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Best Ice Axe

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Best Ice Axe

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This is a gear review about the Best Ice Axe for Hiking, Mountaineering, Backpacking and Thru Hiking.

Travelling on ice requires specialized skills, hence you will need specialized equipment. When travelling on ice, you need to be extremely careful. You rely on your ice axe in these situations. An ice axe can be used in climbing, hiking and mountaineering.

An ice axe is such an important tool to have and having the right one, that you can rely on is even more important. In this article, I have done all the work for you and I’ll be going through the best ice axe that you can get your hands on today.

Best Ice Axe for Winter Hiking 2021

The Best Ice Axe for Winter Hiking 2021 is:


Overall Best Ice Axe 2021

Petzl Glacier Ice Axe

Weight: 12.3oz / 349g
Pros:
> Lightweight – This ice axe is extremely light to handle and to carry around with you.
> Pick – The pick can easily drive into firm snow and ice with ease.
> Price – This is a reliable and sturdy axe at an affordable price.
Cons:
> Not much – maybe it could be lighter

The Petzl Glacier Ice Axe is great for stable anchoring into hard ice and hard snow. This is thanks to its stainless steel spike, which is quite thin at the tip, being only 3mm thick.

The handle has been cut into the shaft, which gives this ice axe much better grip. When using this axe it feels smooth and not jerky when being plunged into firm snow. Chopping into ice is also easy when needed.

This axe has been UIAA rated with a CEN-B, which makes this axe perfect for belaying. The Petzl Glacier Ice Axe is a great choice for general mountaineering applications that doesn’t break the bank. 

Overall, this is the best ice axe on the market that can be used for a whole range of mountain sports. A great combination of price, weight and function. This is a great ice axe for winter walking, backpacking, thru hiking, ski mountaineering and more.

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Best Budget Ice Axe 2021

Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe

Weight: 16oz / 453g
Pros:
> Comfortable – The Black Diamond Raven is comfortable to handle, making it easy to use as well. 
> Durable – This axe is made from stainless steel and aircraft grade aluminium.
> Size – A range of sizes are available,
Cons:
> Doesn’t do well in steep conditions – This axe is great in moderation conditions but not steep terrain.

The Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe is great for moderate snow climb and basic glacier routes. This is a reliable and durable axe that has been made with an aircraft grade aluminum shaft and a one-piece stainless steel head. This axe has been CEN-B certified.

Comfortable to hold and comes in a range of sizes, so everyone can find their right size. It is around 16 ounces in weight, which is on the heavier side, but it is still easy to hold and control.

The pick is wider and tapers at one end. This is really useful when you are looking for support in soft snow conditions. It isn’t suited for ice climbing, but is great for trekking and hiking. And the price is great.

Overall, this is the best budget ice axe and a great option for a winter walking ice axe or backcountry ski touring ice axe or anything in between.

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Best Ice Axe for Ski Mountaineering 2021

Petzl Summit Evo Ice Axe

Weight: 14.1oz / 400g
Pros:
> Curved Shaft – The curved shaft helps with snow or ice clearance in all conditions, especially in steep snow and self-arresting.
> Versatile – This axe can handle all conditions that it faces and will work well.
> Anti-rust – You don’t have to worry about this axe rusting as the handle is made from aluminium
Cons:
> Weight – This isn’t the lightest axe on this list. This axe only weighs 14.1 ounces, so it isn’t extremely heavy but there are lighter axes out on the market.

The Petzl Summit Evo Ice Axe can anchor in hard and soft snow, thanks to the axe’s pick. Its toothed tip is great for hard snow and ice, yet the middle is much thicker which is better for anchoring in softer snow.

This is a lightweight axe that is light enough to carry around on longer treks and climbs. While it still weighs the right amount for you to be able to trust in its anchoring power. It would be a great ski mountaineering ice axe.

How this axe differs from others on this list, is that the upper part of the shaft is curved, while the lower part is straight. The curvature helps for good clearance whilst climbing and the straighter part helps with penetration into the snow.

Alongside this the handle is made from aluminum that is anti-rust. This is a great axe for more complex and challenging routes. 

Overall, this would be the best ski mountaineering ice axe which could also be used for general mountaineering or winter walking.

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Best Ice Axe for Mountaineering 2021

Black Diamond Venom

Weight: 18oz / 510g
Pros:
> Steep terrain – This axe can handle deep and steep terrain with ease.
> Pointed shaft – The shaft is pointed at the end and is perfect for plunging into hard or soft terrain.
> Well-balanced – The head of this axe is well balanced for easy swinging. While also this axe is a nice weight that is comfortable to carry around.
Cons:
> Rubber Grip –
Some customers have said that the rubber grip on the shaft can rip after extended use

The Black Diamond Venom Ice Axe is made from stainless steel. With this axe model you have the choice of either an adze and interchangeable classic pick or you can have a technical pick with a hammer instead of an adze.

The head is well balanced and makes for easy swinging. 

This axe has a thinner shaft and a spike at the end. This spike can pierce snow and other frozen surfaces with ease. The shaft is slightly curved at the top half, which helps with achonaring.

This is a really versatile axe that climbs snow and ice really easily. It is also comfortable to carry around, while on your long treks and it is also CEN-B certified.

Overall, this is the best mountaineering ice that is well suited to most backcountry alpine travel.

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Best Ice Axe for Thru Hiking 2021

Camp USA Corsa Ice Axe

Weight: 7.1oz / 201g
Pros:
> Lightweight – This is one of the lightest ice axes on the market right now. Weighing in at only 7.1 ounces.
> Comfortable to carry – As this axe is so light, it is really easy and comfortable to carry around on long treks.
> Reliable – This is a reliable axe that will keep you safe in steep terrain.
Cons:
> No plug in shaft – There is no plug at the bottom of the shaft, so the shaft constantly gets packed with snow that you have to remove.

The Camp Corsa Ice Axe is one of the world’s lightest ice axes. This is due to the shaft being made from aluminium alloy. It may be an extremely light axe, but it is still durable.

This axe has been designed to be used for ultralight thru hiking, glacier travel and self arrest. This axe is perfect for hikers that only have basic requirements.

Do be careful with this model as it doesn’t come with a plug at the bottom of the shaft. Hence the shaft can fill up with snow.

This is the kind of axe that you have with you, just in case you need an ice axe. It can help you climb through deep snow and self-arrest perfectly. If you want a light ice axe, then this is one of the lightest axes on the market right now.

Overall, this is the Best Lightweight Ice Axe and the best ice axe for the PCT or other thru hiking trail.

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Best of the Rest

Here are some other Ice Axes that are yet to be reviewed or worth considering:

  • Grivel G1 – A good budget ice axe for walking and thru hiking
The Best Ice Axe for Thru Hiking is Lightweight

Buyers Guide

Buying the right ice axe can in some cases save your life. An ice axe is made up of a shaft and adze. Some models do have a hole for attaching a carabiner or a leash.

On one side of the adze is the pick, this has many uses like hooking into snow or ice and self-arrest.

The other side of the adze, this is normally much flatter than the pick and used for cutting steps.

There are lots of designs to choose from, but a good way to cut your options down is by thinking about the type of terrain you normally find yourself in. 

Thru Hiking in the early season with an ice axe on the CDT – Colorado.

Length

The length of the ice axe that you choose is quite important. There is a balance that you need to find, it shouldn’t be too long nor should it be too short.

Normally ice axes that are meant for climbing are shorter, compared to models that were designed for mountaineering which are generally longer.

However the longer the shaft, the more awkward and work you have to put in when you swing it. 

A walking ice axe should have a longer shaft. To determine the length it is best to place your hands by your side and measure the length from your palm to your ankle. This will determine the best length of ice axe. Mountaineering ice axes will be shorter.

Weight

With the equipment you will be carrying you want an axe that is light enough to carry around, but still has the right amount of weight to do the work.

However, it is worth noting that the lighter the axe the more work you have to do sometimes, depending on the terrain that you are using the ice axe in. 

Really light ice axes are much better for hiking or travelling. When it comes to climbing or mountaineering you need a certain amount of weight, for them to be easy to use and work well.

You can have light ice axes but you need to find the right balance between weight and performance. Really, it does depend on the terrain you will be dealing with. 

Winter Hiking with a lightweight Ice Axe

Shaft Shape

The shape of the shaft can have a huge difference on the axe. You can either get a straight shaft or a slightly curved shaft.

It depends hugely on the terrain that you will be facing. Straighter shafts are ideal for general mountaineering and winter hiking.

However if you are facing terrain that is a bit more complex and technical, then a curved shaft is more appropriate. The curved shaft allows you to penetrate the snow and ice a lot easier and you get a better hook on the ice.

The Best Ice Axe for Backpacking has a straight shaft

Material

The material that your axe is made from will give you an idea on how durable your axe will be. Shafts can be made from stainless steel, titanium, aluminium and even carbon fibres.

Stainless steel is the most durable but it is the heaviest. However if you are facing rough conditions you know you can rely on the steel to not let you down. 

Aluminium is quite light and will make your axe lightweight, but it isn’t as durable as steel. Even titanium is lighter than steel but it can bend under heavy use.

Ideally you want steel as you know it is reliable, but there are other models from the other materials that are now becoming as reliable as steel.

You need to be able  to rely on the axe and the material you choose is incredibly important when it comes to making the right choice.

An Ice Axe can double as a snow stake for the tent

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need 1 or 2 Ice Axes?

Once you start getting into really steep and vertical terrain then this is where you need two ice axes.
They don’t have to be the same axe, but especially as you go into vertical terrain you need two axes or two ice tools of some kind. 

How long should a walking ice axe be?

They are typically between 50 to 70cm long. Hence the taller you are the taller your axe should be. However you don’t want it too long as it may become difficult to use. It is a fine balance to find.
For someone who is below 5’8 feet, a 50 to 60 cm axe is offered. If you are between 5’8 and 6’0 then a 60 to 70cm axe is suggested. Finally if you are over 6’0 then a 60 to possibly 75cm length axe is recommended.

Conclusion

In this article we have given you a list of the best ice axes on the market. An ice axe is an incredibly important piece of equipment that helps keep you safe in some more tricker terrains.

The axe you choose is really important, and you need to make sure that it is going to be reliable. Ideally you want an ice axe, that is comfortable to handle but durable to do its job in whatever terrain that you find yourself in.

From our list below, you should be able to find the perfect ice axe for you.

Another one of the Best Hiking Gear Reviews from BikeHikeSafari.

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Sydney, Australia.

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