Grivel G20 – a field report
I’m now onto my second pair of these crampons and overall, they have been great. But as is with most gear they are not without fault and/or critique. So given a few seasons of use I thought I’d chime in and share my two cents on the Grivel G20 crampon.
This little yellow number is reminiscent of Grivel’s classic ice slayer the Rambo 4, but without the full rigidity and the heft of the Rambo. A Rambo 4 on a strict diet, if I may. I can attest to this as the Rambo was my first vertical ice crampon and I loved every minute of them when on the ice.
Despite their excellence on ice, the Rambo’s full rigid frame and relatively porky weight (41 oz/1162g per pair) left them lacking for versatility in the alpine and I eventually ended up finding myself in a decision between the Petzl Dart and the Grivel G20. These two crampons still stand out as among the lightest, and most technical crampons on the market. Here’s three of the lightest, industry leading monos that come to mind:
33oz/936g BD Stinger
29oz/824g Petzl Dart
28oz/794g Grivel G20
Each of these has its attributes but the Grivel is the lightest of the bunch. Performance amongst the three is comparable with both subtleties and some greater differences between brands standing out. One such difference on the G20 is a secondary horizontal 1/2 point that sits up front on the inside of the vertical mono.
This assists in stability for any snow encountered between pitches and also in very aerated or slushy water ice. Both the light weight and the secondary front point shoved me in the G20 direction, as well as prior familiarity with the trusted Rambo. G20 praises you ask?
Excels at climbing ice…check! An excellent mixed climbing crampon…check! So what are the nitpicks?
There are three downward facing points that under each foot on the G20. One of these points lies up front and two of these are located along the middle connecting rail of the crampon – all equally spaced. These points are meant to help engage the crampon with both convex and concave ice features that lie under the middle of the boot/crampon when standing.
The two points in the middle of the rail I have found to be often problematic and unstable when not climbing. Worrisome when traction matters and even more so when your equipment may cause undue harm. This always had bothered me on my first pair and so I finally took a pair of bolt cutters to them and am now completely enthused with the results. The crampons continue to climb mixed and ice with aplomb while now allowing me flat-footed stability between pitches. Easy fix but one that took me awhile to pull the trigger on.
One other critique of the crampon is the fairly wide front bail which doesn’t fit the best on many of the new narrow front-welted boots (eg the latest Scarpa Phantom and Rebel line). It seems that only the BD Stinger has addressed this with a stock narrow profile front bail that seats nicely with these newer style boots. Unfortunately, they don’t interchange with the Grivel G20 due to the wider nature of the G20’s front piece. Believe me, I tried. Despite the minor lateral slop in the front crampon/boot interface (I currently climb in the Phantom Ultra for reference), I have not found this to be problematic thus far.
So all in all I’d give the Grivel G20 high marks for their overall performance and weight. A couple of minor issues could be addressed in future iterations of this crampon but the good outweighs the bad for my use. Until I wear through these ones, I’m content for the time being. As I’ve said previously, the Grivel brand has consistently impressed throughout the years. The G20 follows suit in the Grivel tradition of quality and high performance alpine products.