This review started with a request by a popular and very commercial UK web site asking me to review the new Petzl Lynx. "Commercial" in that they take loads of free gear, then write editorial comments on that free gear (and support that opinion in the forums to the uneducated) and sell commecial ads to support their website and staff from that content. We had a few earlier discussions on how Cold Thistle benefited their customer base (my view) and how I was stealing traffic from their web site (their view). I had written for them in the past and thought, "hey why not again?"
Then more recently when I asked I made a rather bland comment on one of the newest soft shells coming to the market. Likely the Editor on their web site and I got or preseason samples from the same place. I was shall we say, "less impressed" than their gear editor. Who came back to my comment with nothing but glowing reviews of the same jacket. Same piece of kit but two totally different opinions on the details. I didn't bother with a second response.
Last I did a full mental check (30 minutes ago) there is not a single bit of kit I own or have owned that I didn't think needed "fix'in" in one way or another. Even my all time favorites, the Nomic, the Scarpa Ultra or the Atom LT could easily be improved. Even stuff I helped design from the very beginning is not immune and generally takes a rethink once or twice to get right. CT hammers and the NWA Salopette I dearly love fall into that category.
Bottom line if you tell me all the good things about a product and never mention the down sides...either you are a DOLT or you think I am.
If you are looking for good info to make a purchase from the writer who doesn't mention the down side is simply a thief or an idiot. Harsh but there you are. Simply bad info imo.
Some times I will intentionally leave off the minor down sides on a product I think so good it isn't worth mentioning. And others rightfully so have disagreed. Atom lt for example? No zipper stop, no two way main zipper, no draw cord on the hood. Yet it is still the best in category imo. Even with those (minor to me) faults I still wear it on almost every winter climb.
That is a long way of saying verify and trust no one when it comes to reviews. Best to know who pays the author and how. No one pays me for my content. You get what I think is important to me...and just me......as a climber. Not because some one gave me the gear and they do now and again. But the Lynx I bought with my own cash so take what I say here with that under consideration. I have other crampons I like. There was a distinct reason I bought the newest Petzl offering having already owned just about every easily available crampon on the US market.
A couple of weeks ago I hosted a discussion with the local Mountaineering club on ice climbing and the gear we use to climb it with. One of the things that was made clear to me in the discussion is that crampon fit is generally the defining factor of your own crampon of choice. (or at least should be imo)
For those that have followed the CT blog I would guess that is no surprise. I've only lost a crampon once, with almost fatal results, how I fit my own crampons is a serious matter to me.
I talk to climbers on a regular basis that have lost crampons from a poor fit. How people aren't more seriously injured in those incidents I have no clue.
Last winter after all my gear was on the way to Cham I got in a pissing match with my contacts at Black Diamond about the reliability of the crampons I wanted to use. I had Sabertooth Pros, Cyborgs and the new Stinger in my kit. The Sabertooth was my crampon of choice. And it was breaking last winter in first gen. form. The Stingers were a virtual copy of the Petzl Dart and my second choice for climbing in the Alps. The Cyborgs, heavy but proven reliability in comparison to the other two. When asked by Black Diamond to return my Stingers for my public comments on the broken Sabertooths that were appearing on the Internet, I balked. I didn't care about "losing" the the Stingers. They were easy it replace with a Grivel G20 or the original Dart. But at that point I was no longer interested in climbing on any BD crampon. The fact I would have to buy a pair of crampons in Chamonix at retail, that I had duplicates of hanging n the gear wall at home irritated me. Annoying like a tick annoys you on a day out climbing. Trivial but annoying if you continue the relationship.
I had Dartwins and Darts at home as well as Grivel G12s. Any of the three fit my boots very well.
But I ended up walking in Snell's and buying a new pair of Dartwins. Later I picked up a pair of the G22s to try out as well.
But it was the Petzl Dartwins that fit my boots, Phantom Ultras and Spantiks, the best without any modifications. So that is what I ended up climbing on during the trip. Not that I thought they were the best crampon. I actually like the G22 better and I still really like the design of the Sabertooth.
But fit and reliability is what defined what I would climb on.
Which is a long winded way to introduce you to a new crampon that really impresses me, the Petzl Lynx.
There are a lot of things I really like about the Lynx. But I think the most important is the one I first over looked. We are back to how a crampon fits.
This from an ice climbing friend, Debbie Sand who is still climbing in the early yellow Trango Extremes, size 38.5.
"Last year when I got the Cyborg Pros I was super excited to get out, but when I climbed the boot would shift and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Thinking it was just me not knowing the finer points of how to adjust them, I got help from friends, then Pro Mountain Sports, and even a guide in Canmore to help me adjust them, but they still moved around. The shifting made it feel like I wasn't stable when I was using a feature, and when I kicked in I was not getting in the way I had in the past. All of a sudden I couldn't rely on my feet - and I'm definitely a finesse climber-so I was burning all kinds of energy trying to kick in harder, and also using my arms more to compensate. This nightmare combo led to losing my
confidence and eventually my lead head. Reading Cold Thistle on crampon fit last year, I was beginning to get the picture of what was going on. On a women's discussion group, I posted and found lots of women having problems with crampon fit to smaller boots. A friend had gotten a pair of Darts that looked promising boot fit-wise, and I was really thinking about those, but wanted the versatility of more
points underneath. Then Pro Mountain Sports posted a link to the Lynx video that promised it would fit any boot. Brands? Sure, but smaller boots? I went in to try them. We took my boots, my Cyborgs, and my measuring tape. When the Lynx was on my boot, the difference in how the front wire contacted the boot was striking- much more contact. We measured the width of the Lynx front wire, which is narrower, but you could see it just looking at them side by side. The front of the crampon is also angled, which follows the curve of my boot much better.
I had only planned to look- but this difference seemed to be the grail I was looking for in crampons for smaller boots, and last year had been demoralizing, so home they came. I was hopeful this would make at least some difference. Well, it turned out to make all the difference. Climbing on the seracs on hard ice days, I was able to kick in with no movement. My feet are solid again, and I can count on them to stay where I kick without shifting. I put them where I want them with relative ease, and they stay where I put them. I can keep my weight on my feet and not have to think about them. Seriously, Lynx gave me my footwork and my confidence in my feet back. I'm super stoked about the season now! FYI, an experienced gal friend with a one size smaller, newer model La Sportiva boot than mine tried them too, and found them really well fitting and solid.
And a guy friend with a bigger boot tried them and wants to dump his Cyborgs.
I think this is his boot, Kayland Apex XT I think. 8.5 for sure."
The obvious distinction of the Lynx is it comes with both a wire bail for the front attachment and a "basket" that is currently the most popular crampon attachment in the world.
When Alexis Vallet from Grivel talked Carlos and I through the Grivel line last year at OR and dropped the sales numbers for "basket" crampons Carlos and I were both in disbelief. With one notable exception neither of us knew anyone who climbed serious ice in North America with a basket style crampon binding. But take a look around Chamonix in winter and they are pretty common.
Vince Anderson, on their new route, North Face of Mt Alberta, photo courtesy of Steve House
The numbers don't lie. And it is obvious that basket style crampons do work in even the most difficult climbing and conditions. House also used a similar Grivel set up on the first ascent of the Rupal Face on Nanga Parbat.
The Petzl Lynx comes with both binding options which gives you the opportunity to fit your smallest single boots and your warmest cold weather double boots with ease.
At $245 USD or £190.00
in the UK the Lynx is not a cheap crampon. Besides the two attachment systems there are other advantages that might make up part of the financial hit if you require them.
This from a friend
"I've also been playing with the new Lynx crampon and have noticed there's absolutely
no need for a assym bar any more. The front portion is shaped in such a way that the
back of the front section is not parallel with the front points, true left and right
crampons. These should make me climb harder for sure."
It goes back to fit really. Petzl used some innovative engineering here to make one pair of Lynx fit a majority of boots commercially available. And trust me, just being able to fit 50% of the boots available is a major accomplishment. With the Lynx, I think Petzl made it well past the 50% grade. Not sure any recently manufactured crampon can claim anything remotely similar.
Let's look at the numbers?
Number of points: 14
Boot sizes: 35 to 45 with M linking bar (included), optional L linking bar fits boots sizes 40 to 50 (T20850)
2 x 540 g = 1080 g (configuration with two points and ANTISNOW)
2 x 455 g = 910 g (configuration with one point, no ANTISNOW)
One of the reasons I like the Sabertooth design so much is that it also has 14 working points. The 2 extra down points really do add to your security on moderate terrain. Security you easily find missing on the Stinger, Dart or G20/G22 style crampons. Although the Grivel design work has tried to minimise that lack of security with the Patented MONO-RAIL technology.
The ability to move the front points horizontally side to side and front to back allows a multitude of positions, no other Crampon offers. I am a big guy at 180# and I don't like how monopoints shear though for me on waterfall ice. But there are advantages in a monopoint on ice and mixed. So sometimes I compromise. With all the options the Lynx offers I can use a Mono point that is supported by a shorter but second front point. In really rotten ice I can adjust them for really deep penetration.
A lot of options on the front points. But even more important to me is the actual size of the forefoot foot print on the Lynx. The Lynx is lighter than a pair of stainless Cyborgs but the added coverage under foot is beginning to rival the older crampons (several generations back) and duplicates or slightly betters the the G12 for instance and betters by a huge margin the Dart, Dartwin, G20/G22 or the Sabertooth. The difference is a huge increase of security with this crampon on moderate terrain. Something everyone should be cheering even with the marginal added weight gain.
Options? I like the options.
Down sides? The heel lever could still be better. The retaining strap really needs to go through the top of the lever, not the bottom to actually keep the strap on the boot. Come on guys time to change that one through out the entire Petzl line. Petzl's anti bots? Decent now but still lacking. They work but others (BD and Grivel) both have better bots. They beat duct tape though which is what I will use as required on my Darts.
Past that I really don't have much to bitch about. It is a short list. And like the Atom Lt hardly worth mentioning. I still don't get a perfect fit on my Ultras but out of the box they are a perfect fit on my Spantiks (and TLTs) . Having all the options for front point set ups makes me a happy camper.
At the moment and until something better comes along....I haven't see it yet.....the Lynx will be my go to crampon every where.