The XLC series crampons are the lightest 12-point crampons in the world. Their real brilliance, however, comes from their pressed design--a unique engineering process that helps build back some of the strength that is naturally lost by using lightweight aluminum alloy instead of chromoly steel. Chromoly steel is a spectacular metal with several drawbacks:
- It is hard and has a high tensile strength, but it is heavy
- It bends and rebends without breaking (fatigue strength), but it naturally flexes more than other metals
Aluminum alloy is a similarly spectacular metal with several drawbacks:
- It is superlight, but it is softer than steel
- It is stiff, but this also makes it more brittle than steel and it has a lower fatigue strength than steel
The question is how to use which material, where and why. The XLC series crampons are one brilliant answer to these questions. The material is 7075 aluminum alloy which can be heat treated to create a finished alloy with an ultimate tensile strength and yield strength comparable to some steels.
Once the material is determined, we figure out ways to address its specific weaknesses. Details like the thickness and length of each individual part are fine-tuned for the optimal blend of strength v weight. Then in some cases, there are unique manufacturing methods we can use to achieve this blend in remarkable ways. The pressed construction on the front platform of the XLC crampons is a prime example. We mentioned that aluminum alloy has a lower fatigue strength than steel. This means we want to mitigate the propensity for bending of the points or frame repeatedly over time. The best way to do this is to buttress against the angles that allow the bending in the first place. By pressing the front platform on the XLC crampons the way we do, we produce six side points that would require bending against a reverse curve and a long continuous bend. Not only does this strengthen these points in ways most aluminum alloy crampons do not, but because they literally do not flex, they provide exceptional stability underfoot.
The XLC crampons have become absolute best-sellers for general and ski-mountaineering. They use a softer metal in aluminum alloy than steel crampons, the fatigue strength is lower than steel, and the aluminum alloy will not absorb the shock of sharp impacts from kicking as well as steel. But they are half the weight and used for walking, stomping and stepping, they do everything steel can do. And with the innovative pressed construction on the front platform, they actually do some things even better.