Best Ice Axes Reviewed & Rated for Quality
There are a whole ton of dizzying things that make the athletic act of rock climbing, and mountaineering a dangerous, and slippery avenue. To combat these things, the industry for climbing gear, accessories, tools, and safety equipment to keep those that partake just that much more capable of completing this crazy difficult task.
Those that climb ice, are even more fearless. And that is the most common reason folks thing that ice picks exist. However, they are also very grand last-ditch efforts to grab at the ground when you’re up peaks and the crosswinds blow. It’s all made and adapted to save lives, assist in climbs, and generally be very useful tools.
Here are the ten most unique, and best Ice Axes on the market right now.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 217 hrs of research
Tapered, sharp-toothed blade
Room for accessories
10 Best Ice Axes
1. Petzl Quark
Tapered, sharp-toothed blade
Room for accessories
Not the best tool for snow
A little expensive
The first product on our list is one that’s sure to stand up to even the toughest of ice conditions. Whether we’re looking at an ice-covered mountain or just a traipse through the forest near our house, this ice tool is a must have. More high tech than the usual ice axes and ice picks, this combines technology from both to give you a versatile, effective ice tool.Read more
Let’s jump right in to “picking” this thing apart (sorry, we couldn’t resist). Mountaineering is a tricky, technical sport. There’s so many things that could go wrong, and we need to be assured that our tools are tough enough to hold up to the job. The build on this ice tool is streamlined to do exactly what it needs to; nothing more, and certainly nothing less. A lightweight body, an insulated handle, and a tip that easily catches in even the toughest ice, this is a tool that’s built to work.
The most surprising positive that we have regarding this ice tool? The fact that it’s got built in clip capacity! The hole in the bottom of the handle isn’t just to make it lighter; it’s actually so that we can take our caribeanners and clip this puppy right on to our mountaineering belts. The most secure option, and the easiest, there’s no fear of an external loop detaching when the hole is built right in!
Cost and Value
How much would you pay for safety? Some of us would invest a couple dollars, while others are willing to spend whatever it takes. We believe that the price of this ice tool is totally worth its value. The durability, reliability, and build are all made specifically with your safety in mind. It’s hard to put a price on that kind of peace of mind!
2. Black Diamond Raven
One piece, aluminum
Very, very sharp
It’s Rather Long
No Grip Insulation
Black Diamond isn’t just for those intrepid skiers anymore! Now it’s also a standard for valued, durable, and reliable ice axes. This ice axe might not have all the unique features of others on our list, but it’s truly a standout when it comes to quality and function. This is a basic, no-frills ice axe. It’s perfect for the mountain climbers who don’t want anything funky, and would rather just have a solid, reliable tool.Read more
It’s so light we could fly away on it! Just kidding. Please don’t try to fly down the mountain on this ice axe. Great for working your way up a slope, the only connection this thing has to fly is in its materials. The aluminum is aircraft grade. This means that the material is durable enough to handle flying high in the air. It also means that, no matter how hard you swing your pick, there won’t be any broken tips left in the ice.
For the simpler ice picks and axes it’s hard to find unique qualities. After all, what makes a good ice axe is more or less the same across the board, right? Surprise, surprise: this simple ice axe has a very unique feature. This product is made out of a single cast, which means it’s literally the most durable it could possibly be. There are no worries here about the head coming off of the shaft since they’re made from the same piece!
Cost and Value
At a lower cost than our first ice axe (and coming in lower than several of our other listed options) this is an ice axe that will get the job done. It’s perfect for beginners, as well as those who don’t like the frills and features that come with more contemporary ice axes. It can’t be beaten in terms of durability and reliability, though it is on the heavy side. Overall, we think it’s definitely worth picking up before your next mountain adventure.
3. Grivel G Zeroe
Rubber grip for the blade
Sturdy and lightweight
Some dislike the leash/strap
No “cool” extra features
This ice axe has stolen the last slot of our Top Three standings, and anyone can see why. Unlike the heavy-duty “no mountain can defeat me” axe that we just looked at, this is one that’s meant for gentler slopes. The ice axe is perfectly structured to provide not only solid axe usability, but also more versatile uses as well. Let’s take a look at some of these varying options, shall we?Read more
Walking Stick Options
It might sound ridiculous to non-climbers, but a walking stick is actually a really useful item to take with us on a mountaineering adventure. Many mountain climbers like to have a walking stick with them (or attached to their ice axe) to stabilize them on slippery ground. Using a walking stick can also help out on regular, flat hikes as well. Thanks to the insulated cover for the top of this ice axe, you’re able to double up on your options while trimming down the tools you need to carry. This product works as a walking stick as well as an ice axe, and it’s great at being both!
A “Good Boy” Leash
Taking this good ice axe out for a walk is even easier than taking your good boy out for a walk; it comes with its own leash! The strap on this ice axe is meant so it’s easier to hold on to it, grab it, and keep it attached. There’s a wrist strap, though some say that it gets in the way. We think that it’s an awesome addition for those that might have some slippery fingers happening!
Cost and Value
One of the lowest priced options on our list, we believe that this axe is a solid one for those that are looking at glacier climbing and hiking. While it might not last forever and ever, it’s a solid option for those that want a combination ice axe and hiking tool. The reviews are good, and at such a low price it’s hard to complain! The value is certainly worth this cost.
4. Omega Pacific Mountain
This has to be a good axe if it has a mountain in the name, right? Believe it or not, the title of a product doesn’t always denote how good it is. Luckily for us, Omega Pacific’s Mountain Axe is actually one of the fantastic options available for mountain climbers of all experience levels. It might not look too fancy, but it’s certainly going to help when we get caught in a surprise glissade!Read more
One thing that any mountaineer is going to be looking at when it comes to these axes and tools is the weight. As one reviewer mentioned, it’s not ideal to have to carry a heavy ice axe up the side of a mountain. This mountain axe is light enough that anyone should be able to lift it, though it hasn’t compromised on durability or integrity. This axe is made from strong, sturdy aluminum.
Surprisingly, it’s not just ice climbers that are buying these mountain axes. One review mentioned how they had used it for spelunking in the desert! Not only does this axe hold up to thick, hard ice, but it also helps when it comes to climbing regular rock or dirt. This multi-condition-ready tool means that we can climb all year long!
Cost and Value
Another one of the lower pricepoint options, this mountain axe has some excellent reviews. While the product description doesn’t make it out to be anything too fantastic, the buyer reviews convinced us that this mountain axe was worth the fourth spot. Durable, reliable, and made of a lightweight (but weight bearing) metal means this mountain axe is a definite yes.
5. Petzl Nomic Tool
Good for dry and icy scaling
Great Customer Service
Grip tape and adjustable handle
Not the longest/no listed size options
This ice tool has been given five out of five stars, and it’s easy to see why. We personally love the fact that PETZL has crafted this ice tool as an alternative to the classic pick or axe style ice tool. The tip is curved, but the teeth are sharp, which means variety is a given. Not to mention the fact that it comes highly, highly recommended at a five-star rating!Read more
The Best Hook Up
Many of the ice tools we’ve looked at so far are great for scaling up/around mountains and glaciers. They’re built to pick into the ice, hold our weight, and help us scale the mountain. But what about those that live in warmer climates? If the mountains you’re tackling feature a rocky bottom half and an icy top half, you’re better off carrying one tool that can work with both than trying to pack multiple options. The curve of the ice tool’s blade means it’s crafted to hook over rocks as well as dig into the ice.
Sometimes using our upper body strength is hard, especially when it comes to swinging a lightweight tool in to grip some ice. That’s the issue with many of these lightweight tools, especially if we’re not used to the ice axe picking method. This tool features removable weights, giving it an extra “oof” when picking into ice but a lightweight grip when scaling a dry mountain.
Cost and Value
This is one of the most expensive options on our list, and it’s no surprise why. Made with the highest quality of materials and a firm, solid grip, people love the PETZL’s versatility and strength. That being said, we might recommend that a beginner go with a different option. It’s a lot of money to spend on a tool that’s built for the most dramatic conditions. On the flipside, mountaineers who do both dry and ice scaling should definitely invest in this life-saving tool.
6. Black Diamond Raven
Many carabiner holes
Stainless Steel Head
Not great for dry climbing/dirt climbing
One report of potential fakes being sold
“But wait,” you might be thinking, “didn’t we already look at a Black Diamond level ice axe?” Yes, friends, we did. But the company has such a wide variety of options that we couldn’t help but include a second entry on our list. The company itself is a well-liked group of folks with a passion for mountain gear. This Ice Axe With Grip is a great example of how to build a good, solid tool.Read more
Best For Beginners
One thing that the reviews mention again and again is the fact that this ice axe is great for beginners. While we’re not saying that well seasoned climbers shouldn’t utilize this axe, it will really work well for anyone not used to using an axe. Lightweight, with several different holes for attaching it to your belt, this options on this product are endless.
Slip and Slide
That’s the last thing anyone wants to do three-quarters of the way up an icy mountain, but there’s certainly some benefits to having parts of the axe itself slip and slide! In this product’s case we’re talking about the wrist strap/leash. While the other axe with a leash didn’t have an adjustable wrist strap, this one slides to fit snugly around your wrist. It fits just right, and means those not used to working with a tool won’t have to worry about dropping it down the slope.
Cost and Value
One of the middle-of-the-road to moderately expensive options, this ice axe does indeed break even on its value and its cost. While many people in the reviews discuss how great it is for beginners, we believe that a good axe is just a good axe. The strap adds some security, which does indeed make it so that novice climbers won’t worry about dropping it. That peace of mind will definitely up the value for some.
7. Grivel Nepal S.A.
Durable Metal Body
Not great for tall folks
Not great for technical climbing
Grivel has given us some great products, but we’re choosing to focus on this compact ice axe today. With a bright orange shaft and a classical negative head, the grip on this thing is amazing. Perfect for any mountain climbers who might run into a fresh snowfall or lots of powder, we like this ice axe very, very much.Read more
Sometimes we just want an axe to hack away into the side of a mountain with. Technical climbing has a few different standards and methods than free climbing or casual climbing, or other types of climbing, does. This axe is perfect for anything that’s not too technical. That means it’s perfect for those that like to hack and climb, rather than plan and ascend.
This bright orange axe certainly has one thing going for it: visibility. There’s no way that this axe is getting lost in the snow or accidentally buried in a snow drift. Having contrast is important, and that’s why we’re very happy to find one with such a bright contrast. While some axes will have a simple black shaft with some colored lines, this orange one is far more eye-catching.
Cost and Value
Creeping up into the more expensive portion of our list, we believe that this ice axe’s value is worth the cost. We don’t, however, believe that this ice axe is a great buy for everyone. The taller folks reading this list might prefer one that they can use as more of a walking stick, rather than a compact climbing option. If that’s the case, we’ve certainly got choices. This axe is great for what it is, though, and we recommend it on that virtue.
8. Petzl Glacier Literide
Too short for some
No options of colors
Another PETZL axe? Yes, we couldn’t help ourselves. This company is doing incredible things with axes, and we’re excited to have them on our list twice. It helps that this axe is quite different from the other axe we looked at as well. While they’re different, both are durable and reliable; two qualities any mountaineer should be looking for!Read more
One of the things that we worry about when packing for an overnight trip is being able to fit everything in our bag; image that struggle, but you’re packing for going up a mountain and have a bunch of important equipment that needs to be attached to you as well. Anything that takes up more space than it needs to is, unfortunately, out. Luckily for us, this ice axe measures 50 cm, making it one of the most compact options on our list!
Why So Blue?
We know! This axe is blue because people need to be able to find their ice axe in a snowstorm! Okay, okay: maybe that’s not the main reason the shaft on this is blue. Realistically, it’s probably becasue it just looks pretty. At the end of the day, visibility is nice. Coolness is much more important, though, and this ice axe has both in spades.
Cost and Value
An average price, this axe is neither most expensive nor least expensive. Is it worth the cost? We think so. You might be able to find ice axes with more extra features out there, but there’s something to be said for the quality of this product. We personally love the color and the style, and appreciate both the compact nature of it as well as the straight handle (with grip). Go ahead and purchase this awesome axe; you’ll be glad you did!
9. Grivel G1
High Quality Hook
Plain and Simple
May or may not come with strap
Reports of Wrong Shipments
Feeling so fly like a G1, like a G1! Okay, maybe quoting the song doesn’t quite add to the impressive nature of this axe. It’s definitely helping us get stoked for this second-to-last entry on our list, though! The Grivel is an axe that’s worth the investment, as it’s lower in price than many of the other options. That’s not all it’s got going for it, though, as we’re about to find out!Read more
While keeping our minds fully out of the gutter, we’d like to express just how important having a grip on the shaft is. It gets cold up on top of a mountain, and even gloves can let the coldness from frozen metal leak into our hands. Having a rubber grip covering the shaft not only makes it easier to hold on to, but it makes it more comfortable for our frozen little fingers.
Some of the axes we’ve looked at featured curves to the handle, grip, or head. When you add a curve into any of those things, it changes the way the axe enters and grips the ice. Sometimes it makes it better, yes, but sometimes it doesn’t (especially if there are climbers out there who’ve spent their whole lives working with a straight shaft). The straight handle/shaft on this axe is sturdy, strong, and built for a solid swing. It also won’t get in the way, as the teeth and pick all stick out further than the shaft; no pesky angles to watch out for!
Cost and Value
The price is right, yes, but the product picture apparently had some people confused. A few reviews mentioned that the axe they received didn’t actually come with a leash. While we couldn’t find out if that was just a shipping mix up or a feature of the product, we do think that it’s a very small error. The build of this axe is good, and even without the leash it’s still going to hold up well on the mountain.
10. Camp Neve - 73 cm
Smooth plunging (even, well weighted)
Adjustable wrist strap
Too short for some
Some dislike the leash/strap design
Last on our list is this Camp Neve Ice Axe. While we’re discussing the 73 cm one, we’re sure that the company has a variety of other size options… Sold separately. For the short folks amongst us, this is an awesome choice. Shorter bars are great when it comes to doubling up your ice axe as a walking stick, when normally we’d have to stretch or grip part of the way down for. Camp Neve has embraced those of us with the burden of height, and built this ice axe.Read more
Built for the Short Ones
We touched on it a little in the opening paragraph, but it helps to reiterate it here. Ice axes are often used for many other things rather than just sticking into the ice. Some people use them from dry mountaineering/dirt climbing, while others use them for stability in snow and wind. Others use them as just regular old walking sticks, which is where the shorter shaft comes in handy. A 73 cm length means that the shortest folks can now have an ice axe capable of being a walking stick. Or, at least, a windstorm/slippery path emergency stabilizer.
This is potentially the first ice axe we’ve seen that has a sleek design as well as a sleek build! So many of these products feature dark colors, raw aluminum, or minimal color. This shaft, however, will coordinate perfectly with the show around us. The streaks of blue will make it pop, while the white is an eyecatching color that will look great on the wall when you get back from your latest mountaineering adventure.
Cost and Value
On the lower end of average, this is a good, solid ice axe for any decent mountaineer (and even those super great or less-than-great ones too). The ice axe is an important tool for every mountaineer to take with them. The lightweight, shorter handle makes it easy to toss into a bag or latch onto a belt. It’s not going to break the bank, and it might even save your life. At the end of the day, that’s more than worth this product’s cost!
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When it comes to judging the solidity, and value of an ice pick or ice axe, it’s pretty easy to get lost in all of the shapes, sizes, and adaptive features of these products. But, if we’re to be honest, and sharp, then we have to pay attention to the materials used to make the axe, first and foremost. It’s the one thing that can easily make or break (and breaking, when it comes to these products, is the most dangerous things possible) the quality of an ice axe.
Most of the very quality and epically essential brands that make ice axes ensure that they are making their lifesaving, climbing tools our of extremely durable stainless steel -- at the very least -- and upwards of NASA-style spaceship materials designed to withstand being shot into space.
These are the types of profits we see as members of the now, because as industries and metal developments continue to evolve, we just get stronger and lighter materials to use in special cases where we need the most sturdy and safe products. It’s easy to look through the marketplace as it sits now and feel comfortable purchasing almost anything, because the materials are of at least a general quality across the board.
While we don’t want you all to fret too much about the particulars in regards to the materials, we just want you to take not of them, and hesitate or completely ignore products that don’t use modern materials. For instance, please don’t buy an ice axe with a wooden handle.
When one begins to think about the idea of acquiring or going to take part in an activity in which you will need an ice pick for, it’s not often that folks begin to wonder just how many other things their Ice Axe can do for them, either in utility, or whilst climbing. However, the industry and market have since understood that doing more means more to consumers. And it’s as simple as that.
Some companies, like Petzl, have made a lot of their ice axes completely adaptable and customizable. Meaning, you can easily change the head of the ice axe to better suit the activity you’re using it for. As well, you can swap out the handle with ease to adjust the grip of the axe in accordance again with whatever is most comfortable for your chosen use.
Even though we propositioned this list with a large handful of very simple, and very bare bones picks, it’s key to understand that even those types of ice axes can have massive versatility in what they can bring to the table. Things like can opening edges, fire-started flint sheds, and so many different things. It’s an industry that has gone to great lengths recently to make use of all the real estate on these axes, and all of these updates to the designs have only ever been invented to make the users life easier or better.
Keeping your specific desires and needs in mind whilst vetting options for ice axes is truly key to gaining insight on products worth, and finding the right axe for you.
No matter what product we talk about here on the Gear Hunt, we always want to promote the acquiring of proper value in your consumer products. This means, we will continuously re-engage with the readers regarding what true value means. This is a simple equation, and one that brings the actual value of a product to light.
Take all of the criteria used to judge a product for your needs. This includes the things we’ve listed here. Take the materials, the versatility, the weight, and the traction, and match all of that up against the price that you have to pay for it and the output of said equation will be a clear and coherent value.
This, in practice, does a whole lot to help consumers understand what they are buying. For instance, there is a grown understanding that “cheaper” products, have value, because the make might be worse, but the price is better. Everything has a calculated value. If you’re spending a whole ton of money on a product, you’re going to want the make to be spectacular to justify that price. So, value is arguably the most important criteria, no matter which product you’re vetting.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
There is no reason, in almost any situation, where anyone would need only a single ice axe. Almost all instances of the need, require two, and unfortunately, the industry standard is to sell nearly every ice axe as a single entity. This means you have to add two to your cart. Don't forget this.
There are a few different sections of an ice axe that one should look at when deciding which to purchase. First is the head of the axe. The head has three different parts: pick, adze and carabiner hole. The pick is the sharp part that is used for stabbing into ice. The adze is the broad end that is designed to cut steps into snow or ice. Finally, the carabiner hole is where you can attach a clip to the axe for easier carrying purpose. The shaft of the tool can come either straight or curved, both options offering a host of pros and cons. There are some applications where curved shafts are more useful such as in instances of technical mountaineering. The spike is the sharp tip of the tool that can penetrate ice. You can use it to help maintain your balance, much like you would with a hiking pole.
Other Factors to Consider
Something that a lot of consumers and mountain climbers don’t always consider -- much to their dire regrets later in life, mostly during the activity -- is the weight of the products they decide to buy and take with them during their athletic fun. This is a criteria that, when it comes to climbing gear, is more important than a whole lot of things, but many still don’t consider the weight of their pick axes as a concern, because they match their idea of strength, with weight. But having a lightweight ice axe could keep you from getting exhausted, as your entire loadout should be made as light as possible.
There aren’t a lot of products on the market that go into great details in regards to the type of grip and traction that is provided by their ice axes, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t still an extremely important part of the tool itself. In fact, when you break everything down into their base details, the traction and grip of your axe is possibly the most important factor to consider. Though, luckily for us, and for you (the ones using these axes) the entire market, almost entirely across the board, has fantastic and worthy traction and grip to their axe heads, and while it should be a point of attention while shopping, it will rarely be a point of contention.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What is the weight load limit?
There are, very few companies that obviously list the weight load limit on their products, directly there on their product pages. Which makes this conversation pretty hard to have, because we don’t have a great answer for you. Two ways we’ve found that we can get that information rather easily are to search the comments and reviews, or call the company that manufactured it. The latter of the two options takes a minute. But most of these companies are more than happy to take questions regarding their products, especially if they believe that said info could lead to a purchase and a customer (shout out to Marilyn at Black Diamond for answering all of my stupid questions on the phone). The former, the comments, are a great way to gain information from folks that have already purchased this product. In almost every single product page we looked at, someone had answered the question as to what the weight limit is, and then you can just use the phone call for insurance, if you need to make sure the comments are accurate.
q: Does is come in a pair of two?
This question came up a lot, and we’re here to tell you that (unfortunately) it’s almost never the case that a product is sold in a pair of two, even though the general use guidelines of these products state that two should be used at all times. One for each hand. In fact, we don’t believe anything on our list, or anything we looked at during our long research process came in pair. Which is disappointing, we know, but if it’s an industry and market standard, it’s a little easier to swallow.