Over the years, I’ve owned multiple pairs of crampons from Black Diamond, Grivel, CAMP, Charlet Moser/Petzl, KONG…you name it! Some made out of aluminum, some steel. The steel versions have worked great, super durable and strong, but sometimes feeling like a brick in the bottom of my backpack. Some aluminum models are feather light, but wear down quickly when worn while crossing sections of rocks and/or scree. Enter the Black Diamond Neve Crampon. A lightweight aluminum crampon that can hold up to abuse the mountains inevitably dish out.
The Neve crampon is a 10-point crampon and comes in two different configurations. The Pro model fits step-in compatible boots and the Strap version fits everything else. The secondary point have a small flare on the back side that help grip the snow and the tertiary points are oriented sideways, to help with braking going downhill. In general, I’ve found the aluminum of the Neve’s to hold up better than other brands after one year of service, but it’s a little hard to really compare definitively.
Frontpoint durability comparo between Brand X and Black Diamond Neve crampons.
Unlike some lightweight options, the Neve’s have a safety leash attached to the toe bail and a double metal ring closure on the ankle strap instead of a plastic buckle like many that I have broken in the past. The toe bail is shaped well and fits my AT boots great, as well as being flared on the sides to accommodate those funny looking ski boots with a big duck bill coming out the front.
The Neve’s fit a wide range of boot sizes (US 4-12/EU 34-46) and are easily adjusted with a small lever and pin system that securely locks them into place. I like this better than some models that require a screwdriver, because you never know when you might need to make adjustments in the field. To fine tune the fit, the heel lever has a knob that rotates and moves it up and down on the bail, assuring a nice, solid and strong attachment to your footwear every time. They also come with an ABS plate, which helps to reduce ‘balling’ on the bottom of the crampon, but they are a bit on the heavy side and I like to remove them, opting for a less durable, but lighter, home brew version.
LeafSpring™ center bar allows the crampons to flex without permanently bending.
The toe and heel pieces are connected with a LeafSpring, a Kahtoola trademarked design, which allows the crampons to work well with more flexible footwear as well. They also collapse and fold down into a small package, which is nearly as important to me as them being lightweight. If you’re looking for some lightweight spikes that will hold up to the rigors of ski mountaineering, I recommend giving the BD Neve’s a serious look. I think you will find them to be more reliable than many of the other options on the market.