Weight: 149g-205g depending upon size.
There seems to be quite a bit more brand-loyalty in the realm of ice climbing gear than in other arenas of equipment purchase. And I am guilty of that as much as any other. I will admit—to the chagrin of my Grivel devotee friends—that I am a firm user of Petzl tools and Black Diamond everything else. But is this partisanship and almost red state-blue state vehemence really necessary, or can brands play together nicely?
Apparently, they can. It was hard for me to intermingle the shiny new Laser Sonics with the old express screws that normally rest on my ice clipper. Amazingly though, everything seated with everything else with no problems. This was actually a big perk for me. Being used to just clipping screws on my caritool [Petzl’s non-loadbearing racking ‘biner] I did not try the ice flutes–but I was impressed with the way they sat on my harness. Due to the rotating clip-in point, one isn’t faced with screws that–accidentally facing the wrong way–jab your inner thigh, an annoying trait other screws have when clipped improperly to your harness
In terms of placement, I found the Laser Sonics to place easily–albeit a little different to handle than the express screws–but similar in their ability to engage. Once started, they do have some unique advantages. Due to their rotating hanger, you could pre-place a draw on the screw and use it to help you finish the rotations. This also has major advantages in reverse for your second. Even a new second or a top roper with oversized gloves can remove the screws with the draw still attached to them with no chance of dropping the screw. It is a little slower then the conventional way–but it works.
Another feature that is specific to the Laser Sonic is the curved crank arm. The angle allows for full rotations without having to clean as much ice for the handle. A nice feature in micro time saving and sparing the side of your hand from last minute rotation bangings. This curved crank arm might feel a little different in the palm then a flat screw handle when getting the screw engaged and takes a little adjusting, but like anything once you are familiar with it, it soon becomes second nature.
It is always nice to be able to clip yourself to your first screw while building an anchor, especially in those awkward hanging belay situations. Thanks to the large hanger hole there is room for two carabiners.This feature enables the leader to clip in to a screw and still squeeze another ‘biner in as they continue to build an equalized anchor with the first one.
All in all the Laser Sonics proved to be a fast and effective screw. Their cost is comparable to other leading brands and their design is well thought out with several advantages.
It seems the ice world is capable of intermingling brands after all. However, due to a slight increase in weight and cost, coupled with no easy way to discern between sizes (e.g. some sort of color coding), my admitted bias toward Black Diamond will continue. I will still need a little more convincing before giving the Laser Sonics 5 stars.
Pros: Large rotating hanger that allows for two carabiners and the ability to leave a draw hooked in during removal.
Cons: Slightly heavier, more pricey and lack a way of easily discerning between sizes.