53

Keeps you vertical on icy, frozen surfaces, providing you with the ability to get where you want to go when snowshoes are not the preferred choice.


  • Easy to put on.
  • Good traction under most circumstances.


  • May slip off when climbing/descending very steep slopes.

Bought them a year ago and  have used them on several hikes in the Catskill Mts of New York State. On steep surfaces, like climbing out of a steep-sided gorge, I had the top part of one crampon pull off on two occasions.  Not sure how this happened, but it was a little disconcerting that they would do this as well. 

The upside is that they do have the secure velcro retaining strap, which ensure that they won't lose your foot altogether, but you should be careful when descending or ascending very steep slopes, particularly if your foot is at angle (sideways) to the slope.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $45

Quite the adventure. It was my first winter hike up Mt. Kearsarge. I found out found out from my fellow hikers it's not typical to have a solid sheet of ice half the trail length to the top? I wouldn't know any better since it was my first winter hike.

I had returned my Katoola Microspikes the week before for the Hillsound Trail Crampons after a winter hiking lecture. I'm glad I did. From what I saw, the Hillsounds blow the doors off Microspikes,  they really crunch in and hold. A 50% longer spike, rigid plate arrangement, and stabilitizing strap (plus nice storage bag) make a big difference.

Make sure you size them so they are a snug fit. I would see little reason for purchasing Katoola Microspikes because these cost the same and are much better (from what I could see of the dozen other hikers gingerly walking across the ice).

Price Paid: $59

These are my first crampons and I bought them specifically for day hikes in the Adirondacks. Last weekend I brought them on a 9-hours hike to the top of Algonquin and Iroquois (Adirondacks) and I've been absolutely amazed at how secure they felt on steep icy surface.

They are light, easy to put on/take off and they really stick to your feet when in place. They also take little space in the backpack, do not interfere with normal gait yet they are sturdy enough to withstand a beating on rocky trails. IMO they strike a perfect balance between smaller crampons (like Kahtoola's micro-spikes) and standard 10-12 points crampons.

Price Paid: 59$

I feel like Spiderman when I wear these! Complete security on icy conditions.


  • Amazing traction
  • Super easy to use
  • Light
  • Reliable


  • They can ball up with snow in warmer temps

My husband I were avid snowshoers but hadn't really ventured into winter hiking. We had some light traction devices by some no-name company and on a whim we headed out to hike using them. We survived that hike but realized we wanted something more substantial for traction. I researched the Hillsound Trail Crampons and decided they were our best option.

They are super easy to get on over my winter hiking boots and have a velcro strap to help secure them to your boots. The spikes are aggressive and really dig into the ice. We literally stood on icy areas and tried to make them slip and they just dug right in.

Since buying them, we have done 10 mountains, eight of which are 4,000 footers in N.H. and not once have they let us down. We just scamper right up and down icy slopes and never once have we slipped. I feel much safer using these and trust them completely. They are well worth the purchase price.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $60

I have only used the product nominally. I have a medium size, it weighed in at 466gms, right at spec. I bought these primarily for trail racing. The stuff sack is the right size (compact) as I was able to carry the pair (in stuff sack) comfortably on my aqua-pac waist belt (ready for instant on and off). Even with only a few practice sessions I was able to put them on and remove in less than a minute. It was also easy to fold them in half (spikes in) for safe storage around the waist (in stuff sack).

The crampons are well engineered with a good retaining (velcro) strap across the top of the foot. The spikes are well laid out with smaller ones inside. The crampon flexes surprisingly well with my trail runners. The "spike" platform is wide and feels stable.

So far although the product is heavier it does provide superior traction with strength (solid chain and spike should handle continued abuse).

Price Paid: $52

Having tried the Hillsound Trail Crampons in different terrain and snow conditions, I can say that they perform surprisingly well, especially when considered that they are designed for recreational use / hiking.

They are versatile, easy to put on and even easier to take off, store well / don't take up much space, and therefore can be carried in a knapsack without taking a lot of (precious) room or adding much weight ... They also compare favourably with other similar products.

In short, this would be a great choice for any winter outdoors enthusiastic (seasoned or novice), and on occasion a city dweller too (yes, even a Vancouverite!)

I certainly have made these crampons a part of my 'winter gear essentials' and often find them more useful than (after all) cumbersome snowshoes.

In March we went for a beautiful hike through the snow on Mount Seymour. It was the second time that I used crampons and I recommend them highly! I did a comparison with and without the crampons and using the crampons allowed for a much more enjoyable experience because they gripped the snow so well.

It took less energy to hike since I wasn't constantly trying to maintain my balance on the icy trail. They were comfortable and very easy to put on and take off. We did make one adjustment during our journey as one had slipped a bit.

One minor inconvenience was that the snow did occasionally ball up underneath, although, it didn't cause any problems. Other than that, it was a very, very satisfying experience.

I borrowed a pair from a guy who may have had a larger size foot than I, but I can't imagine going up the mountain without them. I got to the trail and it looked like it would be "dry". Not so, I really woudn't have made it up there without having them. For this reason i went as soon as I could to buy a pair!!!

Great traction and easy to put on, compact enough to fit in the back pack. Only thing is I wish the carry case for it was a little larger..tight fit anyhew.

Price Paid: $59

I would highly recommend these traction crampons, the fact that they work great up or down the slipperiest hills is one thing. But the main thing I like is easy on, easy off and easy and light to carry. They work much better than the arch type especially when going up hills. Also great for crossing slippery logs.

Sharp, lightweight spikes make me feel secure while running on the icy roads in the winter in Colorado!


  • Light weight
  • Easy to put on
  • Sharp spikes

I couldn't ask for better spikes to use on icy terrain.  I live in Colorado and run 3 mornings a week when the roads are nice and frozen over.  I have NO fear of slipping and falling when wearing these.  Best part is, I can't even feel that I'm wearing them!

Source: tested or reviewed it for the manufacturer

The author of this review is a Hillsound Ambassador.

Your Review

Where to Buy

Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support Trailspace's independent gear reviews.

You May Like


Price MSRP: $59.99
Current Retail: $84.95-$84.99
Historic Range: $44.98-$84.99
Reviewers Paid: $45.00-$60.00
Weight 448 g 460 g 480 g 500 g
Spike Height 1/2 inch long
Spike Material S50C Carbon steel
Harness Material Elastomor
Compressive Strength 19,572N
Tensile Strength 1,162N
Rockwell Hardness 47HRC
Product Details from Hillsound »

Recently on Trailspace

Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 Review

Fire Maple Petrel Ultralight Pot Review