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Camp XLC 490 Aluminum Crampons Overview 

Camp XLC 490 Crampons Review

CAMP XLC 490 Crampons are light-weight aluminum crampons with a common binding which might be suitable with most mountaineering and mountain climbing boots. They’re designed for low-angle mountain climbing on ice and packed snow, typically known as glacier journey. Whereas aluminum crampons aren’t as sturdy as ones made with metal, they’re far lighter weight, which makes them simpler to make use of and simpler to hold, particularly on lengthy winter hikes once you don’t know whether or not you’ll want them or not.

Specs at a Look

  • Weight: 585 g / 20.7 oz (precise 610 g)
  • Binding: Common
  • Adjustable size: Device-free
  • Anti-balling plates: Sure
  • Variety of spikes: 12
  • Spike Size: 3 cm
  • Materials: 7075 Aluminum alloy

Low-Angle Crampons

Hikers have much more choices immediately than they did 10-12 years in the past once you wanted to put on heavy metal crampons and mountaineering boots for winter mountain climbing. Since then there’s been a revolution in insulated footwear and light-weight traction units comparable to microspikes and traction aids designed for versatile soled footwear together with path runners. Actually, there are such a lot of choices that it may be troublesome for brand new winter hikers to decide on between them.

The CAMP XLC 490 crampon has a spike length of 3 cm. That’s about 50% longer than on Hillsound Crampon Pro’s.
The CAMP XLC 490 crampon has a spike size of three cm. That’s about 50% longer than on Hillsound Crampon Professional’s.

However these CAMP Crampons aren’t your on a regular basis winter mountain climbing spikes and are finest used on low-angle ice and packed snow (also known as glacier journey) excessive up on a mountain, the place you need deeper penetration for mountain climbing uphill or coming again down a slippery slope. Low-angle means non-vertical, extra like a slope angle of 40 levels or much less. These additionally aren’t crampons that you just’d use for mountaineering or normal mountaineering the place you need a very inflexible and sturdy metal crampon for kicking the entrance spikes into very steep or vertical ice.

I primarily use these CAMPs for descending steep ice-covered mountain climbing trails the place I need extra braking and traction than I can get from a pair of Hillsound Professional Crampons, Kahtoola K10s, or Kahtoola KTS crampons as a result of they’ve for much longer and sharper spikes. I additionally use them for mountain climbing on icy or slushy trails the place the snow balls-up (clumps collectively within the crampon tooth so that you lose all traction) as a result of they’ve anti-balling plates that forestall it. Currently, I’ve been utilizing them on slopes which might be coated with slush that lies on high of laborious ice. I really feel like I get a a lot deeper chew into that onerous icy layer underneath the slush with the XLC 490’s longer crampon tooth.

The XLC 490 crampons come with pre-attached anti-balling plates that prevent wet snow from clumping to the bottom of the spikes.
The XLC 490 crampons include pre-attached anti-balling plates that forestall moist snow from clumping to the underside of the spikes.

Common Binding

The CAMP XLC 490 Crampons have a common binding, which signifies that they’re suitable with any form of boot that’s stiff sufficient to assist a crampon (extra on this beneath.) Common bindings have two plastic cages, known as bails, one on the toe and one on the heel. These cup your heel and toes and are held on with a strap threaded by way of holes within the bails. The strap is threaded within the form of a triangle, operating up by way of the nostril, across the reverse aspect of the heel, after which secured with a double ring buckle. I pull on the strap so it’s tight however nonetheless comfy after which knot up the unfastened finish so I don’t journey on it with the spikes on my different foot.

The CAMP XLC 490 has a universal binding that’s held onto the boot using a single nylon strap. It works surprisingly well when the boot is fitted properly.
The CAMP XLC 490 has a common binding that’s held onto the boot utilizing a single nylon strap. It really works surprisingly effectively when the boot is fitted correctly.

The XLC 490 doesn’t have a versatile leaf spring: that’s the skinny metallic bar that connects the entrance and the rear halves of the crampon. The size of that heart bar is adjustable with out instruments, utilizing a guide spring mechanism to lock the sizing in place.  Whereas it’s inflexible aluminum, there’s a threat that it may bend if you happen to put on the XLC 490s with boots which have very versatile soles. Even then the bar is unlikely to interrupt and replacements can be found, however I’d keep away from pushing your luck and keep away from utilizing the XLC 490 with soft-soled boots. I put on these crampons with a 400-gram non-rigid, single-layer, insulated winter boot known as the Oboz Bridger 10″ and my bar hasn’t bent, however YMMV.

The strap locks with a double ring buckle. Then you should knot up the excess to avoid tripping on it.
The strap locks with a double ring buckle. Then you must knot up the surplus to keep away from tripping on it.


Aluminum crampons are usually not as sturdy or as sturdy as metal crampons. Whereas you need to use them in blended situations with rock and ice, I’d advocate minimizing their use on rock since it would uninteresting the factors if you happen to do it often. Rock is unavoidable typically so you could verify your factors periodically to see in the event that they’re uninteresting. That stated, you’d be stunned how a lot traction you will get with worn-down spikes, merely be utilizing your physique weight to push the spikes into ice or snow. Microspikes work the identical approach however have a lot smaller spikes.

The crampons have an embossed guide which indicates what the shape of the points should look like when sharpened and when you should replace them. You can expect to sharpen these twice.
The crampons have an embossed information that signifies what the form of the factors ought to appear like when sharpened and when you must change them. That is finest down by hand with a mill bastard file.

These crampons might be sharpened with a mill bastard file, however you possibly can solely do this one or two occasions with aluminum crampons as a result of they’ve much less mass in comparison with metal. The XLC 490’s have an embossed determine on the aspect that exhibits you what the factors ought to appear like when sharpened (as sharp because the tip of a ballpoint pen is an efficient goal) and the way far you possibly can sharpen them earlier than they must be changed (the higher “V”).

The Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro has a much simpler binding system that uses ratchet buckles than the CAMP XLC 490 universal binding
The Hillsound Path Crampon Professional has a a lot easier binding system that makes use of ratchet buckles than the CAMP XLC 490 common binding.

Comparability with Hillsound Path Crampon Professional’s

Hillsound’s Path Crampon Execs are just like these XLC 490’s when it comes to utility and vary, though they’re a number of ounces heavier and so they have carbon metal spikes as an alternative of aluminum ones. The Professional’s additionally include anti-balling plates and don’t require instruments to regulate, however they’ve 10 factors in comparison with the 12 factors on the XLC 490 and shorter spikes (see bullets beneath). The opposite distinction is the ratchet bindings, that are a lot easier to make use of on the Professional than a Common Crampon Binding, significantly for inexperienced winter hikers. I like to recommend the Professional rather more typically than the XLC 490 for that reason.

However the largest distinction between the Execs and the XLC 490 has to do with expertise. The XLCs are actual mountaineering crampons (as are the metal BD Contact Crampons, famous above) and I like to recommend getting educated within the footwork strategies required to make use of them safely. Sliding falls in mountaineering crampons may end up in a damaged ankle or leg, however might be averted with an hour’s value of coaching and a few follow. By comparability, most individuals can use Hillsound Path Crampon Execs with none prior expertise and so they present an excellent various to the XLC 490 in most situations.

The Hillsounds (top) have much shorter spikes than the CAMPs (bottom)
The Hillsounds (high) have a lot shorter spikes than the CAMPs (backside)

There’s one other distinction between the CAMP XLC 490s and the Hillsound Path Crampons Execs and that’s consolation, not less than for me. The entrance straps on the Hillsound Professional’s exert a variety of strain on my toes that I discover uncomfortable when worn with my Oboz Bridger 10″ insulated boots. However the entrance toe bails on the XLC 490 crampons don’t strain my toes, so I favor utilizing them as an alternative. I point out this as a result of individuals with delicate toes or ft could profit from utilizing a common crampon binding.


CAMP XLC 490 Aluminum Crampons are a light-weight various to heavier metal crampons for mountain climbing on low-angle ice or packed snow when aggressive traction and an extended spike size is warranted. They’re suitable with a variety of mountaineering boots and non-technical mountain climbing boots as a result of they use a common crampon binding, however they’re full mountaineering crampons and require further coaching to make use of safely. I first found aluminum crampons about 15 years in the past and have been utilizing them ever since with a wide range of winter footwear from plastic mountaineering boots to non-rigid winter mountain climbing boots. They’re noticeably lighter on my ft than metal crampons and nimble to make use of.

Whereas aluminum crampons are admittedly a distinct segment product, they’re an excellent traction help to hold once you suppose you would possibly want them however don’t need to carry a heavier metal crampon. Nevertheless, if you need a crampon that’s easier to make use of and requires much less ability improvement, I like to recommend you check out the Hillsound Path Crampon Professional, which is an enormous step up from microspikes and might be additionally used very very like the CAMP XLC 490 for strolling on low-angle ice and snow slab.

Disclosure: The writer owns this product.

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Final up to date: 2022-04-20 11:16:58

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