The Best Ice Axes for Hiking and General Mountaineering


Black Diamond Raven

Black Diamond Raven

Hiking becomes much more difficult when trails are snowy or frozen. In order to execute hiking trips on icy and snowy trails safely, you will need some additional equipment – of which the two most important pieces are crampons and an ice axe. While crampons provide you with the necessary traction, an ice axe helps you to stop in case that you slip and thus prevents longer, potentially dangerous falls. The ice axes reviewed below are best for hiking, glacier travelling and general mountaineering. They can also be used for ascending rather steep slopes in a manner similar to climbing ice axes, e.g.  by hooking the ice axe into the slope in front of you, but are mainly shaped to help you with cutting steps in the snow, limit a fall and can improve your balance when used like a hiking pole as they have fairly straight shafts (unlike climbing ice axes which usually have more convex shafts) with a spike at the bottom.

Every ice axe has two functional elements; the shaft and the head – which consists of a pick and a rear facing adze. When hiking on less steep terrain or walking along the foot of a slope, the ice axe is held at the head and the shaft is used as a hiking pole. Should you fall or slip holding the ice axe like this, it is very easy to simply lean in the direction of the axe and one of its ends pick will quickly hook into the ground and decelerate your fall. On very steep terrain an ice axe is usually held at the shaft; you then either use the pick to ascend the slope like with a climbing ice axe or you use the more flat adze to cut steps in the snow – almost like a mini shovel. So, even though these ice axes are generally less expensive than climbing ice axes, they can offer a similar function when ascending rather steep slopes. They are, however, primarily designed for self-arrest and support and are thus perfect for hiking, glacier travelling and general mountaineering.

Below we selected and reviewed the best five ice axes for hiking, glacier travelling and general mountaineering.

1. Buying an Ice Axe for Hiking and General Mountaineering – What is important?

Material:

The shafts are either made out of steel, aluminum or carbon fibers. Ice axes with shafts made of steel are more durable than those with shafts made of aluminum, but also heavier. Carbon fibers are usually used for climbing ice axes as they are extremely light, but on the other hand they are also very pricy. The head of an ice axe is usually made of steel to provide the necessary strength.

Length:

Ice axes for hiking and general mountaineering are longer than ice axes for climbing so that they can offer you support while walking on frozen trails. They usually come in more than one size and you should choose the size accordingly to your height. If you are shorter than 170 cm you need an ice axe that is not longer than 60 cm and if you are taller than 180 cm you need an ice axe that is not shorter than 70 cm.

Weight:

Light ice axes are best for glacier travelling, hiking and general mountaineering while heavier ice axes are best for ice climbing and technical mountaineering as they allow you to easily hook the pick into ice and snow while climbing steep terrain. Usually two ice axes are used simultaneously when climbing. We only selected lightweight ice axes as for glacier travelling, hiking and general mountaineering these are recommended.

2. The Best Ice Axes for Hiking and General Mountaineering Review

The Best Ice Axes for Hiking and Mountaineering

The Best Ice Axes for Hiking and Mountaineering

  1. Black Diamond Raven
  2. Petzl Summit Evo
  3. Black Diamond Venom
  4. Grivel G1 Plus
  5. C.A.M.P. Neve

Comparison

Feature/Product Black Diamond RavenPetzl Summit Evo Black Diamond VenomGrivel G1 Plus C.A.M.P. Neve
Weight 15 oz. (22 in.)15 oz. (23 in.)1 lb. 2 oz. (20 in.)1 lb. (23 in.)15 oz. (22 in.)
Weight (Metric)437 g (55 cm)420 g (59 cm) 528 g (50 cm)473 g (58 cm)425 g (57 cm)
MaterialStainless Steel, Aluminum (Shaft)Steel, Stainless Steel, Aluminum (Shaft)Chromoly Steel, Stainless Steel, Aluminum (Shaft)Chromoly Steel, Aluminum (Shaft)Chromoly Steel, Aluminum (Shaft)
Length22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36 in. 20, 23, 26 in. 20, 22, 25 in. 23, 26, 29 in. 20, 22, 26, 29, 31 in.
Length (Metric)55, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 85, 90 cm52, 59, 66 cm50, 57, 64 cm58, 66, 74 cm50, 57, 65, 73, 80 cm
Black Diamond Raven

Black Diamond Raven

1. Black Diamond Raven

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountaineering
  • Glacier travel

 

The Black Diamond Raven is one of the most popular ice axes among hikers and mountaineers as it provides superb performance for a low price. It is equipped with a durable straight aluminum shaft and stainless-steel head. The head features a well-designed pick, adze and hole for a carabiner. The pick is primarily designed for self-arresting and it definitely excels at it. The adze easily penetrates snow and can thus be used for cutting steps up ahead of you. Furthermore the design of the adze provides great comfort when the ice axe is held at the head. The Black Diamond Raven is a great ice axe for hikers and mountaineers but keep in mind that it is not designed for climbing steep angles. Its pick is relatively wide and has a big clearance angle which definitely reduces the performance on very steep terrain. However, we still think that the Black Diamond Raven is currently the best ice axe for hikers and recreational mountaineers as it provides great comfort and self-arrest performance for a low price.  Furthermore it comes in 8 different lengths and can thus be comfortably used by everybody.

 

Pros:

  • Comfort
  • Self-arrest performance
  • Comes in 8 different lengths

Cons:

  • Performance on steep slopes

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Video

Petzl Summit Evo

Petzl Summit Evo

2. Petzl Summit Evo

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • General Mountaineering
  • Technical Mountaineering
  • Glacier travel
  • Climbing

 

The Petzl Summit Evo ice axe is primarily designed for technical mountaineering but can be used for hiking and glacier travel as well. It is equipped with a curved shaft made of aluminum and a head made of stainless-steel. The shaft features a rubber grip in the lower part, a hydroformed handle at the curve and has a spike at the bottom for penetrating ice and snow when the ice axe is held at the head and used for balance. The head, equipped with a pick and adze made of steel, is a bit heavier and thus offers great performance on steep terrain. The adze also serves as a comfortable grip platform when the ice axe is held at the head. The pick is narrow at the tip and gets wider at the shaft. Therefore, it provides great performance for climbing steep slopes as well as for self-arrest. All in all the Petzl Summit Evo is a great ice axe for recreational hikers and mountaineers as well as for more experienced mountaineers who need a top-quality tool for their climbs. The only downside of it is its relatively high price.

 

Pros:

  • Climbing performance
  • Self-arrest performance
  • Comfort

Cons:

  • Price

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Do you have this product? Tell us what you think about it and help others decide what to buy!

Best Buy!

Also available at:

REI | Backcountry

Video

Black Diamond Venom

Black Diamond Venom

3. Black Diamond Venom

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • General Mountaineering
  • Technical Mountaineering
  • Glacier travel
  • Climbing

 

The Black Diamond Venom is a hybrid ice axe which is suitable for both technical mountaineering and general mountaineering. Additionally it can be used for hiking, glacier travel and other activities on frozen trails and slopes. The shaft of the ice axe is made of aluminum while the head is made of steel. The head of the ice axe is a little heavier than the heads of more hiking-oriented ice axes and therefore it offers better performance on steep slopes when the ice axe is held at the shaft and used for hooking into snow and ice. Furthermore the pick has a more aggressive clearance angle which significantly increases the performance on steep terrain. The ice axe is also equipped with a comfortable dual density molded grip and lockdown leash. It comes in two different versions – the tech and the classic. The tech version is best for climbing steep slopes as it is equipped with a technical pick and a hammer instead of an adze while the classic is equipped with a normal pick and adze and therefore it is best for general mountaineering, hiking and glacier travel. All in all the Black Diamond Venom is a great ice axe that offers great performance and comfort on very steep slopes as well as on relatively flat trails. It might be a bit pricy if you are buying an ice axe solely for hiking and general mountaineering but despite that it’s a great tool.

 

Pros:

  • Performance on steep slopes
  • Self-arrest performance
  • Comfort

Cons:

  • Price

Share your opinion and help others!

Do you have this product? Tell us what you think about it and help others decide what to buy!

 

Grivel G1 Plus

Grivel G1 Plus

4. Grivel G1 Plus

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • General Mountaineering
  • Glacier travel

 

The Grivel G1 Plus is a classical general mountaineering ice axe which is extremely popular among those who often hike on flat and moderately steep frozen trails or glaciers. It is equipped with an aluminum head and a fairly straight chromoly steel shaft. The head of the ice axe is ergonomically designed and thus offers great comfort when the ice axe is held at head and used for increased balance or self-arrest in case of a slip. Additionally the ice axe has a rubber grip on the shaft for better comfort and fit when looping into snow and ice. However, keep in mind that the Grivel G1 Plus is primarily designed for self-arrest and not for climbing steep slopes.  Its pick is relatively wide and non-aggressive which reduces its performance on steep terrain. The ice axe is also equipped with a durable adze and a carbon steel spike at the bottom. The leash unfortunately doesn’t come with the ice axe but can be bought separately and attached easily. All in all the Grivel G1 Plus is a great ice axe for hikers and mountaineers who plan to wander on frozen trails and glaciers. Furthermore it’s very inexpensive.

 

Pros:

  • Comfort
  • Self-arrest performance
  • Price

Cons:

  • Performance on steep slopes

Share your opinion and help others!

Do you have this product? Tell us what you think about it and help others decide what to buy!

Best Buy!

Also available at:

Campsaver

 

C.A.M.P. Neve

C.A.M.P. Neve

5. C.A.M.P. Neve

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountaineering
  • Glacier travel
  • Climbing

 

The CAMP Neve is a budget mountaineering ice axe which offers great performance for the price – it is the cheapest ice axe in this review. It features an aluminum shaft and a chromoly steel head that provide great durability under harsh frosty conditions.  The shaft is equipped with a sliding leash which allows you to attach the ice axe to the wrist for better security. At the bottom of the shaft there is also a steel spike for penetrating ice and snow while holding the ice axe at the head. The head is equipped with a relatively wide pick and a durable adze made of forged steel. The adze provides great performance when it comes to cutting steps into snow and ice. The pick has a big clearance angle and therefore it is not suitable for very steep terrain. However, it offers great self-arrest performance. The ice axe also has carabiner holes at the head and at the spike. The CAMP Neve is best for recreational hikers and mountaineers who want a budget ice axe for their occasional trips on frozen trails.

 

Pros:

  • Price
  • Self-arrest performance
  • Comes with the leash
  • Durability

Cons:

  • Performance on steep slopes
  • Comfort

Share your opinion and help others!

Do you have this product? Tell us what you think about it and help others decide what to buy!

Best Buy!

Also available at:

REI | Campsaver

 

 

3. The most attractive product in the review

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