If there is one thing Canadians do really well, it’s winter sports and activities. From ice hockey to curling to scaling the ice-covered Canadian Rockies, if it’s done in the winter, chances are there is a Canadian-based company that makes gear for it—and they probably know their stuff.

Such is certainly the case with Hillsound Trail Crampons. The Hillsound Equipment Company is based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, and specializes in manufacturing several models of crampons and gators.

Hillsound makes five models of crampons, but their featured model, the Trail Crampon, is a mid-range model both in price and in standard features. This model was designed to be used while hiking or trekking on trails and established routes; they were not designed for glacier travel or technical mountaineering. If you need that sort of equipment, the Hillsound Trail Crampon PRO is the model headed that direction. That review is coming soon.

Specifications

Colors available: Black

Sizes available (U.S.):

  • Extra Small (XS): Women 5-7
  • Small (S): Men 6-8 / Women 7-9
  • Medium (M): Men 8-10 / Women 9-11
  • Large (L): Men 10-12
  • Extra Large (XL): Men 12-15

Weight:

  • XS: 402 gram / 14.1 ounces
  • S: 420 gram / 14.8 ounces
  • M: 446 gram / 15.7 ounces
  • L: 474 gram / 16.7 ounces
  • XL: 490 gram / 17.2 ounces

Materials:

Spikes/cleats: 0.62″ long (1.6CM) heat-treated S50C carbon steel

MSRP: $69.00

Application: Backcountry hiking, glacier travel, winter hiking

Pros: Quality materials, easy to transport, easy to use

Cons: Has a tendency to clump up in wet snow

Bottom line

Because I got these late in the season, I was only able to test them out for a few days in the environment they’re best suited for. So far, they seem best suited for packed trails or ice. When I used them for strolling around the few packed trails and icy areas I was able to find in late March and early April here in Alaska, they worked better than other traction devices I had tried. The 1/2″-long spikes on the crampon really dig in and provide a firm, stable grip on the ice. Couple that with their other high-quality components, and the Hillsound Trail Crampon should provide the wearer with great peace of mind during the winter.

Hillsound Trail Crampons | First Impressions
Front cleat configuration before field trials

The only two issues I had with the Trail Crampons were pretty simple. One was my fault, one was nature’s fault. My experience with any sort of ice cleat or traction device for shoes was limited to several types that relied on small steel dots or steel coils that protruded from the bottom of the shoe. The Hillsound Trail Crampon has an articulating center section that felt odd to me when I first used it. Still, I got used to it rather quickly. You quickly forget about it as the cleats dig firmly into ice and snow.

The second issue stemmed from parts of the trail being mushy, made up of soft, melting snow that did have a tendency to pack up around the middle of the articulating cleat section of the crampons. To me, this is a minor issue. If you have a walking stick or trekking poles of any sort, you just reach down occasionally and tap the snow out of the cleat and keep walking. A little situational awareness and maintenance of your gear, and this isn’t an issue. When hiking and walking trails in the winter, if this proves to be my biggest problem, it’s a successful hike.

Hillsound Trail Crampons | First Impressions
A closer look at the 1/2″-long cleats

The stainless-steel chains along the bottom of the crampons are a nice added feature. Stainless steel will provide years of service with little if any maintenance required. Hillsound could have gone with cheaper, lower-quality components, but they didn’t. That is refreshing to see from a manufacturer these days.

Hillsound Trail Crampons | First Impressions
How the Trail Crampon should sit on your boot

If you intend to go out in the winter for any activity, you should really consider getting ahold of some of Hillsound’s crampons for traction, and their gator leg coverings for protection against wet legs.