Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Great price, chops steps and tent platforms well
Cons: Less pleasant to carry, hard to clip some carabiners to its head
Best Uses: General mountaineering, moderate snow routes
The CAMP Neve is a solid ice axe for a great price. The Neve comes with a built-in leash and it is the best priced leash/axe combo I tested. It is a classic mountaineering ice axe with an extremely well designed adze. It is one of the top performers in our review.
It performs similarly to the closely priced Raven, Yeti, Capra and Snow Walker and has slight advantages and disadvantages. It is the best deal for an ice axe/leash combo. The CAMP Neve climbed steeper, firmer snow and ice and self-arrested about average compared with these. It is nearly my top pick for adze performance while chopping steps but was on the heavier end compared with these others. I didn't like the fact that many carabiners wouldn't fit easily in the head. The spike performed a little better than the rest.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
A little history
CAMP has been around since 1889, producing ice axes since 1920 and is possibly the world's largest ice axe manufacturer, distributing to more than 65 countries. CAMP stands for Construzione Articoli Montagna Premana, which translates to English Articles for Mountaineering Made in Premana. Premana is the small mountain village in Italy where founder Nicola Codega started manufacturing. Premana is located at the furthest end of the main valley running north out of Lecco. There are literally no roads running out of Premana other than the road coming in. The town is situated in the pre-Alps just shy of the Swiss border. CAMP still calls Premana home.
The adze of the Neve chopped steps in even the hardest ice because of its aggressive curve. It is the best preforming adze in the general mountaineering category for chopping steps and digging anchors. It comes with a built-in leash, making it the best deal for the ice axe/lanyard combo. If you don't like leashes, it is easily removed by sliding off the rubber keeper. It is one of the smoother ice axes at self-arresting. It ranks about the same as a Snow Walker and just below the Black Diamond Raven. Its steep snow and ice performance is average; about the same as the SMC Capra and just below the Snow Walker.
At 17.1 ounces the CAMP Neve is an ounce heavier than both the Black Diamond Raven and the SMC Capra, a small disadvantage. It is one of the more uncomfortable ice axes to hold over long periods of time. The hole in the head of the Neve is harder to clip a carabiner into compared with all other models I tested. In fact, some mid-sized and most larger carabiners won't fit. If you need to make an anchor by driving your ice axe in vertically then you could girth hitch a sling to it, but who wants to do that while their quads are screaming and they are holding their partner hanging in a crevasse?
Smooth self-arresting and anchor building make this a perfect ice axe for general mountaineering and snow climbing. If you climb a lot of steeper snow and ice climbs, you may not be happy with its performance, either alone or in conjunction with another ice tool. However, for almost any mountaineering application this is an excellent all-around ice axe.
This is a bargain. For $80 it is the same price as a Black Diamond Raven and $5 more than an REI Yeti. The Neve, however, comes with a built-in leash, making it a better deal overall.
— Ian Nicholson
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: January 15, 2010
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