Hillsound Ultra Trail Crampon
Review by ArnieP
The Ultra Trail Crampons were provided by Hillsound for review purposes.
Since this is the first appearance of this company on our web site I did some research on the company as I had not heard of it before. It is a company founded in Vancouver, BC Canada. They were founded by a group of outdoor enthusiasts who wanted to provide a reliable affordable product. The mission of the company is customer satisfaction. Hillsound has several models of crampons and in 2012 they introduced a line of gaiters.
The product comes in a cardboard box. The box provides excellent protection from damage that may be caused by the spikes on the crampons. There is also a heavy duty fabric carrying case for protection when carrying the crampons on the trail. I was elated to have this carrying case as I have tried several ways to carry crampons on the trail and was not truly happy with any of my attempts. The carrying case has a lockable draw string. The carrying case will fit in my backpack or in my jacket if the pockets are large enough. I was always worried when putting them in my jacket pocket especially when using my down jacket. Being carefully every time is almost an impossibility.
Ultra Trail Crampons
The crampon uses a rubber type material to hold the stainless steel chains and the stainless plates which have the triangular points together. The rubber webbing is black and marked “front”. The tab on the rubber material helps for stretching the crampon onto the boot. This tab is about twice as thick which makes it easier to grip as well as stronger. All the plates have 3 spikes. The plates are all the same size except for a plate under the heel which is almost double the size of the other plates. There are 2 plates under the heel, the one larger plate and a smaller plate. The back plates are secured in 4 places by chains. The remaining 4 plates are under the front part of the foot. The front 4 plates form a square under the foot. The front and back plate of the square are secured in 4 places whereas the side plates are secured in 3 places. The remaining part is a strap on the top of the crampon to prevent the crampon from separating from the boot. The strap has a hook and latch material on one side for securing the strap. This helps hold the crampon in place and helps to prevent the crampons from becoming detached from the boot in deep snow. The Ultra Trail Crampon comes in 5 sizes XS, S, M, L, and XL.
XS: 374 g S: 396 g M: 420 g L: 450 g XL: 466 g
Measured weight for my size M
M: 421 g
I suggest going to the web site for sizing information as it depends not only on the size of your boot but also on the type, style, and manufacturer. Hillsound.com
I could not find anything in this product that I would like improved. The box has a hole for hanging in the store, but this could also be used to hang in your house if you have a place to store your equipment. The carrying case will protect the place where I will be putting my crampons when not using them on the trail. My first use will be in helping me shovel my driveway. The first major storm dropped 3 feet of powder snow and although the temperatures never got above freezing. There was some melting on the black asphalt. A second storm is in progress and has dropped about a foot and is still falling. Now there is ice under this new snowfall and from past experience I will be using these crampons to keep from falling.
Trying them on
I took my boots off and put the Ultra Trail Crampons on my boots while holding them in my hands. I wanted to see what the best fit looked like. I looked for looseness, in the chains, and movement between the plates and the boot. There was very little of either. I did not get the tab at the back of the boot centered and when I got it centered the fit was near perfect. The securing strap works very easy. I then shoveled my driveway. This was for the storm mentioned above. I could barely feel the presence of these spikes on my feet. In terms of stability I had no trouble with slipping on my powder snow covered icy driveway. I use a scoop for pushing this powder snow but this calls for a lot of traction especially when the snow is 8 or more inches deep with ice under the snow. The temperature was 10 F and the rubber remained very flexible. I also tried the crampons on the following size 9 hiking boots; Hi-Tec, Keen,and Wolverine. The fit was great on all these above the ankle hiking boots. In following reports I will try them on several low cut hiking shoes. I am very satisfied with the Hillsound Ultra Trail Crampon.
Please check back in about a month when I will have more to say.
This continues to be a winter with temperatures below normal and record snowfalls. Forecasts have not been very accurate concerning temperatures and predicted snowfall. My driveway continues to be a coat of ice covered with several feet of snow. Temperatures have rarely been above the teens during the day. On the trail, the snow is 5 to 8 feet deep, and still about 4 feet deep on the often single file hiking path. I will now get into the details.
Around the yard
As mentioned in my initial report my driveway was coated with ice covered by several feet of snow. If you have ever tried to push a car while standing on ice you will understand what it was like trying to push snow with a snow scoop. I always had an excellent grip with Hillsound Ultra Trail Crampon. A few times the plates dug into the ice so much I could feel a tug as I lifted my foot. On the really cold days there was a sound that reminded me of skating and hearing the sound of the ice breaking from the blade of the ice skates. Definitely a reassuring sound.
Harold Parker State Forest
This was my weekly Wednesday hike with a group at the Harold Parker State Forest. We hiked 2 hours in 4-5 feet of snow, with a temperature of 20 F and no wind. I asked the leader whether she thought I could use crampons rather than snowshoes since I wanted to test the Hillsound Ultra Trail Crampon. She thought that if I was the last person, the trail should be packed enough for me. This was fine until we were crossing Stearns pond and the surface was a bit strange. At first I was surprised to find that the snow seemed to be only a few inches deep over the frozen pond. Then I started noticing a few small wet areas. I used my trekking pole to investigate. It seemed there was a layer of slush between the frozen pond surface and the snow cover. Being at the end of the hiking group, I figured the weight of the group may have forced some water through the ice which mixed with the snow to form slush. The slush started to cake up on my crampons. I took one of them off because it had started to come off from the heel. The front of the crampon is not as likely to come off as it is well secured by the retaining strap. The cakes snow and ice were easily removed from the removed crampon by striking it against my trekking pole. I continued with only one crampon. Once I reached the other side of the pond I was now in deeper snow and started postholing, sometimes up to my knee. I had a hiking pole with a small end and it was postholing most of the time. There were a few sections where I was walking normally. I got more of a workout than I had planned. When I got back to my car I removed the remaining crampon and took a picture, shown below. I had not anticipated the caking of the snow on the crampons since the temperature was below freezing. The visible yellowish brown water in the snow on the pond was present probably because this pond is spring fed and at a higher temperature. The weight of the hikers helped push the water upward. The Hillsound Ultra Trail Crampon withstood the extra strain very well with no visible ill effects to show. I’m sure the question that comes to mind is why did I not remove both crampons when I discovered the problem on the ice. The reason is that to do this efficiently, I would have had to get down on one knee in slush with freezing air temperatures. I did not want to have wet clothes. I also did not feel too good about the surface of this pond. It is not supposed to be deep, but considering the amount of precipitation we had gotten it could be deeper than normal.
I have been carrying the Hillsound Ultra Trail Crampon on all my hikes since they arrived. They are an excellent insurance policy. In regular trail settings they should go on easily and with my recent experience I feel confident of their performance.
Please check back in about a month when I will have more to say about the Hillsound Ultra Trail Crampons.
A last look 4-16-15
It’s been about a month since my last report on the Hillsound Ultra Trail Crampons. I have carried them in my backpack for the duration of this review. During this period I have hiked in Harold Parker State Forest, Breakheart Reservation, Horn Pond, and Middlesex Fells. The weather conditions were such that I only wore them in Harold Parker and shoveling snow over an icy driveway.
Harold Parker State Forest
I hiked several times in Harold Parker State Forest with the Wednesday morning hiking group. These were 2 hour hikes. When the trails were covered with packed snow that was a mixture of snow and ice, I wore the crampons. The temperatures ranged from about 20-40 F. At the warmer temperatures the snow was softening but since it was in granular form it had very little tendency to form clumps on the bottom of my hiking shoes. When the snow did accumulate, striking the crampons gently with my hiking stick easily dislodged the snow. I did it gently mostly to be gentle on my hiking stick. The trail had numerous post holes and if I did not have the Hillsound Ultra Trail Crampons on I could easily have slid into one of the many post holes. This way I avoided falling on the trail and did not get wet from the snow crystals that were slowly melting and covered with moisture. This is especially important since I was not wearing water resistant pants.
Around the yard
I compost all year and getting to my compost area with our accumulated snow falls this winter was a challenge. I managed to make a hard packed path to the compost barrels. The problem was doing this when the path got icy and slippery. With the Hillsound Ultra Trail Crampons, I did not slip or fall carrying compost containers. A home owner always has enough work in the spring without having to clean compost from the back yard.
Comments and summary
The carrying case provided is a little extra that makes the Hillsound Ultra Trail Crampons special. I feel so much better knowing I have something to store the crampons in while on a hike. Good equipment is expensive and can be quickly damaged by the sharp edges and points of the crampons. I tried these crampons on all my above the ankle boots as well as my low cut hiking shoes. The crampons fit well on all of my hiking boots and hiking shoes. Under certain conditions I would remove my boots and put the crampons on the boots first and then put the boots on my feet. This was when I felt I would like to have a perfect fit or it was just easier. For an older person this may be necessary due to some inflexibility. I have tried these crampons without the securing strap and had no problems. I would do this mostly when I thought I would be donning and doffing the crampons several times during a hike. I have learned from experience that when postholing deep snow I am checking my feet constantly for the presence of both crampons. I do have a caveat about the color. It would take a lot for these crampons to come off my boots, but if a crampon did come off it would be easier to find if it was a bright color. The Hillsound Ultra Trail Crampons are keepers.
I wish to thank 4alloutdoors.org and Hillsound for the opportunity to review the Ultra Trail Crampons.