Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampons – Climbing Gear Review

Black Diamond LogoBlack Diamond Sabretooth Crampons

Performance *****

Value*****

Black Diamond say: “Our best all-around crampon, the Sabretooth features a lightweight stainless steel design and versatile horizontal frontpoints. Available in a Pro or Clip version.”

Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampons  - a great all round mountaineering crampon that will help get you into awesome places like this! Brunneghorn, Switzerland.

Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampons – a great all round mountaineering crampon that will help get you into awesome places like this! Brunneghorn, Switzerland.

I’ve tested the Sabretooth crampons for both a full winter and full summer season now. I’ve used them for everything; Scottish mixed ridges, big alpine faces, mixed climbing and ski mountaineering, you name it and they’ve done it. You’re probably already getting the impression that this crampon is a great allrounder, and you’d be right! The Sabretooth is just as happy climbing grade V gullies on Ben Nevis as it is on the NE Ridge of Barre Des Ecrin.

The Sabretooth is definitely constructed more in the classic ilk of an all round mountaineering crampon. The horizontal frontpoints and 12 sidepoints offer greater security on classic snowy faces and moderate ice whilst the slightly more aggressive secondary frontpoints allow greater bite on hard ice. For difficult, more technical ice and mixed I’d personally go for a monopoint such as the Stinger, but as a one quiver crampon to take me up classic TD+ faces and grade 5 ice, I wouldn’t have a problem taking the Sabretooth anywhere. I found the vertical frontpoints very stable on rock compared to other similar crampons I have used.

Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampons  - the horizontal frontpoints worked well on mixed ground. Le Rateau West, Ecrins, France.

Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampons – the horizontal frontpoints worked well on mixed ground. Le Rateau West, Ecrins, France.

In terms of fit, the Sabretooths are very versatile. I’ve worn mine on Scarpa Phantom Guides, La Sportiva Trango Guides, La Sportiva Spantiks and my Dynafit ski touring boots. I’ve not had an issue with fitting them to any of these. The central bar adjusts easily (and a longer bar is available for those with larger feet) whilst the heel clip has extra hole options for tweaking the fit and a micro adjustment wheel, that I found easy to use, even in the field. Black Diamond offer 2 toe bail options. The Pro, a wire bail which works on rigid boots with both toe and heel welts, and a the Clip, a plastic bail which only requires heel welts. I chose the Clip version for greater versatility.

Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampons  - Clip version on ski boots.

Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampons – Clip version on ski boots.

The Sabretooth crampons are semi rigid because the central bar flexes. The amount of flex however, is largely dictated by the boots you fasten them to. If the boots are rigid then the crampon will be pretty rigid, whereas if the boots are more flexible then the crampons will flex with them.

Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampons - Clip version on more flexible lightweight mountaineering boots (at lunchtime!)

Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampons – Clip version on more flexible lightweight mountaineering boots (at lunchtime!)

I have been very very impressed with the quality of the Sabretooth crampons. Straps, buckles, bars and the bespoke antibott anti balling plates are all manufactured to the highest quality. I’ve used these crampons for 8 months and they’re still looking good. I find the anti balling plates to do a great job, but they do feel quite hard compared to some others I have used but I only find this to be an issue on the late in the day, sticky summer snow. Then I have to be mindful as snow does tend to build up on the bottoms and I have to occasionally knock the bases with my ice axe, in order to clear it off.

 

When stainless steel first started to be used to produce crampons a lot was made of the benefits, with many claiming that it was actually lighter than carbon steel. This is in fact, not true, with carbon steel and stainless steel actually weighing the same. What is true however, is that stainless steel does not rust, is more resistant to blunting (I can vouch for this here), and is tougher and stronger. Which is perhaps where the lightweight claim came from as in theory this allows you to make the same crampon as a carbon steel one, but with less steel? Just for the record, the Sabretooth weighs 925g per pair including the antiballing plates.

 

Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampons - great on snow, ice or rock - built to handle the mixed demands of classic mountaineering.

Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampons – great on snow, ice or rock – built to handle the mixed demands of classic mountaineering.

 

To conclude, the Sabretooth crampons from Black Diamond are an awesome classic 12 point crampon, that I really am struggling to find any fault with at all. They do everything well, whether it be classic snow climbs, moderate ice routes or ski mountaineering. They adjust easily, are high quality and the stainless steel doesn’t rust or wear out quickly. I wouldn’t hesitate to take these on my next trip into the mountains.

 

 

 

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