B&D Ski Crampons Review

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This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

Spring and summer skiing is here. Succulent corn. The reason why you get up at 3 am to skin in for miles to reap a bountiful harvest. And then get up the next day and do it all again, like you were never even there the day before. Warm season skiing is my favorite by far. Don’t get me wrong, I love powder, floating effortlessly through pristine virgin snow, but spring and summer are for me. You can let your guard down a little, relax, take that steep line you’ve been lusting for all winter and not fear that the grim reaper is hot on your heels waiting for you to make one small mistake.

cramp1

B&D's ST/FT Dynafit compatible ski crampon. I had already modified my binding toe (cut off the plastic piece), but they still work great, as we sized them tight to the width of my ski.

But if there is one thing about spring that tends to wear on me a little, it’s that you usually have to start your tours so dang early and skin on sometime icy and hard snow. But the plus side is that you get to skin and climb on bomber snow. For those icy starts, having a set of great ski crampons has been invaluable. And in this case, they are some B&D ski crampons that were recently sent to WildSnow HQ for review. I begged Lou to let me test them out, so he gave me the papal blessing and told me to get after it.

B&D crampons come in multiple widths, from 80mm to 120mm for the Dynafit compatible cramps. They also have ski crampons available for Fritschi and telemark bindings and even for you splitboarders out there. For our latest test we received two sets of Dynafit-compatible crampons from B&D in the 90 mm and 95 mm sizes. The crampons come with two pair of shims / boot spacers, a 1/4″ and 1/2″, that are designed to attach to the top of the crampon, with the provided screws. The crampons we received are designed for the more recent ST / FT vertical bindings, so they have a large cutout to accommodate the plastic piece coming off the binding toe. (Also, this latest B&D crampon is improved over all earlier versions, with small divots in the 90 degree bend that make it very strong in that area, though you can still bend the teeth if you stomp on rocks and that sort of thing, as with any ski crampon.)

cramp2

Same crampon, just showing the factory plastic piece that the crampon was designed to fit around. Also notice the new dimples on the radius, near the boot spacer. Adds more strength.

In my case I have an 88mm wide ski. The crampon I used was a 90mm, which was actually about a 93mm, so for a tighter fit to the ski to prevent side torque we just customized it a bit (you can still bend the B&D crampons for custom fit, but not by much due to the reinforcements) and made it narrower. Works great. And, again, cutting off that plastic piece from the toe unit made no difference at all in performance.

I have actually used the 90mm crampon on a 78mm ski with the older classic TLT toe, which has a plastic crampon slot that’s not reinforced like the ST / FT models. I was worried that the crampons would torque out sideways and break the mount as some folks report, but I had no breakage, even with some steep, frozen side-hilling. Maybe I got lucky, but they seemed to work great as long as I was paying attention to what I was doing. That said, I’d rather have the crampon fit fairly tight to the ski, so torque is not an issue.

As far as durability, B&D ski crampons seem pretty bomber to me. I’ve had them out on a number of trips so far, and I tend to use them. They’re aluminum, of course, so they’re lightweight. Also an upgrade from previous models are the dimples on each side of the crampon, right where the radius of the main 90 degree bend is. Those dimples add more strength and resistance to twisting and torquing. I experimented with side-hilling on some steeper slopes (like 30-38 degree range) and never noticed any overt flexing. I climbed up, and I even downclimbed, like you might have to in a sketchy situation. They felt simply bomber in all conditions I used them in, and ultimately gave me much more security on the typical frozen, glazed over early morning spring snow that we often had to traverse or climb to access the goods.

I typically ski in the Scarpa F1 boot, so I have a shim on the ski to mitigate the metatarsal flex of the F1, it sits about 12mm high off the ski. I was worried that B&D’s cramps wouldn’t work because of that shim, as the crampon rides on top of the shim. My worries were unfounded. When climbing my Dynafit heels are usually in the 2nd or 3rd setting, rarely are they flat. So, I just set the crampons to work with those settings by putting on the appropriate boot spacer that B&D provided (in my case the 6mm or 1/4″ spacer), and they work great. B&D does offer a slick crampon specifically for the F1, but using the universal cramp worked fine.

cramp3

My Scarpa F1's work fine with B&D's universal crampons, as long as I keep the heel set at mid or high, which is usually where they are when climbing.

Overall, B&D’s crampons work great. I’ve got more security on the uptrack, which keeps me relaxed and probably even lowers my heart rate a few beats per minute. They work amazingly well on steep side-hills which is where I tended to slip them on. But don’t get too angulated, as any ski crampon has a nasty tendency to lose its grip if you try and edge in at too steep an angle. I took a couple of falls to verify this. So they do have limits.

cramp use

Putting B&D's cramps to the test. Kinda flatter ground here. But, they penetrate well, work great on steeper, traverse type terrain, and felt totally durable and secure under my feet.

Shop for B&D’s ski crampons here.

Also, you can see Lou’s previous in depth, two part review of some earlier model B&D crampons here and here.

(WildSnow.com guest blogger Scott Nelson and his wife Jenny live in and enjoy the mountain life around Carbondale, CO. You’ll find Scott out running, skiing, climbing, cycling, and whatever else he can do to stay healthy.)

Comments

41 Responses to “B&D Ski Crampons Review”

  1. John June 16th, 2011 9:11 am

    I have seen many skiers in the Southern Sierra using the B&Ds in in lock down mode, early in the morning, when it is icy. They were working better then my Dynafit crampons until the snow softened a bit. I now use a 10mm spacer on top of my Dynafit crampons for full engagement.

  2. Lou June 16th, 2011 9:29 am

    My take is that if you use a carefully figured out spacer under ball of foot, lock-down isn’t as important as I used to think it was, though I still like having the lock-down option if I get around to rigging it on the various skis. Easier when you’re not a ski tester dealing with lots of planks (grin).

  3. Lynne Wolfe June 16th, 2011 10:06 am

    Just came back from working a ski mountaineering course in the Sierra, where we required students to have ski crampons, so I have seen a wide variety of types and effectiveness.

    Personally I like the B&D ones best, gotta have the spacer in order to use mid or high heel. We did have one student with the retractable lifter crampons from B&D; he had nothing but trouble with them- they would fold up at the worst possible times. He tried moving the attachment point, mounting them backwards, adding a wad of duct tape to the ball. Last I heard, he was going to call Bill for advice. Not worth it, I think.

    And the new Dynafit ski crampon has only two teeth on each side- what’s up with that? Much less purchase. My old Dynafit harshheisen have 3 big teeth and holes to attach a little plywood riser/ spacer.

    Then one gal had the locking Voile, which when she got them dialed were excellent, but slower in less steep terrain. Took a while to get the twist lock mechanism just right, but that might be due to less than attention to detail by Neptunes.

    One gal had a Fritschi Eagle binding, and first got the wrong ski crampon via the BD website, which wasn’t super clear for her (operator error combined with a lack of clarity). She then ordered/ used the ski crampons especially for those bindings, which are pretty trick. A bit heavier, but a fold-up mechanism that means you can retract them without removing the crampon or the ski.

    Just a few thoughts from a recent trip with ski crampons- love ‘em, and so did the students. Skinning is so much easier and faster, lower impact, than booting with crampons; ski crampons allow us to move easily (without hanging on by our claws) in hard terrain. (but you know all that)

  4. Bill June 16th, 2011 10:30 am

    Lynne,
    by retractable lifter, you mean the “F1/F3″ post. http://www.bndskigear.com/dynafitcrampons.html
    I had these on a set of BD cramps mounted to the deck of my ski with a pair of G3 Onyx bindings and they worked great. In order to get them to stay upright and not fold down, they need to contact the boot at the highest point of the arch, not of the forward sloped section. If you notice the picture Bill has on his website, he does not use the stock dynafit crampon slot, but mounts a universal crampon mount on the ski itself. This locates the post further to the rear to prevent the flip down that you whitnesses.
    I have found that the BD dynafit Cramp, with a generic ski deck mount, with the F1/F3 post, work well with G3 Onyx bindings, and Mega ride boots. There is a write up on it on line.

  5. Lynne Wolfe June 16th, 2011 10:44 am

    Thanks Bill. I will pass that information on to my former student and file it away for next time.

  6. slcguy June 16th, 2011 11:42 am

    Have used the B&D crampons ( dynafit FT12 + Garmont Megarides ) for two seasons, work great. Have 2 touring partners with the Voile ones – have to say – and I don’t really want to knock on Voile because I generally like their stuff and they are a local company, but both guys have had issues with the locking mechanism staying put. It tends to back off as you walk, and if you’re not paying attention…bye bye crampon. There just doesn’t seem to be enough to keep the nut tight on there over the course of a long hike.

    I also got the locking attachment for my B&D crampons, but after using the larger spacer, I think I’m finally deciding the lock just isn’t needed. The difference, even in high mode, is very small. (at least with my boot/binding combo)

  7. Lou June 16th, 2011 11:50 am

    SLC, yeah, that’s my impression, that if you tune the crampons with spacer, the lock makes very little difference. I still like having the lock for really hairy stuff, but then, it might be more appropriate to just be on foot with boot crampons…

  8. Skiing Blog June 16th, 2011 2:43 pm

    I want to get some of these but right now I want to spam you! What do they typically cost, do you know anywhere i could buy them used, any news on the next upcoming ski swap?

  9. Mark June 16th, 2011 2:55 pm

    Anyone try to mount various crampons to skis with bindingfreedom plates?

  10. Lou June 16th, 2011 3:13 pm

    Mark, they would work just the same, only with a hair less bite due to the stack height of the plate. Lou

  11. Bruno June 16th, 2011 5:23 pm

    I’ve got BandDs on FreeRides and Dynafits. Work well, but the teeth can fold in if you stomp down on true glacial ice. The Dynafit brand are similar, but the ribs that Dynafit uses might add aditional strength to prevent this deformation.

    If traveling on flat terrain with the fat spacer attached I feel like the uplift on the binding toe screws is pretty severe. Concerns me about possible pullout of the screws. Not so much with the thin spacer.

    These things are always in the pack no matter what the season. Never know when you’re going to come across some wind affected porcelain. Keeps me from getting grumpy.

  12. Lou June 16th, 2011 5:53 pm

    B&D started using slightly thicker alu a year or two ago, and shortened the notches between the “teeth” which are really just psychological and could be reduced to a quarter inch or so, but the amount they shortened really helped. After those improvements they are much less likely to bend. I’m embarrassed to say it, but I bent the early ones by tripping and stomping on the other ski with them! What a klutz!

  13. Scott Nelson June 16th, 2011 6:20 pm

    “Keeps me from getting grumpy.” My sentiments exactly. I’ve been told that cramps are kind of a crutch, but hey at least I’m in a better mood if I got ‘em.

  14. Pablo June 17th, 2011 3:18 am

    Hi guys!
    Recently I was thinking about tips to minimize bulk in my backpack, and one of the things I always hate when touring is to carry the crampons in it. First of all they are little sharp and seem they can break other things inside in case of falling, but the most I hate is that they make a lot of bulk being a really thin thing…
    I use the 90 sized Dynafit Crampons on my K2 Waybacks and a friend of mine has the 110 ones…
    So I was thinking about change one of the pair with him. This way, I can put them one inside the other and occupy a lot less space.

    What do you think about skinning with different sized crampons on each ski??, and especially, what do you think about skinning with a crampon clearly wider than the ski??

    I’m sure that a fitted-to-ski crampon will work better but it´s really worst (or even dangerous) to use a wider one??

    I’m sorry for my bad English, hope you understand what I write!
    See ya from Spain

  15. Lou June 17th, 2011 7:27 am

    Pablo, I would recommend using the smallest size crampon that will fit over your ski and go up and down without resistance. Doing so minimizes side torque as the ski resists side movement of the crampon. This in turn prevents damage to the mounting area of the crampon and binding. Everything thus works together in harmony. If you want your crampons to nest together better inside pack, just bend one out a millimeter or so to allow the other one to nest better. Or, just reverse them and carry something between them.

  16. stewspooner June 19th, 2011 1:26 pm

    I’ve been using BD ski crampons for a few years now. I don’t use ski cramapons often, but in certain conditions (spring touring) they’re essential. I’ve also used Dynafit and Voile (fixed) models over the years, and all seem to get the job done. My experience is that the leverage applied on the 110mm BD ski crampons cracks them at the interface between the bar and the plate. Not a catastrophic failure, but a concern on a long trip. BD were prompt about replacing them, but the new one’s have the same issue. I do seem to be hard on gear, and I haven’t used the wide Dynafits to compare, but I do see a limitation in the current design.

  17. Jonathan Blum June 20th, 2011 11:51 am

    Hey all,

    I am a reporter for a business site called TheStreet. And believe it or not BD, just went public. And the stock can be bought and sold. I just did a story on the company.

    I wonder, as passionate users of the technology, would you mind taking a look and giving me your sense of the company.

    I will be doing a follow up story on this piece, and getting a more grass roots feels of the operation can help.

  18. Dave Cramer June 21st, 2011 10:30 am

    Jonathan B., the B&D referred to in this thread is not Black Diamond.

  19. Jonathan Shefftz June 21st, 2011 10:46 am

    “And believe it or not BD, just went public.”
    – Yes, we’re aware of that here (and have been for over a year):
    http://www.wildsnow.com/2989/black-diamond-equipment-to-go-public-and-merge-gregory-mountain-products/

  20. See June 22nd, 2011 9:08 am

    I’m not sure any of the following measures makes a big difference, but I use Voile ski crampons and rarely have problems with them detaching during use.

    I replaced the stock grey plastic ovals pieces that hold the crampons on with 7mm Delrin ovals that seem stiffer and stronger– thus less likely to flex and shift or break. Also, I snugged up the mounting nut for the ovals fairly tight and epoxied and staked the threads to help keep the nuts from loosening. And, I periodically glance down at the crampons when on steeper/sidehill terrain to make sure the ovals are not rotating.

    But maybe most importantly, I switch up to a more secure climbing configuration before absolutely necessary– from skins, to skins and ski crampons, to boot crampons. I’ve come to the conclusion that if it’s so steep and icy that a detached ski crampon would be a serious problem, I probably should be using the boot crampons anyway. And, conversely, if the pitch is sufficiently gentle as to make fixed ski crampons significantly less efficient than pivoting ones, I probably don’t need them.

  21. Lou June 22nd, 2011 10:04 am

    See, good tips on the use of Voile cramps, as if not installed and used carefully they can indeed have problems. We still like them, but make sure we’ve got them dialed!

  22. Lou June 22nd, 2011 10:06 am

    Blum, when you’re doing self promotion you might want to do it more elegantly. After all, you’ve got the writing skills and brain to do so.

  23. Paul June 22nd, 2011 12:34 pm

    Funny, two days after you published this review I had this happen:

    http://www.pbase.com/kayak777/image/135733606

    I’ve had these for a few years and this is the first time I’ve used them on hard snow- hopefully the new ones with thicker metal and smaller cutouts between the teeth are more resistant to this problem.

  24. Lou June 22nd, 2011 12:45 pm

    Paul, yes, hopefully that would be so. It is in our experience. Send ‘em back, I’m sure B&D will make it right.

  25. Brian April 22nd, 2012 7:20 pm

    All,
    So, after so many years of avoiding them I finally got some crampons and, of course, can’t believe I ever skied in the spring without them. Duh.

    I bought Dynafits for my Broad Peaks and even used them on my Trab World Cups. Both have Plum 145 Race binders.

    Unfortunately, one the poons broke today after only 5 days of use. Nothing horrific, either. Maybe less than 3 hours of actual time under my feet. Seems like the metal at the pivot is really thin. Disappointing for sure.

    Time for B&D.

  26. Lou April 22nd, 2012 9:45 pm

    Brian and anyone else new to ski crampons:

    How the crampon fits is important to prevent breakage. Most importantly, the crampon should be a width that causes the ski sides to prevent it from twisting, rather than torque on the mounting pivot. In other words, you just want a few millimeters space between the crampon and the sides of the ski. Also, tune the spacers on the crampon so it works optimally in the boot heel lift positions you like best for crampon use, usually the mid-height lift is best with ski crampons. The idea is when you step down on the crampon with your boot, you don’t want any undue stress on the mounting system since it’s all quite minimal to save weight.

    Another tip, for super efficient touring use the most glide optimized mohair skin, along with having ski crampons for when it gets icy and steep, best of both worlds.

    In terms of brands, B&D has a lot of options and are what we generally use. But the Dynafit brand ski crampons are nice as well and we’ve got a few of those in play. Voile’s offering is good to look at as well. When abused The B&D crampons bend more easily than the Dynafit crampons, which actually might prevent damage to the mounting system by acting as a “fuse.” Main thing to prevent bending is to not walk on rocks or hard soil, and don’t trip and step on ski on top of another, which is bad for the crampon and also gouges the heck out of your ski top.

    Lou

  27. Scott Nelson May 17th, 2012 3:25 pm

    Able to use B&D’s ski crampons again today on Independence Pass in CO. Still really like them, and they are holding up really well. Maybe I’m getting older, but ski crampons really offer me a nice, mellow peace of mind while climbing / traversing steeper stuff. They are now always in / on my pack in the springtime.

  28. TonyBob May 27th, 2012 6:13 am

    I’ve searched all over the net for crampons to fit 65-70mm waisted skis. Can’t seem to find anything that narrow. Dynafit goes down to 78mm B&D go down to 80mm (probably fit about the same ski width).
    I really enjoy my skinny skis but still want the security of the crampons. Anyone have a tip on where to look?
    Thanks.

  29. Lou May 27th, 2012 7:32 am

    Hi Tony, what you probably need is some old Sk’Alp formerly Petzel binding crampons. At one time they were a standard in the industry for retrofitting to various ski outfits using a small half-moon shaped fitting that screwed to the ski, I did dozens of those for myself and other folks. If you want some, contact me using contact option in menu above. Please do so next week, as we’ll be out of the office quite a bit the next few days enjoying the holiday. The Sk’alp crampons fit about 78 mm stock and can be bent out a few more millimeters. Lou

  30. TonyBob May 27th, 2012 1:09 pm

    Lou,
    Thanks for the offer on the Sk’alp crampons. I’m in no hurry for a solution as I won’t be using my skis for awhile do to travel. Based on advise from this website and personnal experience with Diamir crampons waaay wider than my ski, I’d like to get as close to the 70mm mark as possible. That being said, do you have any pictures of the contraptions you’re talking about? The Sk’alp site doesn’t have anything I could find.
    I may take this as a summer challenge to modify an existing crampon to fit or build one to “MY” specs.
    I’m thinking TIG welds instead of rivets/pins, a stainless collar with appropriate milling to fit the bindings, 3 dimensional teeth, and a spacer readily modified to fit different skis/ binding/ boot setups.
    We’ll see how much time and energy I’m willing to invest.
    Thanks again,
    Tony

  31. Lou May 28th, 2012 7:36 pm

    I definitely posted something here, years ago. Try googling the heck out of WildSnow. Know how to use the “site” keyword in a Goog search and the “OR” operator? Try this in the Google search box “site:wildsnow.com ski’alp OR skialp” without the quote marks, upper case OR

  32. Lou May 28th, 2012 7:44 pm

    Whoops, sorry, my suggested search picks up all pages with yours and mine comments about the crampons. Instead, see this link for a photo of the Skialp crampons.

    http://www.wildsnow.com/articles/dynafit_faq/dynafit_faq1.html#crampons

    Reminds me I need to re-do that page this summer. Should be fun to bring it up to date.

  33. Mark W May 28th, 2012 10:20 pm

    Lou,
    I think Skialp should read Sk’alp or just Skalp.

  34. Mark W May 28th, 2012 10:24 pm

    Ski crampons a crutch? I’ve heard that before. Those who say such should join me when the best skinner around would be crying to his mommy on the ice my crampons work terrifically on. Some days crampons are the only option for climbing.

  35. Brian May 28th, 2012 10:42 pm

    Crutch? The guys who say that are the same ones putting up the vertical skinners just to show how bad ass they are. Ugh! give me a 17% no-brainer skimo track any day. All day pleasure, baby. And I’ll put the ‘poons on when things get icy.

  36. Lou May 29th, 2012 5:01 am

    Indeed, calling ski crampons a ‘crutch’ is like calling climbing skins a ‘crutch.” They’re just a tool that works well in certain situations. Some folks even use them nearly all the time while skinning, though doing so is inefficient due to eliminating glide during your stride.

  37. SB May 30th, 2012 9:51 am

    Wish I had them on Rainier a couple of days ago. It would have eliminated a couple of transitions from skis to crampons and back.

  38. john June 1st, 2012 2:10 pm

    Lou you mention abusing the B&Ds a little bit to get a tighter fit. I’ve got a pair of 112mm waisted skis so went with the 115mm ski crampon and like referenced I have a little bit more space between the crampon and the side of the ski than I’d like. Do you have any tricks for bending? Thanks.

  39. Scott Nelson June 1st, 2012 9:03 pm

    John-

    I think we used a bench vise and some big pliers to bend them, not elegant, but works. Just barely bend them to make them barely snug, you still want them to raise up and down with your stride, unless you want them mostly fixed in place.

    But in my opinion, having a crampon that’s 3mm wider than your ski isn’t a big deal. I’ve used my 90mm cramps on my 78mm skis without a problem, but I take it easy and try not to over-torque them when climbing / traversing steeper pitches.

  40. harry October 25th, 2013 12:28 am

    looking to get some B&D crampons for my FT12s. i am wondering how the crampons alone would work on approaches. on flat/gradual approaches i have used BD kicker skins with minimal success. putting on my magic carpets eliminates the problems associated with the kickers but at the expense of glide.

    the situation i am envisioning is a packed cat track or skin track during mid-winter at a low angle. would ONLY using the crampons provide enough resistance to propel you forward along with decent glide (better than full nylon skins) ??? could crampons be a viable alternative to kicker skins for long, mellow approaches?

    asante

  41. Steve November 25th, 2013 11:47 pm

    Lou,

    When are the best times to use crampons? I’ve got a pair of BD mohair/nylon blend skins that are pretty pitiful on any slope that exceeds 25 degrees. I’m using them with Radical STs. Scott’s post addresses icy conditions, but I’m wondering how the crampons will bite in a packed, mid-winter skin track that has seen a bit of traffic? I’m not expecting crampons to do well for breaking trail, but perhaps there’s some benefit on a track that’s not icy, but packed enough that the crampon would help you gain some efficiency? (Or in my case, keep you from sliding back down the track.)

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