13
YEARS TESTING
300+
ITEMS TESTED
4
GEAR TESTERS
2.5
MILLION READERS

Quick heads-up: some of the links on this page are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, we may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). This small bit of income helps keep our site running.

Best Ice Axe of 2024

Owen Mitchell

Written by Owen Mitchell

Owen's outdoor pursuits range from bouldering to backpacking to backcountry skiing and everything in between.

This post was last updated on April 22, 2024.

Best Ice Axe of 2024

Hey there adventurers! If you're thinking of conquering icy terrains or want to get that mountaineering badge, you've landed on the right page. We take our ice axes seriously here, after all, it's not just a tool, it's a lifeline when you're up there in the frosty wilderness. From top-notch balance to spike design, and shaft ergonomics to the good ol' dollars and cents, we've got you covered on all fronts.

In our quest to find the 'Best Ice Axe', the Petzl Summit Evo came out on top, ticking all the right boxes. It's not only about the fancy jargon like 'pick penetration' or 'adze functionality', it's also about how comfy it feels in your grip and how trusty it is during those demanding glacial journeys. We promise, we're not just jawing—you're going to love what the Summit Evo offers.

We've also got a top-notch list of runner-ups lined up. If you're looking for the best budget or ultralight options, we've got that catered for too! Still figuring out your climbing gear essentials? Check out the best climbing harnesses here, belay devices here, and helmets here. Now, let's dive deep into the world of ice axes and help you pick the right one!

Our Top Recommendations

Our Top Pick

7.8 /10
Petzl Summit Evo Ice Axe
Petzl Summit Evo
Comfort
8
Self-Arrest
8
Steep Snow / Ice
9
Step Chopping
7
Weight
7

The Petzl Summit Evo claims our top pick due to its outstanding comfort in use, as noted by many enthusiastic campers, allied with a balanced weight distribution that delighted serious climbers, setting it notably apart from its competitors.

Runner Up #1

7.4 /10
Black Diamond Swift Ice Axe
Black Diamond Swift
Comfort
7
Self-Arrest
9
Steep Snow / Ice
8
Step Chopping
7
Weight
6

The Black Diamond Swift nabs the top pick spot for its superior ergonomics and dependable durability, qualities frequently praised by seasoned climbers in user reviews.

Runner Up #2

7.0 /10
Petzl Sum'Tec Ice Axe
Petzl Sum'Tec
Comfort
7
Self-Arrest
6
Steep Snow / Ice
8
Step Chopping
5
Weight
9

Backpackers rave about the Petzl Sum'Tec Ice Axe for its well-balanced design and versatility, making it stand out as a top choice for varied terrains and climbing conditions.

What you should look for

(and what we test for)

Grip

The grip of the ice axe should be comfortable and secure, offering you excellent hold even in cold, wet, or icy conditions to ensure optimum performance and safety.

Length

The length of the ice axe should be chosen based on your height and the intended use; shorter axes are perfect for technical climbs, while longer ones are suitable for walking or glacier crossings.

Weight

When selecting an ice axe for hiking, camping, or climbing, pay close attention to its weight as lightweight axes can lessen fatigue but may compromise on durability and strength.

Material

The material of the ice axe, typically steel or aluminum, is crucial to consider; steel offers more durability and biting efficiency, while aluminum is more lightweight, ideal for less technical adventures.

7.8 /10

Petzl Summit Evo

$159.95
The Best Ice Axe

Based on our research and testing, we think the Petzl Summit Evo is the best Ice Axe on the market right now, for anyone looking to play hard outside.

Petzl Summit Evo Ice Axe
Comfort
8
Self-Arrest
8
Steep Snow / Ice
9
Step Chopping
7
Weight
7

Reasons to Buy

  • Versatile for all mountain terrain
  • Excellent balance between weight and durability
  • Solid performance at a reasonable price
  • Great pick and adze design
  • Comfortable grip for prolonged use

Reasons to Avoid

  • Not the cheapest on the market
  • Style may not suit all climbers
  • Lack of modular head options

The Petzl Summit Evo is a top-choice ice axe that quickly gains the trust of both seasoned mountaineers and rookie climbers. It notches high on the functionality scorecard, armed with features designed to deliver standout performance in diverse alpine environments.

The first thing you notice about the Summit Evo is its sleek, ergonomic design. It's not just aesthetically pleasing, it's practical. The slim pick and tapered shaft make it easier to drive into hard ice; you won't be battling with your axe, but with nature, as it should be.

Despite its lightweight profile, this ice axe can withstand punishing conditions that the backcountry throws at it. Constructed with heat-treated steel and an anodized aluminum shaft, the Summit Evo is built to survive many seasons of demanding use.

Users have especially raved about the excellent balance of this ice axe, making it a joy to swing. The hydroformed handle is another crowd pleaser, providing a secure grip, even with gloved hands. This feature arguably puts the Summit Evo a step ahead of many other models in the market.

On the flip side, there are minor gripes about the Petzl Summit Evo. Some users mentioned issues with the axe's ice penetration capabilities in extremely hard conditions, so it might not be the best choice for those venturing into very challenging terrain. Also, while it comes with a variety of length options - great for different body sizes or climb styles - it may take a bit of trial and error to find the perfect fit

Cost-wise, the Summit Evo is a mid-range item. Online reviews often mention that its top-notch performance makes it worth every penny. Yes, there are cheaper axes on the market, but few can match the functionalities packed in this compact tool.

Overall, online user experiences echo a common sentiment: The Petzl Summit Evo offers reliable performance, great comfort and usability, making it a solid choice for climbers of all levels.

7.4 /10

Black Diamond Swift

$199.95
Runner Up

Based on our research and testing, we think the Black Diamond Swift is a great choice if you're looking for a ice axe to go play hard outside with, if our top pick isn't quite what you're looking for.

Black Diamond Swift Ice Axe
Comfort
7
Self-Arrest
9
Steep Snow / Ice
8
Step Chopping
7
Weight
6

Reasons to Buy

  • Excellent balance for efficient swinging
  • Top-notch pick penetrates all types of ice smoothly
  • Durable material that can withstand harsh environments
  • Comfortable grip that enhances control
  • Sharp spike that provides traction
  • Adze & hammer functionality offers versatility

Reasons to Avoid

  • Premium price may not fit all budgets
  • Some users find the spike a bit too aggressive
  • Might be overkill for casual mountaineers

On the outset, the Black Diamond Swift clearly stands out as a premium ice axe choice. Its design is stylish and efficient, demonstrating a perfect blend of functionality and aesthetics in the harsh mountain climbing environment. The fit in your hand feels just right, and any experienced ice climber would appreciate the attention paid to ergonomics.

One of the notable features of the Swift is its robust, stainless steel head that's geared for optimal strength and durability. There's an impressive pick geometry, designed to penetrate into hard alpine ice effectively. Users have affirmed that it bites into icy terrain with a satisfying zest, assuring strong holds so that you can ascend with confidence.

The T-rated shaft gives the Swift a substantial degree of toughness and stability. Constructed with high-quality aluminum, it's robust without being overly weighty. Many climbers echo the sentiment that the product, despite its durable make, is surprisingly lightweight. They often speak positively about how it aids maneuvering, particularly on long climbing journeys where the weight factor can become paramount.

Moreover, the Swift features the FlickLock pommel, a patented, adjustable second grip. This feature has proven to be a significant game-changer for climbers, often highlighted for how it offers technical climbing support as well as self-arresting assistance, providing security on steep slopes and icy patches.

The build quality of the Swift has been well-received online. Customers have noted the comfortable feel of the grip, the satisfaction of a secure hold, and the overall integrity of the axe. Some, however, mention that it takes a bit of getting used to, especially for beginners, primarily due to its aggressive pick design.

On negative notes, a few users have brought up concerns over the Black Diamond Swift's high price tag, indicating that this top-tier performance could be a bit steep for climbers on a budget. However, the majority vouch for its value for money, stating that the Swift's durability and performance justify its premium price.

7.0 /10

Petzl Sum'Tec

$209.95
Runner Up

Based on our research and testing, we think the Petzl Sum'Tec is a great choice if you're looking for a ice axe to go play hard outside with, if our top pick isn't quite what you're looking for.

Petzl Sum'Tec Ice Axe
Comfort
7
Self-Arrest
6
Steep Snow / Ice
8
Step Chopping
5
Weight
9

Reasons to Buy

  • Versatile for various terrains
  • Top-notch performance
  • High durability
  • Excellent grip and ergonomic handle

Reasons to Avoid

  • Slightly pricey
  • Modular design might require adjustments and adaptations

Let's talk about the Petzl Sum'Tec, a true powerhouse in the world of climbing and mountaineering. Ice axe aficionados have agreed that this product truly stands out in the crowd. It seems that Petzl has managed to blend functionality, quality and an affordable price tag into one compact package.

Designed with both the novice and seasoned climber in mind, the Petzl Sum'Tec provides the perfect blend of versatility and power. It's a trusty tool for general mountaineering, but doesn't shy away from the steep, technical terrain either. It has a modular design which allows you to tailor it according to your needs; want to climb up a glacier? Slap on the glacier pick. Need to tackle some ice? Swap it with the ice pick.

When it comes to build, it's lean and mean. This sleek, lightweight axe is a joy to carry, won't weigh you down on those long treks. The aluminium shaft is sturdy and the steel pick is touted for its durability by folks who've taken it on their adventures.

Users rave about the grip of the Petzl Sum'Tec. Regardless of whether they were sporting gloves or dealing with a wet handle, they could hold on for dear life with ease. The grip also came in handy during self-arrests, offering good control during a fall.

However, it's not all sunshine and rainbows. Reviews online have pointed out that the spike at the bottom of the axe is not the most adept at penetrating firm snow or ice. Some climbers feel that the 'one size fits all' approach didn't work as well for them, wishing for more length options. Grip comfort, although enhanced with an adjustable hand rest, was reported to be a bit less forgiving for those with larger hands.

The Petzl Sum'Tec makes a strong case for being your go-to ice axe. It's reliable, flexible and, by user reports, holds up pretty well under different conditions. It has its downfalls like any other product. But to find an axe that marries versatility and performance as well as this one does, you might be looking far and wide.

7.8 /10

Petzl Glacier

$109.95
Best Budget Ice Axe

Based on our research and testing, we think the Petzl Glacier is a great pick if you're looking for a ice axe that is more budget friendly, without sacrificing too much in quality.

Petzl Glacier Ice Axe
Comfort
8
Self-Arrest
8
Steep Snow / Ice
9
Step Chopping
7
Weight
7

Reasons to Buy

  • Affordable price in comparison to other ice axes
  • Solid construction promising long term durability
  • Design ensures good balance and ice penetration
  • Easy to handle even for beginners
  • Great grip for stability and safety

Reasons to Avoid

  • Spike design might struggle on more challenging terrains
  • Limited versatility for advanced mountaineering
  • Adze and hammer functionality might not be sufficient for professional users

The Petzl Glacier ice axe is a great pick for budget-conscious adventurists. Falling into the more affordable end of the market doesn't mean this axe compromises on performance or quality. It's solidly built and offers excellent value for your money.

When it comes to design, simplicity is key with the Petzl Glacier. Featuring a straight, light anodized aluminum shaft, it's easy to handle during climbs and keeps your pack light during your ascents. The spike at the bottom provides secure purchase on icy terrains, giving you the required confidence during your climb.

The steel pick is toothed at the tip for excellent anchoring on both ice and rock. As per users feedback, it performs well even in harder ice conditions.

One aspect to mention, is the lack of an adze on this model. Whilst for some this may not be an issue, others might find this a key disadvantage based on their climbing style and preference.

Features that got users praising are the streamlined beveled blade which effortlessly penetrates hard snow and ice, and a comfortable ergonomic grip allowing for durable handling even with gloves on.

For self-arresting practice, both newbies and experienced climbers praised its effectiveness. The shaft of the axe offers enough traction to get a good grip when self-arresting.

However, on the flip side, a couple of users online felt the Petzl Glacier is slightly less effective when it comes to steep ice and technical climbing due to its straight shaft and basic design.

Size options for this model range from 60 to 75cm allowing for personalization to fit climbers of various heights. Additionally, a positive point noted by users is its durability. The pick and spike corrosion resistant tip will have you using this ice axe for seasons to come.

In summary, if you're someone who hikes and climbs in moderate terrain and are looking for a lightweight, simple, yet reliable ice axe, then the Petzl Glacier, according to many online reviews, would be a strong contender.

6.2 /10

CAMP Corsa Nanotech

Best Ultralight Ice Axe

Based on our research and testing, we think the CAMP Corsa Nanotech is a solid choice for those looking for a lightweight ice axe option to go play hard outside with.

CAMP Corsa Nanotech Ice Axe
Comfort
7
Self-Arrest
5
Steep Snow / Ice
6
Step Chopping
4
Weight
9

Reasons to Buy

  • Extremely lightweight, good for such a technical piece of kit
  • Extremely versatile, can be used for a wide range of mountaineering and ice-climbing scenarios
  • Good price-point for the type of specialized gear it is

Reasons to Avoid

  • Not the most durable compared to other ice axes on the market
  • Some users found the scoop on the adze to be too shallow
  • The handle exhibits some flex when torqued

Let's talk about the CAMP Corsa Nanotech – a superstar in the ultralight ice axe category and trusted companion for any mountaineering adventure. This tool brings together two worlds: the ultralight weight from CAMP Corsa's classic design, combined with Nanotech's steel materials on the pick and spike, giving it an edge (no pun intended) in the durability department. If you're looking for an axe that's easy to carry on long hikes or serious climbs, this one's a runner for your money.

One of the first things most users rave about is its impressive weight, or rather, lack thereof. Weighing in at a feather-light 8.7 oz, the CAMP Corsa Nanotech is one of the lightest ice axes on the market. Whether you're embarking on a multi-day trek or a short, swift climb, this axe won't weigh you down.

It's not all about weight, though! The feature that makes the Nanotech stand out is the use of Sandvik Nanoflex steel in its pick and spike. This type of steel is known for its strength and resilience, ensuring that this axe can stand up to any challenge. It brings a level of amplification to the durability and strength of the Corsa Nanotech which, let's be honest, is what you want in a tool you're relying on for safety and survival.

The length options are another bonus. With choices ranging from 50 cm to 70 cm, there's an option for climbers of all heights and preferences. That being said, some users noted that the longer axes can feel a bit less sturdy than their shorter counterparts. This isn't really a significant issue but something to keep in mind when choosing the size that suits you best.

One area that some users found less impressive, is it's not the best when it comes to self-arresting. Several users noted that due to its lightweight nature and flat rather than curved adze (the flat part of the axe head), it didn't dig into the snow as well as heavier, more traditional models. For trips where self-arresting is key, you might want to consider heavier models.

Finally, the grip got mixed reviews. While it's designed to be minimal to maintain the axe's overall light structure, some climbers found it slightly slippery when in use. They suggest wrapping it with additional grip tape for a sturdier, and more comfortable hold.

No prices found. Check back later!

Related Posts

Best Climbing Harness

Best Climbing Harness

Climb

When it comes to climbing, the right gear can make all the difference. Between navigating sheer cliffs or conquering that challenging indoor route, the climbing harness you choose can impact...

Best Climbing Belay Device

Best Climbing Belay Device

Climb

If you've ever flirted with vertical adventures, you'd know that a solid belay device is as crucial as a trustworthy partner. When it comes to offering the best blend of security, durability, and...

Best Climbing Rope

Best Climbing Rope

Climb

If climbing mountains is your type of adrenaline rush, you must know that the rope you bring along can either make or break your climb – literally. For climbing and such outdoor adventures, the...

Best Climbing Helmet

Best Climbing Helmet

Climb

Whether you're a seasoned climber or a newbie starting on your first bouldering adventure, a climbing helmet is one item you can't compromise on. Not only does it keep you safe from falling debris,...

Best Climbing Rope Bag

Best Climbing Rope Bag

Climb

Whether you're a seasoned mountain goat or a weekend wall scaler, you'll know that taking care of climbing gear is non-negotiable. Essential to this is a quality climbing rope bag. It's not just a...

Best Climbing Quickdraw

Best Climbing Quickdraw

Climb

If you're an adventurer always seeking to climb higher heights, then you know that having dependable gear is key. On that note, we would specifically like to focus on an indispensable piece of...