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Best Ice Axes 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]Last Updated December 1, 2018
Best Ice Axes of 2018
If you get well acquainted with these basics, you shouldn’t have a problem choosing a ice axes that suits your need. There is a wide range of products available on the market today, and below I have reviewed 3 of the very best options.
I have taken the initiative to educate you on the top three best ice axes that you can buy this year. If you’re reading this, it is very likely that you’re scouting for the best ice axes.
Test Results and Ratings
|Ease of use||
Why did this ice axes win the first place?
I really enjoy the design. It is compact, comfortable and reliable. And it looks amazing! I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product. I am very happy with the purchase. It is definitely worth its money. The product is top-notch! The material is stylish, but it smells for the first couple of days.
Why did this ice axes come in second place?
Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery. The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed. I recommend you to consider buying this model, it definitely worth its money. This is a pretty decent product that perfectly fitted the interior of our office.
Why did this ice axes take third place?
This price is appropriate since the product is very well built. I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new. It doesn’t squeaks nor bents. Looks great in my apartment. I hope that the good reputation of the manufacturer will guarantee a long-term work.
Ice Axes Buyer’s Guide
The All-Around Ice Tool
You should buy a pair of all-around tools if you want to (duh) go ice climbing, or a single all-around tool to pair with a piolet or a hybrid if you see semi-technical routes in your future. Comfort levels vary from climber to climber, but once a slope angle noses over 50-5degrees, I prefer to have a second tool in addition to my piolet. One piolet/hybrid and one ice tool is the system of choice for classic routes such as the Kautz Glacier or Liberty Ridge on Mt. Rainier, the Adams Glacier on Mt. Adams, the East Slope of Mt. Bross and so on.
The reverse-curved pick is super grippy, even if only plunged into ice a few millimeters. The downside is this stickiness also applies when trying to self-arrest. If your technique is off, the tool is likely to get ripped out of your hands and become a flailing projectile hungry for puncture wounds.
There are three different types of pick shape: classic, neutral and reverse. The most common pick shapes are classic and reverse. A classic pick is great for self-arrest and climbing steep sections of ice but it can be quite hard to pull out of the ice. A reverse pick is great for climbing ice because it’s far easier to pull out than a classic pick but it’s not the best for self arrest.
Most ice axes are made with steel today. It’s cheap and strong. Steel is good for penetrating ice and works well for self-arrest. However it is quite heavy. Aluminium ice axes are much lighter than steel, however it isn’t as durable as a steel or carbon fibre axe. It’s best for ski mountaineering and early season backpacking. Carbon fibre is both strong and lightweight, a great combination. The downside is carbon fibre ice axes are quite expensive.
Ice Climbing Technical Gear
Tools and Crampons Primer by RJ Fleming Basic Ice Tool Design and Use
Mountaineering ice axes have a generally uniform pick angle designed for a basic swing, which is not actually used that often in general mountaineering. Ice axes are used more often for stable progression on snow/ice slopes of lower angles and various mountaineering belay techinques. In contrast, ice tools are swung continuously overhead to stick into hard ice and hook placements to hold body weight. Therefore these have picks usually angled steeper than a generic axe (even recurved), a head weight compatibly balanced (theoretically) to maximize penetration/purchase, and more aggressive teeth to facilitate holding power.
Fiskars X1Splitting Axe
For those who need a lightweight, durable splitting axe that can handle small- to medium-sized logs with ease, the Fiskars X1Splitting Axe is our top pick. Precision balance, a shock-absorbing handle and an advanced blade design are just a few features this excellent axe offers at a very reasonable price point.
Felling trees and chopping wood has never been easier with the Fiskars X1Chopping Axe. This product offers exceptional balance and power-to-weight ratio in a lightweight, budget-friendly package. An ultra-sharp edge right from the factory and a virtually unbreakable design make this a fantastic axe for any occasion.
Estwing E45ASE Camper’s Axe
The Estwing E45ASE Camper’s Axe provides the same exceptional wood chopping ability as its competitors for a fraction of the price, making it our top choice for value. Its lightweight, compact design means you can take it anywhere, and its drop-forged steel construction means it can stand up to practically any job you throw at it.
Gränsfors Bruks Small Forest Axe
For the serious outdoorsman who values craftsmanship and durability above all else, the Gränsfors Bruks Small Forest Axe fits the bill. This classic tool of the outdoors is elegant in its simplicity, with a hand-forged, high-carbon steel blade attached to a sturdy hickory wood handle. A vegetable-tanned leather sheath is included to protect the blade and yourself from damage.
SOG Survival Hawk SK1001-CP
The SOG Survival Hawk SK1001-CP is a versatile tool with a number of applications, from obstacle removal to self defense. This compact tomahawk axe has a rugged stainless steel head for chopping, splitting and slicing, as well as several other survival tools packed into one compact design.
Common wisdom dictates that most people should choose an axe that is slightly shorter than they think they need. Longer axes can theoretically deliver more downward force, but if the axe is too long, you sacrifice accuracy with your swing. Especially for those who are beginners, shorter axes will offer more control and more efficient cutting.
There are two types of axe handles: wooden and composite. Wooden handles are more traditional, and can easily be replaced if they break. However, they do not offer much in the way of shock absorption during cutting. Composite handles, on the other hand, are much more forgiving. Many of them are made of fiberglass and have rubberized grips – unfortunately, due to their construction, if a composite handle breaks the whole axe must be replaced.
Why We Recommend It
Lightweight design. Weighing less than four pounds, the Fiskars X1Splitting Axe can be used almost anywhere and by almost anyone. Several older users – even those with histories of shoulder injuries – say they had no difficulty wielding this axe and splitting logs with ease.
Durability. Fiskars claims their X-Series axes are “virtually impossible to break,” with a composite handle that is stronger than steel and an over-molded design that prevents blade and handle separation. Many users back up this claim; several have been using their X1Splitting Axes for years or more.
Shock-absorbing handle. The patented FiberComp® fiberglass composite handle is designed to dampen vibrations on overstrikes, and has a textured, non-slip grip for reduced hand strain and improved control.
Blade coating. The Fiskars X1Splitting axe comes with a factory-sharpened blade covered in a low-friction coating that helps prevent it from becoming stuck in extra-hard or knotted wood.
Lifetime warranty. Fiskars offers a full lifetime warranty on this product – simply contact them with any issues and they will send you a replacement axe.
Blade coating wears off. Several users claim that the factory-applied low-friction blade coating wears off after moderate use. However, they also mentioned that the smooth, tapered design of the blade itself more than makes up for the lack of coating.
Not ideal for larger logs. Some users claim to have no issues with splitting exceptionally large logs or hardwood, but the majority agree that this axe is better suited for light-to-moderate splitting, not chopping or felling.
Blade steel can chip. There are several reports from users that the blade steel is too soft, and would sometimes chip during splitting or sharpening.
Fiskars X1Chopping Axe
The Fiskars X1Chopping Axe is a solid choice for anyone in the market for a compact, powerful woodworking tool. At 23.inches in length and just over three pounds, this axe can be taken almost anywhere with the included sheath and built-in handle. Plus, its lightweight construction and hardened forged steel blade will chew through tough wood faster than many of its competitors thanks to an additional friction-reducing coating. This axe has a weatherproof, shock-absorbing fiberglass composite handle that is virtually unbreakable, and an insert-molded design locks the axe head securely in place.
Estwing E24A Sportsman’s Axe
Two words best describe the Estwing E24A Sportsman’s Axe: simple and effective. Made from one single piece of hand-polished steel, its hand-sharpened blade has a tempered three-and-a-quarter-inch cutting edge that’s ideal for chopping, splitting and slicing. The conventional solid-shaft handle is wrapped in stacked genuine leather washers to give it a traditional, outdoorsy feel. Its compact design is meant to be used with one hand, and the axe is well-balanced for both aggressive and precise woodworking activities. Includes a ballistic nylon sheath for protection and transport.
There is now an amazing array of crampon types and styles available and it can be a tricky thing to make the right choice. To help you with this choice crampons are also rated on their stiffness and are either C1, Cor CIt is important that the crampon is suitable for your boots.
Your boots must be stiffer than the crampons, the boots should give the crampons support rather than the other way around. If the crampons are stiffer than the boot then they will probably come of at the most inconvenient time, give you ankle problems or break due to metal fatigue.
Ccrampons are very flexible and often very lightweight. Many have ten rather than twelve points with which to maintain contact to the snow or ice. They are generally designed for walking rather than mountaineering or climbing and are the best choice for the occasional user and then only for easy angled terrain. Their method of attachment is generally some sort of strap system, maybe with plastic cradles front and rear. This means that they fit a wide range of boots, but may be harder to get a secure, snug fit.
Ccrampons are often more aggressively designed with twelve points and are probably the best all-rounder. They will fit Bor Bboots often with a step-in system that gives a reassuring clunk when fitted well and a secure fit. They are suitable for all types of terrain including technical climbing particularly when fitted on a Bboot.
Ccrampons are the most technical and the stiffest and therefore require a Bboot. They are for steeper technical climbing ground and ideally suited for a plastic shell boot. Wear them on a flexible boot and you will have problems!
When selecting a crampon for your boots make sure they fit well in addition to being the correct rating. Make sure the points run along the edge of the boot and that the heel of the boot fits well between the strapping system. The smallest and largest sizes create the most issues, for very large feet you may need a longer middle bar. If they are intended for steeper terrain then ensure that the front points do protrude well past the toe of the boot.
Adjusting and fitting crampons to boots can be an alien process on first acquaintance. It is a lot easier to practise fitting them in your back garden rather than on a cold, windy hillside with gloves on so repetition is the key.
The CAMP-USA Corsa Ice Axe is quite possibly the lightest weight ice axe in the world, weighing just 8.oz (250 grams) in a size 60 cm length. Despite its light weight, it is a fully functional UIAA-certified B ice axe capable of being used for self rescue, glissading, and strong enough to be used as a belay anchor. But the light weight of the Corsa is not without compromises and it is best used for hiking across moderately sloped snow-covered terrain, when low gear weight is deemed an essential.
How to Use an Ice Axe
The CAMP Corsa is not an ice climbing axe but a walking axe, one whose primary function is to halt an uncontrolled slide down a slope (self-rescue). The stopping and braking action is performed with the pick end of the axe head and requires that you be able to span the pick and shaft with your hand using a special grip designed for that purpose (see short video about how to grip an ice axe).
There are other uses of an ice axe, but those are the two principal ones of interest by hikers and backpackers.
If you have an axe to grind when it comes to weight, the Raven Pro is for you.
The Raven Pro Ice Axe is the lightest, full-service piolet available, period. It has a super clean and simple design for the high-end user who refuses to sacrifice performance for less weight. The sleek and ergonomic head provides a sure grip and all-day comfort—this also makes for a fast, smooth hand rotation when going into self-arrest. Boot-axe belays are a snap too. The classically curved adze blasts ice, chops steps, and clears snow quickly and easily. Not just for the climber, the Raven Pro is a ski/snowboard-mountaineer’s dream as well. At 1ounces, you may think you forgot to bring it with you.
When to go
The magical world of frozen waterfalls is only accessible for a few months of the year. In the Alps, the ice can start to be in condition from early- to mid-December and, assuming there aren’t long periods of warm weather, will stay in condition until end of March. Ice-falls on the north faces of mountains stay in condition for longer than south-facing aspects.
Hardware… ice-climbing crampons and ice axes
These are usually available to hire in most winter resorts. Some operators and guides also provide the hardware.
There are many different types of ice-axes and crampons to choose from, depending on your level of skill, the type of ice and terrain you are climbing on and personal preference. In basic terms an ice-axe has a double-sided head, with a sharp pick on one side and a hammer or sharp chisel-like tool on the other. When you climb you swing the pick into the ice and then use it as a grip on which to to pull yourself up.
Crampons are sharp metal spikes on a frame, which clip on to your boots and grip into the ice as you walk or climb over it. There are usually two front points which you kick into the ice and then push up onto.
Layers of clothing
For ice-climbing you need a good pair of rigid mountaineering boots which will take a step-in crampon. These are very expensive but again are usually available to hire in most winter resorts.
You will need to wear several layers of clothing. When you are actually climbing you produce quite a lot of body heat so will need to remove layers. When you stop, add layers again to keep warm. Getting the right gloves is vital. You need gloves that are flexible and have grip, so it is easy to hold the ice axes. They will get wet, so a couple of pairs is good. It’s also worth bringing some over-gloves for when you are waiting around in the cold. Your outer layer must be waterproof and ideally stretchy, to make it easier to climb. A balaclava or buff is great for wearing under your helmet, to keep in valuable body heat.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your Ice Axes wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of Ice Axes
- №1 — Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe
- №2 — Black Diamond Raven Ultra Ice Axe – BD Orange
- №3 — Camp USA Corsa Nanotech Ice Axe