3/1/2021 Ski Crampon Compatibility
By Teddy Young - Skimo Co Staffer, Expert Gear Nerd, and Specs Enthusiast
Spring is a ski mountaineer's time to shine. With a stabilized snowpack and legs made strong by a long winter of touring, they flock to the alpine in order to reap the season's bounty before it all melts away. Each day the snow softens in the heat and then refreezes at night. While these daily temperature swings create our beloved corn snow, they can also make for dicey pre-dawn conditions. Even the most well-set, low-angle skintracks have a habit of glazing over during these freeze-thaw cycles.
That's where ski crampons come in.
Lightweight and easy to use, these invaluable tools can spell the difference between hours of frustrating, back-slipping or a safe and efficient stroll to the top of an objective. By adding a bite to each step, you gain the security and traction needed when skinning in all but the most bulletproof conditions.
Ski Crampon Types
As you take part in the seasonal rush to buy ski crampons this spring, take some time to make sure that those shiny new ‘pons you’re thinking of ordering will fit your bindings. Many of the popular ski crampon attachment systems are incompatible with one another, despite looking and operating nearly identical.
Read on as we go through the various types of crampons and how to match them to your set up. That way, you're ready to go once corn o'clock comes around this spring!
Dynafit Bar: This is the classic “Dynafit style” attachment, using a 6mm diameter steel bar with one centering notch and lots of room behind the bar. To attach, hold the crampon vertically on either the left or right side of your binding’s toe piece. Then slide the bar into the crampon receptor laterally until centered, and lower the crampon until it is horizontal and laying on your ski’s top sheet. Reverse this process to remove.
Bar w/ Small Window: Same as above, but has a limited amount of space immediately behind the steel bar due to how the windows in the aluminum plate have been cut. This can lead to compatibility issues with bindings that have bulkier crampon receptors or extensions behind the toe piece. If the aluminum comes in contact with any part of the binding that limits it from dropping onto the top sheet, there is a risk that the aluminum plate may crack when stepped on.
Plum: Although the Plum crampon is a proprietary attachment style, it also works for the Salomon MTN & Atomic Backland bindings. A shaped steel bar relies on precise geometry to stay secure rather than simply friction. To attach, hold the crampon vertically above your binding’s toe piece, drop the shaped steel bar down into the crampon receptor, and lower the crampon until it is horizontal and laying on your ski’s top sheet. Reverse this process to remove.
G3 ION / ZED: Another proprietary attachment style, this one uses two spring-loaded hooks. To attach, align the orange hooks with the horizontal bars on the sides of the crampon receptor, and push in. The hooks will click into place. To remove, pull the wire loop to retract the hooks, and slide the crampon off the receptor.
Marker Pintech: This style uses a 6mm steel bar with one centering notch, similar to others, but listed separately because its window is slightly larger and the aluminum plate length is shorter. As a result, it works with more bindings. It attaches the same as the Dynafit Bar.
Fritschi Vipec / Tecton: This is a proprietary attachment style that uses two spring-loaded pins. To attach, squeeze the two black levers towards the back of the crampon, align with holes on the sides of the toe piece, and release the levers. Reverse this process to remove.
Salomon / Atomic Shift: The Shift crampon uses a 6mm steel bar, but has two centering notches and a very wide window. This results in a loose fit when combined with bindings other than the Shift. The aluminum plate has a raised "hump" to accommodate the AFD. Attach it the same way as a Dynafit Bar crampon by sliding it in from the side.
Marker Duke PT: The Marker Duke PT uses a 6mm steel bar with one centering notch and an almost nonexistent window. The bar extends beyond the aluminum plate on both sides to allow clearance for the attachment behind the bar. The bar extensions and window size make it essentially proprietary, even though it uses the common 6mm steel bar. The aluminum plate is slightly raised to accommodate the AFD. Attach it the same way as typical bar-style crampons after removing alpine toe piece.
|Binding||Ski Crampon Type|
Dynafit, Dynafit Speed, Kreuzspitze
|Bar w/ Small Window
ATK, Black Diamond, Fritschi Xenic
|Plum / Atomic||G3 ION / ZED||Marker Pintech||Fritschi Vipec / Tecton||Salomon / Atomic Shift||Marker Duke PT|
|ATK||Yes||Yes||No 1||No 1||Yes||No 1||No 4,5||No 2|
|Atomic Backland||Yes w/ clip||Yes w/ clip||Yes||No 1||Yes w/ clip||No 1||No 4,5||No 2|
|Atomic Shift||No 4||No 4||No 1,4||No 1,4||No 4||No 1,4||Yes||No 2,4,5|
|Black Diamond||Yes||Yes||No 1||No 1||Yes||No 1||No 4,5||No 2|
|Dynafit (most)||Yes||Yes||No 1||No 1||Yes||No 1||No 4,5||No 2|
|Dynafit Rotation 7, Speed||Yes||No 2||No 1||No 1||Yes||No 1||No 4,5||No 2|
|Fritschi Vipec / Tecton||No 1||No 1||No 1||No 1||No 1||Yes||No 1||No 1|
|Fritschi Xenic||Yes||Yes||No 1||No 1||Yes||No 1||No 4,5||No 2|
|G3 ION / ZED||No 1||No 1||No 1||Yes||No 1||No 1||No 1||No 1|
|Hagan||Yes||Yes||No 1||No 1||Yes||No 1||No 4,5||No 2|
|Kreuzspitze||Yes||Yes||No 1||No 1||Yes||No 1||No 5||No 2|
|Marker Alpinist||Yes||Yes||No 1||No 1||Yes||No 1||No 4,5||No 2|
|Marker Duke PT||No 1||No 1||No 1||No 1||No 1||No 1||No 1,2,5||Yes|
|Marker Kingpin||Not ideal 3||Not ideal 3||No 1||No 1||Yes||No 1||Not ideal 3,5||No 2|
|Plum||No 1||No 1||Yes||No 1||No 1||No 1||No 1||No 1|
|Plum Race 99||None||None||None||None||None||None||None||None|
|Salomon MTN||Yes w/ clip||Yes w/ clip||Yes||No 1||Yes w/ clip||No 1||Not ideal 4,5||No 2|
|Salomon Shift||No 4||No 4||No 1,4||No 1,4||No 4||No 1,4||Yes||No 2,4,5|
|Ski Trab||Yes||Yes||No 1||No 1||Yes||No 1||No 4,5||No 2|
Appendix 1: Why Doesn't It Work? Some Reasons:
- Proprietary fittings
- Vipec/Tecton, G3, Duke PT, Plum(ish)
- Window behind bar
- ST Rotation 7 and Speed 10/12 may need a larger window to accommodate that tail/extension that exists behind the crampon receptor. Radical ST is fine.
- Plate length
- Kingpin needs short plate length due to the binding's ski/walk lever that extends forward from the heel unit. This may not be an issue depending on the BSL it was mounted for.
- Other bar-style crampons may work with Kingpin, but the tail end of the crampon plate would be resting on the front end of the heel piece. This could risk damaging the crampon, or at least will limit the depth that it is able to bite into the snow.
- Plate height
- Shift binding needs a “hump” in the aluminum plate to allow the AFD to extend underneath.
- Shift crampon's "hump" won't allow a boot heel from resting all the way down in most other bindings. This can cause unnecessary stress and possibly damage the crampon, toe piece, or the ski's topsheet.
- Some bindings use a centering tab that rests in a notch on the crampon's steel bar, while others use a combination of friction and the width of the crampon's window to keep it centered.
- Shift crampon has two separate notches, all other bars have one center notch. Shift ski crampons are able to physically fit into a bar style receptor, but the centering notches do not align correctly.
- Some bindings only use friction and ignore the centering notches (i.e. have no centering tab).
Appendix 2: Things to Note
- Some crampon receptors are not included with the bindings, and must be purchased separately. This will be noted in “Specs” on the binding’s product page.
- Some bindings do not have the ability to mount a crampon receptor, this will be noted as “None” in the table above.
- Plum, G3, and B&D offer crampon receptors that can be mounted directly to the ski, instead of to the binding. This independence allows skiers to use any of these crampon systems regardless of their current binding, and comes at the expense of a few additional holes in the top sheet. The chart above assumes you’ll be attaching the crampon to the binding, thus excludes these options for greater clarity.
- The G3 ION Crampon Connector can be both mounted to the binding, as well as mounted directly to the ski so as to operate independently of the binding. This accessory will accept only G3 ski crampons.
- The Plum Universal Ski Crampon Mount can be mounted directly to any ski and operates independently of the bindings. This accessory will accept only Plum ski crampons.
- The B&D Ski Crampon Mounting Base mounts directly to the ski and accepts only bar style ski crampons.
- Fritschi Vipec / Tecton, G3 ION / ZED, and Marker Duke PT ski crampons are only compatible with bindings of that model. Marker Kingpin binding can work with some other ski crampons, but the Marker Pintech will be best due to the short length of its plate allowing it to rest flat on the ski.
- Bar style ski crampons with one centering notch (not Shift) are able to be used with Atomic Backland or Salomon MTN bindings if combined with the plastic centering clip that is included with the bindings. If used without the centering clip, the ski crampons are able to slide side-to-side laterally and will crack near the steel bar if they are stepped on when not in the centered position. This is not covered under the crampon's warranty and could also occur if attempting to use a bar-style crampon with a Plum binding.
- Some crampons require minor customization (e.g. filing, bending, elbow grease) in order to fit into some bindings. For example, the rivets attaching the steel bar to the aluminum plate are sometimes a bit too long or have burrs keeping them from sliding into the receptor easily, which can be easily remedied by taking a steel file to the burrs.
Appendix 3: Dynafit Bar vs. Bar w/ Small Window
The amount of space immediately behind the 6mm steel bar is a subtle but important difference between these two ski crampons that function similarly. With the Black Diamond ski crampon in the upper right photo, there is a smaller amount of space due to how the openings in the aluminum plate have been cut. This can lead to compatibility issues with bindings that have bulkier crampon receptors or extensions behind the toe piece. If the aluminum plate comes in contact with part of the binding that limits it from dropping onto the top sheet, there is a risk that the aluminum plate may crack when stepped on.
Here are some specific inner dimensions (width x length) of this window on various ski crampons just in case we have not tested your specific crampon/binding combination.
- Kreuzspitze: 37x27mm
- Dynafit: 38x46mm
- Dynafit Speed: 37x45mm
- ATK/Black Diamond/Xenic: 39x4mm
- Marker: 41x8mm
- Shift: 76x30mm
Thanks for the question. The Atomic Backland binding comes with a clip to be placed in the middle of the bar on the Dynafit-style crampons to prevent them from slipping side to side. The Plum ski crampons will stay centered on their own, other options will require the clip to stay in place. Hope this helps!