BILLY GOAT TECH ASCENT PLATES
OUR TAKE The Billy Goats fill a gap in the mountaineering market by crushing climbs too steep for snowshoes, too narrow for skinning switchbacks, and too powdery for booting in crampons alone. The rectangular (13.5 by 7.5 inches), aluminum plates sandwich between your boot and crampon, adding float to your crampons’ traction. (Options for both ski and snowboard boots are available.) They make ascending steep, loose snow a breeze, as one tester discovered after a slog on the 40-degree slopes of Alaska’s Mt. Eccles.
THE DETAILS Assembly takes a minute to figure out; it’s best to fit them at home before your trip. The plate/crampon combo felt heavy on our feet, but at 13.4 ounces per plate, they’re lighter than any snowshoe or ski, and crampons provide better traction. Testers reported no balling under the plates.
TRAIL CRED “Am I going to take them on every trip? No. But for steep climbs with variable snow, I feel much more confident with these on my feet,” says our Alaskan tester. $130; 1 lb. 11 oz.; billygoattech.com