26 May 2012

Crampons: do they break?

Black Diamond have posted an excellent article on crampons - it talks about choosing materials, eg. stainless steel vs chromoly steel vs aluminium, and about fatigue testing, and selecting the right crampons for your boot and your activity.

A few years ago they started using stainless steel instead of chromoly steel. Both chromoly and stainless contain chromium as an alloying element, but chromoly contains less than 1% chromium, whereas stainless steel contains at least 10.5%. This means that chromoly rusts more easily than stainless. There are also other material property differences. Ultimately they decided that stainless was better suited to the task as they found it was more wear resistant, didn't pick up as much snow when walking, and didn't rust as much.

They also refer to a BMC leaflet about care and mainteneance - the interesting point which is confirmed by their tests, is that if you have flexible boots you should wear flexible crampons, and stiff crampons for stiff boots. In their tests the fatigue life of crampons was reduced by roughly up to 80% when there was a mismatch between crampons and boots. If you have soft boots make sure you replace those rigid steel cross bars in your crampons with a flexible one, it could increase the lifespan of your crampons considerably!

Image from Black Diamond article

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