4 Best Ice Axes That Fit Perfectly In Your Backpack
If you’re likely to be the sort of hiker or adventurer that takes on some of the highest slopes and trickiest trails, you’re going to need more than a little bit of support.
While you’ll probably already have a backpack full of useful provisions, what could you potentially use to give yourself that little bit of extra lift when walking uphill?
The answer lies in an ice axe.
While many might assume that an ice axe is generally used to break things, this is rarely the case. These tools are great for making sure you have something to cling to when pulling yourself up steep inclines.
It’s just one of many different tools and facets you’re going to need to keep with you if you’re going on a safe mountaineering expedition.
I’ve done some fairly steep walks in my time, and as you can imagine, I made a point of investing in a good ice axe the moment I started struggling up those impossible gradients! Therefore, in this buying guide,
I’ll be taking a look at my picks for the best ice axe for backpack storage and attachment, meaning that if you are looking for a convenient support that’s easy to retrieve from your pack at any point on your travels, these are the four best tools to compare between.
Take it from me – it’s worth investing in a great ice axe now so that you’re not left disappointed when faced with an uphill struggle!
As with all my buying guides, I’m going to take you through some of the basics you’ll need to keep in mind when it comes to shopping around for the best ice axe for backpack attachment.
There are only a few things you need to consider in this category, but even so, it makes sense to invest your money in something reliable and well-made, rather than risk your health – and maybe even life – on something that’s just not going to hold up over time.
If you’re going to stand any chance of scaling a mountain or a steep incline, you’re going to need a pick that’s made of some pretty sturdy material. Generally, the best picks and axes are built from steel, which is of course one of the most durable and reliable metals around.
However, the material you choose may vary from axe to axe. In my experience, the safest and most reliable spike is built in steel or stainless steel – it’s rigid and hard-wearing.
While it might be tempting to just focus on the pick or spike alone, you’re going to need to think about your hands and grips, too. Look for an ice axe that’s ergonomically designed, in the sense that it’s molded to your hands.
This means that you can easily use your axe for long periods without getting too fatigued. When scaling the highest slopes and slants, the last thing you’re going to need is tons of pain in your hands!
Naturally, for this guide, I’m looking at ice axes which fit and attach to your backpack, which means that a safe clasp or leash is absolutely essential. You’re going to need a tough, strong system which you can easily adjust, as you’ll not only need strength, but comfort and flexibility, too.
It is all well and good investing in an attachment which is taut and strong, but if you’re stuck hobbling around in a painful or awkward position for much of your hike or expedition, it hardly seems worth the effort. Therefore, as you’ll see from my top product picks, the best ice axes for backpack use are easy to clip, unclip, and strap.
Spike Shape and Angle
The angle and shape of your spike or pick might not be something you think about too much, either. However, some people prefer a spike that dips or curves inwards. However, that’s not to say a straight, standard spike isn’t going to help you in the long run. Most modern ice axe manufacturers tend to opt for a specific shape that increases strength, meaning that you may wish to prioritize looking for something a little innovative for the best grip.
Weight and Shape
Not many mountaineers consider the weight or shape of their ice axes as priority, but if you are just getting started with exploring slopes and gradients, you may wish to take your own strength into account. This should be something that is pretty easy to compare and contrast between, meaning that if you know how much you can feasibly load on your back, you shouldn’t have much difficulty filtering between the choices you’ll spot online.
My Top Choices for the Best Ice Axe for Backpack Use
Ok – now we’ve considered what you should be looking for in terms of an ice axe you can easily strap to your backpack, here are the four best tools I’ve been able to hunt down for you to peruse through. As always, I list pros and cons, as well as my own personal take on why I think each of these products are worth buying into. Let’s dive in.
Product 1: Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe with Grip
This mid-priced ice axe is nice and simple – it’s available in a single piece, it’s impressively durable, and it boasts a curve and tooth system for you to really dig in and get hold of that extra bit of grip in the ice and snow.
It’s built from aluminum on the shaft but stainless steel on the head, meaning you can rely on durability both in the axe as well as in the handle. That’s always worth buying into, on the whole.
Key Specs: Certified Cen-B, aluminum shaft, stainless steel blade
- Easy to attach via carabiner for backpack storage and carrying
- Extremely durable head and shaft
- Nice and comfortable to grasp and grip over long journeys
- Teeth and curve makes it very easy to dig in and stick
- None that I can see!
💡 This is a great ice axe which I think will be a great choice for anyone just starting to take on mountain walks and large slopes. It’s a little on the straight side in terms of design, but I can’t fault its durability and grip, and it’s really easy to connect to your backpack.
Product 2: Camp USA Neve Axe
This small axe is likely to appeal to anyone who may be new to the idea of throwing a blade into the ice! It’s cleanly designed and has several carabiner holes, meaning that it’s built to easily strap and connect to any backpacks or other walking luggage you may have to hand.
It’s also got an adjustable, sliding leash attached, meaning that it’s going to be very easy to move around as per your own tastes and comfort levels.
Key Specs: Several carabiner holes, sliding leash, steel pick head
- Solid steel pick head makes it durable and forceful
- Multiple holes for ease of connection are welcome
- Slidable leash is nice and easy to adjust
- Very well priced – one of the most affordable
- May not be as professional looking as others on my list
💡 While this ice axe might not be the fanciest or the most sleekly designed, what it does offer is a lot of grip and a lot of force for a great price. There are some axes out there with ergonomic handles and the works, though for beginners and those mountaineering on a budget, I can hardly complain.
Product 3: Grivel Nepal Self-Arrest Axe with Leash
Grivel is a brand that’s well worth investing in as far as mountaineering gear is concerned, meaning this ice axe was always going to catch my attention. This well-reviewed axe is relatively lightweight and benefits from a steel head, with a lighter aluminum shaft.
The handy leash should be reasonably easy for you to connect to most backpacks, and it’s pretty adaptable, too. It’s available in three different sizes.
Key Specs: Steel pick, aluminum shaft, 1lb weight, leash attached
- Very well-supported and reviewed
- Sturdy and tough for general ice and snow climbing
- Leash is very easy to connect to backpacks and bags
- Available in several sizes
- May not be the most comfortable to hold or wield
💡 I like this ice axe as it’s very much ‘what you see is what you get’. It’s well-built, easy to attach, and should be light enough for even the newest of climbers to take advantage of. It’s a bare bones axe which doesn’t go too overboard, and as such, I feel it’s a great pick (no pun intended).
Product 4: Black Diamond Venom Adze
Available in one of three different sizes, this impressive ice axe falls on the premium end of the scale, but that’s largely thanks to the fact that users will benefit from an ergonomic build, and a fantastic hammer you can use to really crack into the landscape.
It’s also got a locking pommel attached, and an integrated grip system to help make things easier to hold and wield. What’s also impressive is the fact that you can use this system to interchange picks, too.
Key Specs: Interchangeable pick, ergonomic grips, stainless steel head
- Really comfortable to hold, wield and use over long periods
- Angled for extra comfort
- Top quality head made of stainless steel
- Very easy to swap and change out different picks if you want to
- One of the most expensive ice axes available
💡 Personally, I like this ice axe for the simple fact it’s built with ease of handling in mind, with an ergonomic grip that’s not always a given across even the most premium of axes and hammers. I think it’s well worth the price, though you may want to save a little bit of money to one side if you want to take full advantage!
Should I Use Two Ice Axes?
You don’t always need to use two axes for ice climbing, but you may find that this is a useful combo if you are traversing particularly steep or icy peaks. After all, one pick or axe is only ever going to do so much! If you are taking things slowly as a beginner, do make sure to invest in one ice axe to traverse smaller slopes at first.
Do I Really Need an Ice Axe?
Depending on the terrain you walk on, it’s always a good idea to have some form of axe to hand to give yourself that little bit of extra grip as you go along. When you’re approaching particularly icy climbs, it stands to reason that you would normally have an axe or pick of some sort to ensure that you give yourself that little bit of safety.
Which Size of Axe is Best?
This really depends on your height! Generally, you’ll find that ice axes come in two to four sizes, though this will vary. The best axe for you will be one which just touches the floor when you are standing with it, arms down.
Try and measure your stance and you’ll be able to find the best axe for your height fairly easily. There are a few guides online which can help with this, and it might also help if you are able to ‘try before you buy’!
An ice axe might not seem like an essential piece of kit for your average walker, however, it’s safe to say that anyone traversing the icy climes will likely benefit from a bit of extra grip as they ascend the chillier heights.
After all, safety is a must. As an experienced hiker and mountaineer, I can safely say that I owe my life and my safety to a good, solid axe or two.
Don’t underestimate investing in the right tool – make sure you tool up and head to the slopes with enough equipment to protect you for the wild walks to come. It’s a great investment, so choose wisely.