Taking a backcountry winter or snowboard vacation and looking at all the exciting ski gear, and accessories? Don't neglect to carry your shovel! Avalanche shovels are indeed an indispensable piece of backcountry avalanche safety equipment.
A backcountry shovel is essential if you are on an avalanche rescue mission, snow camping, or excavating snow profile. Consider how you might react if someone you love got caught in a backcountry avalanche. But then what would you do about preventing a terrifying, yet all-too-common, occurrence in the first place? A durable, dependable avalanche shovel, like beacons and ski helmets, must be packed by every backcountry skier.
Aside from avalanche rescue, an avalanche shovel can be helpful as a protective tool, aiding you to examine the safety of the snow for avalanche risk and avert tragedy before it occurs. But how do you determine which avalanche shovel is ideally suited to you? These packable tools are useful for many reasons, but they are especially effective in the event of an avalanche. In this review, we will go over the significant elements you must look at and illustrate the few reasons they are important. Then we shall go through a selection of avalanche shovels to ensure you pick the ideal one.
Let's start with our first vote for the best avalanche shovel of the season is the MSR Responder Snow Shovel. It is compact to carry strapped to your backpack yet gives a highly effective method to digging out heavy snow.
Best Avalanche Shovels
MSR Responder Snow Shovel: Best overall performance
Our #1 choice for the best avalanche shovel of the season is the MSR Responder Snow Shovel. The effective accessory choice is also small and compact enough to simply connect to your backpack.
I like the collapsible design, which allows you to reduce the already low profile even further. It is compact enough to fit within a large pack and also trim enough to get fastened outward when required.
It has a sturdy and long-lasting build that will provide you exceptional digging strength when you need it the most. The T-handle creates a safe hold which allows you to gain a little more torque when you need to act quickly. While it may not have the largest razor sharpness, we think the portable and lightweight design compensates.
Overmount Folding Emergency Shovel
The Overmount Folding Emergency Shovel is a low-cost choice that delivers exceptional performance.
For easy transportation, the collapsible design folds up into a compact frame. This has a powerful blade that will easily cut even in hardpack snow. The larger 32-inch handle provides more grip for plowing power.
With that said, it includes an ice scraper that you can keep in your pack for use in the car if necessary. It's not exactly as little as most people prefer for a backcountry shovel, but it's still manageable to travel.
Demon Escape Ally
The Demon Escape Ally Shovel is another excellent avalanche shovel with a few extra characteristics that set it apart.
The handle is entirely adjustable, and the shaft/blade is made of forged aluminum, making it sturdy and lightweight.
A thermometer, snow pick handle, and concealed snow saw are among the other features. This is an extremely effective multi-tool avalanche shovel alternative.
The extra features add some weight, which can be an issue if you're going on a long backcountry trip. An L-shaped snow pick and an integrated thermometer are integrated into the ergonomic handle of the snow pick. The blade and shaft are both constructed of forged aluminum. It features a telescopic shaft that may be adjusted in height.
A wood or snow saw may be simply stored in the shaft of the saw. To the farthest degree possible, collapsible. This is a product that is light, robust, and dependable.
Yukon Charlie’s Collapsible
Backcountry Access T3 Rescue Package
The T3 Avalanche Rescue kit is ideal for people getting ready for their first backcountry trip, as well as seasoned backcountry travelers wishing to upgrade their outdated gear.
Our industry-leading Tracker3 avalanche transceiver, BCA's extensible B-1 EXT avalanche shovel, and the fast-deploying Stealth 270 avalanche probe are included in the bundle. Package deals on the essential backcountry gear you'll need to be safe.
How to decide
In the year 2022, how should you choose an avalanche shovel?
This section will outline some key factors to consider when selecting an avalanche shovel.
Size: While you could theoretically burrow through snow and trash with any form of shovel or digging instrument, the solutions you'll see here are designed expressly to be carried while skiing.
You don't want to be cruising down the slopes with a large shovel on your back. As a result, a shovel that is smaller in size and designed specifically for this function is excellent. The shovels shown below are all collapsible or portable enough to take skiing.
Strength: Although an avalanche shovel is modest in size, it must be powerful. The snow you'll find if you dig through an avalanche isn't the same as newly fallen powder. Digging through rock or concrete might be more difficult.
A weak little snow shovel will not suffice. The items on this list are made of robust, long-lasting materials that will last for years.
Adjustability: An adjustable handle is a great feature to look for in an avalanche shovel, similar to size concerns. Because you may make the shovel smaller for greater leverage when digging through the snow, it's easier to load and ski. To make packing easier, check for shovels with multiple handle size modifications or a retractable handle.
Features Not Included: Although you would not expect a shovel to offer extra functionality, some models do. Look for a shovel that can also be used as an avalanche probe or an ice pick if you want more tools in one. A thermometer or a snow saw is also useful.
Resources & Helpful Hints: A shovel is something that everyone is familiar with. The avalanche shovels described above, however, aren't simply for digging.
You may also use them to monitor snow conditions, construct a shelter, free a stalled vehicle, and do other tasks. A nice video on how to conduct crucial snowpack tests to determine avalanche conditions using a shovel can be found here.
Being Original: Instead of digging up loose snow, you may use Hoe mode to pull it backward. Avalanche rescuers utilize it in the rear when digging snow profiles or during avalanche rescue. Keep in mind that this feature is not available on all shovels.
Non-slip rubber covering for enhanced grip or holes in a blade for making an emergency sled are other useful characteristics.
Shovels that are quick and easy to assemble and don't have a lot of little pieces that can get lost in the snow are preferred.
It's worth noting that there are two major sorts of handles available. Handles have a D-grip and a T-grip.
D-grips are larger, but they are also more ergonomic and convenient to use. T-grip is a little more difficult to get accustomed to, although it is lighter.
With mittens on, some individuals find it difficult to use.
Avalanche shovels are blades that are versatile in shape and size. Smaller blades are less efficient in chopping and moving huge volumes of snow, but they are lighter and simpler to wield. Larger blades can move snow faster, but they need more muscle to operate and may tire you out faster.
An avalanche shovel is a must-have item for every backcountry safety gear since it is used to dig victims out during avalanche rescue. A strong shovel and proper shoveling method can reduce recovery time in half and could also be used to check snow stability.
When it comes to shoveling snow, how often should you do it?
The following are some tips to avoid a muscular strain or back injury while shoveling snow. Maintain a straight back always. Also, allow your hips to take the weight, not your lower back.
According to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a shovel load of heavy wet snow weighs around 16 pounds.
Try to avoid snow buildup, shoveling should begin early in the morning and continue throughout the day. When there is only a little quantity of snow on the ground after a snowfall, the sun may swiftly melt it. You should shovel to one side and keep moving forward.
What we should all consider while choosing?
When looking for a new avalanche shovel for your backcountry trips, what we may consider before planning:
The Final Word
Our vote for the best overall avalanche shovel of the season is the MSR Responder Snow Shovel. This is a straightforward yet powerful instrument that can save your life. It is simple to connect to your backpack and provides plenty of digging power.
All of the shovels on this list are suitable for use in the wilderness. They are powerful, long-lasting, and dependable. If you are in an avalanche country, it's better to stay safe, and these shovels can help you do exactly that.