Black Diamond and Petzl offer several styles of crampons for different uses. The Cyborg and the Dartwin fall into the technical category where the crampons are designed to excel on steep ice, rock and in the alpine. In the past, crampon designs have generally varied significantly between manufacturers. As ice gear has become more refined there has been a trend towards the best new features being adopted into fairly similar designs across companies. It is again in the details where small tradeoffs may dictate which crampon is best for you.
The Black Diamond Cyborg is a versatile crampon which comes stock as a dual point setup with antibot plates (the antibot plates are there to keep snow from balling up on the bottom of the crampon). The antibot plates can be removed for a lighter and more ice/rock oriented crampon. Further, the front points can be reconfigured into offset monopoints that generally suit mixed climbing and some ice conditions well. The beauty of this design is that it essentially gives you three different crampons in one package: all the bells and whistles for alpine performance, stripped down dual points for waterfall ice cragging and monopoints for days at the mixed wall.
The Petzl Dartwin is a specialized crampon that comes stock as a fixed dual point. This crampon does not accommodate an antibot plate on the front half of the crampon, though they are available separately for the backs. Petzl provides modularity in their crampon line by also selling the Dart (monopoint) and Dartwin fronts independently. In this way you can share the same crampon-backs with multiple fronts. It is also the method for replacing worn out frontpoints without replacing the entire crampon.
Aside from modularity, these two crampons are extremely similar when you look at climbing performance. I climbed quite a bit of water ice with one style on each foot, and I honestly could not tell the difference between the two. This isn’t surprising when you look at their design. Each crampon has nearly identical and moderately spaced frontpoints, aggressive secondary points of the same distance back from the tips of the frontpoints, rake points (a backwards pointing tertiary point for hooking), and a springy steel spreader bar separating front and back parts of the crampon.
One real differentiator comes in weight. The Cyborg gains modularity at the expense of a little extra weight (see weights list below). If you compare the Cyborg without antibots in the dual point configuration to the Dartwin, the Dartwin comes out 60g lighter per crampon, or the equivalent of about three lightweight quickdraws per pair. In the monopoint configuration, the Cyborg comes in a little less than 50g heavier than the Dart (a monopoint version of the Dartwin) per crampon. These weight differences are not so large as to impart a different climbing feel while on your boot, but are not insignificant for those planning to carry these a long way.
Individual Crampon Weights
Monopoint – no antibot – 470g
Dual Point – no antibot – 500g
Dual Point – with antibot – 560g
Dartwin – 420g
Dart – 423g
Sarken – 490g
Other considerations include price and ease of configurability. While both the Dartwin and the Cyborg are listed at the same price point, to have both monopoints and duals with the Petzl system, you’ll need to buy a pair of Dart fronts. These generally cost about $100 or more. This significantly raises the cost of the set, and at this point you still don’t have antibot plates. This also represents a higher cost for frontpoint replacement as the Cyborg frontpoints only cost about $13 each.
If you want all the features (plus more) of the Cyborg in the Petzl lineup, you’ll need to buy a third crampon: the Petzl Sarken. The Sarkens are an alpine oriented dual point crampon with antibot plates. An advantage over the Cyborg is that they provide fully hooded frontpoints that are excellent for purchase on weak or sloppy alpine neve. I do feel that the Dartwins are superior to the Sarken on pure water ice because the Sarken has wider set frontpoints (which cause more ice shattering) and less aggressive secondary points. However for alpine climbing, the Sarken comes in significantly lighter, 140 grams per pair, than the Cyborg with dual points and antibots.
In terms of configurability, it is much easier to swap fronts with the Petzl system than it is to remove the bolt and deal with the spacers of the Cyborg. Changing fronts on the Petzls only takes a minute or two and does not require any tools. To switch the Cyborg into the monopoint configuration, the front spacer needs to be cut with a hacksaw and you will need an allen wrench and a small crescent wrench. You’ll also need to include an extra spacer to fill the void left by the other frontpoint. Thankfully it is only one bolt and a whole world away from adjusting older modular crampons.
Black Diamond is now making their crampons bodies out of a stainless steel alloy where as most other manufactures use a painted chromoly alloy. According to the manufacturer, the stainless steel provides some greater degree of abrasion resistance. Stainless steel is not lighter than chromoly steel, though Black Diamond has slightly reduced the weight from the previous non-stainless Cyborg via design changes.
I personally prefer the vertical front point design for water ice climbing, and thought that these two crampons are the best designs that I’ve climbed on in the past 15 years. If you require the lightest possible setup and cost is less of a concern, buying and pairing several of Petzl’s offerings may be a good choice. If you want a single crampon that can climb in three different modes and you don’t mind a little extra weight, the Cyborg might be the ticket.