• July 18, 2024, 10:59 pm

The best ice picks of 2023 SoftAIT

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Update : Thursday, November 9, 2023


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Whether it’s floating in our beverages to keep them cool in summer or providing footing on top of a wintry lake, ice is something that requires a specific kind of tool: a pick. Finding the right pick to work with ice successfully means first considering the size of the job. The most basic form of ice pick is a small tool for single-handed use with one to three sharp prongs at the end. These are best for use in bars and kitchens, but if they’re large enough, they can work to break down chunks of ice in driveways, parking spots, and other low-stakes situations. For heavy-duty uses like fishing, hiking, camping, and climbing that involve extended time outdoors, a larger ice pick with a thick handle and blade should be used for maximum reliability and efficiency. Below, we’ve broken down a few of our favorite tools and key considerations to keep in mind when choosing the best ice pick for your next task.

How we chose the best ice picks

A dull ice pick makes climbing or cubing ice a hassle—and dangerous. To find the best ice picks, we looked at reviews and recommendations, tested them ourselves in our at-home bar areas and during other everyday tasks (we got a lot of old ice lining the sides of our freezers), and conducted heavy research.

The best ice picks: Reviews & Recommendations

From sharp ice picks that cut through ice cubes like a hot knife through butter to sporty tools that can help you clear the way for your next adventure, here is what we found in our quest for the best ice picks. So slip on some heated clothing and start chippin’ away at whatever’s in your way.

Best overall: Cuda SS Ice Pick


  • Blade material: Stainless steel
  • Weight: .22 lbs.
  • Blade length: 5-½ inches
  • Handle material: Stainless steel


  • Tip protector
  • Lanyard hole
  • Easy to hold


The SS option from Cuda sports a simple and sturdy construction with a durable stainless steel finish to prevent corrosion during use. It’s one of the best ice picks available for all-around use thanks to its 5-½-inch blade that runs through the length of the handle for superior control and strength. A scale pattern on the handle allows users to maneuver this pick to their liking, making it a flexible choice that excels outdoors. Be careful if using this near water—it will sink.

Best for climbing: Petzl Glacier Ice Pick

Petzl Glacier Ice Pick


  • Blade material: Stainless steel
  • Weight: .77 lbs.
  • Blade length: 12 inches
  • Handle material: Aluminum


  • Lightweight
  • Great mountaineering axe for price
  • Portable


  • Extreme climbers might want something heftier

The Glacier is a super lightweight ice pick from Petzl that’s designed for anchoring and cutting steps in hard ice and snow with ease. It weighs under a pound and has a length of just over 1.5 feet, so it’s incredibly portable and durable. The steel head and spike are connected in the center by a rust-resistant anodized aluminum handle. More extreme climbers may want a heftier pick, but for most outdoor winter excursions, the Glacier is equipped to punch way above its weight class.

Best for backpacking trips: Rhino USA Folding Survival Shovel and Pick

Rhino USA Folding Survival Shovel and Pick


  • Blade material: Coated carbon steel
  • Weight: 2 lbs.
  • Blade length: 6 inches
  • Handle material: Coated carbon steel


  • Foldable
  • Has multiple uses
  • Lightweight


  • Locking mechanism hard to loosen, per reviews

This multitool from Rhino USA is one of the best for backpacking trips thanks to its portable, lightweight form factor and the inclusion of a shovelhead as well as a cutting edge for dealing with wood and other debris. Because it’s foldable, this unit is perfect for stowing in a bag and pulling out to assist in clearing trails or preparing areas for camp. It’s made of powder-coated carbon steel and extends to around 23 inches long when fully opened.

Best for bartenders: Barfame Wood Ice Pick

Barfame Wood Ice Pick


  • Blade material: Stainless steel
  • Weight: .5 lbs.
  • Blade length: Around 3 inches
  • Handle material: Wood


  • Food-safe
  • Combo pick hammer and spike


  • Tool not dishwasher safe due to wood handle

This wood-handled option from Barfame is a great choice for bartender and kitchen duties thanks to its simple shape and dual-prong construction. A pick hammer sits at the top of the handle to allow users to break ice with a tapping motion, while the spike at the bottom offers more traditional stabbing functionality. The food-safe steel ensures that the pick is easy to clean and stays free of rust, making this a good ice pick for bartenders facing high-volume tasks.

Best for home: Fortune Candy Ice Chipper

Fortune Candy Ice Chipper


  • Blade material: Stainless steel
  • Weight: Around one pound
  • Blade length: Around 1 inch
  • Handle material: Stainless steel and silicone


  • Silicon grip for support and control
  • Made of food-grade materials
  • Sturdy


  • Heavy compared to other food-grade items on our list

This one from Fortune Candy is constructed from thick stainless steel and features three prongs for ice chipping and a durable food-grade silicone grip for added support and control. Extra weight and hefty construction assist users in maintaining a grip in the hand through even the most demanding motions.

Best budget: Norpro Ice Pick

Norpro Ice Pick


  • Blade material: Stainless steel
  • Weight: .21 lbs.
  • Blade length: 7 ¼ inches
  • Handle material: Wood


  • Easy-to-grip handle
  • Included sheath for protection
  • Great value


This basic ice pick from Norpro is one of the best cheap ice picks available, thanks to its sturdy stainless steel spike and easy-to-grip wooden handle. It measures 7 ¼ inches in length and includes a wooden sheath for easy storage and protection. For light use, this ice pick is an incredibly good value, but you may want to look elsewhere if durability and longevity are your main concerns. Still, the price point is accessible enough to make this a great choice for stocking up on backups.

What to consider when buying the best ice picks

The best ice pick for your needs depends on whether you want to use it in the kitchen or the great outdoors. There are some design overlaps between these varieties, but the most flexible ice picks are the ones that excel primarily as either a bar tool or as a climbing tool. Regardless of how you’ll use your pick, sturdy construction and thoughtful design are the key elements to keep an eye on.

They can be great bar accessories or a useful pieces of backpacking gear … or both

Ice picks are not particularly cost-prohibitive or bulky, but if versatility is your main concern, choose an all-around model that can excel at breaking down the most common ice-related tasks. When selecting the best ice pick overall, choose a model that offers an easy-to-grip handle that can be maneuvered from both the top and the side. This construction will ensure that you can retain control of the pick during even the most forceful motions.

Another key consideration to look for is a cutting element made of a hard, durable material that extends deep into the handle rather than being simply fastened to the end. This design ensures that torque and leverage are maintained while reinforcing the strength of the handle itself.

For outdoor adventures, look for an ice axe and ice spikes

Ice climbing is a popular and fun outdoor activity with many specific considerations and safety requirements to keep in mind. Because of the potentially severe and demanding nature of ice climbing, it’s crucial to select a pick specifically designed to withstand the rigors of the activity.

When selecting the best pick for climbing, look for a design that offers an easy-to-grip handle and a durable head made of steel or other tough materials. Lightweight construction with included carabiner holes or other fastening design elements ensures that the ice pick is within reach at a moment’s notice without adding extra bulk, which is critical for maintaining mobility. If you’re looking to streamline your climbing gear setup even more, look for a pick that includes a spiked end to add stability on flat surfaces.

A compact ice chisel should always be a part of your backpacking gear

The best ice pick for backpacking trips should have a foldable, portable design or be part of a set of foldable tools that are both durable and lightweight. By integrating the design of the pick into a form factor that includes a shovel, spade, axe, or other related backpacking gear, you can cut down on the space used in your bag while maximizing your preparedness for encounters with environmental variables.

Common backpacking circumstances warrant a dedicated pick, including the need to clear and traverse snowy trails in snow shoes, prepare backcountry campsites, and remove ice from hard surfaces, including wood, rock, and asphalt. As with other types of ice picks, it’s important to pick a harder material like steel to ensure effectiveness and prevent breakage. Because sturdier metals are likely to be heavy, a foldable and compact form factor are essential features to keep in mind when choosing the best ice pick for backpacking trips.

There’s no fancier tool to add to your cocktail kit than a pick for breaking up ice blocks

Any serious bartender knows that the quality of ice used in a cocktail directly affects the overall quality and taste of the drink itself. The best ice pick for bartender use allows professionals and amateurs alike to carve ice chips and shaped chunks from larger ice blocks, a technique that allows the formation of cocktail-friendly cube shapes. By having precise control over the shape and quality of ice, bartenders can use one to form chips for frothy drinks, sculpted cubes for serving liquor straight, and everything in between without having to rely on the cookie-cutter approach of an ice machine or freezer delivering uniform and generic ice cube shapes. Carving custom cubes and ice shapes from a dedicated larger block is a great way to ensure freshness, too, when ice is acquired for a specific event rather than stored over long periods of time. An ice pick is a key bartending accessory in your cocktail kit for its unparalleled flexibility, novelty, and class, and it can even break up cubes that have melted together in a pinch.

They can add a lovely vintage feel to your home bar tools

You don’t have to be a professional bartender to enjoy the benefits of a classy ice pick at home. Some of the best ice picks for home use are designed to add elegance and a unique flair to your personal bar—whether you’re staying in or entertaining guests. In a bar context, ice picks are perfect for shaving off small beverage-sized chunks of ice off of a larger main cube, which adds to the customizability of beverages and the overall freshness of the ice. Since larger blocks of ice take longer to melt, this system can safely be used over long periods during entertaining without added refrigeration. This mechanism applies equally to breaking up a mass of ice in the storage area of a home ice machine, which can melt and refreeze over time, fusing together.

When looking for the best ice pick for home use, you can’t go wrong with a durable and understated model that matches the rest of your bar tools. Steering away from branded accessories and opting for a generic metal or silver pick that features food-grade materials is key to ensuring longevity and sustained enjoyment.


Q: How much do ice picks cost?

Ice picks dedicated to safety and stability in outdoor environments typically have a price tag corresponding to their critical application. In kitchen environments, however, you don’t need to spend much on an ice pick to get decent results. If you’re looking for the best cheap pick for low-impact applications, turn to a model under $10 with a spike longer than 5 inches to ensure adequate penetration of the ice block you’re breaking apart. It usually costs a little more to find a sturdy pick in this price category that has silicone grips, but wood is an adequate substitute.

Q: What’s the most durable material for an ice pick?

Steel is by far the most common material used for ice picks due to its sustained durability properties at a wide range of temperatures. In kitchen picks, food-safe stainless steel is the material of choice. Climbers’ picks and ice picks for backpacking often use aluminum in the handles to cut down on total weight and increase handleability.

Q: What other uses are there for ice picks besides chipping ice?

Ice picks have a few key uses besides chipping ice, most of which are within the realm of outdoor recreation. Climbers rely upon them to grant stability while moving across icy slopes, and ice fishers use them to cut holes through ice surfaces.

Q: Should I purchase an ice pick with a retractable blade?

A pick with a retractable blade can prevent accidental scratches and scrapes, but most smaller picks have their sheaths and covers for this purpose. In specific cases where you’re moving a lot or digging through a bag, a retractable pick can be beneficial, but in most kitchen and bar contexts, this isn’t necessary

Final thoughts on the best ice picks

Ice picks are unique tools that offer a variety of ways to harness the unique properties of ice both in the kitchen and out in the field. Fancy, compact picks are great for chipping away at ice blocks in bars and at home, while larger ice picks and foldable multi-tool picks are the way to go for hiking and backpacking. The best ice pick will allow users to gain control over, break apart, and distribute ice in any context, making it a welcome addition to any collection of kitchen or climbing gear.

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.


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