(Last Updated On: December 1, 2012)
Brittany and I have both been using the CAMP XLC 390 Crampons for a number of years, and both of us would place them near the top of our lists of ski mountaineering gear that we love, for their light weight, easy adjustabilty, and solid connection to our ski boots.
The XLC 390 is a lightweight aluminum crampon whose number, 390, refers to the number of grams a pair weighs (about 13.8oz for the metric-impaired). For comparison, similar steel offerings commonly weigh about 2 pounds, 2 ounces. We’re no weight weenies, but at less than half the weight, we wanted to at least give them a try. We have found over the years that these crampons perform beautifully- so long as they’re used as intended. These are not the crampons to take for a day at the Ouray Ice Park- they probably wouldn’t even last one pitch. In fact, they’re not a great choice for any route that contains a lot of ice or rock. But for ski mountaineering in places like Colorado, which are more often than not just simple snow climbs, the XLC 390 is a perfect choice.
Aluminum crampons definitely require a bit more “babying”. If you’re the type of climber who likes to repeatedly stomp their foot into the rocks to find a hold, you’ll wreck these crampons in a hurry. Same goes if you’re 6’6″ and 250 pounds. The only 14ers we didn’t bring these crampons on were Pyramid and Capitol. For everything else, they were a great choice and truthfully we could have used them on all the 14ers.
Where the XLC 390 really shines, however, is at the trailhead. You know the situation- you’re packing your backpack and out comes the question “Do you think we’ll need crampons?”. Colorado is full of moderate routes that may be safely climbed without crampons- so long as the snow is perfect and you feel completely comfortable with the route. Tossing a 2+ pound set of steel crampons in a pack when you’re not even sure you’ll use them is a tough pill to swallow. 14 ounces and it’s pretty easy to answer, “What the heck, I’ll throw them in.” That’s the real beauty of the XLC 390 crampons.
For those of you wondering, yes- those are the Tecnica Cochise AT boots. Review of these amazing boots coming soon…
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