Ice Ax – Buying Guide, Opinions and Analysis
The ice ax is one of the basic tools used in mountaineering practices, whose metal structure consists of a handle with its respective grip. Likewise, in the upper part there is a shovel and a blade with a “T” shaped beak, which are responsible for penetrating the rocky surface, with ice or snow. Ice ax models are usually varied and Petzl Glacier is one of them. It is a piece of equipment with a simple design, but with adequate resistance, thanks to its steel blade and reinforced aluminum cane. Another good alternative is the Black Diamond Raven Ax Ultra, which is an ice ax with a light structure and ergonomic grip, designed for hard snow.
The 9 Best Ice Axes – Opinions 2022
Next, we present a brief description, pros and cons of nine models of ice axes, considered the best of this year.
Petzl ice ax
1. Petzl Rodmann ice ax Glacier
For many users, this could be the best ice ax, recommended for offering a structure with a high level of resistance, to penetrate any surface with ice or snow without fear of deterioration. In addition, the product design line has great ergonomics in the grip area and a light body. Thus, the person will not have problems handling the equipment without mistreating or tiring the hand.
Regarding the raw material used for this Petzl ice axe, we have that its blade and blade with pick are made of stainless steel, while the entire area of the cane was made of aluminum treated using anodizing technology.
In this way, an artificial layer of oxide covered by the subsequent chrome treatment has been created on the surface of the instrument. In this way, more strength is given to the piece, without having to increase its weight.
This could be the best ice ax of the moment due to its simple design, but with considerable resistance. Next, the advantages and disadvantages of the product.
Cane: The anodized cane offers a reinforced surface and, therefore, more resistant.
Grip: The grip area conforms to the hand, providing a comfortable hold.
Blade: Its steel blade offers rapid penetration into ice or snow, so you can move forward safely.
Weight: You will not have to worry about hand fatigue due to weight, because the ice ax is light.
Protectors: You must purchase the protectors for the tip, because these are not attached to the package.
2. Petzl Curved Handle Ride Ice Axes
This is a Petzl ice ax that has managed to surprise those who have acquired it, since its structure combines lightness and robustness, for the enjoyment of a comfortable and safe use experience during the climbing route.
The handle of the equipment has a curved design line, with the purpose of providing an ergonomic grip regardless of whether the person is left-handed or right-handed. In addition, in the lower part, the shaft has been provided with a series of shallow horizontal channels, to create texture and prevent slipping when picking up the ice ax.
Regarding the upper blade and blade, we have that they were made of hardened steel, which is an alloy characterized by having a good level of resistance to wear, which is favorable when the piece hits rocks or ice. In addition, it is an easy material to sharpen manually, with a metal file.
This is an ice ax with interesting positive aspects and some other less flattering ones, which we will comment on immediately.
Weight: You will be able to hold the ice ax for hours without generating fatigue in your hand, thanks to the light weight of the structure.
Resistance: The steel used for the blade and shovel offers a convenient level of resistance.
Grip: You will get a comfortable grip thanks to the ergonomics of its curved handle.
Storage: Due to its compact size, you will have no problem carrying the ice ax in your backpack.
Usage: Despite its high level of quality, the ice ax is not suitable for ice climbing.
Black Diamond Ice Ax
3. Black Diamond Sporting Goods Unisex Adult BD
This is a climbing tool designed with a slight slant in the tip area, in order to provide quick and precise penetration on hard snow terrain. In addition, due to the manufacture of this piece in stainless steel, the athlete will not have to worry about its deformation or deterioration of the structure, due to constant impacts.
On the other hand, this Black Diamond ice ax incorporates a straight shaft with an ergonomic shape, which allows a comfortable and safe grip. In the same way, being made of aluminum, the weight to be supported in the hand will be very low, so that the climber can hold the ice ax for hours without getting tired.
Finally, this product, commented among the best ice axes of 2022, stands out for having a length of 60 centimeters, which makes it a standard-type climbing tool, suitable for use by both men and women.
Black Diamond is recommended as the best ice ax brand and this is one of its representative models, whose pros and cons we summarize below.
Holding: The handle has an ergonomic design that facilitates the holding method.
Tip: The tip quickly penetrates the surface, due to the strength of stainless steel.
Weight: Its light weight is easy to handle, so you will not feel tired after several hours of use.
Opening: Thanks to the opening in the head, you can place a carabiner for the leash.
Use: If you are looking for an ice ax for rock climbing, you should know that this model is only recommended for hard snow.
4. Black Diamond Raven Grip Ice Axes
With this Black Diamond ice ax, lovers of climbing on snow or ice will have in their hands a high-quality anchoring tool, whose light body of approximately 450 grams is easy to handle when holding it or placing it in the backpack.
In addition, it is important to comment on the manufacturing materials of this tool, highlighting the tempered type steel in the head area, while aeronautical aluminum was used for the handle. It is an alloy whose composition incorporates a low percentage of lithium, with the purpose of reducing density, without sacrificing the level of resistance.
Regarding the grip area, the climber will have a soft rubber coating. Thus, the grip offered is comfortable, due to the touch and padding of the material and, in turn, greater control of the ice ax is provided, when manipulating it during ascent and descent.
Here, the advantages and disadvantages of an ice ax with an elegant design, a resistant body and easy handling.
Handle: Its aeronautical aluminum handle incorporates lithium, to reduce density and improve handling.
Head: The tempered steel of the head provides resistance to deterioration and, therefore, favors the durability of the equipment.
Leash: A leash is attached so that the person can secure the ice ax to the hand.
Handle: By incorporating a rubber handle, the grip is more comfortable for the hand.
Accessories: The absence of a cover or protectors is an improvable aspect. However, you can purchase these items separately.
touring ice ax
5. Altus Vittatus Ice Ax Unisex One size
Among the cheapest ice axes in this selection of products, we have this model manufactured by Altus. It is a climbing tool with a design considered classic, since it has a straight handle and, on the head, a curved tip with a system of teeth, capable of planting itself on the ground when a slip occurs.
In addition, the size of the ice ax, corresponding to a height of 60 centimeters, is a suitable measure for people with a height less than or equal to 1.70 meters. On the other hand, this touring ice ax offers a high level of resistance to wear and tear, because galvanized aluminum was used for its construction.
In the same way, the material benefits the handling and transfer of the equipment, because it is an ultralight alloy, that is, it will not generate an annoying weight when holding it for hours, while advancing on the climbing route.
If you are looking for an ice ax with a classic design for your journeys in snowy terrain, highlighted among the cheapest, you will be interested in reviewing the details of this model.
Dragonera: You will be able to secure the ice ax at hand, thanks to the integrated leash with the purchase.
Weight: The light weight of the ice ax makes it easy to carry in the backpack, without causing overload.
Resistance: Due to its manufacture in high quality aluminum, you will have an impact resistant equipment.
Handle: Its straight, yet ergonomic handle offers a comfortable and secure grip.
Size: The size of the product is unique, so it may not be suitable for all people.
Stubai ice ax
6. Hornet Protect Stubai Sports Snow Climbing Tool
When reviewing the purchase portals specialized in climbing tools, there are many people who, thanks to this product, have clarified the question of which is the best ice ax.
It is a mountaineering equipment with a format of 46 centimeters, recommended to be used by people with a height less than or equal to 1.67 centimeters. The handle of the structure is curved, to improve anchoring, while the textured rubber grip prevents slipping on the hand and offers a soft touch.
In addition, this Stubai ice ax has been provided with a thin blade, capable of effectively penetrating snowy or icy terrain, subsequently fulfilling a stopping or traction function. Likewise, in the area of the cross, the person will have a hole for the placement of the leash, incorporated with the purchase. This accessory can be easily adjusted in size to suit individual needs.
Those who do not know which ice ax to buy might be interested in knowing the details of this 46-centimeter model, recommended for ice and snow.
Strap: The built-in strap can be adjusted in size to suit the needs of the climber.
Weight: You won’t have to worry about hand fatigue after hours of using the equipment, since the structure is light.
Blade: Its fine blade penetrates both ice and snow with precision.
Grip: A textured rubber coating is attached to the handle to provide a comfortable grip and prevent slippage.
Protectors: By not incorporating protectors, you will have to purchase them separately.
technical ice ax
7. Salewa North X Hammer Ice Ax
Those looking for a high-quality, light-weight, technical ice ax with adequate resistance might be interested in this model developed by Salewa. It is a structure designed to help the athlete, both when ascending and descending rocky or icy mountains.
The equipment has a special mechanism in the crank, which turns gently upwards, once the blade of the ice ax has been inserted into the ground, to reduce the force of the person’s movement. Thus, the athlete achieves significant energy savings.
On the other hand, we have the issue of materials, highlighting the forged steel in the beak, aluminum in the handle and synthetic insulation in the grip area, to reduce the effect of cold on the hands. In addition, there is the flexible leash with clip hook, so that the person can attach it to the ice ax when deemed necessary.
Here, the details of a technical ice ax with anchor lock, for a safe user experience.
Strap: The attached strap prevents the loss of the ice ax, as it secures the tool to the hand.
Pickaxe: His forged steel pickaxe can be inserted into ice or rocks without breaking.
Grip: Due to the synthetic type insulation, incorporated into the grip, you will not feel the strong impact of the cold on your hands.
Handle: The aluminum handle is not only resistant, but also makes the equipment light.
Color: If you like vibrant colors, the tone of this ice ax’s frame might seem a bit understated to you.
Grivel ice ax
8. Grivel G Zero Ice Ax with Insulator
This is a product recommended as the best value for money ice axe, designed to be used by men and women in climbing activities. Its classic style has a grip area that adapts to the natural shape of the hand, as well as a blade resistant to impacts caused during each of the journeys.
With this Grivel ice ax you will be able to explore any mountain, advancing safely, since the structure has been built in hardened steel and the handle with carbon; that is to say, it is a non-deformable and light equipment. In addition, it incorporates a removable cover in the blade area, designed to protect the athlete from any injury when handling the product.
On the other hand, we have the built-in strap or leash, which is a very convenient accessory, since thanks to it we will avoid losing the ice ax in case it slips from our hands while we advance.
This model has managed to stand out among the most promoted ice axes, offering a safe and light climbing tool.
Strength: Being made of hardened and carbon steel, this ice ax offers good strength and durability.
Structure: Because the structure was manufactured in one piece, you will not have to worry about it falling off.
Cover: With the built-in cover, you will keep the equipment protected while it is not in use.
Dragonera: You will be able to use the ice ax from the first day, since it has been provided with its respective dragonera.
Spike: There are those who comment that the spike of the structure is not very sharp, so they recommend conditioning it before the route.
Cassin ice ax
9. Cassin Ice Axes X Dream Uni
This Cassin ice ax is specially designed so that the athlete can adapt the angle of the grip area, depending on the type of surface with ice or mixed, on which the climbing route is carried out. To do this, you only have to turn a screw located at the base of the structure, just where the aforementioned “T” handle is fixed.
On the other hand, there is the 50-centimeter structure of the ice ax, which has been made of metal and some synthetic elements. Both are high quality materials and light weight, corresponding to 600 grams, so as not to generate excessive hand fatigue when holding for hours during the journey.
In addition, the “T” type technical blade stands out in this product, designed to resist the strongest impacts without deteriorating, while the handle incorporates a rubber coating, for greater comfort and to prevent unexpected slipping.
Here are the pros and cons of a technical ice ax designed for ice and dry terrain.
Handle: You will be able to hold the ice ax without it slipping from your hands, due to the attached soft rubber coating.
Blade: You will not have to worry about the deterioration of the technical blade, since it resists great impacts.
Grip angle: An adjustment mechanism is incorporated, so you can adapt the angle of the handle according to the type of ground.
Weight: Thanks to the low weight of the ice ax, you will be able to manipulate the structure without generating fatigue in the hand.
Dragonera: The dragonera is not included with the purchase, so you must purchase it separately.
Ice ax accessories
Strap for ice ax
Climbing Technology Dragonne Elastic strap for ice ax Simple
This is an ice ax leash in which high quality raw material and reinforced seams in some areas were used, with the purpose of offering a resistant, durable and safe product when climbing.
The leash is made up of an elastic band in black and orange, made of robust synthetic fabric. At one end there is a metallic and anticorrosive clip hook, which allows a quick adjustment and release of the accessory on the ice ax. In addition, on the remaining end of the ribbon there is a special fold, so that you can hold the leash with your hand.
The ice ax is a very popular tool used by mountaineers to achieve greater stability when ascending and descending the mountain. The models are usually varied with respect to the angle of the structure and the quality of the manufacturing materials. Next, you will be able to know the main quality indicators referring to this type of product through this guide to buy the best ice axe.
The manufacture of the blade is an aspect that cannot be ignored in any comparison of ice axes, because it is a fundamental piece for the proper functioning of this mountaineering equipment.
The hook-shaped blade or pike is located in the upper part of the structure, next to the head and the shovel. Said piece is made of forged steel and is treated against corrosion, for greater durability against humidity.
In addition, the pick incorporates a series of teeth with different depths, which allow it to quickly take root in the ground after having penetrated the surface. In this way, the ice ax offers a higher level of stability in the event of a slip during climbing.
Accessories are usually elements added by the manufacturer of the product, with the purpose of improving the user experience of the buyer. Perhaps this peculiarity can increase the acquisition cost a little, but, in the long term, more than an expense, it would be a profitable investment of both money and time.
This is because the person will not have to purchase these accessories separately, in the different specialized portals or physical stores. Therefore, if the ice ax has been provided with more than one accessory, the ideal would be not to question how much it costs, but how good these elements are and if they are really worth the extra investment.
For example, some ice axes attach protectors for the tip and blade area. These pieces must be synthetic, moderately robust and with a soft touch, so that they protect the structure and the person, since they could unexpectedly injure their hands. In addition, the protectors will have to fit correctly to the structure, to prevent them from getting lost during the journey.
For its part, the leash, which is another of the accessories usually integrated into the package, must be provided with a metal hook with a secure clip, made of synthetic nylon or polyester fabric and, at the joints, have reinforced seams.
Regardless of how cheap the ice ax to buy is, if it does not have an ergonomic grip area, the purchase may not be the most appropriate. In this sense, the ideal would be to reformulate the selection of the product.
It is important to evaluate the grip area of the ice ax, trying as much as possible to make it a light piece, preferably made of aluminum, since it is a resistant and light material. In addition, it must incorporate an anticorrosive treatment, to avoid deterioration caused by the humidity to which the equipment is exposed during the journey.
Similarly, it is convenient that the manufacturer has added anodizing technology to the surface of the alloy, with the purpose of reinforcing the strength of the rod without increasing the weight of the structure.
On the other hand, there is the issue of comfort and safety in the grip, for which some brands use a non-slip rubber coating on the handle. Also, other brands put a synthetic-type insulator in the ice ax, responsible for significantly reducing the impact of cold on the skin of the hands.
Cleaning is an aspect of great importance in any sports equipment, since it is possible to prolong the useful life of the structure, by preventing dirt from accumulating after each use. In this sense, ice axes are no exception. For this reason, the athlete must provide said mountaineering tool with periodic maintenance for each of its parts.
To perform such a task, it is important to choose a model whose structure facilitates cleaning. This manifests itself in the materials, but also in the form of the design. Likewise, cleaning also has to do with the protection to transport and store the equipment, for which it would be ideal to include a transport bag, since, in this way, contact with dirt agents would be avoided.
Frequently asked questions
Q1: How to use an ice ax?
To use the ice ax correctly, you only have to position the palm of your right or left hand on the area of the cross, while the index finger and thumb hold the blade. In addition, the tip of the structure must be directed forward, to facilitate the moment in which it is nailed to the ground.
Q2: How to choose the size of the ice ax?
The selection of the size of the ice ax will depend exclusively on the height of each person. In this sense, it is recommended that the individual take the ice ax by the area of the withers, so that the tip is directed towards the ground, while maintaining a body position with an upright back and relaxed shoulders. In addition, you must have climbing shoes on. In this way, you will be able to observe the distance between the ground and the tip of the ice ax, which should not be more or less than a span.
Q3: How is the ice ax carried in the backpack?
Certainly, carrying the ice ax in your hands throughout the route could be a bit uncomfortable for the person, so the ideal is to place it in an area of the backpack that allows us to always have it at hand, to access it when we need it.
Of course, everything will depend on the type of backpack used, since there are models that incorporate lateral adjustment straps, straps or special compartments, designed to carry this type of accessories necessary in the development of the different routes.
Q4: How to make an ice ax leash?
To make a leash, you can start by searching a specialized website for the measurements and types of materials to use. Later, you can buy medium thickness climbing rope, since it incorporates a woven cover in charge of protecting the core of said tape. In this way, you will have a highly resistant material with an adequate level of flexibility.
Calculate the amount of rope you will need to wrap around your hand and attach the tape to the ice axe, which could be anywhere from 12 to 8 inches, depending on your body build. Thus, you can proceed to cut the cord and join its ends with a synthetic piece or snap fastener, which keeps the parts fixed. This piece can be obtained at any sports store. In addition, it will allow you to fix the leash to the ice ax, so you can handle it safely.
Q5: How to sharpen an ice ax?
Sharpening the ice ax is a simple task, which must be done manually. To do this, you must start by disassembling the leaf and release the screw that joins it to the structure. Then, it only remains to use a flat metal file to carry out the sharpening process.
Remember to gently slide the file over the blade of the ice ax so that the steel surface does not get hot. In addition, it is necessary to perform the movements in the same direction. In this way, it is avoided to damage the forging of the blade. Likewise, ice ax manufacturers recommend not using electric sharpening machines such as grinders, because it would cause the aforementioned heating effect.