When I started ice climbing, I gravitated towards mono-point crampons and climbed on them for a solid couple years. Thinking about it now, I think the ability to swivel and twist my foot felt similar to rock climbing, whereas dual points felt like they locked me in to every step. Hundreds of meters of ice later, however, I find I much prefer a pair of vertical dual front-points for all types of ice. And I can’t think of a better pair of dual-point crampons than the Petzl Lynx.
A replacement for Petzl’s venerable M10, the Lynx was the first crampon to introduce interchangeable front bails for boots with and without toe bails. The asymmetric design follows the shape of modern boot and built-in rocker conforms to the soles. Add in 12 downward facing points, interchangeable and length-adjustable front points, built-in antiballing plates and you’ve got what is possibly the single best all-around crampon currently available.
The best thing about the Lynx is the fit. The large front section is asymmetrical and slightly curved upwards, with the result being that the crampon follows both the curve and the rocker of the boot sole. As a result of this design, the front points curve slightly inwards, in line with the shape of your foot, making for easier kicking and a more natural stance. The front section of the crampon is generously long and extends far underneath the instep, making snow travel or stepping onto mushrooms feel natural and secure. The front bail is possibly the best I’ve seen: narrow enough to work with the newer, ultra-low-profile toe bails, but still with enough width to accommodate larger welts, such as those on ski boots.
Notice the curvature of the front section that follows the rocker of the boot sole: the crampons contact the boot along their whole length, ensuring a great fit. Also, check out how long the front section is, and the placement of the 4th and 5th points, ensuring the crampon feels very secure when standing on flatter sections or middle-stepping onto mushrooms.
Performance wise, there isn’t much you can find fault with. The points bite into ice exceptionally well. Though they don’t feel as tank-like as full-frame rigid crampons, they are pretty close. Extended, the dual points work well in all sorts of snow, and provide a solid platform on all sorts of ice. On mixed ground, I prefer the short mono configuration, keeping the point as close to my toes as possible. And that is the beauty of the Lynx: you can configure them to climb anything and everything out there, or find a personal preference and leave them there. [Mine are set to short dual point, as I use them mostly for ice climbing: I have other crampons for other uses. I will reset them to long dual for wet and mushy spring ice… about that time, actually!]
The front points can be run in a dual or mono configuration, and are adjustable for length independently (so you can have one front point longer than the other). Though I can imagine when this would be advantageous (on, say, a mixed climb where you want a mono for delicate rock footwork but duals for long ice pitches) I haven’t noticed enough of a difference to make it worthwhile: I’ll either go dual or mono and forego the odd-length dual point setup.
In the more-or-less two years I’ve been using these, I have managed to break one front point but I don’t even know when exactly it happened: one minute it was there, the next time I looked down it was gone. Crampons still got me to the top of the route, though, and I haven’t had any other issues.
Overall, I think this is the single best all-around crampon I’ve ever used (and by last count I’ve tried 12!). Coming standard with dual crampon bails, they’ll fit both three-season alpine boots as well as full-shank ice boots. And with six possible front-point configurations, they can be adapted to fit every mixed, ice or alpine climbing environment I can think of. At $215 Cdn retail, this one pair of crampons does the job of three of four: if you could have only one pair of crampons, this should be it.
Pros: versatile, adaptable
Cons: um, none I can think of, actually
Overall: The best all-around crampons I’ve used.