Black Diamond enters the stainless-steel crampon arena, replacing its chromoly steel (aka carbon steel) Cyborg, Sabretooth, Serac and Contact (latter two not reviewed) with stainless-steel versions.
Before digging into how the Sabretooth and Cyborg perform, let’s bust the myth that stainless steel is lighter than carbon steel: If you made two identical crampons, one out of stainless and one out of carbon steel, they would weigh the same. But, because stainless can be made stronger and tougher than carbon steel, it can take less steel to achieve the same or better performance, making the stainless crampon lighter. Indeed, the stainless Sabretooth and Cyborg weigh eight ounces less per pair than the old chromoly versions. They also stay sharper longer, and won’t rust.
The Sabretooth is an all-around mountaineering crampon with horizontal front-points and 12 sidepoints including the aggressive set of secondary front-points. The front-point configuration means the Sabretooth is for mountaineering and alpine climbing, where you climb snow, scramble on rock and navigate ice here and there. In snow, the Sabretooth’s horizontal front-points let you pack in the steps for a secure foothold and in thin snow where I scratched through and hit rock, they bit better than crampons with vertical points. On snow slopes, the Sabretooth’s stock anti-balling plates performed admirably, snow hardly stuck or underfoot, even in wet conditions. Worth every added ounce in my book.
The Sabretooth is a semi-rigid crampon. The forefoot and heel are independent plates joined by a springy instep bar, and can articulate to fit various boot-sole shapes. Pairing the crampon with a rigid boot effectively makes the crampon rigid. Likewise, wear them on semi-flexible boots and they flex with the boot.
The Sabretooth is available in two binding systems. The Pro, which I tested (pictured here), fits boots with a toe welt, while the Clip can be strapped to boots without one. An adjustable instep bar and a variety of bale holes let you easily adjust the crampon to your boot’s length. A plastic knob on the heel further fine-tunes the crampon. Getting a bomber fit to my pair of Scarpa Phantom Guides, size 42, which have a narrow toe and wide heel was simple and took just a few minutes. Making micro adjustments via the heel knob when I was out in the field, when the crampons and boots were snowy and my hands were cold was also a snap.
The finish and design of the Sabretooth are impressive. The components, from the heel strap to the bales, are stout yet the crampon feels (and is) light and agile. I wouldn’t hesitate to take the Sabretooth on any mountain.
SUMMARY: Semi-flexible crampon, with horizontal front-points, for all mountaineering applications.
- 2 pounds 2 ounces per pair (with anti-balling plates).
- Stainless-steel construction is light and durable and doesn’t rust.
- Choice of Clip or Pro binding will accommodate most boots.
- One size fits all; easily adjustable design for climbing and mountaineering.