Hillsound Trail Crampon

Hillsound Trail Crampon

Hillsound Trail Crampons in hand
Hillsound Trail Crampons
  • $60.00
  • 446 g / 15.7 oz (medium)
  • Stainless steel (chains, toe bars), carbon steel spikes, plates
  • 11 spikes, 1/2″

I’ve been planning on switching to Hillsounds when my MICROspikes wore out for a while now.  I was looking forward to comparing the two big names in light traction.  Last weekend on Whiteface and Passaconaway, the day finally arrived.

My most recent pair of MICROspikes lasted 3 years – not bad!  I recommend you read about them here, as I make many comparisons below.

An abusive high speed hike across rocky Crawford Path between Monroe and Eisenhower (and back) finally did them in.  There wasn’t enough spike left to sharpen to keep them going.

As I stood in REI, pondering if I really wanted to make the switch, I almost immediately noticed a typo on the packaging for the Hillsounds.  Maybe my vocabulary is more limited than I’d realized…

Nope – “grib” is not a word (and I think a word like “on” might be missing?).  The MICROspikes smiled at me.

Typo "grib" on Hillsound Trail Crampon packaging
Grib is a perfectly cromulent word

Like jumping into a glacial lake, I closed my eyes, stopped thinking, and just did it.  Soon I was at home, checking out my new Hillsounds.

Trail Crampons are very similar to MICROspikes.  Rubber harness to fit any type of boot, stainless steel chains with the same types of connections and links, same toe bar.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I’ll be interested to see if I have any of the same disconnection problems that I had with the MICROspikes.

Hillsound Trail Crampon heel plate and teeth
Heel plate and teeth
Hillsound Trail Crampon scrunched up in hand
Packs down small
Top view of Hillsound Trail Crampon on a boot
Top view – toe bar, rubber harness, velcro strap

The teeth are a bit longer and sharper than MICROspikes (for a better grib on the ice?), and they’re made of carbon steel as opposed to stainless.  I’ll keep an eye on how this affects durability and how often they need to be sharpened.  There are 11 spikes  (1/2″) on my pair (size medium).  1 spike less than the MICRO’s, but only because of the way they’re arranged under the boot.

Another difference is the plate under the ball of the foot is hinged, so it can move with your foot.  This probably comes into play while trail running more than than hiking.

Hillsound Trail Crampon hinged from plate bent up
Hinged front plate 1…
Hillsound Trail Crampon hinged from plate neutral
Hillsound Trail Crampon hinged from plate bent down

There is a velcro strap that goes across the top of your boot (no, thanks) to help keep them secure.  There is a strip of exposed velcro while you wear them, and this picks up snow immediately, which soon becomes ice.

Hillsound Trail Crampon velcro strap
Snow collector strip

The strap presumably loops under the rubber harness on the inside of the boot, but this was never mentioned on the package or in the little instruction booklet.  It put an uneven pull on that part of the harness and didn’t sit quite right with me.  I can see myself cutting the straps off by the end of the winter.

Hillsound Trail Crampon velcro strap connection

I never had an issue with my MICROspikes staying on – hopefully that’s not something I need to be concerned about with these.  I’d argue that if your light traction is being pulled off your boot, you’ve crossed into crampon territory (steepness of the slope in this case).  Don’t fidget with your little velcro strap if that happens.  Go back down if you can and put on your crampons.

They weigh in at 446 grams, which is a tad heavier than my medium MICRO’s which weigh 385.5 grams.  They’re still so light I don’t notice them on my feet.  No complaints about the weight.

Hillsound Trail Crampons on the bottom of a boot

Hillsound Trail Crampons on a boot, outside view

Hillsound Trail Crampons on the inside of a boot

Hillsound Trail Crampons on the back of a boot

I’ll follow up on this review when spring rolls around and I’ve given these guys more use.

In case you’re making a decision now, I’d say go with the MICROspikes if you’re in need of new light traction.  The Hillsounds seem to be very good in my limited experience, they’re just dressed up a little to make them look more hardcore than they are.  Unfortunately part of the dress up – the velcro strap – is annoying as well as unnecessary.  For hiking at least, the hinged plate under the ball of the foot is just another moving part (a weakness) in something that will likely take a lot of abuse.

We’ll see what this winter has in store for the Hillsounds!

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