Best Ice Axe for Thru Hiking & Backpacking 2024

Best Ice Axe

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This is a gear review of the Best Ice Axes for Hiking, Mountaineering, Backpacking, and Thru-Hiking.

Traveling on ice requires specialized skills, hence you will need specialized equipment. An Ice Axe provides both safety and security when climbing, hiking, and mountaineering in icy conditions.

An ice axe is such an important tool to have and having the right one, that you can rely on is even more important.

I have owned and used several ice axes over the last 20-plus years of time spent in the backcountry. I’ve spent several early season trips into the mountains of Colorado, Alaska, and California with an Ice Axe and used them on many occasions. In this article, I have done all the work for you and will be going through the best ice axes for 2024.

How We Tested

All the Ice Axes in this review have been extensively evaluated and researched by the expert author who has many years of experience in Thru-Hiking, Backpacking, and Hiking. Some of the Ice Axes were purchased by the author for this review. They have been rigorously tested by the author in typical winter hiking situations. The research, testing, and experience of the author have combined to come up with the best ice axes for 2024. Read the Review Policy for further details.

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Best Ice Axe for Winter Hiking 2024

The Best Ice Axe for Winter Hiking 2024 is:

Best Ice Axe 2024 – Overall

Petzl Glacier Ice Axe

Petzl Glacier Ice Axe

Weight: 12.3 oz / 349 grams
> This ice axe is extremely light to handle and carry around with you
> The pick can easily drive into firm snow and ice with ease
> Good price
> 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 a 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 one of the best ice axes 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 2024

Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe

Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe

Weight: 16 oz / 453 grams
> 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 aluminum.
> Size – A range of sizes are available.
> Doesn’t do well in steep conditions – This axe is great in moderate conditions but not steep terrain.

The Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe is great for moderate snow climbs 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.

I have used and tested the Black Diamond Raven on several trips including the Continental Divide Trail in Colorado. While I believe the Petzl Ice above is slightly better and lighter in weight, I like the cheaper price of the Black Diamond.

It is comfortable to hold and comes in a range of sizes, so everyone can find the 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, the Black Diamond Raven is the best budget ice axe and a great option for a winter walking ice axe, backcountry ski touring ice axe, or anything in between.

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Best Ice Axe for Ski Mountaineering 2024

Petzl Summit Evo Ice Axe

Petzl Summit Evo Ice Axe

Weight: 14.1 oz / 400 grams
> 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.
> Made from aluminum
> This is the heaviest axe on this list.

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.

The Petzl Summit Evo Ice Axe 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, the Petzl Summit Evo is a good technical Ice Axe that 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 2024

Black Diamond Venom

Black Diamond Venom Ice Axe

Weight: 18 oz / 510 grams
> 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.
> 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 anchoring.

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 2024

Camp USA Corsa Ice Axe

Camp USA Corsa Ice Axe

Weight: 7.1 oz / 201 grams
> Lightweight – This is one of the lightest ice axes on the market right now.
> 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.
> 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 aluminum 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 who 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 perfect for the PCT or other thru-hiking trails.

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More Options

Grivel G1

Grivel G1 Ice Axe

Weight: 15.8 oz / 448 grams
> Lightweight
> Great for Glacier Travel or Winter Hiking
> Good price
> Could be a bit lighter
> The leash is sold separately
> Not suitable for technical mountaineering

The Grivel G1 is a good budget option for an ice axe to use on glaciers or winter hiking. While it is not suitable for technical mountaineering or ice climbing that is not why you would consider an ice axe like this. For hiking and glacier travel it works well.

It comes with an aluminum shaft, a hot forged carbon steel head, and an adjustable leash which you need to buy separately. And like many of the ice axes on this list, they are certified CE EN 13089, type 1, UIAA 152.

A very cool thing about this ice axe is the choice of colors which include hot pink.

Overall, the Grivel G1 is a good budget option for winter hiking and hiking on glaciers.

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Best of the Rest

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

  • Grivel Airtech Evolution – A good technical ice axe that can be used for glacier travel, general mountaineering, and more.
Using a lightweight Ice Axe for thru hiking
Thru Hiking with a Lightweight Ice Axe

Ice Axe: Comparison Table

BrandWeightMaterialShaft ShapeUse
Petzl Glacier Ice Axe12.3 ozStainless-steel head / aluminum shaftStraightHiking, Trekking, Mountaineering
Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe1 lbStainless-steel head/aluminum shaftStraightHiking, Trekking, Mountaineering
Petzl Summit Evo Ice Axe14.1 ozStainless-steel head/aluminum shaftCurvedSki Mountaineering, Mountaineering
Black Diamond Venom1 lb. 3 ozStainless-steel head/aluminum shaftCurvedSki Mountaineering, Mountaineering
Camp Corsa Ice Axe7.1 ozAluminum StraightThru-Hiking, Trekking, Mountaineering
Grivel G115.8 ozCarbon steel head/aluminum shaftStraightHiking, Trekking, Mountaineering
Source: Manufacturers


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 tools 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 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. Mountaineering ice tools will be shorter.

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


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. 

Really light ice axes are much better for hiking or traveling. 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. 

Hiking on Snow with an Ice Axe
Winter Hiking with the Black Diamond Raven

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.

Backpacking Ice Axe
The good Ice Axe for Backpacking has a straight shaft


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

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. 

Aluminum 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 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.

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


In this article, I 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 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.

Another one of the Best Winter Gear Reviews from BikeHikeSafari.

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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.

Best Ice Axe for Winter Hiking and Backpacking

BikeHikeSafari Gear Review Process

The author, Brad McCartney from BikeHikeSafari is a small independent adventurer and outdoor gear tester who owns and runs

BikeHikeSafari is not part of a large blog network and is proudly independent. All reviews on this site are independent and honest gear reviews of outdoor products by the author.

The author, Brad McCartney is a very experienced triple crown thru-hiker, adventurer, and bike tourer having spent 1000s of nights sleeping in a tent and sleeping bag (Read more). He was a manager of an outdoor retail store and is very experienced in what is important when using and testing gear for reviews like this.

BikeHikeSafari will never receive any money for reviews and they do not accept sponsored reviews on this website. All the comments about the gear reviews are from the author based on his years of experience. Hope this independent review was helpful for you.

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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 Chile.

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