I have been meaning to post this review for a while, but the same things that have put a hold to skiing this spring have also kept me away from the blog...
Last autumn I came across the Tech 250 crampon from TC Design - a mini-crampon that uses the tech inserts of touring boots as attachment points. The idea seemed interesting to me as a lightweight 'exceptional circumstances' crampon that most importantly won't take up too much space in a pack. Currently only available in the US the postage costs on the website were astronomical (from memory about the same price as the crampons - $115), but a quick email to the guys at Pro Ski Service produced a very quick response and a much more reasonable postage price! (Thanks guys!)
Having now used these crampons several times (sadly not as much as hoped...) here are a few thoughts:
- Set-up is reasonably easy but does take some trial and error to suss out the appropriate washer combination for a solid mount.
Having got them set up solidly in the garage when I put them on one still had some slight vertical movement. This doesn't concern me unduly from a safety point of view but does from a wear and tear on boot inserts point of view, as the pins going in to the inserts are threaded screws any movement is potentially going to scratch up the surface of the insert leading to more icing problems (potentially).
- Very positive front points, these crampons feel rock solid even in water ice - once again steel wins hands down over lighter options (aluminium etc).
- Limited footwork possibilities due to the lack of rear points - front pointing or nearly front pointing only... it is far (massively so) more energy efficient in lots of situations to be able to use the whole side of the foot/crampon, even on 'mellow' slopes rather than 'front pointing'.
- Super-compact! I like to keep my pack as slim and trim as possible, and these definitely help keep the volume down (weight is not such a big issue as there are plenty of decent hybrid crampons out there with reasonable front points that aren't much heavier...).
Will I use them more? They will most definitely have a place in my pack on certain select outings - a prime example being this trip with 200/300m of couloir which needed to be climbed but would almost certainly be skied going down - however any time there may be a more 'mountaineering element' (ie up/down/across travel on foot), or for longer climbs where energy efficiency is important I will most likely stick to a regular crampon.