Introduction: Cheap, Easy, Light-duty Snow Crampons

About: I've been tinkering and building things since I was very young. The hobby continues on!

This instructable started off as an experiment, and since it worked I'm uploading my findings here.

I go to college in Utah, so in the winter the sidewalks can get very icy and slick. Plus, most of my shoes had smooth bottoms or not very good traction (Sperrys, cowboy boots, etc). So I set out to find out how to build some easy crampons or spikes to attach to the bottom of a shoe, so that I could get to class without falling on my backside in front of all the ladies.

I thought of many ideas, from the hardware store crampons made in other instructables, or even pizza-cutter Heelies or salt-dispensing and snow-plowing boots. Those were too complicated, expensive, or impossible, and I don't have any scrap metal or tools with me at college. So I went with making them out of office supplies and would-be trash.

I tried two different methods. One pair of crampons I used staples as the metal "tread" and in the second pair of crampons I used thumbtacks. Both ways surprisingly seem to work. The tacks do grip better, but come off your foot easier, cannot be worn indoors, and over time tacks start breaking and falling out. The staples are more low-profile, and you could wear them indoors or fit them in your pocket if you wanted to.

Both crampons are very compact. In the off-season, I store the thumbtack crampons on my teacher's stool.

That being said, these "crampons" are not the most rugged of devices. These are very simple and not for heavy or extreme outdoor use, and definitely not as durable as other crampons. I just wanted them to get me to class, not to climb a waterfall.

Step 1: Gather Materials

All you need for this project is:

A pair of shoes/boots (obviously).

A bike inner tube (you can get old popped tubes from bike shops if you ask nicely).


Staples. A lot of them.


Thumbtacks (I bought a box of 100 and had extra).

Step 2: Filet the Inner Tube

Now cut the inner tube up into a nice big strip. You can experiment with different widths.

If you want, you can clean off the white powder with water and a rag.

Cut off and throw away or keep the valve stem for another project, we will not need it in this instructable.

Step 3: Fit the Tube to the Shoe/boot

Now from your long strip of bike inner tube, cut off a piece of tube that can wrap around the shoe and have enough length to tie off. I cut mine into pieces that are about 16-18 inches.

You should now have two identical strips of rubber.

Step 4: Trim/fitting Continued

I trimmed the ends of my rubber strips into a taper, to make it easier to tie. This is not entirely necessary, but helps.

Then I made sure I could actually tie it around the boot, with the middle of the strip of rubber on the bottom of the sole, where the balls of your feet would be. A double overhand will work.

Once the rubber is centered and tied onto the boot, use a sharpie or marker to mark the edges of the sole on the rubber. This is so you know where to put your tacks/staples.

Now remove the rubber from the shoe for the next step...

Step 5: Start Stapling/tacking!

Now is where you choose if you want to use the tacks or staples. I did both, just so I can show it. Try to fit as many staples or tacks as you can, without too much overlap. You need to use plenty of tacks, because you want your weight to be spread out evenly on all of the tacks to that they do not bend. For my 150 pound self, only the tacks on the edges bend a little bit.

Step 6: Profit $$$

Now your crampons are complete. I ended up adding an extra strap on the tack crampons, so that they do not side off the toe.

Now, these aren't the best crampons in the world, but they are nearly free and offer a heck of a lot more traction on ice than my leather-sole cowboy boots could ever offer.

Personally, I like the staple method better. They seem to last longer, and feel very natural to walk on.

Now, please be reckless. The thumbtack crampons work well on hard-wood floors, and the best place to store them is in your back pocket, with the spikes pointing directly into your skin. And the staple crampons are great for back-country ice fishing and climbing frozen waterfalls. Trust your life with these things, and get really mad at me when you get hurt.

And hopefully, you realize that everything in the above paragraph is extremely sarcastic.

Enjoy, and comment your questions/suggestions!