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Black Diamond Serac crampons review: rugged substance as well as sleek style

A sturdy 12-point crampon, the Black Diamond Serac is made from high-grade stainless steel that’s ideal for classic mountaineering and winter scrambles

Black Diamond Serac
(Image: © Black Diamond)

Our Verdict

With sleek looks thanks to its stainless steel frame, this is a classic 12-point mountaineering crampon that delivers substance as well as style. It’s strong, durable and highly resistant to corrosion, while offering all-round performance that’s as good as anything else in its class.

For

  • Easy and precise fit
  • Well-made and durable
  • Available in strap, semi-auto or fully automatic step-in bindings

Against

  • Middling in terms of weight
  • Supplied link bars only fit boots up to a UK 11 / US 12
  • For larger sizes, you’ll need longer length bars (sold separately)

Black Diamond Serac: first impressions

Black Diamond Serac C2 clip binding

Black Diamond Serac C2 clip binding (Image credit: Back Diamond)

The Black Diamond Serac is one of the most popular 12-point crampons around, and we can see why. With versatile horizontal front points, classic secondary points and stable rear points, it’s a design that is well-suited to winter mountaineering from low up to mid-grades, even on moderately steep ground. So, while the Seracs might be more than you need if you’re just starting to get into winter hillwalking, for more competent and experienced users looking to tackle complex and challenging mountaineering routes, they’re great. 

Added versatility comes from the fact that three different binding systems are available for use with all classes of boot. At the top end, the Pro binding (see main review image) features a metal front bail and rear clip to fit rigid B3 boots – otherwise known as a fully automatic or step-in crampon. Then there’s a C2 Clip binding (with a plastic front bail and rear clip for B2 boots) and lastly a C1 strap version (with front and rear plastic bails and webbing straps for more flexible B1 boots – see best winter hiking boots for an explanation of the B1 / B2 / B3 ranking system). 

The latest version also has a slightly reshaped front section with a curved frame to reflect the more pronounced “rocker” of most modern boots, resulting in a closer fit for added stability and less snow build-up. On balance, we’d recommend the Pro or Clip bindings, which mean you need B2 or B3 boots. Though there’s nothing wrong with the strap attachment, these crampons are probably overkill for pairing with less technical footwear. 

But how did these Black Diamond Serc crampons perform when we tested them for our best crampons buying guide? Read on to find out…

Specifications

• RRP: $185 / £135
• Weight (58cm version): 860g / 30.3oz
• Materials: Stainless steel, ABS plastic, nylon webbing

Black Diamond Serac: in the mountains

Black Diamond Serac C1 strap version

Black Diamond Serac C1 strap version (Image credit: Black Diamond)

Both Pro and Clip versions are easy to put on and feel secure, with no heel lift thanks to the precise micro adjustment on the rear clip. The integrated anti-balling plates work well to shed snow and ice underfoot. The front points feel robust and reliable (and are pretty sharp straight out of the box), while the secondary points are fairly aggressive, aiding stability without a conscious need to keep your heels low all the time when front-pointing. Underfoot points do their job, though they aren’t the longest. Fortunately, they have a secondary serrated “tooth” to help deliver secure traction, even on smooth glacial ice.

The Seracs are made from stainless steel, so they won’t rust. All in all, it’s a well-designed and sturdy crampon that offers plenty of user versatility. This robust build inevitably adds a little weight, and the Seracs are in the middle of the pack when it comes to overall weight.

We did note that the supplied link bars only fit boots up to a UK 11 / US 12. For larger sizes, you’ll need longer length bars (sold separately). It’s also a slight shame that the Seracs aren’t supplied with a crampon case or storage bag – though Black Diamond do make a robust zipped crampon bag, sold separately.

An outdoors writer and editor, Matt Jones has been testing kit in the field for nearly a decade. Having worked for both the Ramblers and the Scouts, he knows one or two things about walking and camping, and loves all things adventure, particularly long-distance backpacking, wild camping and climbing mountains – especially in Wales. He’s based in Snowdonia and last year thru-hiked the Cambrian Way, which runs for 298 miles from Cardiff to Conwy, with a total ascent of 73,700 feet – that’s nearly 2½ times the height of Everest. Follow Matt on Instagram and Twitter.