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When you’re kicking steps and swinging axes up a sheet of sheer ice, ice screws are the points of protection you place to keep you safe. Therefore, choosing ice screws for ice climbing is an extremely important decision, and you don’t want to regret your choice when you’re pumping out and trying to make a placement. Here at The Adventure Junkies, we will help you sort through all the different ice screw options and give you the advice you need to choose the best ice screws for ice climbing.

For more of our top ice climbing gear recommendations, check out the Best Ice Climbing Boots.

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Quick Answer - The Best Ice Screws

  1. Petzl Laser Speed Light
  2. Black Diamond Express
  3. Grivel Helix
  4. Petzl Laser Speed
  5. Black Diamond Ultralight
  6. Grivel 360
  7. Black Diamond Turbo
  8. Petzl Laser
  9. Grivel Helix Speedy
  10. Salewa Quick Screw

 

Comparison Table - Best Ice Screws for Ice Climbing

PictureNameLengthsCrankPriceRating
Petzl Laser Speed Light13 cm, 17 cm, 21 cmYes$$$5.0
Black Diamond Express13 cm, 16 cm, 19 cm, 22 cmYes$$4.7
Grivel Helix12 cm, 16 cm, 20 cmYes$$4.7
Petzl Laser Speed10 cm, 13 cm, 17 cm, 21 cmYes$$4.8
Black Diamond Ultralight13 cm, 17 cm, 21 cmYes$$4.2
Grivel 36012 cm, 16 cm, 20 cmYes$$4.3
Black Diamond Turbo13 cm, 16 cm, 19 cm, 22 cmNo$4.6
Petzl Laser13 cm, 17 cm, 21 cmNo$4.8
Grivel Helix Speedy10 cm, 20 cm, 30 cmYes$$4.5
Salewa Quick Screw13 cm, 19 cmYes$$$4.6
PictureNameLengthsCrankPriceRating
Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - The Best Ice Screws for Climbing

Petzl Laser Speed Light

Specs
  • Lengths: 13 cm, 17 cm, 21 cm
  • Crank: Yes
Features
  • Aluminum Tube Is Extremely Lightweight
  • Color-Coded Crank Knobs Make It Simple To Determine Length
  • Long Steel Teeth Easily Bite Into Ice for Quick Placement

BEST FOR: LIGHTWEIGHT PERFORMANCE

The Petzl Laser Speed Light ice screws offer high-performance features in a super lightweight package. These screws are ultralight thanks to the construction which combines an aluminum tube with strong steel teeth which allows for quick placement when you need it most.

The handle of the screws folds out for use and fits easily in tight spots. The plastic knob on the cranks of the screws are handy to grip and are also color-coded, so you can easily differentiate between the lengths when they’re hanging on your rack. One drawback to the Petzl Speed Light ice screws is the price, but the impressive weight savings might be worth the higher cost.

Black Diamond Express

Specs
  • Lengths: 13 cm, 16 cm, 19 cm, 22 cm
  • Crank: Yes
Features
  • Two Clip-In Points Optimize Building A Belay
  • Tapered Tube Facilitates Fast Placement
  • Stainless Steel Hanger Reduces Rust & Prevents Melting Ice

BEST FOR: QUICK PLACEMENTS

Designed with a tapered tube, where the teeth actually create a hole slightly larger than the tube, the Black Diamond Express ice screws live up to their name by being extremely quick to place. The knob on the crank is ergonomically designed to be easy to grab and finish screwing in, and it is also color-coded so you can easily choose the length of screw you need from your harness.

The hanger of the Black Diamond Express screw is made of stainless steel which resists rust and prevents the problem of melting ice around the screw on sunny days. It has two separate clip-in points which makes it simple to build a belay station.

Grivel Helix

Specs
  • Lengths: 12 cm, 16 cm, 20 cm
  • Crank: Yes
Features
  • Reverse Threading To Strongly Anchor In Ice
  • Symmetric Handle With Crank Opposite Clipping Hole
  • Teeth Are Designed To Easily Bite Into Ice

BEST FOR: SECURE PLACEMENTS

The Grivel Helix is a well-made ice screw with an uncomplicated design which makes it easy to use. The crank handle is fixed in place which complements the hanger on the other side to create a symmetric t-bar shaped handle to make it very easy to screw into the ice. Plus, Grivel screws have a unique reverse threading, which means the force applied to the screws is distributed onto a larger ice surface so they are less likely to pull out when you’re climbing and depending on them to hold.

One potential problem with the Grivel Helix is that the orientation of the hanger as well as the fixed crank handle which makes them a little awkward to rack.

Petzl Laser Speed

Specs
  • Lengths: 10 cm, 13 cm, 17 cm, 21 cm
  • Crank: Yes
Features
  • Collapsible Crank Stays Out Of The Way For Racking
  • Color-Coded Knob Makes It Easy To Identify Length Of Screw
  • Teeth Are Designed At Optimum Angle To Bite Into Ice

BEST FOR: ALL-AROUND USE

Featuring quality construction and a high-quality design, the Petzl Laser Speed ice screws are an excellent choice to build your ice climbing rack. The collapsible crank makes it easy to turn the screw when placing it, yet stays out of your way when racked. The crank is made of aluminum rather than steel, which decreases the weight of the screws, and the knob is color-coded so you can quickly visually determine the length of the screw.

Petzl designed the teeth of the Laser Speed ice screws at an ideal angle to provide ample bite into the ice for placement. Plus, the threads of the screw are rounded rather than acute-angled which both makes them more secure in placements and more durable.

Black Diamond Ultralight

Specs
  • Lengths: 13 cm, 17 cm, 21 cm
  • Crank: Yes
Features
  • Dual Clip-In Points Allow For An Organized Belay Setup
  • Aluminum Tube Construction Reduces Weight Significantly
  • Wire-Gate Crank Handle Flips Into Open Or Closed Position

BEST FOR: ALPINE CLIMBING

The Black Diamond Ultralight ice screws are 45% lighter than Black Diamond’s Express screws due to the aluminum construction of the tube, while the tip is still made of steel to easily screw into the ice. The cap on the screws is a little longer than most, which makes it easy to remove with gloves on.

The hanger of the Black Diamond Ultralight ice screws has dual clip-in points, which makes it super simple to set up a belay. However, the design of the hanger is not the best at clearing uneven ice, and while the wire-gate handle flips in and out easily, it also feels a little bit flimsy.

Grivel 360

Specs
  • Lengths: 12 cm, 16 cm, 20 cm
  • Crank: Yes
Features
  • Long Crank Arm Makes It Usable in Awkward, Narrow Placements
  • Reverse Threading Keeps Screw Securely in Place
  • Sharp Teeth Make It Easy To Start Threading Into Ice

BEST FOR: AWKWARD PLACEMENTS

The long crank handle of the Grivel 360 ice screw allows it to be used in awkward situations where many other ice screws would be difficult or even impossible to use. The knobs of the handles are also color-coded by length, so you can easily identify them on your rack. Also, the sharp teeth of the screws make it very easy to start your screw placement. The 360 Ice Screws feature Grivel’s reverse threading, which provides extra security in placement. 

One issue with the Grivel 360 Ice Screws is that they are a little clunky when not in use, so they don’t rack very well.

Black Diamond Turbo

Specs
  • Lengths: 13 cm, 16 cm, 19 cm, 22 cm
  • Crank: No
Features
  • Small Form Makes Them Efficient To Rack
  • Hanger Functions As A Handle When Placing
  • Tooth Design Bites Easily For Quick Start To Placement

BEST FOR: BEGINNER ICE CLIMBERS

The Black Diamond Turbo ice screw is a no-frills, utilitarian ice screw that will do the job without a lot of fancy features, making it a good choice for beginner ice climbers who are just getting started. The teeth are designed with precision to easily bite into the ice when you need to make a quick placement. 

The Turbo ice screws are compact, so they are easy to rack and carry on your harness, and, although they don’t have a crank, the hanger works as a handle for screwing in place. However, the lack of a crank also means these screws are not color-coded, so length is harder to identify at a glance.

Petzl Laser

Specs
  • Lengths: 13 cm, 17 cm, 21 cm
  • Crank: No
Features
  • Aluminum Hanger Is Ergonomically Constructed For Quick Placement
  • Drill Teeth Are Optimized To Easily Bite Into Ice
  • Treated Steel Maximizes Strength While Reducing Weight

BEST FOR: VALUE

Though it might lack fancy features, the Petzl Laser is a solid ice screw that performs well for a small investment. The aluminum hanger is designed with an ergonomic construction that fits well in your hand when you’re placing the screw, which is useful since this screw doesn’t have a crank. Additionally, the dual clip-in points in the hanger help in setting up an organized belay.

Although the Petzl Laser is not the lightest ice screw you can find, the steel is treated to maximize strength and durability while reducing weight. Starting the ice screw is simple due to the drill teeth, which are optimized to easily bite into the ice.

Grivel Helix Speedy

Specs
  • Lengths: 10 cm, 20 cm, 30 cm
  • Crank: Yes
Features
  • Includes Integrated Carabiner & Sling
  • Ridge On Tube Helps Align Screw In Proper Position
  • Symmetrical Handle Makes It Easy To Screw

BEST FOR: EFFICIENCY

The Grivel Helix Speedy ice screw stands out from most ice screws since it comes with a sling and carabiner already attached for efficiently clipping in your rope once you place the screw. This reduces the weight of your system in comparison to carrying separate carabiners and slings. However, these screws can be somewhat awkward to rack, and if you already have a set of slings and carabiners, then it is probably not necessary.

The handle of the Grivel Helix Speedy is symmetrical for ease of turning during placement, and it does have a clip-in point if you need to add another carabiner at a belay.

Salewa Quick Screw

Specs
  • Lengths: 13 cm, 19 cm
  • Crank: Yes
Features
  • Integrated Carabiner & Sling
  • Holster Keeps All Pieces In Place On Rack
  • Screw Tip Protector Can Easily Be Removed With One Hand

BEST FOR: ALL-IN-ONE SYSTEM

Similar to the Grivel Helix Speedy, the Salewa Quick Screw also has an integrated carabiner and sling already attached. In addition it has a plastic holster to keep the screw in place on your harness. Having to get the screw out of the holster for placement can be a bit finicky though, until you get used to how to do it.

The Salewa Quick Screw does have a sturdy crank to help easily and quickly turn the screw, but it does not have a standard hanger with a clip-in point, so there is no way to add an additional carabiner when you’re setting up a belay.

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING ICE SCREWS FOR ICE CLIMBING

Choosing ice screws can be a difficult task, since your safety depends on being able to quickly and properly place ice screws when you’re ice climbing, so you want to be sure you choose screws that are easy to use and help you feel secure. Vice delves deep into the history of ice screws and the physics of how they work.

Buying a whole rack of ice screws is also a large investment, so you want to be sure to buy ice screws that will last for a long time. EMS offers some basic advice on choosing ice screws and accessories, while Rock & Ice explains what length of ice screws should comprise your rack.

 

 CRANK

One main feature on ice screws is the crank, which is the handle that helps you turn the screw into the ice to place it. Some ice screws have a handle that folds out to use then folds away to store, which usually makes them easier to rack on your harness than a screw with a fixed handle.

A few screws don’t even have a handle, and you turn the ice screw using the hanger. This streamlines the screw, and some people find it to be the simplest to use, but most modern ice screws have a crank because it is generally helpful in making quicker placements.

 

WEIGHT

A huge factor in purchasing ice screws is weight. You’ll be carrying a rack of screws on your harness, so the weight will add up. Ice screws such as the Petzl Laser Speed Light and the Black Diamond Ultralight are constructed mostly of aluminum to drastically reduce weight, and you can feel the difference. However, this means they come with a higher price tag, which also adds up, so you should determine if that weight savings is worth it for the type of ice climbing you’ll be doing. If you’re planning to do a lot of alpine climbing, weight is much more of a concern than if you’re simply doing ice cragging.

 

RACKING

It’s annoying when you have to fiddle around to get an ice screw off your harness or to put it back on, and to avoid that, you’ll want to choose an ice screw that racks well and isn’t cumbersome. Everyone has a slightly different system for racking, so there is definitely some personal preference to this, but the hanger design makes a huge difference in how the ice screw racks.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

TEETH

The sharp pieces at the end of the tube which start the hole in the ice.

CRANK

A handle used to turn the ice screw to help screw it in place.

HANGER

The metal piece at the top of an ice screw through which you can clip a carabiner.

THREADS

The raised pieces of metal along the circumference of the screw.

READ MORE

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