January 24, 2012
River runners know that aluminum canoes and drift boats stick on rocks. That's the idea behind Patagonia River Crampons ($239, patagonia.com) — a stainless steel frame with durable stretchy straps, and five flat aluminum bars on the bottom. The crampons are light enough to be unnoticeable while hiking and wading, and the relatively soft metal bites against river rocks for no-slip traction. Our tester used them for a week of fishing on the Dean River, and said "I felt as though I was welded to the river bottom." The crampons were personally designed and tested by Patagonia owner Yvon Chouinard—the same innovator who helped develop today's modern mountaineering crampons. A word of caution: the aluminum bars may produce a euphoric, yet false, feeling of invincibility just because your feet don't slip. Aluminum bars don't protect you from water that is too deep, or currents that are too swift. Rock Grip Wading Boots are also available with aluminum bars adhered directly to the boot bottoms.