A basic ice axe with a comfortable head.

This review is part of our ice axes gear guide, and was first published in the February 2018 issue of The Great Outdoors.

For hillwalkers and backpackers the Helix is an excellent ice axe at a good price. It’s not a climbing axe and doesn’t pretend to be one. The adze isn’t very wide and has curved edges – not ideal for step cutting – and the pick and the teeth aren’t very sharp. The pick isn’t very curved either.

Instead of a rubberised lower shaft the Helix has a cover over the centre of the head that insulates against the metal and protects your hands and gloves from the teeth on the pick. This cover is there because, according to Grivel, ‘walking axes are carried 99.9% of the time by the head’. This seems accurate. I rarely hold an axe by the shaft and I rarely see any other walkers doing so. The cover certainly makes a difference to comfort. It can be removed but it is a little awkward to do so.

The Helix comes with an adjustable webbing leash with an attached rubber cover for the spike, a neat touch as separate ones are easily lost and it is useful to cover the spike when travelling. The wrist loop is big enough for the thickest mitts. The weight is a bit higher than for some walkers’ axes but not so much that it makes a significant difference for day walking and short backpacking trips.