In line for a new pair of crampons? As part of a wider crampon review, David Lintern tests the Salewa Alpinist Combi.
The Salewa Alpinist Combi is an excellent crampon let down by a couple of small but significant design details… at least if you have big feet in the Scottish winter!
It’s easy to get the fit dialled straight out of the box, with the left and right clearly labelled, as well as the boot sizes on the adjustable linking bar between front and back. The front basket hinges stiffly, which is useful in avoiding clamped digits, and the heel leverlock is solid and reassuring once adjusted, as one would hope and expect. The 12 medium profile points are extremely sharp and well-distributed, meaning a good, stable platform on a mix of terrain. They also pack down small when not in use. So far, so good.
Part of the USP of the Salewa Alpinist Combi is the adjustable strap. This is a great idea, as often the straps on crampons are a major trip hazard. However, on my larger volume (size 10.5, EU45) boots, I am close to running out of cord. If your feet are smaller, this won’t be a problem… but when the straps inevitably work their way looser after time, there’s little contingency and no extra for tying off. The crampon didn’t work its way loose completely, but I was very conscious of the slim margins. A related factor here is the anti-balling plates. While made of fairly robust plastic, their deeper, 3D bellows design allows snow and other crud to accumulate between boot and crampon. Over time, this refreezes and can force the two apart – a major hazard if left unchecked.
In Alpine conditions it may not matter, but in Scottish winter on a mix of rock, snow, ice, heather and bog, I’m concerned that those two particular features might well become bugs.
Read more: 3 of the best crampons reviewed