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Black Diamond Fusion, $269, 1 pound, 9 ounces
Overall grade: B+
Black Diamond’s Fusion was a standout on the rock, earning high marks for hooking and torquing. Like the rest of its stacked-grip brethren, the Fusion was fairly stable when shifting from lower grip to upper and back. One of the best features on this tool was the pick — it sports aggressive topside teeth, which helped the tool earn the best steinpulling grade in the test.
But for a company that has been a leader in ice tools for years, we expected better performance on waterfalls from the Fusion. While it swung well enough, the pick had a tendency to bounce off and shatter, rather than providing a firm stick.
The Fusion’s lower handle sports a unique sizing system for ensuring that your hand rests comfortably on the pommel while your index finger fits just right in the contoured handle pocket provided for it. Owing to the handle’s compact profile, climbers with small hands will find this tool very friendly, but those with large paws might do well to look elsewhere. A few testers also noted that the rubber coating on the handle was far from sticky.