A solid contender for our Best Buy Award, this outstanding all-around performer deserves note for those looking for a model that won't break the bank. While it isn't one of the highest performing models for steep snow or complex mountaineering routes, it's one of the best for its price.
The Glacier is a good option for early-season backpackers and snow climbers and excels in general mountaineering. We love the weight, self-arresting ability, and respectable steep climbing performance of the Glacier; however, if you partake in plenty of steep routes, we'd recommend the Petzl Summit Evo, Petzl Sum'Tec, or the Black Diamond Venom instead.
Testing the Glacier ice axe on Mt. Shuksan, North Cascades WA.
The Glacier performed above average in our self-arrest comparisons, only outperformed by the much more expensive models, and even then, only by a small margin. The Glacier pick provided effective purchase into firm snow, and the pick drove in smooth and did not feel jerky. It self-arrested noticeably better than the similarly priced Black Diamond Raven Pro and base model Black Diamond Raven.
The pick of the Petzl Glacier performed slightly above average for self-arresting, and our testers unanimously thought it self-arrested better than the Black Diamond Raven.
Digging and Step Chopping
The Glacier sports a functional adze design, allowing it to excel during ice clearing and step chopping. The adze hacked into all but the hardest ice very effectively and dug "T-slots" and deadmans better than most, and just barely scored behind the Petzl Sum'Tec and Summit.
The Glacier was comfortable to carry in either position. It was very nice in self-belay position (pick-forward) and was fine for all-day ascents in self-arrest position (pick-backward), but wasn't as good as the Black Diamond Raven.
Use As Improvised Anchor
The Glacier is UIAA rated with a CEN-B, making it suitable for use as a "T-slot" or deadman while belaying or during crevasse rescue. The Glacier features a decent clip in point at the top of its head, which accommodates most carabiners. It also features a well-designed spike, which helps facilitate it to be driven quickly in vertically to self-anchor or to provide a quick backup while belaying others.
Comparing how effective the Glacier was at digging T-slots and being used as an improvised anchor. We thought the Glacier had the best performing adze of the axes under $100.
Steep Ice and Snow
The Glacier penetrates firm snow effectively, whether our testers were swinging in mid-dagger or low dagger position, better than nearly all of the other sub $100 ice axes like the Black Diamond Raven and Raven Ultra. The ripples on the lower part of the shaft provide noticeable assistance and additional grip while swinging the axe; we really appreciated this feature.
The spike of the Glacier.
Comfort to Carry
The Glacier is quite comfortable to carry and scored above average in both self-belay or self-arrest positions, though it was more comfortable in self-belay position (pick forward/piolet canne).
At 12.3 ounces, this is one of the lighter models at $100 or less. It isn't quite as light as the single length (50cm) Petzl Glacier Literide (11.2 oz), but it isn't far off. It is also worth noting that it's lighter than the rest of the basic all-around mountaineering axes like the Black Diamond Raven (16 ounces) or Black Diamond Raven Pro (14 ounces).
The Glacier presents an incredible value and was once again nearly the winner of our OutdoorGearLab Best Buy Award. It outperforms many of the base level models but is in line cost wise. We do think the Glacier is a better option than the Black Diamond Raven in nearly every way; if you aspire to climb general mountaineering and glacier routes, it's worth the extra money.
This axe is best for snow climbs and easy to moderate glacier mountaineering routes. It performs similarly to its closest competition, the Raven and the Raven Ultra, offering a few advantages like better steep snow climbing and adze performance, though it wasn't quite as comfortable to carry in the self-arrest position. It was a strong contender for our Best Buy Award and deserves a note for those scanning the market for a solid all-around model that won't break the bank.
Other Versions and Accessories
The Glacier Literide is basically the smallest length and a different color of the Petzl Glacier. Other than length and color, the Glacier Literide has all the same features as the Glacier.