Minimalist Tech Crampon 250–Ski Touring Innovations Continue


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | September 18, 2014      
Using Tech Crampon 250 while booting a couloir in the Torres Del Paine area in southern Chile.

Using Tech Crampon 250 while booting a couloir in the Torres Del Paine area in southern Chile. click all images to enlarge.

I’m at a trade show a while back. Guide and author Martin Volken pulls me aside and says he has a top-secret product to show me. Cloak-and-dagger style, he pulls a tiny bundle of steel spikes out of his bag. At first I thought they were ski crampons. Not even close. He attached the Tech Crampon 250 to the toe of a nearby Dynafit boot, and thus created a solid little miniature crampon. I was impressed with the simplicity and ingenuity of the system.

When I first saw the Tech Crampon 250, inventor Manfred Quaeck had been perfecting them for several years. Since then I’ve seen them go through several incremental improvements (something I’m pretty familiar with in my profession as an industrial designer). I tested an older version all last winter, and have been using the current, production version during my summer ski trip to South America.

Tiniest crampons ever?

Tiniest crampons ever? We like to call the Tech Crampon 250 a ‘techpon.’

Tech Crampon 250 is fairly simple. They are manufactured out of a single piece of laser cut steel with several small fittings. As opposed to a normal 10 point crampon, these have two front points, and two on either side for a total of 6. They have two threaded pins on either side that fit into the tech fittings of a tech compatible boot, and attach the crampon to a boot. On the front of the crampon is another screw that is used to adjust the crampon for variances in boot shapes. The crampons also come with a short leash that can be clipped to the front of the boot.

Because ski boot models have a variety of specific toe shapes, the crampons must be set up for a specific boot before they can be used. This involves loosening the front screw and adding or removing washers so that it fits to the toe. Setting them up took me a bit of fiddling, but is fairly simple and easy. Once set up, the crampons are put on your boot by tightening a single screw on one side of the crampon. I usually tighten the screw with my fingers, and then get it even tighter by using something handy as a makeshift screwdriver. Most often I just use the clip that is on the leash of the crampons.

Attaching the crampons to the boot toe. I use the clip on the leash to get the screws really tight.

Attaching the crampons to the boot toe. I use the clip on the leash to get the screws really tight.

At first glance, the tiny “techpons,” much like the tech binding system they are based on, don’t inspire much confidence. However, with further inspection you’ll notice the connection feels solid. I’ve used the techpons for quite a few long ascents, on everything from deep powder to hard neve. They have proven to work quite well.

Of course the main advantage is that they pack up into a package smaller than an orange, and only weigh 240 grams. Compared to a full steel crampon, that’s a significant weight and space savings. Especially since it seems that 80% of the time I carry crampons they’re only used as ballast in the bottom of my pack. It’s easy to justify throwing in the little Tech Crampon pouch when there is a possibility that crampons might be necessary (a constant reality in South America, and in the spring in the Northern Hemisphere).

I’m also a big fan of steel crampons. Steel spikes can be relied on fully if ice is encountered, and won’t dull or get damaged as readily if you happen to walk over some rocks. The Tech Crampons are steel, so although they are light and small, they pack a surprising punch when it comes to real climbing. (Weight fanatics note that with a different grade of steel the techpons could be made somewhat lighter, but they’re so light compared to regular crampons that’s probably a non issue.)

While front-pointing, I’ve grown to trust Tech crampon 250 as much as my normal crampons. Also, the fact that they don’t have rear spikes make wallowing in deep snow a bit easier, since there is less of a chance of the crampons catching on your pant cuffs. However, on long climbs on steep hard snow I do prefer to traverse, and use the side of my foot. Since the Tech Crampons don’t have many side points they make side-hilling tricky and take some getting used to.

The crampons are also surprisingly easy to put on, more so than traditional crampons. With a bit of practice, they can be attached with one hand, without bending over.

The Tech Crampons attached to my Scarpa Maestrale RS boots. The leash is attached to the front buckle, and you can see the attachment screw which is located on the anterior side of each boot.

The Tech Crampons attached to my Scarpa Maestrale RS boots. The leash is attached to the front buckle, and you can see the attachment screw which is located on the anterior side of each boot.

Skyler testing out the crampons on bit of steep hard snow in the Refugio Frey area of Argentina.

Skyler testing out the crampons on bit of steep hard snow in the Refugio Frey area of Argentina.

The little crampons are sharp. A traditional crampon bag is much too big, so I made a simple, light one out of a soda bottle and some duct tape.

The little crampons are sharp. A traditional crampon bag is much too big, so I made a simple, light one out of a soda bottle and some duct tape.

A tiny bundle of crampons!

A tiny bundle of crampons!

Of course, these minuscule crampons do have some necessary compromises when compared to standard full size steel crampons. As I mentioned previously, the lack of rear points can make booting up sideways a little tricky. I’ve found that I easily get used to it, and haven’t encountered a situation where I would rather have my full crampons instead. However, I can imagine for a long day of mostly cramponing (such as a late-summer ski of one of the steeper Cascade volcano routes), a pair of heavier, traditional crampons might be more efficient as the human calf muscle can only take so much. Also, the crampons don’t have any sort of anti-balling plate, and I’ve experienced some snow sticking to the steel every once in a while. I’m planning on experimenting with a simple home-made anti-balling plate, but the techpon really should be sold with an OEM anti-balling solution.

Also, the crampons are built out of thick, burly steel. Steel is reliable, and I prefer it most of the time. However, for the ultimate in lightweight crampons, it would be cool to see an aluminum version of the tech crampons.

The bottom side of the crampons. As you can see, the exposed rubber and steel is a little prone to balling up.

The bottom side of the crampons. As you can see, the exposed rubber and steel is a little prone to balling up.

It’s worth mentioning that Tech Crampon 250 has only recently began retail sales, so they haven’t been tested by a large number of people. Nonetheless I’ve tested two versions; both held up well. The older prototype I tested for several months, and the newer production version has gotten even more use after a month in Patagonia. While they’re not a full-on ice climbing solution and require judgment on when they’re appropriate, Tech Crampon 250 is a solid solution for a lighter and smaller backpack.



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Comments

28 Responses to “Minimalist Tech Crampon 250–Ski Touring Innovations Continue”

  1. Charlie September 18th, 2014 11:08 am

    Martin has them for sale at ProSki: $115

    http://www.proguiding.com/proski/2015-ski-gear/tech-crampon.html

    They’re an elegant idea. Looking forward to their first season of user-testing.

  2. Lou Dawson 2 September 18th, 2014 11:09 am

    Thanks Charlie, I was just emailing Martin to get the shopping link. I’ll stick it into the post. Lou

  3. TimZ September 18th, 2014 11:39 am

    I love it! Quite slick.

  4. Rudi September 18th, 2014 12:25 pm

    sounds like they need to work a flat head tip into that clip design……Or a larger thumb screw? Are the screws captured in any way? They seem real easy to lose. PEM Engineering makes a spring loaded captured fasterner that looks perfect for that application.

  5. Charlie September 18th, 2014 2:20 pm

    “The Tech Crampons attached to my Scarpa Maestrale RS boots. The leash is attached to the front buckle, and you can see the attachment screw, which is located on the anterior side of each boot.”

    Anterior means front. medial/lateral refer to the more central vs. outside part of something (like a foot or boot). I think you meant lateral

    This comment doesn’t warrant publishing, I just thought you might like to know.

  6. Charlie Hagedorn September 18th, 2014 2:34 pm

    Well, I guess there are two Charlies commenting WildSnow; time to add my last name to differentiate us!

  7. Lou Dawson 2 September 18th, 2014 3:05 pm

    Charlie, all constructive feedback appreciated! Always learning!

  8. Alex September 18th, 2014 5:17 pm

    Sweet! These look great. There have been a few (too many) days where I picked up my crampons and quickly decided they were too heavy for the day. Then I end up chopping steps with the adze of my axe at some point, which is never fun when a slip would mean certain death.
    These look like a great solution for my laziness.

  9. Rachel Bellamy September 18th, 2014 7:55 pm

    Okay, those are adorable. But also, they look super handy and small enough that you would just end up bringing them as a ‘just in case’ sort of thing (unlike standard crampons).

  10. Manu September 19th, 2014 2:20 am

    They look great! It is the kind of smart gear we like to have in our backpack. Do you know whether they will be available in Europe?

  11. Louie III September 19th, 2014 7:24 am

    An earlier version of the crampons that i used had a thumb screw, but it stuck out of the side further, and could catch on things when you walked. The leash clip works fairly well, but i agree, it would be great to have an integrated flathead on the leash.

    Also, the screws are custom, and are made so that they are much harder to turn once they are backed almost all the way out, in order to prevent them being lost.

  12. Aaron September 19th, 2014 7:43 am

    Genius. So simple. Now if they were only a quarter of the price! (joking)

  13. Doug CrippleCreek BC September 19th, 2014 9:19 am

    I use the Camp Race 290 crampons on days when it is more of a precaution than a necessity. I find that the interface is a little sloppy and I agree with Louie that the back points are more for catching on your pants than for climbing.

    Impressive how small and light they got this version, I can’t wait to see if it takes care of the slop while kicking in. We’ll see if we can retail these at Cripple Creek.

  14. Joe Risi September 19th, 2014 10:37 am

    Count me in for a pair.
    Piling all my gear up for various ski swaps I’m investing in these once all my straight skis sell to 80’s ski aficionados…

  15. Chet Roe September 19th, 2014 11:11 am

    who can’t do arithmetic here? or see….two plus two equals four, not six, but the pics look like a little middle spike for a total of five???? anyway looks cool and low weight efficient……thanks, Chet

  16. Scott Nelson September 19th, 2014 12:46 pm

    Very cool. Great review. Its nice having full cramps for sideways climbing/resting , but other than that, sounds like these toe cramps work really well. Now go design a ski boot that has a deployable toe cramp built in.

  17. Mike Pro Ski & Mountain September 19th, 2014 1:49 pm

    ” Do you know whether they will be available in Europe?”

    Yes, we ship to Europe no problem. Check them out at our website:

    http://www.proguiding.com/proski/tech-crampon.html

  18. Lou Dawson 2 September 19th, 2014 3:46 pm

    Chet, looks like 5 to me!

  19. ty September 19th, 2014 8:37 pm

    wonder how these will fit on la sportiva spitfire boots, with their excessive rocker

  20. Lou Dawson 2 September 20th, 2014 7:31 am

    Ty, good question, from what I’ve seen I suspect they’d work fine. Perhaps Martin or Louie could chime in. Lou

  21. Manfred September 20th, 2014 10:44 am

    Ty, try this link. Dave uses a la sportiva boot.
    http://offpistemag.com/techcrampon-250-gear-review/

  22. Giulio September 21st, 2014 5:07 am

    Very Cool! Do you think they’re good also for the new SCARPA F1evo?

  23. Lou Dawson 2 September 21st, 2014 10:25 am

    Giulio, I think they’ll work for just about any ski boot that has tech fittings in the toe and a small shelf above toe area, due to the adjustable front screw. Lou

  24. Joel September 22nd, 2014 10:50 am

    These look pretty sweet! Is there a aluminum version following..? Those would be even lighter for some snowy colouirs..

  25. Mårten Pettersson September 22nd, 2014 2:57 pm

    Cool idea. But I think they need to be in aluminium ta make the weight advantage over Camp 350. The 350 are a bomb proof construction you really can thrust on.
    http://www.camp-usa.com/products/crampons/tour-350-324.asp

  26. Owen October 24th, 2016 11:43 am

    Has anyone used these DECENDING? Most interested in plunge stepping down hard steps like Vallee Blanche entrance… Seems like heel spikes would be pretty key there.

  27. Lou Dawson 2 October 24th, 2016 3:42 pm

    You have to face in and “Messner” (front point) your way down, otherwise, of course they don’t work. Lou

  28. Dan April 5th, 2017 6:00 am

    I see that they ship to Europe but with shipping and customs fees the price almost doubles… it would be great if there was a European distributor so prices could stay close to the US ones.

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