Fusion vs Nomic
I had a chance to test the new BD Fusions side by side with Petzl Nomics at the Adirondack Mountainfest while running several laps on ice with a pair of each (pictures - http://picasaweb.google.com/erozners/AdirondackMountainfest2010#). I have also written a more detailed review on the test itself at www.rei.com. I should say that I was initially excited about the look and features of the Fusions. I had great expectations but was disappointed by performance of Fusions. The bottom line was that, at least for me, Nomics (Astro picks) worked much, much better than Fusions (Laser picks). With Fusions the swing was wobbly and awkward, leading to poor sticks. With Nomics the swing was balanced and natural, the stick was easier to get and felt more secure, and the handle felt more ergonomic. The issues with Fusions became more frustrating by the end of the day as the fatigue set in while my last lap with Fusions was miserable, I made another lap with Nomics afterwards and could go for more. A few weeks later, while playing with different tools at The Mountaineer (Keene Walley, NY) gear shop, we realized that the key difference between Fusion and Nomic was in the balance. The center of gravity for Nomic (and for many other ice tools, for example Cobras) was much closer to the head. The center of gravity for Fusion appeared to be near the middle of the shaft. It should be possible to learn to swing Fusions right. However, with all the great performance Nomics offer both on rock and ice, I just do not see the reason for choosing Fusions and struggling to learn a different swing. The verdict for me is that Fusions may be a great specialized rock tool (I have not tested them on rock) but for ice and modest mixed ground I will choose Nomics every time.