Black Diamond “Sabretooth” stainless steel crampon review

Black Diamond have recently changed the construction of their core range of crampons (Cyborg, Sabretooth, Serac and Contact) from carbon steel to stainless steel, and this has been a good move. I’ve been using a pair of stainless steel Sabretooths for about a year (before that I had the old version) and have been pleased with them. For starters, they lighter. Because stainless steel is stronger than carbon steel, less is needed to build a crampon with the same performance- hence a 200g difference between the old and new versions. They also seem to stay sharp longer, and don’t rust, which is nice.
The Sabretooth has always been touted as an all-around mountaineering crampon with horizontal front-points and 12 sidepoints, including an aggressive set of secondary front-points. But a few years ago I started using the Sabretooth in New Zealand for technical ice climbing, figuring with our soft, forgiving ice they would perform fine – and they have. They feel light on the feet and secondary set of front points is especially effective in ice. They are a “semi-rigid” crampon, meaning the forefoot and heel is independent plates joined by an instep bar. But on my rigid boots, they act like a rigid crampon – all the more reason to treat them the same as a technical ice climbing crampon. They come with an anti-ball plate, which I don’t find particularly effective.
The Sabretooth is available in two binding systems – the “Pro” fits boots with a toe welt, while the “Clip” can be strapped onto boots without one. A very easily adjustable instep bar and a variety of bale holes means the crampon can be adjusted to almost any boots length. I have the “Pro” version and have had the same pair fit my leathers, plastics and 6000+ mountaineering boots (very bulky), my ski mountaineering boots and even my downhill ski boots. There is a “heel-knob” at the back of the crampon for micro-adjustments, but I find more often than not it’s gummed up with grit.
I had them on a recent climb in India that involved wading through deep snow, scratching up mixed ice and granite walls, front pointing bullet proof water ice full of grit and stones and slogging up long steep snow inclines with a heavy pack on. I never once thought about the crampons, which is recommendation enough.

1 comment for “Black Diamond “Sabretooth” stainless steel crampon review

  1. patd
    August 31, 2014 at 8:33 am

    Thanks for the endorsement Fiona, much appreciated.

Comments are closed.