Gear Review: Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampons Review
Weight: 925 g / 2 lb 1 oz
Material: Stainless Steel (Older versions were made of Chromoly steel)
Summary: The Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampon is versatile, durable, and bombproof. This crampon offers the security you need to accomplish any mountain mission.
The Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampon is probably the best all around crampon available. This steel crampon is the ideal crampon for just about any activity – ski mountaineering, mixed climbing, glacier travel, alpine climbing, or moderate ice climbing. It can pretty much do anything.
I have used and abused the Black Diamond Sabretooth crampon. It’s traveled the world with me for years and been my mountain companion whenever crampons are necessary. Crampons are one of those things that can’t be replaced by other things in your kit. When you need the security of crampons, you need crampons. You can’t rig something out of Voile Straps. Crampons are an invaluable tool and serve a specific purpose – to offer security on steep and/or firm terrain. They don’t take up much space and can save your life.
It’s important to note that I purchased my BD Sabretooth crampons in 2009. They are an older model than what is currently available. Besides a slight color change on the ABS plates, the newer versions are now made out of stainless steel instead of the older chromoly steel. The newer stainless steel models are lighter and rust-proof. Besides this material difference the crampon’s design is essentially unchanged.
That being said let’s take a look at the Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampon. First off these things are versatile. Being made of steel they can handle anything you throw at them – ice, rock, snow. Second they are durable. Mine have made multiple trips to Chile, New Zealand, GTNP, Cascades, and beyond. They have passed the test of time and I have had little to no issues.
My only complaints about my older version of the Sabretooth crampons have been fixed in the newer version. After six years, they have a small bit of rust developing on the fangs. This promotes snowballing. Also they are heavier than other crampons on the market. Sometimes I wish I had aluminum crampons for weight savings, but then you lose durability. Black Diamond posted an interesting article about chromoly vs stainless that’s worth reading. It’s time I upgraded!
BD has fixed both of these issues when they switched from chromoly steel to stainless steel. The Sabretooths are now rust-proof and lighter (2 lbs 7 oz to 2 lbs 1 oz). Basically they eliminated any complaints I have about these crampons. So let’s look at what else these crampons offer…
The Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampon has 14 points or razor sharp fangs that offer the utmost security. Two horizontal front points bite into snow, ice, and rock edges. Secondary points along with a rigid sole will help to create a stable platform when kicking steps in a bootpack. The sub points are serrated to lock you into the surface and hold you in place. All of this means you are as secure as possible.
The rigid sole features a front and rear ABS plate that resists snow balling under your foot. It works in practically every snow condition to allow you firm and secure foot placements without a lumpy snow surface under foot.
The Sabretooths are completely adjustable too. The stock model fits shoe size 36 to 46. If you’re a giant with size 46+, you’ll need the long center bar that’s sold separately. It’s easy to adjust the Sabretooths to fit your boots. For macro adjustments, a metal clip comes up and fits into a hole on the center bar under your foot. On the heel, a micro adjust twist mechanism cinches the crampon down onto the heel welt. Once properly fitted, they won’t come off.
Be absolutely sure your crampons fit before you head into the mountains. It’s annoying and dangerous if you throw a crampon in a steep couloir. Plus, it’s an absolute headache to adjust mid-climb.
The Black Diamond Sabretooth crampons come in two styles – Pro and Clip models. I have the Pro model that works well on ski boots or any boot with a heel and toe welt. BD claims this is the most secure version. I have heard stories that the toe clip will not fit on certain ski boots. BD does make larger toe clips if this happens to you. The Clip model features a hybrid system with a toe strap and heel bail.
The Pro model has a left and right crampon. Choose the correct side and all you have to do is step in, pull the heel bail, thread the webbing through the toe loop, and cinch it down. You’ll have razor sharp security in no time. Feel free to cut off the extra webbing as necessary (or just tuck it in your powder cuff to keep it out of the way), but be sure to leave enough tail so it doesn’t slip.
For transportation purposes, it’s easiest to close the crampon down and wrap the webbing securely around the crampon. Then put the points against each other so they don’t destroy whatever else you’re carrying. It’s necessary to pick up a crampon bag to carry them in.
In a perfect world, I’d probably have several sets of crampons – an aluminum one for snow climbs and an aggressive steel crampon for leading ice climbing and mixed climbing. But that’s super expensive and definitely overkill. That’s why I have the Sabretooth crampon. I’m super stoked with the Sabretooth crampon. It performs flawlessly in everything I’ve put it through. It’s durable, it’s versatile, and it’s bombproof. The Sabretooth crampon is the perfect crampon for pretty much everybody. They offer you the security you need for any mountain adventure. Pair it with the Raven Ultra ice axe and a Whippet and you’ll be a skiing machine.
Warning: When using crampons be sure to be careful of the razor sharp points. Don’t get kicked in the face, stepped on, or rip your clothing. Pay attention when using sharp objects in the mountains.
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When you purchase the Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampon, you may also need to purchase:
Here are a few additional photos of the Sabretooth Crampon: