Gear Review: Hillsound Freesteps6 Crampons

An easy-on, easy-off micro crampon for every type of winter sport

Whether you’re hiking, trail running or on the lake for some ice fishing, there’s no doubt that winter temperatures and snowfall can make for some unsafe, icy surfaces. Rather than tiptoeing everywhere you travel or foregoing your favorite winter sports completely, try investing in a pair of micro crampons—slip-on crampons that have smaller spikes than regular, climb-a-mountain crampons.

We tested out the FreeSteps6 winter traction micro crampons by Canadian company, Hillsound, and were impressed by their ability to keep us upright. These lightweight crampons are similar to the popular Yaktrax, but come with heavier duty spikes and stainless steel chains that provide a bit more traction. There are even larger spikes at the heel for downhill running or hiking.

The best part about the FreeSteps6 is how easy they are to get on and off. The chains and spikes are attached to an elastomer harness, which is tear resistant and promises to maintain pliability in sub-freezing temperatures. This harness, though, is quite stretchy and simply slips on over your boots or shoes. Slide your toes into the front section by the toe guide wire, and pull the back-tab over the heel—easy on, and just as easy to get off.

If your snow pants don't have integrated snow gaiters, you'll end up with cold ankles and wet socks during your hike. Pair the crampons with some gaiters, though, and you'll stay toasty warm. Hillsound's Super Armadillo Nano gaiters are breathable, waterproof, and stretchy enough to pull over the biggest of boots. These gaiters are slash and dirt resistant, too, so no need to worry about your spikes tearing them apart.

Hits: The crampons are extremely easy to get on and off and provide superb traction on slippery surfaces; Slash-resistant gaiters make for lasting durability

Misses: One size of the crampons might fit your winter boots, but could be too big for your running shoes—bring along both to try them on in store

Price: $40 for crampons; $98 for gaitors