Petzl Sum’Tec (2014)

When tackling more challenging mountaineering terrain, it’s important to have an ice axe that can be used with a rope to create a belay, while the ability to use the axe as a pair with a matching hammer is essential for climbing even steeper snow and ice. The Petzl Sum’Tec is a great example of this style of axe. It is lightweight at 500g (size 52cm) and the shaft is pre-curved to allow easier placement of the pick on steeper slopes, but this is also useful when driving the shaft into less steep snow slopes. The head is beautifully finished and the pick can be replaced with a different style if required, but it comes supplied with a ‘banana’ shape for more positive use on steep snow and ice. On the shaft you get an adjustable grip, which is ideal for climbing, and useful when hacking steps without the need for a leash, which isn’t supplied with this axe. While the Petzl Sum’Tec is at home on steeper snow and ice, it can also perform well on easier snow slopes and glaciers, making it ideal for those who mix walking with mountaineering and more challenging climbs. But walkers should note this is a shorter axe, and you’re paying for the more climbing-orientated design.

Classification technical (T)
Materials forged steel pick and spike, alloy shaft
Sizes 43, 52, 59cm
Weight 500g (52cm)
Website www.petzl.com

 

Verdict

The Petzl Sum’Tec was voted best for climbing and mountaineering in this test.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine January 2014

 


Petzl Sum’Tec (2013)

The Petzl Sum’Tec is available with a hammer head or an adze head to allow this model to be used as a pair for climbing steep snow and ice. However the adze version is also an excellent general mountaineering axe due to its set of features. Firstly it is a relatively lightweight axe and the shaft has a light curve to improve performance when climbing; but this is also useful when walking up steep snow slopes. There is an adjustable grip on the shaft, which is ideal for climbing; but like the Edelrid Raid this is also useful for cutting steps without the need for a leash, which is not supplied with this axe. The head is beautifully produced with smooth curves that allow it to sit neatly in the hands when walking or when the axe is used for self arrest. The pick is forged into a banana shape for more positive use on steep snow and ice. While the Petzl Sum’Tec is at home on steeper snow and ice it can also perform well on easier snow slopes and glaciers, making it ideal for those who mix walking with mountaineering and climbing and just want one axe for everything.

Classification technical
Materials forged steel pick and spike, alloy shaft
Sizes 43, 52, 59cm
Weight 491g (59cm)
Website
www.petzl.com

 

Verdict
The Petzl Sum’Tec was the best climbing and mountaineering ice axe for in our test.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine January 2013


Petzl Spiky (2012)

The Petzl Spiky is the most basic option when it comes to providing grip on snow or ice. There are six carbon steel spikes attached to a rubber sock. Fitting them is a doddle as you just dip the toe of the shoe into the front and then stretch them over the heel of the shoe. There are cutouts in the rubber to expose the heel section of your footwear, which is useful for improving grip, but on the forefoot the sole is covered so you are reliant on the rubber and spikes. The spikes are only 2mm deep and there are just four at the forefoot and two at the heel, which means these are not very grippy. They are okay on level, even paths and pavements, but you do have to take more care as the grip is not as good as other devices and if you don’t plant your foot down flat you can easily skid off a hard, icy surface.

 

Materials rubber sole with six carbon steel points

Sizes 1 (up to 9), 2 (10-12), 3 (13)

Weight 168g (pair, size 3)

Stockist details www.petzl.com

 

Verdict

The Petzl Spiky is best for level paths.

 

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine February 2012


Petzl Sum ’Tec 2012

New this year, the Petzl Sum ’Tec is a welcome development, particularly if you fancy some winter climbing. The shaft shares the same bend profile as the well-proven Petzl Summit, but instead of a fixed pick it has a reverse bend modular pick. This combination, while making placements in steep ice and snow more positive, still has enough length to allow an uncompromised self arrest. The neat bit though is the addition of an adjustable trigger grip. Just like on the Edelrid Raid, this owes its origins to developments in leashless technical tools. It means that if you are confident enough you can dispense with leashes on steep ground, which massively reduces faff and makes the whole process of climbing more efficient. In action the axe is perfectly balanced both for plunging and swinging, and the trigger can be put in the perfect position depending on what technique you are employing. The Petzl Sum ’Tec is a  flexible axe that will take on everything from winter Munros to fairly technical climbs.

Classification technical
Materials aluminium shaft, forged steel pick
Sizes 43, 52, 59cm
Weight 500g (52cm)
Website www.petzl.com

 

The Petzl Sum ’Tec is best for climbing.

Review by Jeremy Ashcroft
First published in Trail magazine January 2012


Petzl Lynx 2012

New this season from Petzl, Lynx crampons bring an alternative twist to crampon options. Aimed at the higher end of the grade scale, they come with a combination of modular front points and interchangeable front bindings so that they can fulfil a number of roles. Set up with a front bail arm and either asymmetric or mono front points, they fall squarely into the C3 bracket and will happily tackle everything from roadside ice-climbs to full-on high-angled mixed climbs. In the cradle binding mode, and with a standard symmetric front point set-up, they fill the classic C2 role and are at home tramping over winter Munros or ticking Alpine 4000m peaks. At the lofty price of £190, investment in them will demand careful consideration, but the fact that they are modular with serviceable forged steel front points means they should have a long life; and year for year, if you do a lot of climbing, the Petzl Lynx may be a good long-term buy.

Materials forged chromoly steel
Classification C2/C3
Sizes one size fits 35-50cm (optional link bars)
Weight 1080g (pair, including anti-balling plates)
Website www.petzl.com

The Petzl Lynx is best for climbing.

Review by Jeremy Ashcroft
First published in Trail magazine January 2012


Petzl Charlet Vasak Flexlock 2011

The Petzl Charlet Vasak Flexlock is a very stable, low-weight crampon that comes with a good set of tough features. For added strength you get 3D stamping throughout, as you do with the Grivels. There are 12 spikes and these are quite long, which is good on névé and ice but a little bit of a compromise on rock. Four of the points are rotated through 90 degrees to provided added traction on steep snow. Anti-balling plates are fitted as standard. Fitting the crampons to your boots is very easy thanks to a heel and toe strap system. The crampons can also be easily adjusted, without tools. A exceptionally well-documented set of instructions give meaning to all the straps and fitting adjustments as well as details on how to care for them. These are fine in full-on winter conditions or out in the Alps but less good in mixed hill-walking conditions. But the Petzl Charlet Vasak Flexlock’s spikes are longer than some, which is an advantage on snow, but they require a bit more care for mixed terrain of snow and rock, and beginners may tend to snag the long points on gaiters.

Classification C2
Materials steel
Sizes 36-46 (medium); 41-50 (large)
Weight 946g (per pair size large, including anti-balling plates)
Made in France
Stores in the UK 50

The Petzl Charlet Vasak Flexlock is a superb crampon for regular use in mountaineering situations with full snow and ice conditions.

Review by Jeremy Ashcroft
First published in Trail magazine January 2011


Petzl Charlet Snowalker 2011

The Petzl Charlet Snowalker is a beautifully made axe, and as the name suggests it is ideal for the walker heading to the snow and therefore great for most British hill-walkers. The shaft is a straight design and the head offers a gentle curve to make it ideal for walking in snow, where it can be used as a walking stick. The balance is fairly light to the head, which makes step cutting and swinging into ice slightly harder. The head has a reasonably wide adze for chopping steps and a good pick for ice axe braking. The weight is reasonable too, and less than some axes here of similar design. While it has no rubber grip its shaft has a rough surface that aids grip. The price makes this an exceptionally good-value axe for those who just need basic features for tackling gentler winter terrain. But no leash is supplied with the Petzl Charlet Snowalker, and the head is not as aggressive as some others. Some axes have a pre-curved shaft for easier placement in snow slopes, while others are rated as technical and can be used for roped belays.

Classification basic
Materials 7075 alloy shaft, steel head
Sizes 60, 68, 75cm
Weight 436g (size 60cm without leash)
Made in France
Stores in the UK 50

The Petzl Charlet Snowalker is a well-made axe that’s ideal for general winter hill walking in the UK, glacier travel and high-altitude trekking.

Review by Jeremy Ashcroft
First published in Trail magazine January 2011


Petzl Charlet Vasak Leverlock 2009

The Petzl Charlet Vasak Leverlock is a very stable, low-weight crampon which comes with a good set of tough features. For added strength you get 3D stamping throughout, as you do with the Grivels. There are 12 spikes and these are quite long, which is good on névé and ice but a little bit of a compromise on rock. Four of the points are rotated through 90 degrees to provided added traction on steep snow. Anti-balling plates are fitted as standard. Fitting the crampons to your boots is very easy, thanks to a heel and toe strap system.  The crampons can also be easily adjusted, without tools. An exceptionally well-documented set of instructions give meaning to all the straps and fitting adjustments as well as how to care for them. Good for full-on winter or Alpine conditions but less good in mixed hill-walking conditions. But the Petzl Charlet Vasak Leverlock’s price tag is a drawback. Also, the anti-balling plates are not quite as good as Grivel’s and you need a small screwdriver to replace them. There’s nothing to keep the snow out of the heel breast area. The spikes are longer than some, so not ideal for mixed terrain, and they may snag.

Classification C2
Materials steel
Sizes 36-46 (M); 41-50 (L)
Weight 950g (size M) including anti-balling plates
Made in France
Stores in the UK 34
Stockist details tel. (015396) 25493, www.lyon.co.uk
Verdict
The Petzl Charlet Vasak Leverlock is a superb crampon for regular use in mountaineering situations, but less good for walking.

Review by Jeremy Ashcroft
First published in Trail magazine January 2009

Petzl Charlet Snowalker 2009

The Petzl Charlet Snowalker is a beautifully made axe and, as the name suggests, it is ideal for the walker heading to the snow, and therefore great for most British hill-walkers. The shaft is a straight design and the head offers a gentle curve to make it perfect for using as a walking stick in the snow. The balance is fairly light to the head, which makes step-cutting and swinging into ice slightly harder. The head has a reasonably wide adze for chopping steps and a good pick for ice axe braking. The weight is reasonable too and lighter than some axes here of similar design. While it has no rubber grip, its shaft has a rough surface that aids grip. The price makes this an exceptionally good-value axe for those who just need basic features for tackling more gentle winter terrain. But the Petzl Charlet Snowalker has no leash is supplied and the head is not as aggressive as others. Some axes have a pre-curved shaft for easier placement in snow slopes, while others are rated as technical so that they can be used for roped belays.

Classification basic
Materials 7075 alloy shaft, steel head
Sizes 60, 68, 75cm
Weight 426g (size 60cm without leash)
Made in France
Stores in the UK no info provided
Stockist details tel. (015396) 25493, www.lyon.co.uk
Verdict
The Petzl Charlet Snowalker is a well-made ice axe that’s ideal for general winter hill-walking in the UK, glacier travel and high-altitude trekking. Trail rated is as ‘Best value’ in its test.

Review by Jeremy Ashcroft
First published in Trail magazine January 2009

Petzl Charlet Cosmi’ Tec

This ice axe is a relatively lightweight option. It benefits from a pre-curved shaft to allow easier placement of the shaft on snow slopes, and this is a major advantage over the straight-shafted axes – even for walkers. The head is quite aggressive in its shape, with a reverse curve pick to prevent the pick from snatching during ice axe braking. The adze is also reasonably wide, which is ideal for hacking out steps. You get a spike on the end of the shaft for walking too. The shaft has a special coating for improved grip and insulation. The balance is good, ensuring that this is a good all-rounder for walking and easier snow slopes. But you do not get a leash, so you may want to add that to the price. Also there is no shaft grip included, so this is not a dedicated tool for cutting steps or climbing steeper slopes. The axe only gets a basic classification, so it is not suitable for roped belays.  It has quite a high price tag for what you are getting.

Vital stats

Classification basic

Materials 7075 alloy shaft, steel head

Sizes 55, 62cm

Weight 496g (size 62cm without leash)

Made in France

Stores in UK 15

 

Verdict Ideal if you are planning on walking up easier snow-covered hills and don’t require a stronger shaft for roped belays.


Petzl Charlet Snowalker

As the name suggests, this ice axe is ideal for the walker heading to the snow, and it’s therefore suitable for most British hill-walkers. The shaft is a straight design and the head offers a gentle curve, making it suitable for walking in snow, where it can be used as a walking stick, while being ideal for hacking the odd step and ice axe braking in case of a slip. The head has a reasonably wide adze for chopping steps and a good pick for braking. The weight is reasonable too and lighter than some axes here of similar design. Better still, the price makes this axe exceptionally good value for those who just need basic features for tackling more gentle winter terrain. But you don’t get a rubber grip on the shaft, and no leash is supplied. The head is not as aggressive as some others, and others are more comfy in the hands too. Some axes have a precurved shaft for easier placement in snow slopes, while others are rated as technical so that they can be used for roped belays.

Vital stats

Classification basic

Materials 7075 alloy shaft, steel head

Sizes 60, 68, 75cm

Weight 426g (size 60cm without leash)

Made in France

Stores in UK 20

 

Verdict Ideal for general winter hill-walking in the UK, but others are better for more regular users or those heading for more difficult terrain.


Petzl Charlet Irvis Spirlock

This is a very lightweight crampon at just 780g per pair, making it ideal for when you’re not sure if you’ll encounter snow or are just crossing a plateau. There are 10 points, and two of these are turned through 90 degrees to provide extra traction on slopes. There is some 3D stamping in the crampon too to add a little extra strength. The crampon comes pre-fitted with anti-balling plates to prevent snow from sticking to the base. The binding system is very lightweight, thanks to a simple wire frame around the toe and heel that combine with straps to hold the crampon in place. Most noticeable of all is how compact these crampons are when packed away, making them ideal for stowing in a rucksack. The instructions are particularly clear and helpful, and make the use of these easy to understand.  But you only get 10 short points, while others have 12 long points, so these are not the grippiest of crampons. Some other anti-balling plates are arguably better at shifted the snow. The sidelock binding requires a boot with a lip at the toe for the front wire which means it won’t fit as many boots as some other crampons will. Annoyingly, a screwdriver is needed to fit new anti-balling plates. 

Vital stats

Classification C1
Materials NiCroMo steel
Sizes 27-42 (medium); 35-46 (large)
Weight 780g including anti-balling plates
Made in USA

Verdict A lightweight crampon that is ideal for certain boots, particularly for ski touring, glacier travel or when ice is only going to be crossed for a shorter level section of the route.

 


Petzl Charlet Vasak Leverlock

Petzl Charlet has introduced a new range of crampons that feature a number of modern developments. Firstly they weigh in at a very respectable 936g, which is lighter than some competitors. They are made of steel too, unlike lighter aluminium alloys that lack the durability of heavier crampons. For added strength you get 3D stamping throughout. There are long 12 spikes, making them better for long days in the snow, rather than scrambling or mountaineering over mixed terrain. You also get a pattern of spikes that helps to improve stability on slopes by having some spikes rotated by 90 degrees. To further improve traction you get anti-balling plates fitted as standard. Fitting the crampons to your boots is very easy thanks to a heel clip and strap system that attaches to a front toe loop. The crampons can also be easily adjusted. A good set of instructions give meaning to all the straps and fitting adjustments. These are superb crampons for wearing with winter B2 boots when tackling long snow slopes, easy winter gullies and generally making light of snow-covered mountains at home or abroad. But the slightly high price tag is a drawback. Also the anti-balling plates are not quite as good as some either. You need a small screwdriver to replace the anti-balling plates when they wear out too. You also do not get anything to keep the snow out of the heel breast area. The spikes are long, which is an advantage if you are trudging through deep snow, but not ideal if you are scrambling or mountaineering, as they tend to snag on gaiters and catch projecting rocks more easily than shorter spikes, so this feature should be considered in the light of your expected winter activity.

 

Classification: C2
Materials: steel
Sizes: one size fits 36-46
Weight: 936g including anti-balling plates
Made in France
Stores in UK: England 20; Wales 1; Scotland 12; Ireland 1

Verdict: Buy it if you want lighter crampons or prefer the longer spikes, or find they fit your boots better than other crampons, particularly if you are heading for snow rather than mixed snow and rock terrain.


Petzl Charlet Cosmique

This ice axe This is a really tough workhorse that a regular mountaineer could rely on for many years. It has a technical grading, so it is strong enough to be used for belays. The balance is excellent and the head is well-designed for hacking steps or ice axe braking. You also get a far more serious spike for crossing glaciers. Then there is the rubber grip that is contoured into the spike to allow the shaft to easily be driven into the snow pack. If you are planning on hitting the UK’s winter hills regularly or perhaps do extensive glacier trekking or easier mountaineering, this is the perfect tool in many ways as it appears built to last while the weight provides extra power for every swing at the ice. But you do not get a leash, so you may want to add that to the price. It is relatively heavy too, so if you don’t need the extra performance then you are not going to benefit from carrying that extra weight. Like all technical-rated axes, the price tag is higher than basic axes, but as it also does not get a leash either, the price is a slight turn-off.

Verdict: Buy it if you are planning on hitting the snow and ice slopes regularly as this is an ideal axe for glacier travel and easier general mountaineering.

Classification: technical

Materials: alloy shaft, forged steel head

Sizes: 52, 59, 66, 73cm

Weight: 615g (size 59cm without leash)

Made in France

Stores in UK: England 5; Wales 0; Scotland 0; Ireland 1