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SMC Capra Review

SMC Capra
Photo: SMC
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Price:  $87 List
Pros:  Comfortable to hold, self-arrests great.
Cons:  Slightly harder to clip a carabiner or girth hitch to the hole in its head.
Manufacturer:   SMC
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 18, 2015
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  • Self-arresting - 22% 9
  • Digging & Step chopping - 17% 7
  • Use as improvised Anchor - 8% 7
  • Steep ice and snow - 22% 6
  • Comfort to carry - 11% 9
  • Weight - 20% 5

Our Verdict

SMC discontinued the Capra axe.

The Seattle Manufacturing Company (SMC) Capra ice axe is a great value for a fantastic general mountaineering axe. It is one of the most comfortable axes to carry and performs great when self-arresting. As a result of the large, wide head (presumably to help with comfort while carrying) it was especially easier to "spin" for self-belay to self-arrest during our tests. The Capra is named after the sure-footed mountain goats of the Cascades.

This is a good ice axe for climbers on a budget who do general mountaineering and snow climbing routes. It is one of the best self-arresting ice axes we tested. It performs wonderfully at digging anchors and tent platforms even in firm snow. The slight drawbacks are that it is harder to clip the head and also that it has average snow and ice performance. But for short sections, it can get the job done. It is made in the USA and the Black Diamond and CAMP are not.

See how the Capra compared to all of the products tested in our Best Ice Axe review.

Our Analysis and Test Results


The Capra has a large, rounded head that makes it comfortable to hold and it's barely behind the Black Diamond Raven family in comfort. The rounded head, when in self-belay position, "spun around" and made self-arresting fast and easy. The pick shape, along with that of the Raven series makes it the smoothest to self-arrest. The hole in the middle of the head and the one in the adze work fairly well in snow anchor mode as well as in standing ice axe belays. Clipping the hole in the head is a little challenging. The adze performs about as well as a Raven and not quite as well as a CAMP Neve.


The pick penetrates firmer ice about average; it is not a great choice on steeper snow and ice climbs. It is not quite as good as a Petzl Snow Walker and is about the same as a Raven or a Raven Pro. Another slight problem came during a crevasse rescue where the rounded head made it slightly more difficult to clip or girth hitch a sling to, but it was still easier than a CAMP Neve.

Best Application

This axe is an ideal go-to model for mountaineering and snow climbing. For steeper ascents, you might prefer another tool, but for most everything else, the Capra is a fantastic option.


At $7 more than the CAMP Neve, the Capra has a hard time because it is so similar. It is, however, one ounce lighter than the Neve.

Ian Nicholson