You’ve done the research and chosen a pair of crampons to compliment your hiking boots for your activity. What’s next? Now it’s time to protect your investment. While crampons aren’t the most expensive piece of gear you will own, they aren’t cheap, and it’s wise to take care of them. Crampon care isn’t difficult, but there are a few basic steps to follow to ensure your spikes stay pointy and effective when you need them the most.
How to clean your crampons
Before heading out on a trip, take a good look at your crampons. It is important to make sure they are still in working order and ready for your adventure. If they are covered in grime and dirt, clean them!
- Take a damp rag and wipe off the excess grime.
- After that, eyeball any screws on the crampons to make sure they are tight and secure. If the straps look worn or tattered, consider replacing them with new ones.
- It’s also a good idea to look at the boot welts on the toes and heels. Are these grooves still adequate to ensure a tight fit with your crampons?
In general, make sure your crampon components are still in working order so that you don’t run into any nasty surprises while on the ice.
How to sharpen your crampons
There is a good chance you will need to frequently sharpen your crampons, especially if you use them on rocks. Mixed terrain dulls the points, so it is important to continually sharpen them for maximum performance. But how do you do that? If you have a vise, use it to hold the crampon in place. If you don’t have a vise , don’t stress--just hold on tight! Word to the wise: if you do opt for a vise , be sure you don’t cinch it down too tightly, as that can warp the shape of the crampon. Then, snag yourself a flat mill bastard file (or hand file, which is a lot easier-sounding). Use this tool to file your points in the direction of the file’s teeth. You want the side and points to be as sharp as possible while still maintaining a straight line. Don’t forget: the idea is to make the points sharper, but not thinner. Afterward, straighten out any bent points to return them to their original shape. Some people will grab a grinder and use that, claiming ease of use or efficiency. We advise against that--heat from the grinder can warp the metal.
Protection from your crampons
It’s not a bad idea to protect yourself and your gear from the spiky points on your crampons. Padded crampon cases are available for purchase and make it easy to pack or store your crampons. A cheaper option is to buy some rubber point covers. These just slide onto your points, making for a less bulky and more affordable protection option.
Never store your crampons wet! If they’re still damp from a cleaning or snow, be sure to fully dry them before packing them away for the season. If you know they will be in hibernation for a few months, coat them with a light layer of WD-40. Now that you know how to care for crampons, get outside and enjoy them! If you need some adventure inspiration, check out Brendan Leonard’s article about ice climbing at Ouray Ice Park. And if you need some new winter boots to accompany your crampons on their next adventure, we’ve got those, too.