Best Ice Axes

Selecting the best ice axe is crucial for anyone planning to engage in mountaineering, winter hiking, or alpine climbing. An ice axe not only provides stability and safety on icy terrains but also aids in self-arresting during falls. This guide delves into the best ice axes, highlighting their features, benefits, and ideal use cases. To help you make an informed decision, we have also included twenty commonly asked questions about ice axes, along with detailed answers.

Top Picks

Bestseller No. 1
Lightweight Grivel GZERO Ice Axe 66 for Classical Alpinism, Black
  • A new generation of walking axe. GZERO a very light ice axe for classical alpinism that still has all the characteristics of a Grivel ice axe including, head that provides maximum strength and minimal weight.
  • The pick is classically neutral with ergonomic design that remains comfortable after hours of climbing.
  • The brand insulating removable ergonomic blade cover lets the user firmly grip the axe by the head without risk of injury.
  • It also protects the hand from contact with cold metal especially in low temperatures and high altitudes expeditions.
  • The perfect tool to discover the mountains with added safety and comfort.
Bestseller No. 2
BLACK DIAMOND Equipment Raven Ice Axe with Grip - 70 cm
  • Durable, trapezoidal cross-section, aircraft-grade aluminum shaft
  • Investment-cast, one-piece stainless-steel head with a large hole for a carabiner
  • Comfortable, dual-density molded grip
  • Pick's curve and teeth engineered for secure self-arresting
  • Equipped with updated Slider Leash
Bestseller No. 3
Petzl Glacier Ice Axe - Lightweight Performance Ice Axe for Mountaineering and Glacier Travel - 75 cm
  • LIGHTWEIGHT PERFORMANCE: The GLACIER is built to keep you secure during glacier travel without weighing you down.
  • PROPRIETARY STEEL: Petzl ice picks are constructed using a proprietary blend of the world's highest quality steel.
  • EASY ANCHORING: Whether you're trudging up hard snow, battling through ice, or traversing the glacier; with its thin and durable steel pick and stainless steel spike, the GLACIER ice axe is built for easy, secure anchoring.
  • GRIP YOU CAN TRUST: Anodized, aeronautic-grade aluminum shaft and machined handle ensure a reliable grip.
  • VERSATILITY REDEFINED: Steel adze designed for efficient cutting of steps. Head and spike equipped with holes for clipping a carabiner or attaching a sling.
Bestseller No. 4
Trango Raptor Ice Tool - Lightweight Aluminum Ice Axe for Mountaineering, Balanced Geometry for Solid Sticks, Ergonomic Handle
  • THE ULTIMATE SWING & BITE - The Raptor is our top of the line leashless ice and mixed tool that swings beautifully and bites like a dream; The grip is one-piece molded rubber for comfort, durability and reduced fatigue
  • RAZOR SHARP - The pick penetrates the hardest ice with minimal force & cleans easily
  • VERSATILE DESIGN - Removable weights included are included for added versatility
  • TECH SPECS - Weight: 575 g without pick weights / 640 g with weights; Comes with ice-specific pick only; Pick covers included
Bestseller No. 5
CAMP Corsa Ice Axe - 50cm
  • Hyperlight ice axe for glacier travel and ski mountaineering
  • Nylon spike plug keeps snow out of the shaft
  • Small head slot for seamless integration with the Corsa leash (sold separately)
  • Machined grip for good handling

What are the top features to look for in an ice axe?

When selecting an ice axe, consider the following features:

  • Material: Look for axes with a steel head and aluminum shaft for durability and lightweight performance.
  • Weight: Choose an ice axe that balances strength with manageable weight.
  • Length: The length should suit your height and the type of activity.
  • Grip: A comfortable, secure grip is essential, especially in cold and wet conditions.
  • Pick Shape: The shape of the pick affects performance on different terrains.

Why is the Petzl Quark highly recommended for technical ice climbing?

The Petzl Quark is favored for technical ice climbing due to its modular head, insulated handle, and sharp-toothed blade. Its lightweight design and the ability to add accessories make it versatile for various climbing conditions.

What makes the Black Diamond Raven Pro suitable for classic mountaineering?

The Black Diamond Raven Pro is designed for classic mountaineering with its lightweight aircraft-grade aluminum shaft and stainless steel head. Its trapezoidal cross-section offers a natural grip, enhancing control on steep terrain.

How does the Grivel G Zero cater to beginners?

The Grivel G Zero is an excellent entry-level ice axe with a simple design, steel head, and aluminum shaft. The plastic blade cover provides comfort, making it easy to carry and use for basic winter hiking and glacier travel.

What is the main advantage of the Camp USA Corsa?

The Camp USA Corsa is the lightest ice axe on the market, making it ideal for ultra-light backpacking and thru-hiking. Its 7075 aluminum shaft and minimalist design ensure it’s easy to carry without adding significant weight.

Which ice axe is best for steep and technical mountaineering?

The Black Diamond Venom is a top choice for steep and technical mountaineering. Its curved aluminum shaft and modular head allow for versatility and improved performance in challenging conditions.

Why choose the Petzl Glacier for general mountaineering?

The Petzl Glacier is lightweight and effective on hard ice and snow, thanks to its thin stainless steel spike and durable shaft. It’s suitable for a wide range of activities, including mountaineering, backpacking, and thru-hiking.

What makes the DMM Spire a good option for winter walking?

The DMM Spire offers a balance between lightweight construction and performance. Its anodized aluminum shaft and high-strength steel alloy head make it ideal for winter walking and ski touring.

How does the Black Diamond Raven with Grip enhance handling?

The Black Diamond Raven with Grip features a dual-density rubber grip and an ergonomic shaft design, providing enhanced handling and comfort. The included adjustable and removable leash adds to its security.

What are the benefits of the Salewa Alpine-X for alpine climbing?

The Salewa Alpine-X is designed for alpine climbing with its slightly curved shaft and aggressive pick. It combines lightweight construction with strong performance, making it versatile for various alpine activities.

How should one choose the right length for an ice axe?

The length of an ice axe should match the user’s height and the intended activity. For general mountaineering, a longer axe provides better support, while a shorter axe is preferable for technical climbs.

What is the significance of the pick shape in an ice axe?

The pick shape affects how well the axe penetrates ice and snow. Curved picks are better for technical climbing, while straight picks are suitable for general mountaineering and self-arrest.

Can ice axes be used for purposes other than climbing?

Yes, ice axes can also be used for cutting steps in ice, probing for crevasses, and as anchors in snow during rescue operations.

How does weight influence the performance of an ice axe?

A lighter ice axe reduces the overall weight carried, which is beneficial for long climbs or hikes. However, it should still be sturdy enough to provide reliable support and durability.

Are there specific ice axes for ski mountaineering?

Yes, axes like the Petzl Summit Evo are designed specifically for ski mountaineering, offering a balance between lightweight construction and robust performance on icy slopes.

What are the common materials used in ice axe construction?

Ice axes are typically made with a combination of aluminum for the shaft and steel for the head. Some high-end models may use advanced alloys for improved strength and weight reduction.

How does the handle design affect the usability of an ice axe?

The handle design, including its grip and insulation, affects the comfort and control during use. Ergonomic designs with rubber grips provide better handling, especially in cold and wet conditions.

What are the safety features to look for in an ice axe?

Safety features include a secure grip, a durable leash, and a robust construction that can withstand the rigors of climbing and self-arrest. Some models also have ergonomic designs to reduce hand fatigue.

How do modular ice axes differ from traditional models?

Modular ice axes, like the Petzl Quark, allow users to customize and replace parts, such as the pick and adze, for different climbing conditions. This adds versatility and extends the tool’s lifespan.

Why is the Black Diamond Venom recommended for alpine climbs?

The Black Diamond Venom’s curved shaft and modular head make it versatile and effective on steep, icy terrain. Its dual-density grip and lightweight design enhance performance in demanding alpine conditions.

Best Ice Axes

1. Black Diamond Raven with Grip

Overview: The Black Diamond Raven with Grip is a popular choice among winter hikers and mountaineers due to its reliable design and ergonomic features.

Key Features:

  • Material: The axe features a stainless steel head and a durable aluminum shaft.
  • Grip: It comes with a dual-density rubber grip for enhanced handling.
  • Leash: Includes an adjustable and removable leash, providing additional security.

Performance: This ice axe is designed for general mountaineering and winter hiking. The rubber grip ensures a comfortable and secure hold, even in wet conditions. The stainless steel head provides excellent durability and performance for self-arrest and step-cutting.

Ideal Use: Suitable for moderate to steep terrain, making it a versatile choice for various winter activities.

2. Black Diamond Raven Pro

Overview: An upgraded version of the Raven, the Black Diamond Raven Pro is designed for more technical climbs while maintaining a lightweight profile.

Key Features:

  • Material: Features an aircraft-grade aluminum shaft and a stainless steel head.
  • Design: Trapezoidal cross-section for a natural grip and improved performance on steeper terrain.

Performance: The Raven Pro excels in its weight-to-strength ratio, making it ideal for mountaineers who need to reduce pack weight without sacrificing reliability. Its design enhances control and comfort, crucial for technical ascents.

Ideal Use: Perfect for classic mountaineering, particularly in steeper and more challenging conditions.

3. DMM Spire

Overview: The DMM Spire is a lightweight and versatile ice axe, offering a balance between performance and comfort.

Key Features:

  • Material: Anodized aluminum shaft with a high-strength steel alloy head.
  • Weight: Lightweight construction for easy carrying over long distances.
  • Design: Available in multiple lengths for different user preferences.

Performance: The Spire is designed for winter walking, ski touring, and general mountain travel. Its lightweight nature makes it suitable for carrying on long trips, while the robust head ensures it can handle various icy conditions.

Ideal Use: Best for winter walkers and ski tourers who need a reliable yet lightweight ice axe.

4. Grivel G Zero

Overview: The Grivel G Zero is an excellent entry-level ice axe, known for its simplicity and comfort.

Key Features:

  • Material: Steel head and aluminum shaft, with a plastic blade cover for added comfort.
  • Leash: Comes with an adjustable webbing leash and rubber cover for the spike.
  • Design: Available in multiple colors and lengths.

Performance: The G Zero is designed for beginner winter hikers. The plastic cover over the head provides insulation and comfort, making it easier to carry for extended periods. The simple design ensures that it performs well for basic mountaineering tasks.

Ideal Use: Ideal for beginners venturing into winter hiking and basic mountaineering.

5. Petzl Quark

Overview: The Petzl Quark is a high-tech, versatile ice axe that combines elements of ice tools and traditional axes.

Key Features:

  • Material: Lightweight construction with an insulated handle and a sharp-toothed blade.
  • Versatility: Allows for accessory attachments and adjustments.
  • Design: Streamlined build for various technical climbing tasks.

Performance: The Quark is designed for technical ice climbing and mountaineering. Its insulated handle and sharp blade make it effective on tough ice. The modular head allows users to customize the axe based on their specific needs, enhancing its versatility.

Ideal Use: Best suited for technical ice climbing and demanding mountaineering routes.

6. Petzl Glacier

Overview: The Petzl Glacier is renowned for its lightweight design and effectiveness on hard ice and snow.

Key Features:

  • Material: Stainless steel spike with a thin tip and a durable shaft for excellent grip.
  • Weight: Lightweight construction for easy handling.
  • Design: Designed for smooth and efficient penetration into firm snow and ice.

Performance: This axe provides stable anchoring in hard ice, making it a reliable choice for various mountaineering activities. The lightweight build ensures that it doesn’t add unnecessary weight to your pack, while the design offers a comfortable grip.

Ideal Use: Ideal for general mountaineering, backpacking, and thru-hiking.

7. Black Diamond Venom

Overview: The Black Diamond Venom is designed for technical mountaineering, featuring a curved shaft and modular head.

Key Features:

  • Material: Curved aluminum shaft and steel head.
  • Design: Modular head for versatility in different climbing scenarios.
  • Grip: Dual-density grip for better handling in steep terrain.

Performance: The Venom excels in steep and technical terrain. Its curved shaft and modular design allow climbers to adapt the axe to their specific needs, whether for steep ascents or traverses. The dual-density grip ensures secure handling in challenging conditions.

Ideal Use: Suitable for technical mountaineering and alpine climbs.

8. Camp USA Corsa

Overview: The Camp USA Corsa is the lightest ice axe available, making it perfect for ultra-light backpacking and thru-hiking.

Key Features:

  • Material: 7075 aluminum shaft with a minimalist design.
  • Weight: Extremely lightweight, reducing overall pack weight.
  • Design: Simple and effective for non-technical terrain.

Performance: While the Corsa is not designed for technical climbs, it provides excellent performance in less demanding conditions. Its lightweight construction makes it easy to carry, and the design ensures it’s effective for basic mountaineering tasks.

Ideal Use: Best for thru-hikers and ultra-light backpackers.

9. Grivel G1

Overview: The Grivel G1 is a versatile entry-level ice axe, known for its durability and reliability.

Key Features:

  • Material: Steel head and aluminum shaft.
  • Design: Simple, sturdy construction for various mountaineering tasks.
  • Leash: Includes an adjustable leash for added security.

Performance: The G1 is designed for general mountaineering, offering a reliable performance for beginners and intermediate climbers. Its robust construction ensures it can handle various icy conditions, while the simple design makes it easy to use.

Ideal Use: Suitable for general mountaineering and winter hiking.

10. Salewa Alpine-X

Overview: The Salewa Alpine-X is a high-performance ice axe designed for alpine climbing.

Key Features:

  • Material: Combination of lightweight and durable materials.
  • Design: Slightly curved shaft and aggressive pick for better ice penetration.
  • Versatility: Suitable for a range of alpine activities.

Performance: The Alpine-X is designed to provide excellent performance on ice and mixed terrain. Its aggressive pick ensures good penetration, while the slightly curved shaft enhances stability and control.

Ideal Use: Ideal for technical alpine climbs and challenging mountaineering routes.


Choosing the right ice axe is essential for ensuring safety and performance in winter activities. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced climber, the ice axes highlighted in this guide offer a range of features to suit different needs and conditions. From lightweight models like the Camp USA Corsa for thru-hiking to technical tools like the Petzl Quark for ice climbing, each axe provides specific benefits tailored to various uses. By considering factors such as material, weight, length, and grip, you can select the best ice axe to enhance your climbing experience and ensure safety on icy terrains.