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chris

Cobra vs. Viper

Which tool is worth it?  

93 members have voted

  1. 1. Which tool is worth it?

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So the BD Cobra and Viper have identical geometry. But the cost difference ($110.00) is significant. What do you think? Does the carbon fiber justify the extra cash? Has anyone actually used both tools and can give us some comparison?

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One thing to note is that the heat loss when matching hands or using your tool in high-dagger with the Viper is pretty intense. Taping up the grip helps but tweaks the swing a bit.

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i like the swing of the cobra...CF puts more of the weight in the head as well i believe...makes for a bit more of a "snappy" performance

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The Cobras seem to stick a little better than the Vipers. The carbon fiber seems to dampen the blow and transfer more energy to the pick. At least thats what it feels like when you swing. Definitely more weight in the head with the cf. If money is an issue I would say that $100 really isn't worth it. But if you want to go deluxe... The Cobras are reeaally nice.

 

AK

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Neither. Quarks are better than both those tools put together.

 

The main thing I didn't like about climbing on the Vipers was that the shaft flexes when weighted. This is because the long axis of the shaft's cross section is oriented perpendicular to the swinging plane of the tool (instead of parallel to it, like on every other tool in existence). This makes it less rigid, and it was more than a little worrisome to have my tool flexing and shifting on placements when climbing.

 

Plus the weight distribution feels excessively top-heavy and the tool felt more like a clunky medieval weapon than a precision instrument.

 

The new Cobra doesn't have any of these performance characteristics, and while it is the best ice climbing tool from BD I have ever used, it still lacks some of the refinement and efficiencies of the Quark.

 

If these are your only choices, the better of the two is the Cobra, but do yourself a favor and broaden your mind to include other tools. Unless you have a pro deal with BD or some other motivation.

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Using both, I came away with the impression that the Viper offers a more "natural" swing, while the Cobra works more effectively with a "hooking" swing. My first pitch with the Cobra surprised me, because I expected the "natural" swing that has been BD's trademark since the Chouinard days. Adding the wrist-snap of the "hooker" swing, the tool performed beautifully. This makes the Viper an easier tool for most folks to handle on low-angle ice, and the Cobra a more positive dry-tooler, also requiring less of a "power" swing on very steep ice. Although they handle a bit differently,both are versatile enough for a generalist.

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1. You realize the new Viper has a different geometry from the old version, right?

 

2. What refinements and efficiencies does the Quark posses?

 

edit: And I say #2 as a long time Quark user who loves his Cobras (except for the picks...)

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Not sure how the newer Cobras are, but my problem with them several years ago was the larger grip diamater. I felt the smaller Viper grips fit my hand well, but maybe I just have girly hands, who knows.

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Doug

 

1. to clarify, I was testing the current version of both cobra and viper

 

JoshK - I (who have pretty damn enormous hands)also disliked the previous cobra for the "hourglass" grip. Near as I can tell, the current versions of both tools use the same grip, which is very comfortable (read smaller/narrower), though lacks the trigger-finger support that I prefer.

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dear god i want new ice tools. i look at reviews about the new fusions and nomics and cobras and vipers... shit i want em. climbed the vipers in hyalite and they were great to climb on. then again im swingin salvaged picks on some old BD Shrikes. very grateful to have tools of my own to swing, but fuck.... i want some new ones. yes im drunk and yes i did just say butt fuck.

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I have a few partners who still climb on them, and just last winter I sold my old Cassin Antares (same generation as BD x15, and its equal in performance) to none other than John Tarver, (first solo of Polar Circus - 1981) whom I witnessed climbing on those very tools last Sunday!!

Edited by montypiton

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doesn't anybody prefer the old straight shaft black prophets?

 

Pardon me if I take Gene's comment seriously. Not sure he meant it that way. For technical climbing on ice at any level past WI3 the reverse curved blades and radically curved shafts are much more secure and easier to place and remove. Straight shafted tools have gone the way of the dinosaur for anything remotely technical on ice.

 

The Viper/Cobra comparison is fair for price point but not for performance. Most of the points have already been addressed. But lets start by clarifying they are not identical...not even close tecnically. Head angle, shaft material, handle angle grip size and position are all intentionally different to offer a slightly less technical tool anda more natural swing. The first difference is a 1/2 degree change in head/pick angle. Minor to be sure but still signifigant when swinging. The less the angle the more natural the swing. Reactor is 28.5, Viper 30.5, Cobra/Quark 31, New Fusion/Nomic 32, with an addtional 3/4 in the New Fusion handle and the old Fusion at 33.5 .

 

Handle materials do make a difference. The alumnum shafts flex. The Carbon fiber doesn't. Not a big deal on ice but it is on mixed. Grip size and shape change as well. There is a reason BD has taylored their handles more and more as their performace/pick angle design has increased.

 

Not a single modern tool mentioned here that won't easily out perform and make ice climbing easier than any previous straight shafted tool. That said most of the pure ice climbs done in the world were first done with straight shafted tools. Which is to say...a club with a nail through it will get you up most ice if you are capable :)

 

I have owned and used both currnt BD tools.

$100 difference on tools? Been asked and answered many times before. Guys like Powderhound and Oscar who climb hard enough and know the difference in tools climb on the Viper generally, out of choice. But worth it? You get good value from the price of either tool. They are both "worth it".

 

You have to decide just how much "worth" the differences are to you.

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In case anyone is confused, my response to genepires' question was a serious one. I do climb with some pretty accomplished partners who climb on "antique" tools. Were I a more accomplished ice-climber, I might, too. In a thread elsewhere, I had described buying the current model Cobras on EBAY, and finding them priced less than the current model Viper (screamin' deal, mine were $150 each!). I suspect this phenomenon is the result of merchants who order inventory of both tools, and find that the Viper sells more readily because it is not only less expensive, but also (with its more "natural" swing) more forgiving for the less-accomplished or less-demanding ice climber. The excess Cobra inventory then ends up with a liquidator like the one I bought mine from...

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I was only half serious. With all this talk of this tool or that tool, I was getting dizzy with envy and dispair.

 

I love it when I see a hardman sending on "old" tools, while I flounder with semi-new tools. I reminds me that this is a sport of skills, not the most powerful tools.

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I was only half serious. With all this talk of this tool or that tool, I was getting dizzy with envy and dispair.

 

I love it when I see a hardman sending on "old" tools, while I flounder with semi-new tools. I reminds me that this is a sport of skills, not the most powerful tools.

 

Yep, I agree. It comes down to how much you're on the ice. More then what you use...

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