Choosing An Avalanche Shovel

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By now, you may already know that there are so many different types of shovels out there.

Some are well-rounded to be useful in all kinds of situations, while others are specialized to perform only a few tasks but much more effectively.

A perfect example of that is the avalanche shovel used in snowy conditions. 

Avalanches not only occur in snowy conditions but also occur in the spring, summer and fall. 

So an avalanche shovel is a great resources to have year round whether hiking, snowboarding, snowshoeing, skiing.

In this article, we will explore avalanche shovels, sometimes called evacuation shovels.

We’ll look at what they are, why they are essential, and how to select the best one for your needs.

Table of Contents

What Is An Avalanche Shovel

Whether you call it an avalanche or evacuation shovel, the name already suggests that this is a shovel used in emergencies.

This is the kind of shovel that you’ll carry with you when you are headed to areas with lots of snow, especially on the mountainside where avalanches are possible.

When you examine an avalanche shovel, you’ll be able to see that the design of the shovel moves lots of material, in this case, snow, quickly and efficiently.

Why An Avalanche Shovel Is Important

When an avalanche happens, and people end up trapped underneath the snow, time is of the essence.

With every passing second, their likelihood of survival drops even lower.

So, anyone attempting to rescue trapped people will need to clear as much snow in as little time as possible.

Suppose you were in this situation.

You could still use a regular shovel to get through all of that snow; however, it’ll take you a lot more effort and energy to do so effectively.

The shovels that you may already own are usually the ones for garden use only.

Garden use shovels are not designed to work best during an emergency like an avalanche shovel.

That’s where the avalanche shovel comes into play.

A well-designed avalanche or evacuation shovel will make it much easier for rescuers to clear snow and reach any trapped victims.

They usually come with much broader blades that allow you to move more snow every single time.

As these shovels are for use in emergencies, manufacturers typically make them using very durable materials.

Having durable materials means you’ll be able to focus on the job of clearing the snow. 

What Makes A Good Avalanche Shovel?

Now that we know what avalanche shovels are and how to use the shovel let’s explore the unique qualities to look for that make them the ideal shovel during an emergency.

Comfortable Handle

Like any other kind of shovel, it’s vital to have one that has a comfortable handle.

Typically, avalanche shovels come with D-handles that you can grip very comfortably.

The importance of a comfortable handle on a shovel, especially one you’re planning on using for emergencies, needs to be considered.

With a comfortable grip, you’ll be able to use the shovel for a more extended period without getting tired too soon.

A D-handle is an excellent quality to have on a shovel when you’re working in your garden, but it’s a potentially lifesaving one after an avalanche when seconds matter.

34″ Folding Emergency Shovel

Telescopic Shaft

Some of the best avalanche shovels come with telescopic shafts.

For one, that makes the shovel much more portable, so you can carry it in your backpack while you’re hiking or skiing, for example.

The easier it is to keep the shovel on you, the more likely you will take it with you everywhere you go.

When you’re in a situation that requires the shovel, you can extend the shaft and get to work within seconds.

Large Blade Area

All shovels made for moving material tend to have a larger or broader blade area.

Avalanche shovels are no different, considering how you’ll need them to move as much snow as possible with each shoveling motion you make.

Still, having a large blade area is of little use without high sides.

On an avalanche shovel, the sides of the blade are elevated to prevent snow from slipping off when you’re moving it to the side.

In simpler terms, not only can you pick up a lot of snow on an avalanche shovel, but that snow will also stay on the blade so you can move it aside.

MSR Responder Snow Shovel

Sharp Edge

A useful avalanche shovel also has sharp edges on its blade.

Those sharp edges will allow you to cut through thicker sections of snow or other debris as you make your way to the people you’re rescuing.

Backcountry Access T3 Rescue Package

Suppose you’re rushing to rescue someone trapped underneath the snow.

Your goal is to help, and one of the worst possible things that could happen is your shovel snapping in half from being used too intensely.

That’s why an avalanche shovel must be made not only from sturdy materials but those that are unbreakable as well, so it won’t fail you while you’re using it during an emergency.

As you can see, any regular shovel will still be useful during an avalanche situation.

With an avalanche shovel, you’ll have a tool designed to cater to the unique needs of an emergency.

With its portability, you can carry it with you wherever you go, allowing you to respond to an emergency  within seconds.

If you are looking for a multipurpose survival shovel  we have you covered. 

Check out our information and buyers guide on survival shovels.

Back pain shovel

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