First Look Review: New Petzl DART Crampons

The New & Improved Petzl DART Crampons

Petzl is replacing the old DART (mono-point) and DARTWIN (dual-point) crampons with a fantastic new ice climbing weapon. While they’re just calling it the DART, don’t be mistaken, it’s an entirely new design. The new DART blends design features from the old DART & DARTWIN along with the LYNX into a lightweight package that climbs exceptionally well. And, as the design expands on Petzl’s modular crampon system, it’s easy to upgrade to the new DART from your old Petzl crampons. Just buy the new front section and you’re ready to go! I expect that, like the new Nomics, the new DART crampons will be a huge hit.

Now I’ve only put in a few days of climbing ice and rock (and a tree) with the new DART crampons so far as the season’s just getting started. As a result, this is just a First Look review, a summary of my preliminary thoughts on their design and performance.

Spec’s & Features:

  • Weight: 817g (w. mono-points)
  • Points: 12
  • Dual & Mono point options
  • 3 front bail positions
  • 3 rear bail positions
  • Two linking bar options to fit boots from size 34 to 49
  • Interchangeable with other Petzl crampons
  • Anti-balling plate included

Design:

The new DART uses the same front point system as the LYNX. This means that the crampons can be set up for mono or dual points and there are two length options.

The updated DART is basically a 12 point hybrid cross of the LYNX and the old DART/ DARTWIN. The new front portion has 8 main points instead of 10, as on the LYNX, but utilizes the same replaceable front point system as the LYNX. This means that both mono & dual front point set-ups are possible. The front points also have two length options. They can be set forward for deeper penetration into ice or shorter for more stability when mixed climbing. Petzl also added a few small tertiary points for additional security when standing on funky ice bulges and petals.

Some small tertiary points have been added to the new DARTS for additional security on funky ice bulges and petals.

The front bail and rear lever both have three connection location options. This allows the crampon to fit quite well on a wide range of boots, a difficult task at times. Petzl also offers a small toe bail (FIL SMALL) that allows for a secure fit with narrow boots.

Lastly, these new DART crampons come with anti-balling plates already installed, a nice touch!

 

Testing out the new DART crampons on some rock.

With all these improvements over the old DART/DARTWIN, you’d expect the new DART crampons to be a bit heavier than its’ stripped-down predecessor. No so, they’re actually a bit lighter! Well lighter than the old DARTWIN at least. With a mono-point set-up, the new DARTs are just a hair heavier than the old DARTs. 9g per crampon according to my scale. And that may simply be due to wear! My old DARTs have seen a lot more action that the new ones and so are missing some steel.

To summarize, the new DARTs are more versatile and better featured but don’t weigh more! Talk about a win-win.

Old and New DART Crampons. In this configuration they’re basically the same weight!

Compatibility with Petzls’ Modular Crampon System:

In a very smart move, Petzl introduced a modular system with their crampons a few years ago. This means that a lot of the different pieces and parts from their various crampons are interchangeable. Good for them from a customer loyalty perspective and good for you from a cost perspective. Have a pair of LYNX but need a summer mountaineering crampon? Just buy the front section of the VASAK or IRVIS and attach it to the heel of the LYNX!

A random assortment of Petzl crampon parts and pieces. All interchangeable.

So what does this mean when it comes to the new DARTS? Well there are a large number of possible options and variations. A few examples include:

  • Have a pair of LYNX but want some DARTS? Just buy the new DART front section.
  • Want something a bit lighter? Add the KIT CORD-TEC aluminum heel.
  • Have a pair of DARTS but need a mountaineering crampon? Just buy the front section of the VASAK or IRVIS.

While this system is quite flexible it can also be a little confusing. To address the issue, Petzl is preparing a booklet on how to mix and match the various crampon components. Once ready, it may be included in the packaging for new crampon purchases but will be made available online. I have attached the preliminary page on the DART here to give you an idea of what it will look like.

Boot Fit:

The new DART crampons come with Petzl’s standard toe-bail which seems to work fairly well on a wide range of boots. That-being-said, I do find the angular design slightly less secure on some boots than the more rounded bail design favored by Cassin or Black Diamond. If you have small or narrow boots and the regular front bail doesn’t work, Petzl offers a smaller option that can be purchased separately.

Of course if you can’t get a secure fit to your boots with the Petzl toe bails, it’s easy enough to buy one from a different brand and attach them to the DARTs. As every boot manufacturer seems to have a slightly different shaped toe & front TPU insert it’s got to be tough for crampon manufacturers to design one bail that fits them all.

Performance:

Now this is where the rubber really meets the road. Interchangeable front points and a modular design are nice but how they climb is the real test! So, did they perform well? The answer is a resounding YES! The new DARTs climb amazingly well on both ice and mixed.

Testing out the new DART crampons on my first ice of the season.

The lightweight design of the new DARTs give them a nimble and dexterous feel without any flex or instability. The aggressive secondary points provide a solid platform when swinging. And the addition of the small tertiary points on the crampons provide extra security when standing on bulges and petals.

The new DART crampons also worked quite well when I tested them out on some dry-tooling. As they’re quite light, climbing steep or overhung sections is bit easier on the core. And the angle of the shortened mono-point made toeing in on small ledges and cracks fairly secure. I’m really quite impressed that Petzl could make the crampon so light without sacrificing either features or strength/rigidity.

I’ve bounced back and forth a bit when it comes to mono vs. dual points for pure ice climbing. More recently I’ve gotten into the habit of using dual front points as I like the additional stability provided. It allows me to really relax the grip on my tools and climb more efficiently. However, in testing the new DARTs I found that the aggressive secondary points really bite into the ice creating a stable platform regardless of whether I’m sporting a mono or dual front-point set-up. I’ll likely stick with dual points for insecure, chandeliered ice, though.

Final Thoughts:

The new DART crampons are a big step up from the old DARTs and are sure to be a big hit. The only real issue that I have with them is the cost of the replacement LYNX front points. They retail for over $100 CAD per pair! That’s half the cost of the entire front section of the crampon. For comparison, Black Diamond Cyborg/Stinger front points cost less than $20 CAD per pair while Grivel Rambo points are around $40 CAD per pair. One solution is to buy some aftermarket front points like those offered by Krukonogi when the stock points wear out.

Summary:

Pros: Lightweight, Fully Featured with Petzl’s Modular Design

Cons: Replacement front-points are fairly expensive

Overall: The new DART crampons have all the advantages of the old DARTs but none of the disadvantages. If you’re in the market for some new crampons they’re definitely worth checking out!

 

Black Sheep Adventure Sports was supplied with a pair of crampons for testing but of course this didn’t influence our review in any way.