Best Avalanche Shovels

Avalanche Shovels - Reviews & Guides For 2020

Our Top Avalanche Shovels

Need Help Choosing Avalanche Shovels?

Avalanche shovels buying guide

Are you looking to deal with tons of snow? Don't sweat. Avalanche shovels will aid you in removing it swiftly and smoothly.

If you live in areas where you have to deal with snow for a more extended period of time, you must invest in a good shovel. Selecting a suitable shovel is not an easy task. You need to choose a lightweight product that is easy to carry but big enough to ease your job and help you remove big chunks of snow efficiently.

Also, it would be best if you deem about other characteristics like grip, handle, etc. By reading an extensive buying guide, you will get all the information about all the characterizes that affect the product's performance.

So, without further ado, let us get familiarized with the product.

What are Avalanche Shovels? Why should you opt for them?

Be it something as simple as removing snow from your driveway or backyard, or something as grave as rescuing a victim of an avalanche while skiing, do you know what could come in handy? A good-quality avalanche shovel. If you are an avid skier or just live in a place prone to heavy snowfall, you already know how handy avalanche shovels can be.

An avalanche shovel is specifically designed to be compact and yet strong to hasten the shoveling process in a situation of rescue. With its slim and handy built, it is easy to carry and use. When someone is in need, shoveling can be a tiresome and lengthy process, but not with an efficient avalanche shovel.

Why lookout for a proper guide before selecting a suitable shovel?

While considering an option, you need to consider many factors before purchasing it. What type would suit best to your requirements? Which is the best fit according to your needs? And What is the best material for the handle and head?

Going through a proper buying guide offers you answers to all these questions and many more. This buying guide provides a vast set of details about different factors affecting the usability of the product.

Read it and make an informed decision while selecting an ultimate shovel. Now let us get into the details of different characteristics.

Types of Avalanche Shovels

The main aspects of avalanche shovels that distinguish them from a regular shovel are a broadhead for a speedy and larger digging and more durable and sturdier handles.

Based on the head of the shovel, there are three types of avalanche shovels:

  1. Narrow-Headed

A narrow-headed shovel, as the name suggests, as a narrower blade. Such a shovel is appropriate for situations where you require loosening the snow. Its steeper and sharper curve allows for easy digging that does not exhaust you quickly.

  1. Broad-Headed

A more giant-headed shovel allows digging and removing more copious amounts of snow in a single scoop than a narrow-headed one. It is made of sturdy plastic or robust steel or other such metals.

  1. Multi-Surface Headed

If the situation calls for a broader head, you can unfold the head of this avalanche shovel into the maximum surface it has with serrated edges. But when you require a narrow head for loosening snow or concentrated force, you can fold the blade up.

On the basis of the different handles, there are three types of avalanche shovels:

  1. Telescoping Handle

These are extendable shovels that fit one handle within another. It comes with screws that can be loosened and secured at the desired length according to the situation's demands. It is also very compact to pack.

  1. Folding Handle

A folding handle shovel can be folded into a midget length and can be unfolded later when it needs to be used with the help of tightening screws or other such mechanisms. They are especially handy for when you need to travel with one and can easily fit without taking much space.

  1. Screw Handle

These avalanche shovels come with different parts of the handle separately, which need to be assembled and screwed together. They are easy to put together, and you can vary the length by not screwing one or more of the long pieces.

Things to Consider When Selecting the Appropriate Avalanche Shovel

Material

The material that makes up the handle and the blade will determine the quality, strength, durability, and even features like extendability of the avalanche shovel. You need to ensure that you choose the material that is easy to maintain and use and is robust, so it does not break easily when you need it.

  1. Plastic

These are the least preferred avalanche shovels because plastic is quite unreliable when it comes to sturdy material that can hold up against enormous amounts of snow. The only upside to an otherwise low-quality avalanche shovel made of plastic is that it is easy to carry and is very lightweight.

  1. Steel

Durable and robust, steel shovels work well and can shovel large amounts of snow without cracking. But they are cumbersome, and so, they make digging a tiresome task. Many people who require handy and easily portable shovels do not opt for steel.

  1. Aluminum

The most popular material for all the right reasons, aluminum avalanche shovels, are in high demand. They are robust and work well to shovel heavy snow. It is strong and durable despite its relative lightweight when compared to other metals. It allows for efficient digging.

Blades

The shape of the blade, the type of edges, its material and design determine the quality of digging it will allow. You need to ensure that the make of the blade of your choice is appropriate considering the primary purpose of your purchase.

  1. Scooped Shaped

This type of blade is curved so that when you dig and remove snow, it does not fall off the edges. Especially useful when clearing out snow, this type of blade is durable and helps in swift removal.

  1. Flat Blade

This blade is entirely flat and is mainly used for smooth snow-pit walls. Because they are flat, they do not carry much snow in one shovel.

  1. Blade with Holes

This type of blade has holes in it to reduce the material used and thus shedding off weight. This makes it light and easy to carry when shoveling snow. When you wish to make snow-anchors or simply clear away debris.

  1. Blade with Serrated Edges

Serrated edges on blades can help with a sharper scoop of snow. If the snow is exceptionally dense or has turned into hard ice, serrated edges ensure that enough pressure is applied for easy removal.

Blade Shape

Mainly, there are two blade shapes whose choice can be dictated by preference or purpose when.

  1. Flat Blade Shape

This type of blade is mainly used to check the snow's density and stability by skiers to ensure that they provide enough foundation for skiing. By checking the stability, they also get an idea of the likelihood of an avalanche. It acts as a critical preventive measure.

  1. Curved blade

This blade shape is more critical in avalanche shovels that are aimed at digging for rescue. The curve allows scooping more snow and reduces the time and effort required to dig around the avalanche and reach the victim for help.

Blade Size

When determining which shovel is the most appropriate for you, blade size is an important consideration. The blade's size will ascertain the efficiency of digging and shoveling, the weight of the shovel, the compactness, or handiness. Many may think that the larger the blade, the better the shovel. But this is not true as it always depends on the situation.

If you plan to purchase an avalanche shovel to check the density and ensure stability for skiing, even a narrow, smaller flat blade will work correctly. A smaller blade is also more lightweight and easy to handle.

However, if the snow is gigantic in amount and density, a smaller blade will take a longer time and more prolonged effort to clear it away than a larger blade. A larger blade will also provide more force to bust ice.

Shaft and Handle Design

The handle's design ascertains how compact it will be to pack and the convenience of handling it.

Like we read int the previous section of types of avalanche shovels on the basis of handles, telescoping and screw handles allow for tiny segments that are easy to pack. Their foldable handle designs as well, where disassembling and reassembling are not an issue while portability is convenient too.

The shafts of avalanche shovels have grips for managing the handle. These are of two types:

  1. T-Grip

This type of grip allows you to hold the handle by grasping it between the fingers. It works well for lightweight shovels. However, when it is freezing, and you are wearing gloves or mittens, this grip is not of much use.

  1. D-Grip

Specially designed for situations that require you to wear mittens or gloves, this type of grip provides much more traction over the handle. It is bulky and works for more massive shovels as well.

Comfort

Taking into account how tedious and tiresome of an activity snow-shoveling can be, it is essential that you choose the shovel that provides you with the most comfort. The comfort of avalanche shovels is determined by their weight, handle design and shape, grip, and size of the blade.

Larger blades with holes can serve the purpose of lifting large amounts of snow while being lightweight for easy management. The handle designs are more convenient when they are extendable for compact packing. Scooping blade may also be comfortable for shoveling, while flatter blades may be trickier. Both T-Grip and D-grip work well, depending on the weight of the shovel.

Weight

As discussed in several previous sections, weight is an essential consideration for choosing the appropriate avalanche shovel because it determines the convenience of management. The lighter the shovel, the easier it is to shovel for longer without exhaustion and arms getting sore.

The weight of the shovel also ascertains its portability. If you are looking to travel with an avalanche shovel, it is essential that you choose a lighter one for ease of carrying it. However, very light avalanche shovels may not prove to be very useful as they may break easily.

It is essential that you do not compromise quality overweight. Aluminum is an excellent choice of material for this reason. It is relatively lightweight and robust, as well. Blades with holes also shed off weight.

Hoe Features

The way the handle is attached to the blade will ascertain how the shoveling and digging process is facilitated. A convenient hoe feature is when the angle of the handle and blade can be changed with screws and other loosening and tightening mechanisms. This can help with customizations according to the situation for efficiency and convenience.

Avalanche shovels that provide such features allow you to change the angle from 180 degrees, which can be used for loosening the snow to 90 degrees, which facilitates the hoeing motion.

Shovel Lift

The lift of the avalanche shovels determines the efficiency of shoveling based on the angle between the blade and the handle of the tool. There are two types of lifts:

  1. Low Lift

The low lift avalanche shovels have rounded or curved blades, and the angle between the blade and the handle shaft is quite vertical (close to 180 degrees). This facilitates digging deeper and loosening the snow rather than shoveling snow away.

  1. High Lift

Flatter blades usually have high point lift. Such shovels work with an angle of about 90 degrees or so between the handle shaft and the blade. The perpendicular angle allows for shoveling without bending too much. While continuous shoveling can be a strain on the back, the high lift shovels allow for digging while being rather upright.


Preparation for Avalanche

Avalanches are frightening but common occurrences in areas prone to heavy snowfall. It can come without warning and send enormous amounts of snow hurling your way. Victims of avalanche nearly never know what hit them till it is too late, so it is essential to take precautions.

It is important to understand warning signs which may look like:

  1. If it has snowed recently, fresh snow will make the land quite slippery and dangerous for snow sports like skiing or snowboarding.
  2. It is best that you avoid areas with wind-blown snow as it becomes difficult to predict which winds are harmless and which winds might send avalanches your way.
  3. Always keep assessing the winds and your surroundings. Be vigilant regarding how the winds change and be on the lookout.
  4. Snow layer instability can be indicated by unusual sounds or cracking in snow.

Prepare yourself appropriately, and remember that you can never be too careful.

  1. Keep track of the weather. Check the forecast before you leave for snow trail explorations.
  2. Before you plan the trip to snowy areas, check online for the weather forecaster's predictions and take them into serious considerations. Any neglect can prove to be dangerous.
  3. Try not to travel alone when exploring unchartered territories. Take a buddy and keep in close contact. Communicate through hand gestures and signals if necessary.
  4. There are online courses on snow avalanches that can make you mentally prepared and help you complete a checklist of all that you need in your gear compartment for snow explorations.
  5. Gear for snow explorations and sports that is necessarily recommended by experts includes avalanche shovels, probes for location, and transceivers that can detect if the other person is buried in snow. You must learn how to use them effectively.
  6. Wear essential avalanche gear on your person because there is always a chance that you may get separated from your sled.

Precautions

Minor mistakes or neglect can land you buried in snow. It is essential that you take certain precautions that are as follows:

  1. Do not come to stand still in areas that are open. They are incredibly prone to wind-blown snow and increase your risk of getting caught in the middle of an avalanche.
  2. When traveling with companions, do not move immediately ahead of another, as this can make the person behind you vulnerable to being buried in snow.
  3. Do not travel alone, and when with a group, do not go too far from them that they cannot see you in the vicinity.
  4. Always try to be on a constant lookout. Be aware of your surroundings. It is easy to get distracted by photos or in the zone when enjoying snow explorations, but this will cost you dearly.

In case you are caught in an avalanche, specific measures need to be adhered to as precautions:

  1. Do not panic. Calmness will help you think clearly about how to proceed.
  2. Keep your head above the surface as much as possible. It is necessary that your access to oxygen is not disrupted.
  3. The gear for an avalanche should be handy. Use it for your knowledge.
  4. Clear the snow out of your way by pushing your feet and motioning your hands as if swimming.

Rescue

  1. The best chances you have of rescue are if traveling with companions. Use the probe and transceiver gear to keep track of each other.
  2. Scrutinize the situation before you proceed to rescue a companion. It is possible that neither of you will be able to help each other if the situation becomes too hazardous.
  3. Call for help.
  4. The transceiver can help you narrow down your search area. So, it is essential you keep it on and understand fully about how to operate it.
  5. Avalanche shovels must be kept handy. When you locate the area of rescue, start digging but with caution.
  6. Time is of the essence. It is, therefore, quite essential that you prepare ahead and work non-stop for survival.

FAQs

1. Why do avalanche shovels have a compact design?

Avalanche shovels are well-known for their simple and compact designs, which enable them to be stored in your truck's back or satchels with ease. Also, such models are beneficial to be carried on within the backpack for faster access. Thus, you will never have to wait to clear the snow over the avalanche. You can easily move snow and perform other functions like sawing, chopping, and picking.

2. What are the uses of avalanche shovel?

Once you get proper training and certification, then there are a number of things that can be done using an avalanche shovel:

  1. One can dig snow pits that will help you to analyze the stability of snow.
  2. Take out a buried avalanche victim using the shovel. Thus, it is essential to always carry one avalanche shovel as you might need it anytime.
  3. Create snow shelters that may have varied shapes and sizes.
3. Is it necessary to always carry an avalanche shovel?

Yes, we recommend that you always keep an avalanche shovel with you as it helps you stay prepared for any such hazardous situation like an avalanche to happen. For a quick and easy rescue, an avalanche shovel is the best tool to hold on. Note: Be sure to check the weather conditions of such a place beforehand just to be more cautious.

4. Among the types of shovel blades, which is the best to remove ice/snow?

Although all the shovel blades are useful in snow removal, a scooped blade is the fastest to pull off the snow in a jiffy. Further, a serrated blade is the second-best shovel among all to clear out the ice/snow. Thus, it is up to you to opt for any of the blades between these two.

Final Verdict

A suitable avalanche shovel will not only help you remove snow, but can act as an efficient multi-functional tool catering to your different needs. However, choosing the right tool is entirely a different story. You need to evaluate many factors with respect to the tool.

So, to ease your process, we have gathered all the essential information regarding the tool in this guide. Just go through it, make your mind for the best fit and add an incredible shovel to your toolset.




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