Trango Mantis, $260, 1 pound, 7 ounces
Overall grade: A-
Trango’s line of ice tools is modular, with interchangeable grips and numerous head options based around a common shaft design; the Mantis is the latest design in the line. Its new stacked-grip handle was a dry-tooling dream, with minimal shifting as you moved grip to grip. The upper grip differs from the rest of the stacked-grip models in that it was less pistol-styled, instead sporting more of a comfortable sloping curve. The pommel on the upper grip acted as a great support point when levered onto slabby to slightly overhanging rock. The lower handle is much like the Racing Wing’s — it offers a high position for swinging and a lower pulling position. Also like the Racing Wing, the lower handle affords room for two overlapping hands.
The Mantis handle also stands out because of its construction. It’s e-Grips’ proprietary urethane handhold formula molded over an aluminum core. Not only does this provide great gripping texture, it provides a significant weight savings over Trango’s Headless Hook handle. Last, but not least, the Mantis shaft sports a highly useful patch of heavy-duty grip tape on the shaft, just above the handle. The Mantis setup arrived mid-summer and we weren’t able to test it on ice, but it certainly was a standout in the dry-tooling arena.