Judy Armstrong reviews an updated version of a very good steel walking crampon.
This review is part of our crampons gear guide, and was first published in the February 2018 issue of The Great Outdoors.
I tested Irvis in 2013, and found this current version had a number of updates. The harness is made up of thermoplastic cradles linked with narrow tape which is adjusted and secured via an aluminium double buckle. The narrow tape slides easily so is simple to tension; it’s a straightforward, easy- to-use system. Front and rear cradles are malleable so can be positioned to fit fairly closely to most boot shapes. The rear harness is slightly smaller than the others but still feels secure. Of the 10 hefty points, the front two poke forward and the forefoot and heel plates have one on each corner. Anti-ball plates are integrated and work perfectly, I never experienced any underfoot accumulation of snow, of any texture. The front plates are asymmetric, with a curve to the outside. The link bar also curves the same way. This worked well on modern mountaineering boots (eg La Sportiva Trango Cube) whose sole unit matched the curve. On more traditional walking boots there was more boot/ sole to the outside of the bar, which I had to counteract by using more ankle flex, as the boot wanted to tip outward.
In terms of fitting, very fine adjustment is possible due to parallel rows of holes along the central bar, each being half a hole offset. The foot plates themselves are quite short, which saves weight but reduces the feeling of stability, and makes them suited to smaller boots only. Under Duncan’s size 44 forefoot the plate ended where his boot flexed, which was definitely insufficient.
As an aside to more ambitious hill walkers, Irvis have interchangeable front sections so you can upgrade to Vasak (12 point, Flexlock cradles) or Sarken (12 point, Leverlock harness with heel clip/front cradle) models.