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How We Tested Ice Axes

By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor
Tuesday May 19, 2015

We made three trips to test axes side-by-side in each category. On one trip Ian self-arrested over 40 times and on another we moved a nearly car-sized volume of snow digging and comparing adzes. As a guide, Ian teaches people to self arrest and dig snow anchors on a weekly basis and says, "I have had a lot of time to sit and compare my own uses while viewing hundreds other people's experiences." Ian is an AMGA certified Rock and Alpine guide and has been using axes since before he could drive. His group of testers spoke with dozens of friends and climbing shop employees. They also gathered a group of seven alpine guides for a roundtable discussion about what they liked and didn't like, as well as personal stories and insights. The weights of the axes were calculated on our own scales.

Ian Nicholson carefully weighing each ice axe for the review
Ian Nicholson carefully weighing each ice axe for the review

All of our Ice axes during one of our head to head comparisons.
All of our Ice axes during one of our head to head comparisons.