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From Kahtoola, "You don't need specific boots or tricky bail systems. The K-10 Crampons fit over your existing footwear and work with everything from hiking and running shoes to ski and snowboard boots. This is possible due to the patented LeafSpring® Flex Bar and flex enhancing binding design. The K-10 Hiking Crampon has a quick-fit binding system that make putting them on as easy as 1-2-3. Nobody needs extra weight on their feet when they're managing icy conditions. That's why all Kahtoola Crampons are made to be flexible and lightweight. The K-10 Hiking Crampon is the lightest steel crampon available. Kahtoola K-10 Crampons are designed as ultralight, flexible crampons that are both easy to put on and walk in." Reinforced neoprene Snow Release Skins (anti-balling plates) are included.
Size: Men's 5-13 (depending on footwear type)
Pack Size: 8-5/8"x3-1/2"x4-3/4"
Spike Length: 3/4 in.(1.9 cm)
Material: 4130 Chromoly Steel
Weight: 21.1 oz. (598 g)
Binding: Quick Fit
Warranty: 3 year
Initial Thoughts (10/25/12):
Kahtoola's new K-10 hiking crampons are indeed the lightest crampons I have ever seen. They weighed in at 23.0 ounces on my scale with the Snow Release Skins (anti-balling plates) installed. That is nearly an ounce lighter than the competition, Hillsound's Trail Crampon Pro. The binding system on the K10's consists of two buckles. One around the ankle and the second around the toe. They are designed as a Quick Fit system where you adjust the size before you go out, which is always a good idea. The length of the K10's is easily adjusted without tools to fit different sized footwear (a nice leg up on the Hillsound's). Once the size is properly adjusted, the K-10 crampons simply get buckled into place and are ready to go. I test fit them on a pair of La Sportiva mountaineering boots and a pair of Saucony running shoes. They fit both types of footwear well. They felt secure even though the toe and ankle straps do not connect together like a traditional pair of crampons. They are easy to buckle and unbuckle without gloves on, but seem like they would be difficult to use with full winter weight gloves on (just like all crampons).
The Kahtoola K-10 hiking crampons ship without the Snow Release Skins installed. This is a real bummer since installation is a pain. I recommend pre-installing them, as snow balling on crampons can be very dangerous. The Kahtoola Snow Release Skins are a thin, tough neoprene material that you have to stretch over the spikes to install. This is easier said than done and required the use of a screwdriver to help pry the skins over the spikes. Once installed though, they stay put. I am not sure how well they work, but I assume they get the job done. They are simple in design compared to other crampons that have anti-balling plates that compress under foot pressure and pop out when you lift your foot, forcefully pushing snow away from the crampon. I am sure Kahtoola's skins were designed with weight minimization being a major consideration.
The K-10 crampons fold down relatively compactly for storage and packing, but are not the flattest. Kahtoola also makes KTS hiking crampons (aluminum and steel models) which fold more compactly. I wish Kahtoola included a storage pouch with the K-10's, but they may fit in the optional KTS pouch that Kahtoola sells.
Kahtoola's K-10 hiking crampons seem like a durable pair of lightweight crampons for winter hiking, glacier travel, and light mountaineering use. They are light enough to carry for "just in case" adventures and I look forward to testing them out when winter comes to the Pacific Northwest.
Initial Field Test (12/06/12):
I tested out the Kahtoola K-10 hiking crampons on a winter hike on the lower slopes of Mt Hood. I wore just my boots for most of the hike until I hit ice on steeper, unprotected slopes. The K-10 crampons were fairly easy to put on, but I found it hard to get them as tight as I would have liked. Because of the "quick" release buckle design, they have to be tightened before fastening the buckles. I found tightening is next to impossible once buckled.
I used the K-10 crampons to go up and down a fairly steep slope (up to 30°). The conditions were mostly icy while other spots were ice covered by firm snow. The K-10s climbed remarkably well and provided secure footing most of the time. I noticed they slipped a little more than traditional crampons that have longer spikes on some of the terrain (light snow covered ice on steep slopes), but they are not really designed for climbing. On rolling terrain typical of most hikes, they can be great.
While the Kahtoola K-10 hiking crampons worked fine going up, they didn't fare so well coming back down. I chose a less steep route down with deeper snow to make plunge stepping possible. There was a thin layer of ice part way down the slope that I broke through with every step and then hit on the way out. The crampon came off my right toe twice. It may have been due to the way they fit my mountaineering boots or a design issue. The design of the toe binding on Kahtoola's KTS crampons looks to be a better design. Traditional crampons with universal bindings usually have a way to secure the front of the crampon to the back, whereas the Kahtoola K-10's do not. As a result, the toe strap on the K-10's can slip off over the front of your boot if they are subjected to forces like hitting ice after stepping out of holes over and over again. This is disappointing, as coming down a slope can be more dangerous than going up and losing a crampon could have terrible consequences. To make matters worse, there is another flaw in the buckle design on the K-10's. Snow gets caught in the buckles, causing them to become stuck. This makes it very hard to adjust the crampons or remove them when no longer needed. I ended up loosening them all the way and then slipping them off my boots because I could only get one of the four buckles open on the pair. I do not like the binding design at all and would not trust them with my life on steeper slopes. I think Kahtoola needs to go back to the drawing board and come up with a better system.
On a more positive note, the Snow Release Skins (anti-balling plates) were very effective at preventing snow from building up underfoot. I never once had a problem with snow build-up on the K-10's. They were always clean underneath. I just wish the Snow Release Skins would have come pre-installed.
See McNeil Point adventure where the Kahtoola K10® Hiking Crampons were used.
Available from amazon.com.
Special thanks to Kahtoola for providing the K10® Hiking Crampons for review.