Full-on rigid crampons, semi-flexible hiking crampons, and ice grippers like Kahtoola Microspikes (which are really just small, chain-mounted crampons) can be real life-savers when crossing ice or hard-packed snow. They can also tear right through your other hiking gear if you're not careful.
Have you stashed your super-light (and super-expensive!) alpine jacket in your pack with your crampons? Guess what, the crampons will win. Got an extra hydration bladder rattling around in there? Not for long -- unless you stow your crampons in a protective case. If your crampons are in a proper case, you can pretty much toss them anywhere. No case? Try these tips on for size:
- Apply protective tip covers to the crampon points before you put them away.
- Nest the sharp ends together. Or in the case of Kahtoolas, which don't have any real structure -- just chains holding the spikes to the stretchy rubber "upper" -- roll them up with the pointy ends facing in. Use a small bungee or a super-size twist tie to hold everything together.
- Stow crampons in a separate compartment within your pack. If your pack has a separate bottom compartment (sometimes called a sleeping bag compartment), this is potentially a great place for your crampons. Smaller front pockets are good storage spots too, as long as you've got the crampons' sharp points under control.
- Strap the crampons to the outside of your pack, either nested or with points facing out. For a little extra security, clip them in place with a carabiner that goes through both crampons and around at least one secure attachment point (or strap) on your pack.