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Hands-on Gear Review
Black Diamond Knifeblade Review
Cons: Not as secure as Tomahawks and Peckers in most situations, can't be used for clean aid.
Black Diamond Knifeblades are the oldest pitons used for thin cracks. They used to be the only way to get up skinny cracks. Then came Birdbeaks, multiple sizes of the Black Diamond Pecker and the Moses Tomahawk. Knifeblades have fewer uses today but are still an essential part of a big wall nailing rack. The bigger sizes of Knifeblades are called Black Diamond Bugaboo.
If you are a serious aid climber, you will need a few of thesebut just a few. In general, it's better to invest in the Moses Tomahawk and Black Diamond Pecker. Those are not only more secure in most nailing situations, they can also sometimes be hand placed for clean aid moves (you can't hand place a Knifeblade very securely).
RELATED: Our complete review of pitons
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
Black Diamond Knifeblades are versatile. They work under roofs and in horizontal cracks where Tomahawks and Peckers are not as effective. They are great for expanding flakes because they have a lot of surface area. Once they get beat up a little they can actually work even better in expanding cracks. Knifeblades are great for piton stacks, especially when placed behind a Black Diamond Angle. Piton stacking is a bit of a lost art but still gets you through tricky sections here and there.
Most traditional Knifeblade placements are now better served by the Moses Tomahawk or Black Diamond Pecker. The Tomahawk has a hooking action that the Knifeblade does not. This means that in most placements the Tomahawk or Pecker is more secure and can even be hand placed. Peckers are especially better in the larger sizes in sandstone. In general, you have to pound on Knifeblades harder than Peckers to get them to feel secure. This means they are often more destructive to the rock to clean. Knifeblades are generally the least durable piton. They bend easily, especially at the tip.
Knifeblades excel on horizontal cracks and under roofs. While there are many sizes, the #2 an #3 are used 90 percent of the time. The #1 is very uncommon. I probably have placed less than 20 in my life.
These pitons are not cheap but you usually only need a few of them.
— Chris McNamara
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: June 14, 2010
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