First Look — New Voile Ski Crampons

Post by blogger | December 6, 2006      

Shop for ski crampons.

We’ve always liked ski crampons around here. When the snow is too soft for boot travel but glazed with ice, ski crampons can change a nightmare to a stroll. Or just slap ’em on for any steep climb and you’ll be loving life. We like ski crampons that don’t lift up with the boot as it pivots in the binding. We like them fixed to the ski. While this type of ski crampon is counter intuitive, I’m here to tell you that they work, and work well. Thus I was elated to see that Voile’s new ski crampon was the type that fixes to your ski and does not pivot up.

Voile backcountry ski crampon
Voile backcountry ski crampon.
Backcountry skiing crampon.
Aluminum plate is mounted to ski with two screws. Rotating plastic catch goes on top of this.

The Voile crampon comes in two widths, one fits up to 92 mm, the other goes to 112. It fixes to your ski using a simple rotating catch attached to a small plate you screw to the top of ski. The catch is 14 mm high, and easily works with Dynafit or Silvretta Pure, is a tight fit but probably workable with Fritschi Freeride, and Naxo, but is probably too thick to fit under a Fritschi Explore. Not to worry, we discovered a long time ago that ski crampons mounted in front of the binding work nearly as well as those directly under foot — so it could be mounted that way with the Explore. Weight of catch is 1.1 ounce, 30 grams. The 92 mm crampon weighs 3.6 oz., 102 grams each.

Backcountry skiing crampon.
Excellent paper template supplied with crampons.

Mounting is made easy by using a nice little paper jig that’s on the hang tag. Align, tape, center punch and drill — you’ll have the catch installed on both skis in fifteen minutes. With Dynafit TLT bindings you need to keep the mount behind the ball of the foot, but far enough forward to mount optional ski brakes. (Be sure to check clearance with boot in binding before you drill, and you may need to trim a bit of sole rubber with shorter boots.) Dynafit Comfort holds the boot high enough off the ski to allow more choice in location. What’s not to love? None of our wrenches fit the recessed area containing the pivot nut, so I had to buy a nut driver that fit. Hey, I get to own another tool, what’s not to love about that?

Over the years Voile has been delightfully consistent in taking gear concepts to reality — their new ski crampons are an excellent example of this. Which brings me to another thought: We of course would like to see these things made out of titanium. If anyone could do that it’s Voile. Thumbs up for their new ski crampons.

Shop for ski crampons.


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25 Responses to “First Look — New Voile Ski Crampons”

  1. Michael Kennedy December 7th, 2006 8:31 am

    These look super cool – couldn’t find them on the Voile website, though.

    It would be great if Voile would sell extra mounting hardware so you could use one pair of crampons with several pairs of skis.

  2. Lou December 7th, 2006 8:55 am

    Hi Michael, they seem to work well, have not given them a long term durability test. A big guy with a big pack could put an awful lot of force on that small rotating plastic tab, but what have we got to worry about when we’re skinny and never carry a big pack (grin)? There is a Backcountry Store buy link at the bottom of the blog post, and you’re right, they don’t seem to be anywhere on the Voile website! Weird. (Update: They’re in Voile’s webstore, but since we’re an affiliate with Backcountry Store that’s the link I’ll keep in the blog post.)

  3. Roger December 7th, 2006 10:17 am

    Thanks for the heads up- Just bought myself a Christmas present.

  4. justin December 7th, 2006 11:22 am

    Those do look like a good option since the Skalp ones arent available anymore (that I’m aware of). I’m pretty sure Lou has commented on this before, but to me it still seems like pivoting crampons like the Dynafits are more efficient (although admittedly those are the only ones I have tried). With my Dynafits, the crampon moves out of the way during a stride, so I dont have to lift the ski off the snow to move forward. I can see a few situations where having the fixed crampon would be better, but the pivot seems more efficient most of the time to me. Of course they have problems too, base plate breakage, the fact that the amount the crampon extends below the ski is dependant on how high your heel lifter is set etc. Just my 2 cents.

  5. nick December 7th, 2006 12:24 pm

    Do you think there would be any slop (crampon shifting around) if the crampon is significantly wider than the ski? i seem to remember this problem with the skalps. just thinking for use on multiple skis (would also be great to get more than one mounting kit)

  6. Shane December 7th, 2006 1:58 pm

    I’m surprised that you skiers don’t have a crampon available to you that attaches both ways. The Voile splitboard crampons can be attached in a fixed or hinged position. Seems like that should be possible with a ski too.

  7. Lou December 7th, 2006 2:30 pm

    All I can say is I’ve tried both types of ski crampons (lift and fixed) and have found from experience that when you really want a ski crampon the fixed works better because when your ski is on the snow the crampon is ALWAYS in the snow, rather than lifting up and down with your foot as it pivots. If you’re using the crampons as traction help while skinning when they’re just a convenience, then perhaps having them lift would be nice. That said, the problem with most lifting crampons is that they are difficult to get working correctly if you’re using a climbing lift at your heel. That’s another reason the fixed type are so nice. They’re simple and effective, and work the same no matter what heel lift positin you’re using.

    As far as how much you have to lift your ski, in reality, the kind of places where you need a ski crampon you’re frequently doing a modified side step type of stride anyway, and it’s not a problem. It also tends to drag along the snow when un-weighted, again not a problem.

    The main point I’m trying to make here is that a non-lifting crampon works better than most people think it would. But it’s designed for when you really need crampons, not as a substitute for skins.

    As for slop, the Voile has very little and I don’t think that’ll be a problem.

  8. justin December 7th, 2006 3:01 pm

    Yeah, I guess I haven’t really used them in true “no falls zones” or anything like that. Mostly just as an assist on frozen uptracks where otherwise you take one stride forward then slide nearly as far (or way farther) backwards. They help to keep the swearing to a minimum in these situations.

    I would think it would be easy to modify the Dynafit type crampons to work in either hinged or fixed mode as Shane suggests. I’ll just need a blowtorch, 40 weight oil, a Fitzer valve, and some ball bearings. It’s all ball bearings these days.

  9. Eric Hansen January 5th, 2007 3:09 pm

    I love these Voile fixed ski crampons. I saw the ad in Couloir a couple of moths ago and immediately bought a pair. I have previosly used the Skialp/Petzl fixed ski crampon but they are not wide enough for the modern ski. The Dynafit crampon just doesn’t work that well in the elevated boot positions. I used these for the first time 3 weeks ago up on Mt Hood, the same day those unfortunate climbers were lost. What a bummer day.
    However, the crampon works well. I have it mounted to the ski just behind where the Dynafit crampon comes down. That way if I lose one of the Voile crampons, the rotating piece will also keep the Dynafit pivoting crampon approximated to the ski. I don’t know how well it will tolerate a front edge upward pressure, but I have a feeling it would work without breaking the mounting piece.
    Happy trails.

  10. David February 3rd, 2007 9:37 pm

    Like some of you I was skeptical about fixed crampons. It seems obvious that a lifting crampon would be less effort. However, I purchased the skialps for my tele skis (they were the only ones available) and like Lou I found that they work very well. Resistance during the stride never seems to be a problem in the conditions that I use them (steepish icy slopes). I recently purchased lifting crampons for my Dyanafit set up and was dissapointed that they did not work nearly as well as the skialps, mainly due to the heel lift problem I think. Since I can’t find skialps that fit my skis I am very interested in the voile bindings. Anyone want my dynafits??!

  11. Matt February 13th, 2007 10:14 am

    Lou- Mounting this in front of my binding is appealing, as it would be easier to put on and off as needed on the fly- so you think that’s just about as effective as underfoot? One thought I had too is that if you did step on rock or something by mistake, there would be a little give to avoid breaking the nut. Thanks- Matt

  12. Lou February 13th, 2007 12:15 pm

    Matt, I’ve tried crampons in front of the foot and they work fine. Not quite as good as directly under the foot, but you won’t notice much difference unless things are really sketch.

  13. Allen March 9th, 2007 9:20 am

    Wondering if you get much snow buildup under the binding with the plate and screw sticking up when not using the crampon. Seems like an insert in the ski would be a cleaner way to go. Thanks

  14. Warren November 12th, 2010 8:10 am

    Thanks to Eric Hansen’s post above, I am considering using the Voile rotating pieces to retain my Dynafit ski crampons when desired.

    I’d like to do this on my old Dynafit Rally skis, which for weight savings were designed to mount Dynafit bindings only. The Voile screws would be almost exactly at the boot midsole point. I’m not sure there’s enough beef in the skis at that point to hold the screws adequately. Any insight, anyone?

    Also, Eric or anyone else — after almost three years since this thread has been active, can anyone say anything about how well the Voile rotating piece holds up when used to retain Dynafit crampons?

    Thanks Lou and everybody.

  15. Lou November 12th, 2010 9:36 am

    Warren, B&D makes Dynafit compatible crampons AND a nice little catch system to make them fixed when you want them that way. Don’t know how the Voile would hold up, but my gut tells me that if it can hold a Voile crampon down, no reason it shouldn’t be able to do the same thing with another crampon that’s actually anchored down on one end, as opposed to it having to hold the whole Voile crampon down…

  16. Warren November 15th, 2010 3:51 pm

    Thanks Lou.The B&D catch system looks like a good design. But I already have a pair of Voile ski crampons and two pairs of Dynafit ski crampons. I know the height of the Voile rotating retainer is perfect for the Dynafit crampons. Also I like the option of already having the Voile discs on my skis so if a Dynafit crampon fails I can just put on a Voile.

    ” my gut tells me that if it can hold a Voile crampon down, no reason it shouldn’t be able to do the same thing with another crampon that’s actually anchored down on one end”

    I had the same feeling, but hearing it from the Engineering King of the Wild Frontier clinches it. I’ll go with the Voile, and if it fails I’ll still have working crampons, though unfixed. I figure I’ll also stick an extra Voile plastic rotating tab in my pack in case one breaks.

  17. Lou November 15th, 2010 3:54 pm

    Please report back, and call me servant, not king (grin). You might want to put some tape or something on the ski under the rear part of the Voile hold down, so it doesn’t flex as much each time you weight the ‘pon…

  18. Warren November 15th, 2010 4:11 pm

    “some tape or something on the ski under the rear part of the Voile hold down”

    That really clinches it. I was a little worried about the asymmetrical load on the plastic tab and its bolt.

  19. Lou November 15th, 2010 4:17 pm

    The load will still be asymmetric, but at lest the plastic holder won’t be flexing on the threaded stud each time you weight the ‘pon…

  20. Warren November 15th, 2010 4:39 pm

    Lou, your efficient brain saved two letters by trimming my “asymmetrical” down to “asymmetric.” I should have known better — I’m ashamed of myself for that waste, but I am learning.

    I plan to fashion a detente to help prevent the Voile tab from rotating off the crampon.

  21. joseph.szasz April 16th, 2011 10:51 am

    they’ve gotta get these in titanium otherwise the best ski crampons ive used!

  22. slowdog April 16th, 2011 3:53 pm

    So here’s an idea I’ve been thinking about. Why not have a ski crampon mount that worked basically like a dynafit mount but set up so the whole crampon could be flipped up so it would sit pointing upward on top of the ski when not in use? When you need it, just flip it down and lock it down with a t-nut type fastener just like a regular fixed crampon. Obviously this would need to be mounted forward or backward of the binding to avoid interfering with the boot. When it’s flipped to the up position you could have another nut or whatever to keep it from flopping around. I know you’d have this pointy metal thing hanging out on top of your ski to worry about in case of a “knee fall” , but you’d probably have it flipped down if the uptracking was hairy anyway. Plus, hey, you’re mountaineering if you’re using ski-crampons, so use a little extra caution. Any way this kind of system seems like it’d be pretty quick and effecient instead of having to pull the damn things out of pack and installing while on a ratty skin-track. Seems even like someone could retro-rig a setup out of an old dynafit or aftermarket crampon mount.

  23. Justin April 24th, 2011 9:51 am

    I have a pair of Voile crampons for my tele setup and love them. I just bought a Dynafit setup for ski mountaineering and am thinking about using the Voile crampons on my new setup instead of buying new B&D crampons (to save money). My question is: are my 92 mm wide Voile crampons too wide for a pair of Skitrab Duo Freerando skis (79 mm wide)? I know there is some extra space but I have no idea how much is too much. Does anyone have experience with wider crampons on narrower skis? Thanks!

  24. Scott June 20th, 2011 4:53 pm

    I NEED (read want) these for Grizzly Couloir next weekend but Voile is all out of the narrow flavor! anyone know where I might source a pair this week???? I’m on Naxo so can’t find any other options at the moment and think I prefer fixed anyhow…

  25. Scott June 20th, 2011 7:45 pm

    Not sure where to find a Naxo specific crampon. You might contact these guys:

    They’ve got a number of parts that you can probably cobble something together for your Naxo’s and in the width you need. Some kind of modification will probably be necessary, which is more fun anyways right?

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