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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Trango Raptor Ice tool?

One of the most fun things about writing the blog is getting to be involved in the twice yearly Outdoor Retailer shows.  One of the most frustrating things about writing the blog is being able to attend the twice yearly Outdoor Retailer shows.  Why?  Because you may see some really neat stuff that could be weeks from production or literally years.

I have been trying to get a pair of the Raptors for the last 18 months or so. And had finally just given up.

From my first impress and being a HUGE Petzl Nomic and Ergo fan I was impressed playing with the Raptor at the OR winter show.

My thought back in Jan of 2011?
"Trango's new ice tool??.....which I seriously think will be pretty good in comparison to the "big boys"!

For the asking price of $350 for the pair I can tell you I would have bought a set a long time ago if I could have found them.
Here is what made me look at them as serious alternative during the OR show two winters ago. Back then the BD Fusions had just come out. I'd been on the ma couple of months by the time OR began.  And there was some learning to do. I had no clue what the price would be on the Raptor.   And I still thought they might well be a very good option to a Nomic or Fusion. But only swinging them for real would prove it.

Quick run down of the Raptor to a Nomic/Fusion comparison...

Raptor has :  Excellent swing weight and balance.
Better head (stainless steel) imo and much easier to clip to your harness on raps (having found a total of 6 Nomics now seems people leave a lot of Nomics at raps stations...gotta wonder why?)

I think the lack of hammer on Nomic or Raptor is a better basic design  than the Fusion's rather unbalanced head for pure ice. Having climbed on both Nomic and Fusion a good bit that is my judgement/observation. Enough so that I have spend a number of seasons trying to prefect a bolt on Nomic hammer after Petzl has blown it twice.  And learned early on to simply cut down the Fusion's hammer for better effect.   If you really need to pound on stuff, a stainless head is a betterd place to start than aluminum.

The Nomic's  pommel, much as I love them,  still suck imo. I have had both old and new.  And now stick with my old, well worn, first gen Nomics. The Raptor's grips are fixed, nothing to loosen up. The Fusion is adjustable for hand size in length but not really in hand "size".  Neither Raptor or Fusion rotate as easily in hand compared to the Nomic. The Raptor is more Fusion copy than Nomic.  Most importantly the Raptor will fit small hands the best I think.  Big hands (two of us with XL gloves) get bit some on the Raptor because the bottom of the grip is pretty tight/small.  I think the Fusion has a similar problem but is easier to fix.  If you have XL hand it is one of my few criticisms of the Raptor overall.   If you have smaller hands...Medium glove or smaller i would suspect you would LOVE the Raptor.   As my bud, Batboy said, "nice girl's tool".   Hey, it was me climbing with them at the moment he uttered his condescending slur.  What do you expect of a ham handed Idaho boy?

author's edit
*The "small grip" comments caused some confusion after the fact.  The Raptor's over all grip size will likely fit anyone in length.  It is only the bottom of the grip where your little finger fits that is too small and too tight for me (I wear a XL glove).  The BD Fusion has a similar problem.  Both tools can be easily modified to better fit a big hand by removing a little material in the very bottom of the grip and opening up that tight corner where your little finger will set.  Sorry for the confusion. *

The Raptor has a "no dicking around" spike and clip in point.   More like the the Fusion's here and in a good way.  Where the Nomic is still lacking purpose. I might want to grind it down some or cut it off but at least the tool starts with a "real" one. The spike alone will hold #2000+.  More on that detail below but a very cool number for sure!   I didn't bother to touch the Raptor or its picks with a file or grinder before I climbed on them.  Which says a lot.  I did not use the pick weights and do on my Nomics.   The feel of the tools set up like that (one with one without) are very, very similar to swing.

In many ways (not every)  the Raptor represents to me the best of the Nomic and the Fusion, while being sold at half the retail price. But we all know by now that copies don't always turn out like you had hoped.   The Fusion is a classic example of that fact. The Raptor?   Well, sorta...... for me anyway.  Huge potential here though.    The Raptor's pick is a few degrees steeper than the Nomic.  It makes the swing more like a Fusion or a Ergo than a Nomic.  But both of those tools climb hard mixed better than the Nomic, simply because of that extra bit of pick angle.  I found the Raptor easy enough to use on ice.  The picks look good, climbed well...and more importantly to me, cleans well.

Think the original Cascade Petzl picks here.  No clue on durability though.  I'm not genteel climbing on my Petzl gear and the Raptor picks remain straight and intact.  Says something.     Both my partner and I switched from Nomics to Raptors and climbed  WI3, 4 and 5 with little comment and lots of comparison.  The Trango Raptor is that close...that good.  Against its two most likely technical competitors from the "big" two the Raptor is certainly in the horse race.

My pair showed with  T rated shaft and picks.  Head is investment cast stainless (nice!) and small diameter shaft (smaller than the Nomic and Fusion but not too small imo for even my big hands) is drawn 7075 T6 alloy.  Tools and spare picks ($37.00 retail on the picks) are in stock and shipping @ Trango. 

BD's Green Fusion's spike will go to around 1500lbs with the maximum amount of spacers allowed(3) before the bolt breaks.  Petzl Nomic is full T rated if you use the biggest hole in the lower section of the grip handle above the pommel.

I just got confirmation that the spike on the Raptor is rated 10kN, which is just over 2,200lbs. Interestingly, they have had them test significantly higher, but that is the more conservative number they are repeating. Weight is right in between the Quark and a Nomic.  Swing, swing weight and balance however makes it feel more like a Nomic than anything else I use. (Nomic/Fusion/Ergo/Raptor)
Heady company indeed for the price point.
Truth is...even if the Raptor was at the Nomic/Fusion price point I'd still own a pair of Raptors if I could as spares and for steep mixed.  I'm using Raptors in the new C/T mast head photo.

540 g without pick weights / 605 g with weights
Quark with hammer 588g or 1# 2oz / 528g with no hammer or weight.
Petzl Nomic with mixed pick/weight 1# 6.8oz / 648g
Nomic with just a weights or hammer 1# 3.5oz / 558g
Trango Raptor 1# 3oz / 540g / 605g with pick weights
Black Diamond Fusion (green) 1# 9oz / 680g

"The Raptor's grip is one piece molded rubber for comfort, and reduced fatigue. The pick penetrates the and cleans easily and comes with removable weights adding to its versatility. The cold forged shaft is incredibly light yet stiff, limiting pick shift when on rock.
  • Molded one piece grip for comfort and durability
  • Pick weights add to versatility
  • Shaft and pick are CEN-T
  • Lightweight: 540 g without pick weights / 605 g with weights"
Petzl Nomic with mixed pick/weight 1# 6.8oz / 648g

2nd gen Black Diamond Fusion (green) 1#9oz / 680g


Ian said...

Hopefully they do a better job heat treating their picks on raptors than there other tools. My last set had very soft picks.

William Veniez said...

Hey Dane,

Thanks for bringing these to my attention. I've been looking into getting some tools of my own since I have been renting since I started climbing. I was originally looking at the Nomics but for the price, the Raptors seem hard to beat. I have very small hands so it seems these tools would fit me well. I would love to same some cash on tools and these seem great. What do you think?

Dane said...

As I said in the review, the Raptor is a good tool. The price just makes them even more attractive.

Edgars Kalnins said...

Hey Dane, reading this made me realise that you should check out Edelrid Rage ice tools if you get a chance. I had an awsome chance to test these tools and was quite impresed. Well balanced, comfortable grips and good clearance. Here is a UKC link reviewing some of the discused ice tools.

Anonymous said...


Would these tools be CT-hammer compatible?

Eric said...

Do you know any dealers in EU which sells tis tools?

James925 said...

Hey Dane, I have my pair of Raptors coming in a couple weeks, which I'm excited for, especially after your review. Nice that you can get the pair for about the price of a Nomic. Just wondering whether the pick weights that come with the raptors fit onto Petzl picks, or if you think they could be adapted to do so. Don't really want to pay $60 to get weights for my Quarks if the Trango ones fit.

By the way, does it feel good to have Petzl steal your design? I hear that imitation is the best form of flattery:

Dane said...

Weights? Raptors are cool tools. But not so cool as to have the weights work on a Petzl. Sorry. FWIW I didn't climb with the tool weights on the Raptors. They are very well balanced for hard cold ice without them. Hammer? Nope :) Mine is still better in most every way than the Petzl mini, if you actuially need a hammer. And I still have some available from the last production run!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dane - do you think the axe head of the Raptor is strong enough to bash in a peg in a pinch given that it's stainless steel? In an emergency of course and I'm not expecting it to work well and it's not design for that. I was just wondering if it's solid enough to pound on a peg... what do you think?


Dane said...

My thought? No problem :-)

Jane Climber said...

Hi, Dane,

Have you ever tried this Kong sandwich tool? Just curious what you think of it.

Thanks! - jane

Dane said...

Hi Jane, I have not but they do look cool :)

john smitth said...

Wow, great article, I really appreciate your thought process and having it explained properly, thank you!

Tool steel

ST said...

"Hopefully they do a better job heat treating their picks on raptors than there other tools. My last set had very soft picks."

Kovea(Raptor's maker) lists the material as SCM435- same as for Scorpion & Hook:

What do folks think of Kovea shaping the tool's head as their company's logo(

Michael West said...

I'm a beginner ice climber and finally looking into getting my own tools versus borrowing as i have the last few winters. For the price these seem hard to beat, but it appears that Grivel's X-Monster and Black Diamond's Reactor are in a similar price range. Do you have any experience with the other tools and what do you think would be the best beginner set? I'd like them to last me a while as i improve, and although they'll mostly be used on ice i can't rule out that they'd touch rock every now and again. Any opinions?

Dane said...

All three are good tools. Any of them will climb hard ice and rock. I get what ever one you can find the least expensive.

Anonymous said...

Dane, I am not sure I grasp WHY the Raptor(s) would be a better tool that the Nomics or the BD Vipers honestly.

Anonymous said...

And per Ian - why would I want a tool with very soft picks vs a tool with harder pics per se? Just to save a few bucks?

Dane said...

Better? Tools are all about the quality of the picks IMO. I never said better. What I said was, "Against its two most likely technical competitors from the "big" two the Raptor is certainly in the horse race."

Denis said...

Dane, I understand you no longer sell the CT hammer, which is a shame. If you do plan on selling them again, tell me, I'm interested. If you're not, I could machine the hammers myself if you could give me the design (do you have a CAD-file?). Of course I don't want to just steal your design, so I wouldn't mind paying you for a hammer, or, if you don't plan on making any more, paying you for the plans to make them myself.



You can mail me at deniken atsign hotmail dot com

Dane said...

Hi Denis,
I'm working on something new and not interested in sharing the desgn work right now. Thanks.