Alpine Gear Review 2016 – Patagonia Nano Air Hoody, Petzl Sum’tec Ice Axe/Tool and Petzl Lim’ice screw sharpener!


This winter season I have been using a few new piece of kit for both personal and work trips: Patagonia Nano Air Hoody and the Petzl Sum’tec Ice Axe/Tool, and Petzl Lim’ice screws sharpener. I would like to give a few thoughts about these pieces for those looking for a good insulation piece, a do it all ice axe, and finally, an ice screw sharpener that anyone can use… all from the usual suspects in the outdoor gear industry!



First, let’s start with the Nano Air Hoody from Patagonia.


Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 2.31.09 PMBreathability

This jacket rocks! It breaths very well, is perfect for start stop adventures and as they say “you can put it on and leave it on!.”


Comfort & Fit

I now wear this thing all the time as it feels comfy against the skin. I found that a size small fit’s me perfectly (5’9 and 165lbs with a 39inch chest). I could wear a size medium if I wanted a bit more layering options but I still can get fleece and base layer under this thing no problem;-)


The stretch of this jacket really does make it a piece you will use all the time as you don’t have any restriction of movement whilst climbing and moving in the mountains! And the hood fits fine over a climbing helmet.




I have used this jacket on all my trips this winter and wear it most days around town and it is still going strong. I did tear the fabric a bit on the back with freshly sharpened ice tool but this sort of thing is going to happen if you get out climbing in your gear. Easy to fix… just a bit of seam grip or repair tape and way you go. Why not aim for a jacket with patches and soul!



It is pricey this piece, but worth every buck spent. I am a bit of an ebay junky, so I waited to find a killer deal on the previous season’s colors before buying. That being said I would pay full price for this if I had no other option!


For more technical information on the jacket go to Patagonia’s website!



Good old Chamonix… and was pleased to have the Nano hoody for this trip! Sept 2015



Second up, the Petzl Sum’tec Ice Axe/tool


Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 2.14.55 PMOk, I am a bit old school when it comes to a mountaineering axe! I have a 55cm Mountain Technology straight shafted mountaineering axe I use on my winter skills courses, and general mountaineering trips. The MT axe is awesome for adze work but over the last couple of years I have been looking to bridge the gap between a mountaineering axe and a technical ice tool… BOOM Petzl Sum’tec axe! I was originally inspired to check out the axe by a photo of it in Mont Blanc Finest Routes (page 56) where a climber paired the sum’tec with a nomic! What a brilliant idea… as often you want good tools for climbing but then a mountaineering axe for approaches and descents! Well if that is what you are looking for then this axe for you!




General Purpose

The axe does very well with adze work… i.e. cutting steps, snow belays, etc. It also preformed well on approach slope as it has a solid spike. It is much lighter than my old MT axe… weighing in at 485g. Despite its weight it has a T- rated shaft so super strong for those buried axe belays!


Ice and Mixed terrain

As mentioned the axe is light but even so it still climbs well on ice! I found it to have a bit of weight behind the head which makes for a nice swing and good pick penetration/placements. The pommel is absolutely wicked and makes climbing grade IV ice no problem at all. If you have a similar style slightly bent shaft axe already I reckon you could retro fit the pommel to the axe… it should fit on axes such as the BD Venom, Grivel Evo tech with a bit of ingenuity;-)



Bomber, well made axe that you can replace the picks after heavy use. This means you could have this bad boy for years;-)



Price is pretty standard for this type of axe, but again being able to replace the pick means long-term use!


Due to the weight, and great performance for both mountaineering and ice/mixed climbing this axe has become my go to for most days in the High Atlas!


2015-03-24 08.15.31 (1)

Out guiding recently using the Sum’tec! Thanks for the photo Zach!



Last but not least, Petzl Lim’ice screw sharpener

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 2.40.40 PM


Every been on a steep pitch of ice reached for a screw and then almost had a panic attach because your blunt screw is taking ages to bit into the ice? Been there done that… introducing the Lim’ice from Petzl.

This is an idiot proof ice screw sharpener. It gives clear easy to follow instructions and works a treat to resurrect those old screws you end up trying to only use on your belays! I got mine as a kind gift from one of my clients this winter and it has been amazing! Thanks so much Martin!



  • The best thing is you can replace the file when it finally bites the dust.
  • The thing is compact, so it can be carried in for longer trips! After receiving it and trying it out I had it with me at the hut for any of my climbing trips this winter.
  • And finally, it works with any screw I came across this winter: Petzl, Grivel, BD!


What a clever little tool all us winter climbers could use through out the season to keep us quick on the draw with our screw placements! It cost a bit but I think it is a good investment for seasoned winter climbers!



At home after touching up a recently resurrected screw:-)


Summary of the Alpine Gear Review 2016! Essentially, all the bits of gear above preform very well for their intended purposes, are built for the long haul and are great bits of kit that will serve you well for your alpine adventures! Can’t really think of any cons… sorry!



Categories: Alpine Climbing, Blog, Gear Review, James
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