Prior to this review I didn't know "Kailas" for anything other than their sport climbing pants and swanky stick clip - so I was surprised to hear that they had ice climbing offerings, specifically a steep ice tool, the "Entheos II".
At first glance, the Entheos II looks a lot like the Nomic, except for the i-beam shaft, but there are a few key differences:
- both shafts bend at approximately the same place, but the Entheos bends more aggressively and ends up being a shorter tool
- from head to handle, the shaft on the Entheos formed from one high-strength piece of aluminum
- the handle on the Entheos is a fixed size (it's comparable to the Nomic's largest setting)
- both the shaft and handle are skinnier
- the Entheos is lighter (by 25g)
- the piolet spike seems to be more functional
I got to spend several weeks testing these tools out at local cliffs (in Southern Ontario) and the Canadian Rockies.
The Entheos swing much like a lighter Nomic - even lighter if you decide to take off the pick-weights. I thought they'd feel swing differently with the shaft bend, but they felt just as good on steep ice and clearing bulges.
The pick is a similar width to the Petzl Dry/Ice pick, but the teeth have a different profile. The first tooth on the Entheos pick is set a little further back and they angle in towards the shaft for more aggressive bite. I can't say I felt a huge difference with the teeth being angled backwards, but I did enjoy having more clearance from the first tooth for dry-tooling and easy removal.
I have small hands, so the thinner shaft and handle were quite comfortable for me to hold, however the bump underneath the index finger didn't always align depending on which gloves I was wearing.
As expected, the pick-shift was minimal. I came to love and also hate the upper handle though. It has a very slim profile with only the sandpaper textured tape, but alas, no insulation, making it quite noticeable on colder days. Additionally, the pinky rest on the upper handle is quite small, so if you swing close to to the ice, you may find it difficult to match up on the upper handle without pulling back the tool for additional clearance from the wall.
- I'm a tool biter, and this was made very apparent with the Entheos. This (and my earlier insulation issue) could be fixed by wrapping the shaft with some tape or plasti-dip, but then you'd lose out on that sweet aesthetic that makes this tool so unique.
- Kailas did it right when they put a clip in point at the bottom of the handle, but frustratingly it won't fit any actual biner! Which leads me to believe that perhaps it isn't intended to hold weight and meant only for those tiny biners that come with modern leashes. You can always clip into one of the i-beams on the shaft if you're in a bind though.
- The aluminum i-beam design is very solid. The tools took a ton of abuse when bashed against rocks and torqued hard into cracks - no deformation or serious damage resulted.
- These tools are steep in price, coming in at $459 USD per tool (compared to $299 USD for a Nomic). I was lent these tools to test, but I imagine for most climbers it would be tough to try out an exotic tool with such a steep price. Currently Verticall Store is discounting them for cheaper than Nomics, so that's your best shot if you want to pick up a pair.
The Entheos II tools come with all the features you'd expect from a modern technical tool: removable pick weights, optional hammers (included), and good handling and balance.
The tools stand out from the crowd with their design and overall aesthetic. The i-beam construction will no-doubt gather some curious eyes, and the lightness and thinner construction offer more comfort for climbers who have smaller hands.
These aren't perfect tools (as with any other tool on the market), but they're solid performers, built to last the entirety of your ice climbing career.
The tools were kindly lent to me from Verticall Store for the review. I've done my best to keep it as honest as possible; if the tools sound like they're down your alley, they're currently discounted 40% from Verticall!