Ice Axe Grip Tape

Axes with a Plasti dip cover in action, Scotland

Why Bother?

So, adding grip to ice axes, why bother? Manufacturers will often already have a form of grip added to their axes when selling. Whether it's the self-amalgamating tape on Petzl and some DMM axes or rubber handles on Black Diamond and Grivel axes, there is usually some form of grip included. The issue you will quickly identify however is that the grip is usually limited in terms of how high it goes up the shaft or maybe it's just not got as much grip as you want. You'll, therefore, see a lot of different jobs which have been done to axes as you look around. Over the past few years, we have tested various options and have put together a little summary below.

Self-Amalgamating Tape

Overview: A pretty common, easy and cheap solution. Available at most DIY stores and taking minutes to apply for a significant increase in the grip afforded by an ice axe shaft, it's easy to see why this is such a popular solution.

 Cost: £3.85 for 10m (Screwfix)

Application: Simply wrap around the steel shaft remembering to give a couple of wraps at the start and finish of the application so it doesn't unravel (a wrap of sports tape here helps). Whilst applying remember to give the tape a 50% stretch.

Pros: Cheap, Easy to Apply, Easy to Source.

Cons: Easily damaged. Hard to repair without reapplying completely.

Best uses: Dry-tooling, Ice, Mixed


Overview: A less common solution but an overall good one. Think of the black grip used on the Grivel Master Alloy and Carbon. We have found this solution in practice to be better suited to dry-tooling than mixed climbing as it gets slippery when wet. The material also adds bulk to the shaft so is a problem if you have small hands.

 Cost: £3.94 (UK Fittings)

Application: Apply directly to the axes steel shaft with a sealant gun. Apply liberally as an even coating then apply a textured effect.

Pros: Cheap, provides a lot of grip, resistant to damage, easy to repair (simply re-apply to damaged area).

Cons: Useless when wet, hard to remove (use sealant remover).

Best uses: Dry-tooling.

Squash Tape

Overview: Usually used for squash rackets, this grip is ideal for use with bare hands as it absorbs sweat. Unfortunately, this also means it absorbs water so it isn't particularly useful for anything other than dry tooling.

 Cost: ~£6

Application: Simply wrap around a bare axe shaft.

Pros: Cheap, provides a lot of grip.

Cons: Absorbs water and freezes over making it useless.

Best uses: Dry-tooling.

Plasti Dip

Overview: Our favourite of the solutions. This is a paint that dries as hard rubber and is basically a more permanent solution to the self-amalgamating tape option as it is more durable and can be repaired easily.

 Cost: £13 for the 'Junior' can

Application: Make sure to buy the can version rather than the spray (better set achieved). Wrap the axe shaft in regular sports tape (paint won't adhere well to the steel otherwise) and apply in 3-4 thin coats leaving 20 mins between the coats.

Pros: Great grip, durable, range of colours.

Cons: Most tricky of the options to apply, cost more than other options.

Best uses: Dry-tooling, Ice, Mixed


Squash Racket Tape
Pasti Dip
**** (4 Stars)
*** (3 Stars)
** (2 Stars)
***** (5 Stars)
Cheap, Easy to Apply, Easy to Source.
Cheap, damage resistant
Cheap, Grip
Grip, Colours
Easily damaged. Hard to repair
Poor grip when wet
Useless when wet
Application, Cost
Best Use
Dry-tooling, Ice, Mixed
Dry-tooling, Ice, Mixed