Find the right anti-slip footwear for you with Quechua's tips

How to choose your snow crampons

Sometimes even winter boots aren't enough to take on all the trails, including the icy ones. Non-slip shoes keep you safe on winter trails.

For all nature lovers, hiking in the snow is a great activity for your winter sports holidays. What could be more exotic than a walk in the mountains, on or off signposted trails, and enjoying nature glistening in the sun and snow? You don't need snowshoes to enjoy it, just a simple pair of non-slip shoes and you’re ready for some great adventures. To find the right pair for you, read our advice right away!

Find the right anti-slip footwear for you with Quechua's tips

1. Why hike with non-slip shoes?

Snow crampons and non-slip shoes: your anti-slip accessories

You could say that non-slip shoes and snow crampons are the "beginner’s" version of mountaineering crampons. You could certainly never go mountaineering wearing a pair of non-slip shoes; however they do share many features with mountaineering crampons: a flexible or rigid structure that you put over your boots and that has crampons or spikes in the sole to prevent your foot from slipping on packed or frozen snow.

Non-slip boots are perfect for hiking in all circumstances, enjoying the snow on hiking trails or even in ski resorts, and avoiding the inconvenience and risks of slippery terrains. Simply slip them into your backpack and they'll be there when you need them, ready to accompany you on all your snowy adventures.

Finally (we keep going on about it, but it’s for your own good), if you are more interested in preventing yourself from sinking into the snow than preventing falls, then snowshoes are what you need. They are designed to support your weight so that you stay on the surface of the snow rather than sinking into it. Discover our whole range of snowshoes, for both adults and children, here.

Snow, ice and non-slip crampons: What's the difference?

Call a spade a spade... Or rather a crampon, a crampon. It’s easy to get confused! Ice crampons, non-slip crampons and snow crampons are in fact synonyms. They all prevent slipping on terrain that has turned into an ice rink in the cold.

But there are a wide range of crampons, each with different features. Non-slip crampons tend to have short nibs and are designed for an urban environment, to help you walk up steep streets. Crampons designed for outdoor hiking will have spikes rather than studs, and they’re usually a bit longer. Finally, you'll recognize the mountaineering crampons, with their really long spikes that pierce the ice and provide maximum grip to keep climbers secure.

Beware of misleading language: snow crampons are actually intended for use on ice! They prevent you from slipping on ice, but they don’t prevent you from sinking into powdery snow under your own weight. If there is a thin layer of snow with ice underneath, opt for crampons or non-slip boots! If you want to walk on a deep layer of powdery snow that hasn't frozen, then you'll need to use your snowshoes and walking poles with winter baskets.

2. Choosing the best non-slip shoes or crampons

The type of non-slip shoes or crampons that you choose will depend on the type of terrain you plan to hike on. What works for one person may not necessarily work for you. Let's take a look at the three main types of terrain and the types of crampons and non-slip shoes that are most suitable for each of them.


    Packed snow – small gradient

    Crampons, also known as non-slip crampons, are made of elastic rubber and are useful on paths with small gradients or on hard snow, as well as on paths that become icy in winter. They usually have non-slip metal studs, which provide good grip. You'll need good grip, but given the quality of the snow and the small gradient, you won't need the biggest crampons, which could actually slow you down more than anything else. This type of crampon is a real all-rounder and can be pulled out very quickly and stowed away in a matter of seconds.


    Frozen snow – steep gradients, sloping terrain.

    Crampons with steel spikes are much stiffer than the two previous models. With this type of crampon, you can safely hike trails that have some difficult sections. Even though some of these non-slip products have great crampons, keep in mind that they aren’t a suitable substitute for real mountaineering crampons, whose blades are specially designed for high-altitude snow and icy conditions.


Which size?

Crampons come in various sizes, usually from S to XL. If you are "in between two sizes", here's a little tip to help you choose the right size.

If you opt for the smaller size, the crampons will be tighter to your shoes, and therefore you’ll have more precision when you walk.

However, if you opt for the bigger size, they will be easier to fit onto your shoes. It’s up to you :)

4. When and how to use crampons

You've had a quick look out the window, or at the weather app on your phone, and you're wondering whether you need winter boots with special snow soles, studded crampons or steel or stainless steel spiked crampons.

how to choose your snow crampons

When should I use non-slip shoes or snow crampons?

Is it snowing outside? Have there been any changes to the temperature that could have caused layers of ice to form (more or less dangerous...)? Get your spiked crampons out, because shoes with snow soles won't be enough to keep you stable. If you only wear winter shoes, you risk ending up on the news in one of those videos that they show once a year of people falling over in the middle of town during the winter. It's not the best 15 minutes of fame you could wish for.

If you're in an urban environment, get out your studded crampons. However, if you’re in the mountains or if the frozen snow is deeper, you can get your spikes out! When you’re in town, remember to take a small waterproof bag with you to store your crampons once you're back indoors.

When should I use mountaineering crampons?

Well, it's all in the name. If you're heading up into the mountains for a hike, there's no need to get out the mountaineering gear. Crampons with medium-length spikes will provide you with enough grip, unless the powder is thick, in which case you should get out your snowshoes.

Don't get your mountaineering crampons out unless you're planning to tackle glaciers! They are ideal for technical mountaineering, as well as classic mountaineering and cross-country skiing.

how to choose your snow crampons

How to put crampons on

Always start by placing the front of the crampon around the front of your shoe. Next, you need to insert the heel of your shoe into the rear of the crampon and adjust the crampon using its tightening mechanism.

You need to take particular care when aligning your crampons: the silicone strips mustn’t be twisted. If your model has chains, they must be aligned with your shoe. If your model has spikes, the spikes at the front must be aligned with the front of your foot. Make sure that everything is aligned properly before tightening your crampons and setting off to conquer the trails. Your crampons should become one with your shoe!

Silicone models are easier to fit, while others require a little more practice. What's more, thanks to the silicone, these models fit to your shoes by themselves, whereas you need to adjust the other models by hand. However, being able to adjust them yourself is very useful on more technical terrain. You can get models that are made entirely of silicone or partially of silicone, then there are others with chains or with plastic parts.


5. Maintenance advice for your crampons and/or non-slip shoes

Like all equipment, you need to look after your crampons to ensure they last.
We recommend rinsing them in clean water and air-drying them before storing them in their respective covers.

Find the right anti-slip footwear for you with Quechua's tips

There you go, you've just learned all about non-slip products, ingenious and super-practical accessories for safely hiking on snow or frozen ground in all conditions. Let’s take a walk! Share your experiences in the snow with the whole hiking community – we love learning more about you and your favourite walks!

Discover snow hiking with Quechua by Decathlon


Quechua communication team

Mountain enthusiast, who loves hiking both with and without snowshoes


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