Last updated: 17/10/2022

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Welcome to our big ice axe test 2023. Here we present all the ice axes we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We want to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best ice axe for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy an ice axe.




The Best Ice Axe: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should deal with before buying an ice axe

If you are looking for an ice axe and are not quite sure what to look for, read our guide. Here we give you important tips that you should keep in mind.

Who needs an ice axe?

Do you go on mountain tours over ice, firn or snow? Then an ice axe is a practical helper that makes the ascent or descent much easier and can also contribute to your safety.

Neither your age nor your stamina or strength play a role. An ice axe is an enormous help for every mountaineer who goes on such routes.

What do I need an ice axe for?

Ice axes are mainly used to find a good grip for your hands in the ice, so that you can also work with your arms and don’t have to use all your strength from your legs when climbing. But they can also be used for crevasse climbing and in very steep snow or ice passages. There it makes it easier for you to find a good grip with your hands on the wall.

Ice axes are necessary to climb safely in snow and ice- (Photo source: eberhard grossgasteiger / Pexels.com)

What types of ice axes are there?

High altitude touring ice axe

This ice axe has a long straight shaft and is particularly suitable for glacier traverses and flatter passages. It serves as a weight support and thus as a pole substitute. Steps are also no problem with this model.

The ideal length of the high-touring pick depends on your height. When you hold it in your hand and let it hang down, the tip should be about the height of your ankle.

In steeper terrain, however, a high-touring pick reaches its limits due to its straight design.

Hybrid pick

The hybrid pick is a shorter pick with an angled shaft that is also usually more stable than the high-touring pick. Due to its curved shape, you can use it in steep and vertical terrain without any problems. Even ledges or ledges are no longer an obstacle.

Its big disadvantage, however, is that it should only be used by experienced mountaineers and is not suitable for beginners.

How much does a good ice axe cost?

You can get ice axes, both types, from just under 60 euros. Basically, you can state that the price rises with increasing lightness. From around 80 euros, you can also buy ice picks with a hand strap. This prevents the pick from falling down if you ever lose it from your hands.

Decision: What types of ice axes are there and which one is right for you?

Basically, you can distinguish between two types of ice axes:

  • High altitude touring ice axe
  • Hybrid pick

With each type, the shape of the ice axe and thus also the area of application are different, resulting in individual advantages and disadvantages. Which ice axe is the right one depends above all on how steep the terrain of the planned tour is. In addition, the handiness of the tool also plays a role.

To help you decide and find the best ice axe for you, in the following section we present the different types of ice axes in more detail and list the advantages and disadvantages clearly so that you are safely prepared for your next mountain tour.

How does a high-touring ice axe work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

High alpine touring picks are characterised by a very long shaft, which is also particularly straight. This means that they also offer good grip on snow or firn and are the lifeline in the event of a fall. How long a high-touring pick should be depends on the individual body size of the user.

When the pick is held in the hand and let hang downwards, it should ideally be at the height of the ankles. However, these measurements only apply to flat terrain, as a shorter, more manageable and more curved ice axe is usually needed in steep terrain.

The special construction characteristics of the high-altitude touring ice axe make it particularly suitable for flat passages or glacier tours, where its length and straight shaft provide the necessary grip. In addition, this type of ice axe can also be used to hew steps.

Hochtourenpickel

High touring ice axes are characterised by a long shaft.
Advantages
  • Suitable for glacier tours
  • Suitable for flat passages
  • Substitute for poles
  • Step hewing possible
Disadvantages
  • Very bulky
  • Not suitable for steep terrain

In addition, high-altitude touring picks are very stable and can also serve as a support for your own body weight. For this reason, they are sometimes used as a substitute for poles. In addition, their length can help to balance the body weight.

In very steep terrain, however, the high-touring pick is not ideal. Due to its length and the straight shaft, the ideal grip cannot be given here. In addition, high-touring picks are rather bulky tools.

How does a hybrid pick work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Unlike high-touring picks, hybrid picks do not have a long shaft. The shaft of these ice picks is much shorter and more curved, especially in the upper part. This means that hybrid ice axes can also be used in steeper, icy terrain and are therefore very versatile.

Due to its more compact shape, the hybrid pick is also very stable and much easier to handle than the longer high-touring pick. So even ledges and ledges are no obstacle when climbing with a hybrid pick. The risk of injury to the climber in steep terrain is also significantly reduced by the shorter shaft.

Advantages
  • Very stable
  • Handy
  • Versatile
  • Suitable for steep terrain
Disadvantages
  • Not a pole replacement
  • Not suitable for beginners

The disadvantage of hybrid ice picks is that they can only be used correctly and safely by experienced people, otherwise bad falls or other accidents can occur. Thus, these ice picks are not suitable for beginners. In addition, they are usually no support when walking, as they are too short and thus not designed to serve as a pole substitute.

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate ice axes

In the following, we will show you which criteria you can use to compare and evaluate ice axes. This will make it easier for you to get an overview and decide on a suitable and effective ice axe.

Eisklettern mit Eispickel

An ice axe should ensure safety when climbing in ice and snow. For this, the right type of ice axe should be chosen. (Image source: Gipfelsturm69 / pixabay.com)

In summary, these are the following criteria:

  • Right type of pick
  • Right length
  • Weight or material

In the following, you can read about the respective criteria and find out why it makes sense for you to buy an ice axe under these aspects or not.

The right type of ice axe

First of all, it is important to find the right type of ice axe. The high-altitude touring pick is particularly suitable, as the name suggests, for normal high-altitude tours that lead over less steep terrain. Due to the long straight shaft, it serves as an extension of the arm, which can prevent slipping on glacier ice, for example.

If you’re heading for a steep ice wall, you should buy a hybrid pick, which is specially designed for more demanding terrain. With its shorter curved shaft, it is perfectly tailored for use in the vertical.

Correct length

Always make sure that the pick is neither too long nor too short. The classic Hochtoren pick should go with the tip up to your ankle when you take it at the very back of the handle.

The hybrid pick, on the other hand, is usually only about 50 to 70 cm long. Here you should decide for yourself whether you want to use it only for steep terrain or also for flatter terrain in between. In the latter case, you should choose a longer one.

Weight and material

Especially if you carry a lot of luggage on your tours, weight can be an important factor. There are picks made of iron, aluminium or a mix of both. Aluminium picks are considerably lighter than the other two. It is best to try out in a specialist shop which material feels best in your hand and decide on the model that gives you the best feeling.

Picture source: pixabay.de / Gipfelsturm69

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