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Kahtoola K10 Hiking Crampon Review

Kahtoola K10 Crampons Review

Kahtoola’s K10 Crampons are winter hiking crampons designed for shoes with flexible soles ranging from trail runners to soft-soled insulated hiking boots. Featuring a flexible leaf string and superlight Chromoly steel, the K10 Crampons weigh just 21 ounces per pair (23.6 ounces with anti-balling skins), with burly 3/4 inch long crampon teeth. While the K10s are crampons, they don’t require any special training or footwear to use like a more traditional mountaineering or ice climbing crampon.

Specs at a Glance

  • Weight: 23.6 oz/pair (with anti-balling skins)
  • Crampon spikes: 10
  • Spike length: 3/4″
  • Material: Chromoly steel

The Kahtoola K10 is a major step up in aggressiveness from Kahtoola MICROspikes or Hillsound Trail Crampons and is suitable for thicker ice and packed snow where you want the added control of a crampon instead of independent points loosely connected by chain links. While they’re not suitable for vertical ice-climbing, this style of construction gives you the ability to climb higher-angle ice with deeper spike penetration for enhanced security.

The Kahtoola K10 Crampons is designed to work with soft-soled boots and shoes
Kahtoola’s K10 Crampons are designed to work with soft-soled boots and shoes

Styled as a full crampon, the K10 has 10 spikes arranged in a traditional crampon pattern with 6 under the forefoot and 4 under the heel. These are connected by an adjustable bar called a leaf spring which flexes when walking over uneven surfaces with soft-soled shoes or boots. In contrast, traditional mountaineering crampons are quite rigid and can only be worn with heavy mountaineering boots with soles that have no flex whatsoever.

The leaf spring can be adjusted without a tool making it convenient to switch between boots or trail runners.  This level of footwear compatibility is simply fantastic because it means you can use the same crampon with different soft-soled shoes including trail runners, hiking boots, or even PAC boots.

K10 Crampon Quick-Release Binding System
K10 Crampon Quick-Release Binding System is also compatible with trail runners.

The K10 has a quick-fit binding system that uses webbing to secure the front and back of your foot to the crampon. One strap runs over the top of your shoe/boot just behind the toe kick and the other cups your heel in the rear binding by looping over the front of your ankle, with a small hook that attaches to your front laces to prevent the webbing strap from riding up higher.

The binding is very simple but quite secure.
The binding is very simple but quite secure.

These two straps provide a very secure and reliable binding between your footwear and the K10 crampon for hiking or trail running. The binding is also very comfortable, especially above the ankle, because the quick-release buckle can be positioned to the side of the foot rather than the top where it would cause more friction and discomfort.

The K10s comes with skins that prevent snow from clumping to the bottom of the crampons
The K10s come with skins that prevent snow from clumping to the bottom of the crampons. These are the equivalent of anti-balling plates found on mountaineering crampons.

The K10 comes with anti-balling skins that prevent the buildup of snow and ice, called balling, underfoot if you find yourself walking through wet snow, water, or snowmelt. These are pre-cut synthetic templates that fit over the crampon spikes and weigh a fraction of what traditional crampon anti-balling plates weigh. If you switch between different footwear frequently, the skins get in the way of the K10 leaf spring adjustment, but they are easy to take off and put back on and present a minor inconvenience.

More Winter Traction Aids and Crampons

Make / Model Best For
Kahtoola Microspikes Packed snow, icy trails
Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra Packed snow, icy trails
Hillsound Trail Crampons Packed snow, icy trails
Black Diamond Distance Spikes Packed snow, icy trails
Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro Mixed ice, snow, and rock
Kahtoola K10 Crampons Mixed ice, snow, and rock
Kahtoola KTS Crampons Mixed ice, snow, and rock
Black Diamond Contact Strap Crampons Non-technical mountaineering
Petzl Irvis FLexlock Crampons Non-technical mountaineering
Petzl Leopard Flexlock Crampons Non-technical mountaineering


Kahtoola’s K10 Crampons are designed for use with soft-soled trail runners and boots and provide a significant step up in terms of traction over Kahtoola Microspikes or Hillsound Trail Crampons. They don’t require any tools to resize and they come with snow-release skins to prevent snow from balling up under the crampon, something that tends to happen when hiking on wet snow.

Disclosure: The author purchased this product.

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