It's funny how things seem to always go around in circles ... a few winters ago with the introduction of the Petzl Dart and Sarken, followed hot on their heels by Grivel's G20, it looked like replaceable front point crampons were a dying breed. However, the design teams have been hard at work to simplify and lighten replaceable designs and they're back – with the Petzl Lynx and Black Diamond Stinger leading the charge.
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Paul Lewis takes a detailed look at types of crampons available here: Crampons - Everything You Need To Know!
So, how do the Lynx and Stinger compare?
Vertical front point crampons are favoured by most for winter climbing. Monopoints are very effective on hard mixed routes / steep ice and are used by many, myself included, for almost all climbing. The Lynx can be set up as dual or monopoints, and with a wire or plastic strap toe binding, while the Stinger is monopoint and wire binding only. Both feature two part, semi-rigid telescopic designs with a front and back section linked by a bar, the length of which is set by a spring clip in the heel section. Both come with antiball plates fitted. In terms of weight: set up as monopoints both are around 900-950g a pair.
"Both feature replaceable front points held in place by a single bolt. Changing points is much easier than the Meccano set experience of old..."
The Stinger comes in a little bit cheaper with an RRP of £170, versus £190 for the Lynx though the Lynx does come with four front points, alternative bindings and a very neat crampon bag. Replacement points come in at a £10 each for the Stinger (bolt kit sold separately), and £50 for four (including new bolts, nuts and spacers) for the Lynx. If mostly using the Lynx as monopoints, the supplied dual points provide a spare pair as part of the original package.
Points and layout:
Both feature replaceable front points held in place by a single bolt. Changing points is much easier than the Meccano set experience of old fully rigid designs but it's still a bit of a fiddly job requiring an allen key and spanner (Petzl's linking bar has the spanner built into it) and best not undertaken at 5am in a car heading north.
Stinger: The Stingers are out-and-out monopoint climbing crampons. They feature replaceable offset (sit under the big/second toe) single front points held in place by a single bolt and a slot that interlocks with the crampon frame. A couple of stubby points protruding from the frame alongside the main front point give a bit of extra support on neve or soft ice. The design and layout of the rest of the points is similarly climbing-focused with all featuring serrations to add to grip. The second points angle forwards to support the front point, while the third and fourth angle back giving good 'pulling' purchase when edging or standing on turf blobs. There's also a great 90 + degree angle between the second and third points that matches very well onto square cut rock edges such as those found on Ben Nevis and Glen Coe mixed. The rear points are a pretty standard four-point layout – with the rearmost points angled to provide braking when walking downhill. Lastly, where the centre bar joins the front and rear the Stingers have slightly raised toothed sections – a great addition which both protects the most vulnerable bit of the antiballing plate and gives added purchase when standing on small rock spikes or ice blobs.
"The Stingers are out-and-out monopoint climbing crampons.
Lynx: The Lynx has quite a conventional general point layout – the second points angle forwards to support the front point(s), with a reasonable (though not as big as on the Stinger) angle to the slightly backward facing third points. The rest point straight down, with downhill braking orientated points on both the front and rear section. The front points have the same great chisel shape as those in the Darts, and can be set up as duals (including of different lengths) or monopoint as desired. The length adjustment is a nice feature, but I personally found the shorter setting worked better in all configurations. As a monopoint convert, climbing in duals again felt a bit odd at first, but also noticeably gripper and more stable on soft Scottish ice – they were very welcome on a badly thawing ice gully where my partners monos looked a bit insecure in the slushy crud.
Not much to comment here – both do the job well, fit securely and have so far proven suitably durable, and both lime green and orange stick out brightly in traditional bum shot photos like the above!
Bindings - fit and adjustment:
A good climbing crampon fit needs to achieve two things – first a solid (e.g. no sideways movement or flex) fit onto the boot, and second a matched fit – front and second points in the right position and with the right prominence, and other points lining up adequately with the edges of the boot and sitting under the heel properly.
Stinger: The Stinger has a traditional wire baled clip-in binding, both parts of which can be adjusted forwards and backwards slightly by changing the hole that the wire slots into. The plastic heel clip is a neat design and easily field adjustable for fine-tuning. Overall, getting a solid and matched fit onto all the boots I've tried (Scarpa, La Sportiva, Mammut) proved pretty straightforward. The only criticism is that the front bale (despite claims to be slimmer than previous BD ones), still seems a bit wider than necessary even on size UK12 boots – sideways movement isn't a problem, but it does jut out a bit to the sides and as a result sometimes catches in wide cracks.
Lynx: One of the major selling points of the Lynx is the adaptable front binding system – a very neat solution from Petzl. In both configurations there's loads of forwards and back adjustment allowing a solid fit to be achieved. The plastic front loop version feels just as secure as the wire bale, and has the advantage of not having to chip ice out of the boot slot and fitting e.g. ski boots and boots without front welts (B2 rated). The rear bail is a traditional clip design (as opposed to the system found on the Darts), which works and adjusts well. However, while I can see the logic of putting the strap below the pivot it works less well at preventing the heel-lever being accidently levered open e.g. during offwidth wrestling so personally I prefer the BD design. In terms of the matched fit, I found the Lynx fitted superbly on more modern asymmetric boots (e.g. Scarpa Phantom), but needed quite a bit of trial and tweaking on older straighter models (and ski boots) – the front points angled inwards a bit too much on initial attempts.
"One of the major selling points of the Lynx is the adaptable
I sense the jury is still out on whether BD's move to stainless steel is any improvement over tried and tested chromoly steel. The Lynx shows a few rust spots where the coating has scraped off, but given that there are many 20 year old chromoly crampons still going out there I don't think rust is a major concern. In terms of durability, the Stingers are showing slightly more point rounding, but given that they've not been used on exactly the same routes it's difficult to accurately comment on relative resistance to blunting – both are showing some from Cairngorm granite, but neither have needed the attention of a file after half a dozen or so routes apiece.
Conclusions:Both are superb modern climbing crampons, completely capable (on the right feet) of climbing anything. In terms of all round ability, the Lynx's front point and binding options put it in a class of its own – it's probably the best all round performance crampon on the market at the moment, adaptable to superbly tackle everything from valley icefall and steep mixed, to alpine icefields and classic mountaineering on loads of different boots. That said, for Scottish mixed climbing I personally found the Stinger had a very slight edge – principally given by the point layout that felt just a bit more intuitive and 'natural' to climb in. As for bright orange or lime green I remain undecided!
Black Diamond Stinger Crampons
More info on the Black Diamond Website
Petzl Lynx Crampons
More info on the Petzl Website
About Viv Scott
I've been climbing for a bit over ten years, and am currently based in Edinburgh having escaped from the southern flatlands. Climbing highs include Scottish winter climbing, a couple of trips to the Alaska Range, classic alpine routes, sunny ski touring, cragging in the UK and abroad, and beers and craic in the pub afterwards. Lows include Scottish winter climbing, alpine bivies, base camp blues, midges and the UK weather... I guess I'd like to be a jack of all trades and I'm definitely a master of none, but most enjoy the great variety of climbing and look forward to trips back to old favourites and hopefully many new and different places.
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