I've had these out on the glacier one night, and it was a blast. I've climbed a fair amount with leashed tools, and the X Monsters lend an entirely different degree of confidence during an ascent or traverse of near vertical to overhanging ice. I've handled Nomics and Cobras, and while these tools are probably not in the same league in terms of absolute precision and certainly not in terms of weight, they compare very favorably considering the price. The price proved even more valuable to me when I dropped one tool down a crevasse too narrow to execute a rescue (or even see the tool). I didn't drop it during a climb, and wasn't holding it when it fell (the tools are very secure in the hand). Replacing an X Monster (while it's difficult to find the tool with an adze) is way less devastating than replacing tools priced upwards of three hundred dollars. Obviously I would be remiss not to recommend investing in a spring leash if you're not climbing on a rope or if dropped tools wouldn't be retrievable.
These ice tools are definitely good as a first pair. The price is really good. They are comfortable to swing, the rock-snake gives a solid second hold and the blade is cheap to replace when you've sharpened them more than you should. Excellent for drytooling. For instance you can stick the into thin cracks because of the thin shaft. In deep snow I tend to use them "upside-down" to increase the hold.
At $150 a piece they are a steal. They swing well. The flexible shaft feels very solid when cranking the pick into cracks but isn't noticeable when waterfall climbing. They are strange when you first look at them as the shaft is only slightly thicker than the pick, but don't let looks deceive you. They are far from flimsy. Overall, a reasonably priced, excellent tool.
I have one of each and although I havent gotten them out and really put them through their paces I have used them a bit and they are well built.
I was skeptical that the slim desig would be odd to balance but they swing nice ans straight.
I use it for now for dry tooling at home & on the rock near home...and it's the best!
They are strong and feel strong!
Great for Ice Climbing and dry tooling and have a great price! Buy it!
I borrowed these from a friend a few times. They worked pretty well. I found the grip to be comfortable, I have fairly large hands so I don't know how well they'd work for someone with small hands. My only real gripe is that they're kind of heavy, but you're also saving over $200 per pair vs. some of the nicer tools. If you're on a budget pull the trigger, you'll like 'em. If you have some money for nicer tools go with Petzl Nomic or Ergo.