The X-Lite barely registers on the scales, but it’s perfectly balanced whether you’re swinging the toothy pick into an ice bulge or plunging the steel spike in the snow. After five days of ski mountaineering in Idaho’s Marshall Basin, our tester said, “Though totally minimalist, this axe’s adze worked well for digging snow anchor trenches in hard pack, and the curved head is ergonomically shaped, so my hand didn’t ache after leaning on it during a four-hour uphill trudge on Williams Peak.” The down-angled pick chomps into snow during self-arrests and tricky snow climbing. But don’t slam the aluminum head into rocks—it’s not as durable as steel. Comes in three sizes: 50, 55, 60 cm. $150; 10 oz. (50cm); camp-usa.com
A great lightweight axe for mountaineering.