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Kahtoola Traction System (KTS)

Kahtoola Traction System (KTS) field test report by Rock and Ice magazine.

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MSred2015_5463RGBKahtoola Traction System | $139 aluminum, $144 steel | ★★★★

Going into the mountains for late fall or spring rock climbing? Chances are you might have to traverse ice or steep snow patches. In approach shoes this can be dicey, and your rigid ice-climbing crampons won’t work with flexible boots. What to do?

Kahtoola’s KTS aluminum and steel crampons are light and flexible enough to use with virtually any footwear, including running shoes. I tested their aluminum and steel KTS crampons. Both have 10 points, with the front two points angled slightly forward. Both versions are flexible enough to run in. The aluminum model weighs only 19 ounces a pair, four ounces lighter than their steel brothers, and have ¾-inch spikes compared to the steel crampon’s 1-inch points. Both models attach simply with independent front and rear straps and buckles and a flexible adjuster bar. The bar adjusts to fit 10 different-size boots.

The aluminum crampons skidded on ice. On snow, however, they worked fine and would be great to toss in the rucksack “just in case.”

The steel KTS bit into ice and hard-pack snow as well as most 12-point rigid crampons. They brought me safely and comfortably up low-angle ice, sidestepping my way up (French technique). I even played around “front pointing” with them and they bit securely into hard ice. I also hiked rocky sections and the crampons didn’t show any wear or tear.

If you want a non-technical lightweight, easy on/off crampon for icy approaches and easy snow slopes, the KTS crampons are a great choice. I’d even confidently take them on Aconcagua’s Route Normal.

  • 19-ounce aluminum crampon.
  • 23-ounce steel crampon.
  • Fast on/off.
  • Works with running shoes.
  • Great for snowed up approaches and non-technical mountains.