Petzl Leopard Crampon Review
Since their induction two years prior, the Petzl Leopard crampons have been creating quite a stir. This is mainly due to the unique appearance from cord used as the linkage system. Deciding to see what the hype was all about I purchased a pair and put them through an initial battery of tests. Available in a few different configurations, I went with the Leverlock.
Petzl Leopard Tech Specs
Out of the box the first thing you notice is the weight. These things are light. The weight of the Leverlock FIL is a mere 330g, which is not only obscenely light by conventional crampon standards but by aluminum crampon standards as well. By comparison the Camp XLC Nanotech crampons, which are the second lightest on the market, weigh in at 478g which is about 40% more. Neither have snow antibots included but even when purchased separately they're still substantially lighter than other aluminum models on the market by almost half.
Much of this weight savings comes from the Dyneema linkage bar which petzl has dubbed the Cord-Tec linkage system. The revolutionary system shaves weight, optimizes the packed volume of the crampons in the handy, included storage bag, and claim to increase the durability. The first questions I'm always asked centres around practical lifespan. How well will this thin cord hold up on varied terrain?
The second concern centres around the inherent play underfoot. It's cordage so obviously it will bend, twist and fold. But will your boots? The Petzl Leopard is designed for snow approaches and glacier travel and generally this user will be in rigid mountaineering boots or ski boots making this a moot point.
Ease Of Use
Adjustment was a cinch (literally), as per the instructional video below. The cord does have a break-in period and after properly adjusting them and using for a while, it may be needed to go back and tighten them up a single notch. I'm a huge fan of the elastic strap with a single buckle. very easy to operate and unimposing on the top of your foot while walking. Also very easy to attach over ski boots with gloves on.
When not on they easily return to their included bag or can be folded in upon themselves and stowed in a jacket pocket, further speeding transitions.
As with any aluminum crampon, these are intended for snow and light ice use. Walking on rocks or trying to front point for hours will kill these crampons pretty quickly. For a weight savings without a durability compromise, the Petzl Irvis Hybrid features a steel Irvis front section with the aluminum heel piece. These were initially prototyped by the late, great Ueli Steck when he summits all 82 peaks in the Alps over 4000m in 80 days.
Replacement parts are available through Petzl to add straps, levers or bails and configure your Petzl Leopard crampons into a number of permutations. Each piece, however, retails for $52 CAN and for that reason I recommend purchasing the FL variety and swapping in your own toe bails and heel levers.
It's interesting to note that all new Petzl front pieces have been designed to be interchangeable and the Leopard is no exception. All new Petzl front points can be tied with the Cord-Loc and this requires cutting the existing cord and purchasing a $26 replacement. After threading it can be secured with a single fishermans knot. While not advised, I can attest that the Petzl Dart front pieces can be attached to the aluminum Leopard heel piece via the Cord-Tech system. While entertaining and certainly a weight savings, the ever-so-minimal flex does not, a very good day of drytooling, make.
Who Would Benefit From The Petzl Leopard Crampons?
You don't have to be a gram counter or a weight weiny to appreciate the reduction in pack weight by using the Petzl Leopard crampon. The light, compact package makes them optimal for ski touring, summertime alpine climbing approaches and snowy mountaineering. Considering they weigh the same as about four Clifbars, imagine how much lighter your climbing back will feel when you're halfway up your Bugaboos objective. Combine these with the Petzl Ride ice axeand Petzl Altitude harness and you have a truly winning combination for fast and light alpinism.
Pros - Super light, compact, versatile, simple to use and adjust
Cons - None if used appropriately, durability if misused
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© 2017 Kurt Morrison