If you ask ten climbers what type of crampons you should buy, you will get ten different answers. In reality, most crampons will work when you are top-roping a single pitch ice climb. I have seen some crazy concoctions defy the laws of physics in the ice park. Proving that only front points are really needed.
Like any style of climbing, footwork is the foundation to success. When you decide to buy crampons, you must think about the style of climbing that you are most likely to do. Will you be ice climbing? Or do you also plan to do some mixed or alpine climbing? All of this will play into your decision. To help you with your purchase, here are a few comments on each style of crampon.
No matter which crampon front point style you choose, you do not want a strap on system. Instead, water ice crampons should be stainless steel and have a metal binding system on the front and back of the crampon. Front and back anti-balling plates are also recommended. From this step, you now have to decide what frontpoint configuration is right for your ice climbing pursuits.
Crampons are like climbing shoes, you will find that you need multiple styles over your climbing career. What crampon you choose will really come down to your personal preference.
Each crampon recommendation below is for an ice climbing boot with a front and back bail system.
Vertical Dual Point Crampons:
This work horse of crampon is great for all around ice climbing. The dual points can offer a sense of stability to beginner ice climbers. However, this crampon is not recommended if you plan to mix climb. Recommended models are the Petzl Dartwin, Black Diamond Cyborg.
Horizontal Dual Point Crampons:
Every Canadian I know who climbs hard will swear by the horizontal front point. The idea is that you will have more surface area on the ice with a horizontal point. This frontpoint style is great for aerated or chandelier ice. The horizontal front points also do well on very thin ice. This crampon is great if you plan to do general mountaineering or alpine climbing. However, the dual points are limited on mixed terrain. Recommended model is the Camp C12 Automatic.
Vertical Mono Point Crampons
A vertical mono point crampon will force a climber to have good footwork on the ice. Poor footwork will typically make the crampons shear out of the ice. The vertical mono point is great for very thin ice, or ice that requires dynamic movements. Steep vertical ice with overhanging blobs often require twisting and pivoting on the front point. The mono point allows for this type of movement. For mixed terrain, the vertical monopoint will work the best in cracks and small pockets. Recommended Models are the Petzl Dart and the Black Diamond Stinger.
Horizontal Mono Point Crampons
This style of front point is only made by Black Diamond. The Snaggletooth is designed with the precision of a monopoint and the stability of horizontal front points. A small secondary point offers additional bite on steep ice and snow. The Snaggletooth is the perfect crampon for Ice Climbing and technical alpine routes in the mountains. The snaggletooth is also recommended on mixed terrain with a lot of small edges.