Can You Put Crampons On Hiking Boots?

As I was shopping around for crampons, I started to wonder if my current hiking boots are going to limit my choices. Do I need to get a new pair of boots too?

So can you put crampons on hiking boots? Hiking boots can generally be worn with strap-on crampons. The main deciding factor is the flexibility of your boots and its compatibility with the crampons. The more flexible your boots are, the more flexible your crampons need to be.

But there are more factors to consider. Depending on the type of activity you are planning to do and the type of crampons it requires, tying crampons onto your hiking boots might not be the best idea.

Preparing for a climb? Check these out:

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– Ultimate List: What To Wear When You Go Mountain Climbing

Checking The Flexibility Of Your Hiking Boots And Crampons

A useful guide would be to look at the grading system for boots and crampons.

Boots are graded from B0 to B3, and crampons are graded from C1 to C3.

What the boots grading means:

  • B0:  Boots with flexible soles and uppers. For trekking and hill walking. Typically easy to break into.
  • B1: Boots with rigid midsole. For long mountain hikes, scrambles and winter hill walking.
  • B2: Boots  with stiff midsole and uppers. For mountaineering on easier grade snow and mixed climbing, but not for steep ice and harder mixed climbs.
  • B3: Boots with stiffest soles and uppers. For mountaineering on steep ice and mixed climbing at all grades.

Your typical hiking boots would usually have a B0 or B1 grade.

Here’s a video comparing the flexibility and insulation between B1, B2 and B3 boots:

What the crampons grading means:

  • C1: Also known as strap-on crampons. Most flexible. Can be easily secured with most boots. For winter walking and glacier traverses (generally flat routes).
  • C2: Also known as hybrid crampons. Stiffer than C1. Some might need to be secured to the heel welts of your boots. For winter climbing and alpinism (routes with some incline).
  • C3: Also known as step-in crampons. Very stiff. Most need to be secured to the toe and heel welts of your boots. For steep icy slopes and technical routes.

Generally, the boots should be stiffer than the crampons to ensure secure attachment and thus preventing them from falling off.

Here are the compatibility between boots and crampons grades:

B0 BootsNot really suitable for crampons.
B1 BootsCompatible with C1 (strap-on) crampons only.
B2 BootsCompatible with C1 or C2 (hybrid) crampons.
B3 BootsCompatible with C1, C2 or C3 (step-in) crampons.

So before looking for crampons that can fit with your hiking boots, first find out the suitable crampons required for your climb. Only then you can decide if you also need a new pair of boots.

Unfortunately, many boots do not come with a specified grading. Even the B and C grading system only acts as a guide and is not a foolproof way of selecting your gear. Nothing beats trying out both the boots and crampons in person to ensure their compatibility.

Read: Can You Bring Crampons In A Carry-On? (Rules in 50 Countries)

What Happens If You Put Crampons On A B0 Grade Hiking Boots?

When the soles of your boots are stiffer, the crampons are able to fit more securely with them. When your crampons are stiffer than your boots, it’s easy for them to become loose and fall off, lead to ankle injuries, and might even cause the crampons to break.

But the line between B0 and B1 boots is not always clear.

And the flexibility of your boots also depends on your shoe size and weight.

For a pair of identical boots, a larger size will be more flexible than a small one and a heavier person might be able to bend a boot more than a lighter person.

If you have a pair of basic hiking boots (or even trainers), and are not tackling steep icy mountains or technical climbs, a pair of C1 strap-on crampons might just work for trekking over gentle, icy surfaces.

Just be sure to try out the crampons with your boots to ensure their compatibility.

Do You Need New Boots?

Do your boots have good ankle support? Walking with crampons will get some getting used to. You might be a bit wobbly at the start and perhaps more prone to twisting an ankle on uneven icy terrains. A low cut hiking boot might not be able to offer you the additional protection for your ankles.

Do your boots have sufficient insulation? Some boots might be rigid enough to be used with crampons but may not fare well in freezing temperatures. If your hiking boots are breathable, chilly air is also going to come rushing in.

Are your boots water resistance? Your crampons are going to be turning ice into slush. If your boots are not waterproof or water resistance, your hike is going to turn unpleasant real quick. Frostbite can also set in easily when your toes are wet and cold.

One option is to consider using waterproofing sprays on your boots. Do note that different materials might require different waterproofing products.

How Do I Size My Crampons?

Unlike boots, most crampons only come in one size, with an adjustable center bar to change its lengths.

Size specifications are usually given in ranges such as:

  • EU 36-46
  • UK 4.5-11.5
  • US 5-13

This video shows how you can adjust the center bar:

How To Securely Fit Crampons Onto Your Hiking Boots?

Putting on C1 strap-on crampons:

  • Slip your boot onto the crampon and ensure the toe cage and heel binder can close comfortably around the boot.
  • Loop the straps around and tighten.

Here’s a demo video on how to put on C1 strap-on crampons:

If you are considering replacing your hiking boots with mountaineering boots, here’s how you put on C2 hybrid and C3 step-in crampons.

Putting on C2 hybrid crampons:

  • Slip the front of your boot into the toe cage.
  • Lock the heel clip onto the heel welt of your boot.
  • Loop the straps around and tighten.

Here’s a demo video to put on C2 hybrid crampons:

Putting on C3 step-in crampons:

  • Fit the toe cage onto the toe welt of your boot.
  • Lock the heel clip onto the heel welt of your boot.
  • Loop the straps around and tighten.

Here’s a demo video on how to put on C3 step-in crampons:

Related Questions

Are microspikes different from crampons?

Microspikes are effectively mini crampons. A quick comparison:



Number of spikes

8 — 12

10 — 12, has chains

Length of spikes

½ — ¾ inches
(1.3 — 1.9 centimeters)

¼ — ½ inches
(0.6 — 1.3 centimeters)

Microspikes are suitable for flat terrains and can be used with trainers and B0 boots.

What crampon accessories do you need?

  • Anti-balling plates: to prevent snow from sticking to the bottom of the crampon
  • Crampon cases: shoe bags for crampons, usually made of tougher materials like nylon
  • Point covers: rubber covers for the sharp crampon points
  • Gaiters: to protect your lower legs and pants from getting cut by the crampons
  • Replacement parts: these include center bars to adjust crampon flexibility, straps, screws etc

How long can crampons last? According to Black Diamond, the lifespans of crampons are:

  • Sporadic use with a seasonal concentration: 5 to 10 years.
  • Regular use throughout the year on difficult routes and some ice falls: 3 to 5 years.
  • Frequent, professional use on new routes and ice falls: 3 to 6 seasons.
  • Dry tooling, modern mixed, competitions: 1 to 2 seasons.

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