What Are GSB Crampons?

Confused by the Grivel / Scarpa crampon binding, here's how it works.


Posted: 14 January 2010
by Jon

A fair few Scarpa winter and alpine boots, including the classic Manta, are now designated 'GSB' which means they can use an alternative Grivel crampon binding intended to be faster and more secure than traditional bindings.

GSB crampon fitting

Instead of a front bail or cradle, Grivel's GSB crampons use a metal prong which locates in a slot at the toe-end of the outsole - this is metal reinforced, so you're not reliant on rubber - you simply slide the prong in and fasten the heel binding securely.

Fitting a set of Air-Tech GSB crampons to a compatible boot is dead straightforward, though bear in mind that you need to fit a set of plastic inserts to take up a dead space between the toe-end of the sole and the crampon frame because the sole unit isn't thick enough in this area.

GSB crampon fitting

Once on the crampons feel just as positively located and secure as any other binding we've used. Wwe do have theoretical misgivings about the possibility of the narrow slot getting choked with ice or small bits of gravel, but so far it hasn't happened to us though we have heard anecdotal evidence of it being an issue in some conditions. We'd also keep a careful eye on sole wear in the toe area.

GSB crampon fitting

One point worth making is that you don't have to use GSB crampons with GSB-capable boots - they can also use any appropriate crampon binding - but you do need GSB boots if you  have GSB crampons, which is potentially limiting if you want to use the same crampon on more than one pair of boots.

Grivel Air-Tech GSB Crampons

We're liking the look of these - they use the GSB system up front and a heel clip at the back and come complete with Grivel's excellent Antibott plates plus a spare pair of Super Asymmetric bars to cope with banana-shaped technical boots.

GSB crampon fitting

Interestingly the points themselves are shorter than more traditional crampons to improve stability on ice, points have serrations for stable grip in certain conditions and the third set of points are splayed wide while the third set are angulated for added grip when traversing or descending.

GSB crampon fitting

We're looking to get them out on the snow and ice as soon as possible and will report back.

More information at www.scarpa.co.uk and www.grivel.com.


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Um, guys. GSB is being discontinued as of now, certainly for the Manta, and I believe is being slowly phased out of the rest of Scarpa's range as well. Cotswolds have dumped their entire stock of GSB Mantas and we're selling off our last ones (got a few already without the binding option). The Manta, in particular, is where the problems have been: the rubber around the wee hole got eaten by the metal of the crampon, making the hole too big for the crampon to be at all secure.

Plus, that wee hole gets filled up with shite when you don't have the crampon on, by all accounts.

Posted: 14/01/2010 at 14:57

The GSB crampons can be converted to 'classic' metal toe bails as the GSB spike can be removed & standard spacers fitted and the front section has the holes already there to take the metal bail. Some suppliers keep the parts in stock.

So all is not lost if you do have any problems with GSB or if you replace your boots with non GSB compatible..

Personally, I think its a very good system, very quick to fit & I've had no problems with mine. Most independant reviews are also very positive.

I should also add that the plastic insert (spacer) below the front of the sole mentioned in the article isn't needed for all boot types - the Freney XT's don't need it.


Posted: 18/01/2010 at 14:36

I have to agree with Ian.  I've used the GSB system on the Scarpa Mirage boots for the last couple of winters now, and I have been rather impressed.  Never had a problem with the wee hole getting bunged, but have found that they are very quick to fit.  I was intially a bit sceptical when I first used hem, and was wary of the potential stress areas at the front of the boot, but a bit of use put my mind at ease.  Also found the fit to be secure and positive and more than capable of a bit of frontpointing on ice. 

Was disappointed to find that the system is being discontinued, especially with the softer rubber at the front of the Mirage sole wearing more quickly than expected. But they can be resoled, and I expect a few more seasons out of them yet.  Glad to read the section in Ian's post about the metal bail.  I may invest in this to extend the use of these crampons.  Although in saying that, I do also have the G10s and G14s (bit of a Grivel fan when it comes to spikes).

 Any ideas if any suppliers in the North West are stocking the metal bails?


Posted: 19/01/2010 at 20:45

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