Can You Really Put Crampons on Ski Boots? (Backcountry Skiing)

Can You Really Put Crampons on Ski Boots (Backcountry Skiing)

When it comes to backcountry skiing, some skiers have to hike deep into the wilderness to find the best slopes. 

In such cases, climbing skins and ski crampons will provide traction but will merely get you so far before you need to change to boot crampons. 

But you might be wondering, can you really put crampons on ski boots?

The answer is yes. You can put crampons on your ski boots when hiking up the mountain for an incredible ski experience. 

Most crampons can easily be put on ski boots, but it’s essential to consider the compatibility of your boots to the specific crampons you intend to use. 

Wearing boot crampons directly will improve traction and help you get to the top of your desired ridge with ease. You won’t have to change your boots at any point when climbing the mountain. 

When to Put Crampons on Your Boots

When to Put Crampons on Your Boots

When climbing a mountain, you should mount ski crampons on your skis. Climbing skins and ski crampons provide more traction and can directly be mounted to your skis. 

However, you may need an extra bite when ascending a steeper mountain. This is where boot crampons come into play. 

Having a boot crampon on your ski boot soles will ensure you have all the grip you need to climb the mountain with extra safety and less struggle. 

Without adequate traction, the slope will become too steep for you to ascend. You might slide backward.

Most skiers normally use ski skins and ice axe to hike across snowy surfaces or to start climbing the mountain. 

But it’s impossible to carry on your trek when the ski skins and ski crampons start to lose traction. You need something stronger, and the best option would be putting crampons on your boots. 

Crampons go directly onto the ski boot soles and allow you to continue with your hike up the mountain with the required grip. 

Your ski crampons are great for getting you across the snow, but they may not be of great help when the climb becomes too sharp, and the snow is hard to bite. 

And your boots alone will not help you since they don’t have soles that are specifically made for ascending. 

They are only designed to keep your feet in line and stable when riding on snowy slopes. 

The type of mobility you get when wearing ski boots is quite restrictive compared to boots designed for hiking. That’s why you always need extra traction to be safe on the slopes. 

Overall, it all comes down to the amount of mountaineering you intend to do when deciding whether to put crampons on your ski boots or not. 

Different Types of Crampons 

Different Types of Crampons 

As mentioned earlier, ski crampons play an essential role when it comes to improving traction while ascending a mountain. 

However, they may not provide enough bite when the mountain is too steep. So, you need to put crampons on your ski boots to be able to hike up the steep mountain. 

When buying crampons for your ski boots, you will find several types in the market, and not all of them will fit your boots properly. 

So, compatibility is the first thing you should have in mind when buying crampons for your ski boots. Remember, even the best crampon won’t be of any help on the mountain if they don’t fit your ski boots  properly. 

Generally, there are three main types of crampons, including automatic, strap-on, and semi-automatic. 

These crampons mainly differ by how they attach to your ski boots. Let’s have a deeper look at each type to help you understand them better. 

Automatic Crampons

Also known as step-in, automatic crampons are specialized pieces that come in handy for extreme activities. 

They are perfect for hiking steeper terrain covered with hard snow where your ski crampons and skins cannot provide a good grip. 

Step-in crampons are an excellent option for ski boots since they offer a tight fit in most types of boots. 

As such, you don’t feel like you are wearing a different piece of footwear with these crampons on your ski boots. 

To use these crampons, all you have to do is attach the metal bars to the welts on your boots and tighten them for a perfect fit.

This way, the crampon will stay in place as you hike up. Once you fasten the metal bars to the welts, use straps to tighten the crampon, so it doesn’t move as you trek. 

The close fit you get with step-in crampons is exactly what you need on a steep mountain. You cannot afford to have crampons that shift around when ascending a sharp mountain covered with snow. 

Most automatic crampons come with adjustable toe and heel bails that allow you to adjust the front points to suit your mountain climbing or walking. 

Semi-Automatic Crampons

These crampons are also known as hybrid crampons, and they are almost similar to step-in crampons. The main difference is that hybrid crampons use a strap instead of a front bar to attach to boots. 

Semi-automatic crampons are compatible with different types of boots and are more affordable than automatic crampons. 

However, they are not as technical as automatic crampons, which can handle extreme terrains. 

While their performance may not match step-in crampons, hybrids are a great option if you need more flexibility when hiking on a steep mountain and want to cover more ground for stability. 

These boot crampons are ideal for spring tours on terrain covered with slightly firm snow, glacier travel, and moderate ski mountaineering. 

Strap-On Crampons

Strap-on crampons are simply non-technical equipment designed to give your boots some extra bite on the snow. 

They feature small spikes and are very cheap to acquire. You can use them on any type of boots as they fit pretty well in almost every pair. 

Strap-on crampons are mainly used for activities like fall hiking, backpacking, and scrambling. 

You cannot use them for extreme activities. These crampons are not ideal for climbing a steep slope.

Aluminum Crampons Vs Steel Crampons

Steel crampons are durable and fit for extreme terrain covered with firm snow. If you hike a lot during your ski tours, steel crampons are your best bet as they are sturdy enough to withstand rough terrain. 

However, steel crampons are quite heavier due to their robust material, but they provide improved safety when touring on firm snow. 

On the other hand, aluminum crampons are lightweight and flexible. A decent crampon (pair) weighs about 390 grams on average. 

They make excellent gear for less harsh activities on the snow. 

However, an aluminum crampon will wear faster than a crampon made of steel, but it does provide a viable short-term solution. 

These crampons are compatible with most types of boots and will not weigh your feet down when trekking on icy terrain. 

Now that you have learned about the types of crampons, which ones should you use when ski mountaineering?

The Best Type of Crampons to Use When Ski Mountaineering? 

The Best Type of Crampons to Use When Ski Mountaineering 

Step-in and hybrid crampons are the ideal options for ski mountaineering. These crampons are compatible with most boots and are very functional on hard ice and steep slopes. 

So, you need to decide between step-in and hybrid crampons. If you think you’ll mainly need your crampons on extreme terrains, I suggest you go for step-in crampons. 

Sure, they are a bit expensive and heavy, but definitely worth the money. You won’t struggle climbing steep mountains since they provide excellent traction and stability. 

If you want an affordable option that will still give good traction on the mountains, you can attach hybrid crampons to your ski boot soles. 

Apart from crampon compatibility, you also need to consider the material used to ensure that you choose the best pair. 

Boot crampons are mainly made of aluminum or steel. Aluminum crampons are lightweight and perfect for hiking up in the snow, but they are not a durable option. 

Since they are easily damaged, especially when ascending rocky terrain, aluminum crampons only work great when used as a temporary solution. 

But they are a really great option for moderate activities on the icy surface. For example, you can cross glaciers, travel on snow faster, or even backpack comfortably on snowy trails. 

If you want a sturdy pair of crampons, steel boot crampons are the best option for you. Steel crampons will serve you for a longer time and let you climb rocky terrain efficiently. 

Having appropriate gear on your ski adventures is crucial to ensure that you stay safe and have an incredible experience. 

But what if you only need crampons for a short steep climbing? Here is the best crampon to buy. 

TechCrampon 250 Ski Crampon

The TechCrampon 250 is an excellent option if you only need your ski crampons for limited steep mountaineering. 

It’s made in the Pacific Northwest and is specifically meant for ski boots that are compatible with the tech. 

This crampon is not a full boot crampon, but it works very well for various ski mountaineering endeavors. 

The Fit is Always Crucial for Your Safety in the Mountains

The Fit is Always Crucial for Your Safety in the Mountains

When ascending steep slopes, your ice axe and crampons are the only safety equipment you are relying on to stride forward.

They are the only things that will get you on top of the mountain and prevent you from falling off when making your steps up the slope. 

So, your crampons and boots must have a good fit to ensure that they don’t pop off as you hike up the mountain. 

It can be very dangerous if your crampon pops off by chance as you make a big step upwards on the icy slope.

Before venturing into the mountains, I recommend you do a few actual tests on your crampons. This way, you’ll be sure whether you can rely on them or not. 

Also, you need to look for a safe environment when doing the tests to prevent fatal injuries when trying out your crampons. 

Essential Boot Crampon Accessories 

Essential Boot Crampon Accessories 

For your boot crampon to provide the extra traction you need when ski mountaineering, you need these accessories:

Anti-Balling Plates

All crampons usually feature an anti-balling plate made of ABS plastic to ensure that snow doesn’t stick on the spikes as you trek. 

This is an essential feature because it prevents you from losing traction. Otherwise, your crampons would only become useless after a few minutes of ski mountaineering. 

Crampon Cases and Covers

Crampons also come with cases and point covers designed to keep your gear safe and protect you from sharp spikes. 

The point covers are usually made of rubber, while the case uses high-quality nylon. They make it easy for you to access and pack your boot crampons. 

Spare Parts

As with any other type of gear, some crampon spare parts can come in handy on the trail. You can buy crampons center bars at a local ski shop to improve flexibility. 

With center bars, you can extend your crampon to fit bigger boots. If you are ski touring in a remote area, you can carry extra toe, heel bails, and screws. 


Mountaineering boot crampons also work great when paired with gaiters. With a high-quality pair of gaiters, you won’t have to worry about snow getting into your ski boots.

When buying gaiters for your ski mountaineering pursuits, be sure to check the materials. The best fabric for gaiters should be breathable and waterproof to protect you from snow and rain. 

Gaiters come in different sizes, ranging from knee to over-the-ankle length. The best option for you will depend on the conditions that you mainly ski on. 

When to Use Ski Crampons 

When to Use Ski Crampons 

You can use ski crampons when skinning up a steep slope covered with ice to gain traction and prevent falling off or sliding backward. They have sharp points that push into the snow for traction. 

The best time to put on your ski crampon is when you are about to hike up a steep slope. Don’t wait too long to wear your skis, as the setup process requires a flat surface. 

When skinning up slopes with firm snow, ski crampons will offer some resistance on the snow surface. However, they may not be effective on very steep slopes. 

Your ski crampons should be wider than your skis but not too big to break the bindings. 

Ski crampons are usually more lightweight than most ski boot crampons since they are made of aluminum. They also come in different models and designs.

When buying ski crampons, you need to ensure that they are compatible with your ski boot bindings. 

For example, if your boots use DYNAFIT bindings, the only crampons that will fit them are original ski crampons from the same brand.  

It is only important to buy compatible ski crampons for a good fit. Choosing the correct width will also help protect the ski binding during your tour. 



Q: Do You Need Crampons for Backcountry Skiing?

A: Yes, you need crampons for backcountry skiing. While you can trek across the slope with your ski crampons, it may be impossible to hike up a steep mountain. 

If you have to hike up a steep mountain to get to your incredible slope for skiing, you’ll need great traction. And your ski crampons or mere ski boots cannot give you that.

The only way to continue your climb is to remove the skis and put crampons on your boots to get to the top of the mountain efficiently. 

Q: Can Crampons Go on Ski Boots?

A: Yes, crampons can go on ski boots. However, you need to ensure that you choose the crampon type that is compatible with your ski boots. 

Crampons that usually fit properly on ski boots include step-in or automatic and semi-automatic crampons. 

Strap-on crampons also have some options that are compatible with ski boots. However, you’ll need to bring your ski boots when purchasing them to ensure they are compatible. 

Q: Can You Put Crampons on Touring Boots?

A: Yes, you can put crampons on touring boots. Ski touring sometimes involves hiking up a steep mountain, which can be quite challenging without adequate traction.

If you are skinning up and find that your climbing skins or boots do not provide enough traction on the steep mountain, you can put on your crampons to ascend safely. 

Boot crampons are great for ski touring when you have to climb on firm snow and your skins just can’t cut through. Don’t underestimate the dangers of trekking on a steep mountain covered with ice!

Q: Can I Put Crampons on My Boots?

A: Yes, you can put crampons on your boots. But you need to keep in mind that not all crampons will fit your boots as they may require a special type of boot. 

Depending on the activities you want to engage in, you can put crampons on your ski boots, snow boots, ice climbing boots, and more. You just need to ensure that you get the right type. 
For extreme icy terrain, you can use step-in crampons as they provide the best fit and the extra traction you need. 

Such crampons are usually made of aluminum or steel. Aluminum is soft and lightweight and works well as a temporary solution for your climbing endeavors. 

If you want a durable option, steel crampons are the best solution as they can handle rocky terrain and last for a longer time. 

Overall, it is always important to consider compatibility when buying crampons for your boots. You don’t want to end up with a pair that doesn’t fit your boots or makes you feel very awkward when trekking. 

Final Thoughts 

Final Thoughts 

If you are wondering whether it’s possible to put crampons on your ski boots, the answer is yes. 

Nonetheless, not all crampons fit properly on ski boots. You need to check compatibility when buying crampons for your ski boots to ensure that you get a pair that fits perfectly. 

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Picture of Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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