G3 ION Ski Crampons — The Real Deal

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | March 30, 2016      

It’s springtime in the Northern Hemisphere, time for ski crampons? “Spikes” can save your life. Or at least make your life much easier on those glazed “death wall” skin tracks left by those who go steeper than you do.

G3 ION sporting their nice crampon option.

G3 ION sporting its excellent crampon option. We’ve tested these for a few years now and they work well — especially appropriate if you tend to use ski crampons quite often as they’re strong and incredibly easy to attach-remove.

G3 crampon brackets are easy to install and remove, and can also be screwed directly to ski or splitboard.

G3 crampon brackets are easy to install and remove, and can also be screwed directly to ski or splitboard for use with just about any binding.

G3 ski crampons attach with a pin and hook arrangement. Appears a bit complex, but works beautifully.

G3 ski crampons attach with a pin and hook arrangement. Appears a bit complex, but works beautifully. Allows super quick install and removal, with boots in bindings if you’re flexible.

A tug on the red cable lifts the hooks and the crampon comes off super easy.

A tug on the red cable lifts the hooks and the crampon comes off super easy. Only downside of this system is that the G3 bracket is twice as heavy (16 grams) as the Dynafit Radical bracket (8 grams). Upside is the G3 bracket is very easy to remove, even in the field if you carry a screwdriver in your repair kit.

Installation proceeds.

Installation proceeds.

Light taps with hammer break through small amount of epoxy residue,

Light taps with hammer break through small amount of epoxy residue. This is probably the biggest gotcha if you’re retrofitting G3 brackets. Better to at least insert the bracket temporarily while mounting to ensure you don’t have any glue in the way.

Number 2 phillips inserts the screws, which tighten nicely.

Number 2 phillips inserts the screws, which tighten nicely. I don’t recommend thread locker on these unless you’re sure you’re doing a permanent install, as they’re probably stainless steel and all too easily damaged during removal if you have to break a thread locker bond. If you do need thread locker, 1-hour epoxy might be best because it can be easily reversed with the touch of a hot soldering iron to the screw head.

The G3 bracket is designed to be divorced from binding and screwed to the ski on its own.

The G3 bracket is designed to be divorced from binding and screwed to the ski on its own. Nice.

For those of you new to using ski crampons, a few tips:

1. While ski crampons do slow you down a bit if you’re depending on any sort of glide from your skins, don’t hesitate to try them out if you’re lugging them in your backpack. You might be surprised where they help.

2. I say it below but will say it here, don’t get crazy and let your spikes get you into dangerous situations that would be safe if you were booting.

3. Experiment with your skin track angle. Sometimes ski crampons work better at lower angles when they can assist in gripping with a more sideways force (think resisting side slipping).

4. Consider group dynamics. During our tours we tend to bring crampons if everyone else has them, and leave home if they do not.

5. With compacted snow conditions (boot friendly) I usually bring either boot or ski crampons, but not both. Depends on the day’s goal, and companions.

6. Figure out a way to carry your cramps so they’re easy to access. When we know we’ll be using them we clip to backpack with carabiner. Rubber band or strap them together so they don’t clank.

7. For style points, if you’re a frankophile always call them “couteaux.” If you’re partial to the more Germanic persuasion, “Harscheisen” is the prefered term. Italy? I don’t know, perhaps “coltelli?”

Caveats for ski crampons: Be sure your crampons fit quite close to your ski width as the ski is what keeps the crampon from excessive twisting that can damage the mount or the crampon. And yes, they can save your life — but conversely get you into some tenuous positions where you might otherwise be sporting boot crampons. As with any gear, beware the limitations and cautions.

Shop for G3 ski crampons.


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36 Responses to “G3 ION Ski Crampons — The Real Deal”

  1. Darren Jakal March 30th, 2016 8:59 am

    If you really want to summit in spring conditions I would take both boot and ski crampons. I have encountered grey ice on the summit of a few mountains and without boot crampons we would not have been successful.

  2. apingaut March 30th, 2016 10:54 am

    It all depends on where you ski. In my limited experience I have found:

    In NewEngland, I have never found ski crampons overly useful and rarely see anyone use them. Maybe the are climbs are short and steep that I always boot/boot crampon.

    In the Alps, I have used both.

    In the Canadian Rockies, never used either skiing, always deep powder or we went drinking, till it snowed. : )

  3. XXX_er March 30th, 2016 11:41 am

    I nest crampons tip to tip which leaves wasted space in the middle SO I find a small tupperware container of exactly the right size to fit in the space in which I put wax/tools/parts and I hold the crampons and box all together with a ski strap

  4. Darren Jakal March 30th, 2016 11:52 am

    And not crappy aluminium ones either. Real steel (not stainless). Boot crampons are a true “safety” device.

  5. Tom Gos March 30th, 2016 12:54 pm

    I have skied with a German guide who called ski crampons “knives” in euro-english, I always thought that was kind of fun.

    It seems that in America ski crampons are greatly underappreciated.

  6. Filippo Pavesi March 30th, 2016 1:14 pm

    Yes Lou, you are right : in Italy we call them “coltelli” !
    (exactely the same as the tool we use to cut pizza, formaggio or pane & salame)
    Also, quite often, the ski crampons are still called “Rampant”, that was the name of the 1st alloy ski crampons made by Zermatt, of Torino, Italy (the brand of Ottavio Molino and brothers), makers of several interesting ski-alp bindings like the Nepal, the Artic, the Fur etc.).
    At their origin, the ski crampons were called “lame Bilgheri”, bearing the name of the inventor, that was an Officee of the Italian Army

  7. Lou Dawson 2 March 30th, 2016 1:52 pm

    Filippo, awesome information for the recorded history of our sport!

    I’ll update info about Nepal:


    Thanks, Lou

  8. Jeremy C March 30th, 2016 2:32 pm

    One thing to factor in with ski crampons is the snow penetration depth. This is effected by the combination of crampon mounting point, crampon shape and boot sole rocker contact point.

    On my Radical ST toe with genuine Dynafit crampons, the penetration depth is fine except when using the highest heel lift. However with my Beast 16 toe and genuine Dynafit crampons, the 5mm higher toe pins and non-flat touring mode combine to mean the crampons barely penetrate the snow. I resolved this with a DIY bolt on 10mm strip of plastic (using the pre-drilled holes in the crampons), to restore the contact.

  9. Ed March 30th, 2016 3:40 pm

    I would like to second the comment above about ski crampons, boot crampons (mine usually aluminum are OK – keep the Rambos at home) and . . . an alpine ice axe. We have a ski traverse we do every year up here in Alberta and have used ski crampons probably a quarter of the times we’ve done it over the years, usually not the whole trip but many times climbing up a long convex, south-facing slope up to a high col. One year however, maybe five or six years ago now, we found the top two hundred feet of this 45-50 deg slope to be an inch or two of snow over water ice on the fine scree! It was spicy. Off came the skis and ski crampons, on went the boot crampons and out came the ice axe. The top was really dicey that year. Over the col to the north side and we had kilometres of N facing powder on top of a firm base – heaven. But I will never forget that top couple of hundred feet. That year it became kind of an alpine climb in the middle of our ski tour. All arrived safe ‘n sound ’cause of the extra gear.
    and . . Dynafit ski crampons rock . . . .

  10. DavidB March 30th, 2016 4:26 pm

    Hi Lou, I notice you’ve a pair of Wailer 106 Tour1’s there. Have you reviewed that ski yet?

    I would be interested in your thoughts.

  11. Lou Dawson 2 March 30th, 2016 4:59 pm

    It ain’t a Wailer but it ain’t wrong. We have some take coming up. Lou

  12. Pablo March 31st, 2016 3:27 am

    Hi Lou,
    In Spain we call them “Cuchillas” and we use the Word “Crampones” only for climbing crampons.

    Either way.

    Thinking about installing G3 Crampons to use them wich other Brand bindings, what do you think about trimming off the front part (with the two little holes) of the crampon bracket

  13. Martin March 31st, 2016 9:12 am

    And now if you’re German spoken let your French friends – who are usually not familiar with a voiced (spoken) leading “H” – pronounce “Harscheisen”…

    Hint: “Arsch” means ass 😉

    But then again my French probably sounds pretty funny as well.

  14. harpo March 31st, 2016 4:27 pm

    Can anyone comment on the Plum ski cramps?

  15. Mark Worley March 31st, 2016 9:12 pm

    Have used mine perhaps three or four days this season. I carry them nearly always, readily available on the outside of my pack.

  16. Michael March 31st, 2016 9:19 pm

    Agreed the Ion crampons are very nice. I’ve used them plenty and they’re solid. I drilled a hole in them to thread some cord through so I can carry them with a carabiner.

  17. Wookie April 1st, 2016 3:31 am

    Knives is the term the English use for these things. Its slowly falling out of use due to Americanization of English….

    I hate these things. Sometimes needed – but a real pain to use,I feel. It seems to me that the whole set-up is pretty poor. Fritschi frame bindings have it so that when you don’t need the knives, you can flip them around and the points stick up – if you get them wide enough, they go past your boots and are completely out of the way. When you need them, you just depress with your pole and they flip back into the correct position. I don’t like frame bindings, but this is by far the best set-up for knives that I have seen. Maybe I should start some design work.

    It also seems to me that some kind of combo-boot / ski crampon should be available for ski-tourers. I sometimes carry both, and I’m sure a good design could be found that would serve both purposes well enough for out needs by making use of different attachments to the ski and boot.

  18. Mark April 2nd, 2016 2:27 am

    I’ve been using ski crampons for 15 years in the alps – G3, SkiAlp, Fritschi and Dynafit – never had real issues except trying to use race harscheisen on Dynafit race bindings that don’t allow the heel onto the ski. A nightmare that resulted in a tracky transition to boot crampons.

    In the alps they are essential this time of year on early morning tracks, but one of the things I’ve realised, living in Switzerland and skiing with mostly Canadian and US expats is that they don’t own harscheisen have never used them in their NA skiing.

    Using them on the highest heel lift – maybe your skin track is too steep if you need the high lift? If it’s icy enough for ski crampons then a more gradual track may be more efficient (on skinny euro skis its a cert!).

    I don’t know of any Anglos that call them ‘knives’, i don’t know of this term being used in any English language publications either. For those of us living in Francophone parts of the world then ‘couteau’ is common and ‘harscheisen’ seems preferred by the Brits (me!)

  19. Lynne Wolfe April 2nd, 2016 2:28 pm

    Hey Lou and everyone- thought I’d piggyback this question onto the ski crampon post as it belongs in the “spring skiing tools” department.

    What do you guys do with all the little extra bits of purple glopstopper? I put together a whole plastic box of it from 10 different places in my house this afternoon. Can I melt it into a bar in a glass or metal container? Or just chuck it out?

    And usually I pre-treat my skins with the glopstopper liquid from BD, then add purple glopstopper or parrafin on a daily use basis.

    thanks, Lynne

  20. trollanski April 2nd, 2016 4:17 pm

    Lou, Was wondering if G3 has any more sizes of crampons coming for next year? The jump to 130 from 105 leaves a lot of overhang on ski that is say 112 waist….

  21. Lou Dawson 2 April 2nd, 2016 4:46 pm

    Indeed, they should do more sizes…. stay tuned.

    It’s probably a low margin product due to all the sizes they have to make and keep stocked.

    B&D is the other option, or B&D mounts with Dynafit crampons.


  22. RyanA April 2nd, 2016 5:46 pm

    It looks like these will stay on when you want them to. A friend and I have both lost Dynafit ski crampons which removed themselves while we were doing a kick turns.

  23. XXX_er April 2nd, 2016 8:40 pm

    “Can I melt it into a bar in a glass or metal container? Or just chuck it out?”

    I’ve melted ski wax pellets into a bar using a double boiler type arrangement so I didn’t start a fire

  24. Michael April 3rd, 2016 9:02 am

    Agreed on the need for more sizes. I’d personally love to see a 95 mm version. Lots of nice skis in the 95 mm range and the 105s are pretty darn big for such skis.

    BTW my 105 mm G3 Ion crampons fit a 109 mm underfoot ski, so they measure a little large.

  25. Jim Milstein April 3rd, 2016 7:25 pm

    I got a pair of the Vipec ski knives and have used them a couple of times, including this morning. They go on easily and seem totally secure. A plastic piece pivots up or down for more or less penetration. Only two sizes are made, small and large.

    In my limited experience, they work fine and prevent side-slipping on steep slippery crust. The one problem I had, on their first use, was their failure to release from the ski when I tried to remove them. Ice accumulated underneath and prevented the mechanism from working. The problem was easily solved, since you can get at everything. At the same time the cuff latches on the Atomic Backland boots also iced (from booting the final pitch to the summit) and would not latch properly until they were poked a bunch. That was a big day for icing. Today, no icing.

  26. Mike Soucy April 11th, 2016 12:28 pm

    I just finished a trip to the Italian Alps with someone using the Ion binding and ski crampon. Super-nifty attachment system that was, indeed quite easy to install. However, we found them to be quite easily removed at inopportune times as well.
    This was mainly due to the length of the cable relative to the boot sole length. In stride, the cable was catching behind the forefoot of the outsole and popping the ski crampon right off. Happened several times.
    To field repair, we simply shortened the cable with a few twists and wraps of tape to increase the spacing between it and the arch of the outsole.
    I think G3 should consider shortening the cable on future models to decrease the likelihood of this occurring.

  27. Lou Dawson 2 April 11th, 2016 12:57 pm

    That’s interesting about the cable, thanks for sharing. I guess no good design deed goes unpunished… I feel a mod coming on! Lou

  28. See April 11th, 2016 8:15 pm

    Maybe just lose the cable entirely and use 2 fingers or both hands to remove crampon.

  29. Sarah February 18th, 2017 2:22 am

    Has anyone else had issues with these crampons popping out and off while skinning? I have quite large knives (105mm) on an 87mm ski. I was out touring earlier this week on a very exposed traverse with a crusty layer to break through, with soft snow below. It was the first time I’d used these and I couldn’t believe that the soft snow around the ski forced the crampon to pop out and off. I lost one down the steep face below and managed to catch the second just before it went. In the end I had to bootpack up to the ridge and safety. I have them mounted correctly and cannot figure out how the pin system opened by itself. If anyone else has faced a similar issue, i’d love to know how they made them safer, as I don’t want to take gear I can’t trust out on my next trip. Thanks

  30. Lou 2 February 18th, 2017 4:50 am

    Hi Sarah, sorry to hear that, we’ve used them quite a bit and did not have that problem, we would of reported if we had… When using crampons we have learned over the years that’s it is best to not raise the boot too high on the heel lifters nor while in the uphill stride, we are careful that the knives are always on the sides of the ski so that the crampon can not slide to the side, that pretty much solves problems with most crampons. But for this to be effecting the crampon should be fairly close to the width of the ski, otherwise it twists with quite a bit of force. I would guess your problem would be solved if your crampons were closer to the width of your skis, and you are careful about how high your boot goes. Lou

  31. See February 18th, 2017 8:29 am

    Sarah, did you read the comment from Mike Soucy from April 11th, 2016? I’ve used these crampons a bit without problems, but it might be worth checking if the cable is catching on the boot sole based on Mike S.’s experience.

  32. Sarah February 20th, 2017 1:16 am

    Thanks Lou, it might be the cable, but i think more likely to be the size of the crampon on the ski, which is allowing it space to twist and pop out, in combination that I was on a medium . Can you recommend any other crampon that would work with the G3 binding and comes closer to an 87mm ski width, as the 105 is the smallest of these I can use. Also on a language point, living in the French speaking part of Switzerland between the native English speakers we use the direct translation of the French and call them ‘cutters’. Thanks!

  33. See February 20th, 2017 7:38 pm

    Actually, I’ve been unable to find Ion crampons in the size I need for my new skis (108’s). The 105 crampons are such a tight fit that I don’t want to use them because they scrape the edges/sidewalls. The 115 crampons are unavailable. Kind of irritating, to say the least, and it makes you wonder…

  34. wtofd February 21st, 2017 6:45 am

    “It also seems to me that some kind of combo-boot / ski crampon should be available for ski-tourers. I sometimes carry both, and I’m sure a good design could be found that would serve both purposes well enough for out needs by making use of different attachments to the ski and boot.”
    Wookie, +1.

  35. Julian April 21st, 2017 1:30 pm

    It looks like you have the Onyx and the Ion crampons using the same base plate.
    Do they fit on the same baseplate?

  36. Bruno June 5th, 2017 12:11 pm

    Sarah, and Mike posted issues with detach, and after using mine for over a year I watched one detach and go bouncing off a cliff during a kick turn. I think the cable might have froze to the base of my boot as I was in a cold shady area after moving through loose wet snow.

    Up until that event I was loving these ski crampons.

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