Austri Alpin Phreak, $199, 1 pound, 10 ounces
Overall grade: B-
There’s no doubt that the Phreak is aptly named — it was easily the most outrageous looking tool in the bunch, with its bare metal framing and stainless steel knobs. Austri Alpin’s philosophy on the barebones construction is that it allows the user to customize the gripping setup with grip tape for an ideal fit. The idea is good in principle, but users of this tool should be prepared to spend the time it takes to tinker this tool’s fit.
Reach is the Phreak’s strong point, as it was easily the longest tool in the test. While that’s certainly an advantage on limb-stretching hook moves, it comes at the expense of stability, both in hooking and for swinging on ice. When hook and weighted, there was noticeable side-to-side play. Swinging the tool was very imprecise.
Austri Alpin/Rock Gear: