Best Avalanche Shovel

The Best Avalanche Shovels: Top 5 of 2024

Last Updated on January 7, 2024 by James

If you’re skiing off-piste, taking precaution is essential. Heading into the backcountry in search of powder is one of the best experiences you can have on skis, but it can also be incredibly dangerous.

The risk of an avalanche is usually present if you’re skiing powder, so being prepared is vital. That’s where avalanche shovels come in, providing a lifeline in the event of a snowslide burial.

With so many options available, deciding which product to choose can be a challenge. In order to make your life easier, we’ve put together this handy guide that details the best avalanche shovels on the market.

The Best Avalanche Shovels At A Glance

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Summary

Price

    • Ultra-durable aluminium construction

    • Telescopic shaft can be set at two configurations

    • Wide and flat blade

        

        

    • Rigid and sharp aluminium blade

    • Telescopic handle is rubbarized for added grip

    • D-Grip is ergonomic and easy to use

        

        

    • Extendable handle is highly adaptable

    • Integrated saw system for snowpack measurements

    • Highly durable aluminium construction

        

         

    • Low-profile stompable blade

    • Sturdy enough to move big chunks of ice

    • Fast and easy spring-loaded deployment

           

           

    • Shaft is extendable and slip-proof

    • Lightweight and durable aluminium construction

    • Budget friendly price

           

           

    Why Do I Need The Best Avalanche Shovel

    If you love skiing powder, the danger of an avalanche is ever-present. Although it can seem like an unlikely scenario, it’s certainly one you should be prepared for.

    In the event of a snowslide, avalanche shovels can become lifesaving pieces of equipment. Once you have located the buried skier, a sturdy shovel is required to release them from the snow.

    The best avalanche shovels are also useful away from emergency situations. They can allow you to check snow quality in order to prevent avalanches, while also being adaptable to regular snow removing tasks.

    Avalanche shovels also work well for building kickers!

    Carrying a shovel is just one part of the equipment set required to stay safe off-piste. If you want to maximise your chances of avalanche survival, we have also produced a guide to the best avalanche beacons.

    Best Avalanche Shovel
    The Best Avalanche Shovels Can Save Lives

    How To Choose The Best Avalanche Shovel

    Material

    Making sure your shovel is durable will make all the difference in an emergency. It needs to be made from super strong materials, otherwise it’s likely to bend and break.

    The most common avalanche shovel material is aluminium. It provides the strength required to move large amounts of snow, while also being lightweight enough to carry around the mountain.

    Some shovels are produced entirely from plastic. They can prove to be lightweight and cost effective, but they also lack the durability of their metal counterparts.

    If your shovel breaks during an avalanche rescue, it will be completely useless. Stick to shovels made from sturdy metals for the best performance.

    Best Avalanche Shovel
    The Material Your Shovel is Made From Can Make A Big Difference (Image: Clayoquot CC BY-SA 3.0)

    Blade Size

    The size of a shovel’s blade can have a big impact on its performance. Getting the right size blade can depend on your strength, endurance and backpack size.

    Larger shovel blades will allow you to shift a lot of snow quickly, as long as you are strong enough to handle it. Smaller blades don’t allow you to move the snow as fast, but their lightweight feel can help fend off fatigue.

    Pick a blade size that you can handle in the event of an emergency. Additionally, be sure to check it fits inside your backpack before purchasing.

    Shaft

    Many avalanche shovels come with extendable shafts. This allows you to gain the leverage of a long grip, while also maintaining the compact size of a small shovel.

    In order to get the best shovel for you, make sure the shaft extends to a suitable length. Although longer shafts can allow easier leverage, they can also be more challenging to handle.

    Some avalanche shovels come with fixed, short shafts. Although these shovels are easy to manoeuvre, they can be tiresome if you’re trying to shift a large amount of snow.

    Handle

    The best avalanche shovels can come with three types of grip: L-Shaped, T-Shaped and D-Shaped. Each of these handles have their own benefits, so choosing the best option for you is important.

    T-Shaped and L-Shaped handles are the most lightweight and compact. They provide an effective grip, while also remaining easy to store in your backpack.

    D-Shaped handles produce the best grip, allowing you to gain maximum leverage. However, they can be more bulky.

    Remember, you might be wearing ski gloves while you’re digging, so an easy-to-hold handle is vital. This is especially important if you wear mittens, with D-Shaped handles being the best design for maximum grip.

    Best Avalanche Shovel
    Different Shaped Handles Can Suit Different Skiers (Image: Amada 44 CC BY-SA 4.0)

    The Best Avalanche Shovels Reviewed

    Black Diamond Evac 7 Avalanche Shovel

    Key Features

    • Construction: Aluminium
    • Shaft: Telescopic
    • Blade: Large, Flat-Bottom
    • Handle: D-Shaped
    • Best For: Overall

    Black Diamond are known for producing quality ski gear, with the Evac 7 avalanche shovel continuing this trend. It uses a strong and lightweight aluminium build that can collapse to a super-compact size.

    It has an impressive maximum length of 93cm, while it can also be operated at 73cm if required. This shovel can also be used as a hoe for added adaptability, while its D-Shaped handle provides a comfortable dual-density grip.

    The Black Diamond Evac 7 is one of the most durable and adaptable avalanche shovels on the market. Its strong and lightweight construction makes it a favourite amongst backcountry enthusiasts and powder lovers alike.

    Pros

    • Telescopic shaft
    • 2 adjustable operating lengths
    • Durable anodized blade
    • D-Shaped handle provides excellent grip
    • Lightweight aluminium build
    • Can also be used as a hoe
    • Large blade moves snow quickly

    Cons

    • May not fit in all ski backpacks
    • Push-lock shaft connections are a little rattly

    Ortovox Kodiak Avalanche Shovel

    Key Features

    • Construction: Aluminium
    • Shaft: Telescopic
    • Blade: Large, Flat-Bottom
    • Handle: D-Shaped
    • Best For: Best Of The Rest

    The Ortovox Kodiak avalanche shovel is durable, lightweight and adaptable; making it an excellent off-piste companion. It has an ultra-rigid aluminium blade that is sharpened and equipped with non-slip ridges.

    Its telescopic shaft is strong and durable, while also providing a rubberized surface for maximum grip. It also features a D-Shaped handle that is ergonomic and easy to use.

    The Ortovox Kodiak is one of the best avalanche shovels around. It combines an almost indestructible shaft with a strong and rigid blade, making it capable of shovelling snow for many years.

    Pros

    • Durable aluminium construction
    • Strong and rigid blade
    • Blade cutting edge is sharpened
    • Telescopic shaft is non-slip
    • Ergonomic D-shaped handle
    • Lightweight and compact design

    Cons

    • Shaft grip can lack durability
    • Lacking some features offered by other shovels

    KLIM Back Country Avalanche Shovel

    Key Features

    • Construction: Aluminium
    • Shaft: Extendable
    • Blade: Large, Flat-Bottom
    • Handle: D-Shaped
    • Best For: Backcountry Enthusiasts

    If you’re heading into the backcountry, then this KLIM avalanche shovel is a great companion. It’s constructed from durable and lightweight aluminium, with a massive extendable shaft for maximum leverage.

    This shovel has a fully integrated saw system, including a laser-etched depth gauge for slide test and snowpack measurements. It also has an oversized D-Shaped grip that adds practicality to its lightweight feel.

    The KLIM Back Country avalanche shovel uses a quality and sturdy design, along with a saw that can help you stay safe on the mountain. If you are looking for a durable and practical backcountry shovel, this is one of your best options.

    Pros

    • Extendable handle is durable
    • Integrated saw system
    • Snow pack depth checking capability
    • Comfortable D-shaped handle
    • Strong aluminium construction
    • Lightweight and sturdy design

    Cons

    • Saw blade can lack durability
    • Too large to fit in some backpacks

    Backcountry Access Dozer 2H Avalanche Shovel

    Backountry Access Dozer 2H

    Key Features

    • Construction: Aluminium
    • Shaft: Extendable
    • Blade: Large, Curved-Bottom
    • Handle: T-Shaped
    • Best For: Heavy Lifting

    If you’re planning on moving some serious ice, then the Backcountry Access Dozer 2H might be the avalanche shovel for you. It features a solid aluminium construction with a flat ‘stomp edge’ blade capable of breaking solid ice.

    The Dozer 2H comes with a useful ‘ho mode’ for shifting pieces of ice without even lifting the shovel. It also includes practical spring pins for rapid deployment that can even be completed hands-free.

    The Backcountry Access Dozer 2H avalanche shovel provides durability and adaptability during any mountain scenario. It’s built to an exceptionally high standard and has features that make it ideal for the most challenging ski adventures.

    Pros

    • Durable aluminium build
    • Interchangeable ho mode
    • Strong blade edge
    • Heavy duty construction
    • Hands-free deployment
    • Extendable shaft

    Cons

    • Too heavy for some skiers

    YUKON Collapsible Avalanche Shovel

    Key Features

    • Construction: Aluminium
    • Shaft: Collapsible
    • Blade: Large, Flat-Bottom
    • Handle: T-Shaped
    • Best For: Budget

    If you’re looking for a shovel on a budget, the Yukon Collapsible avalanche shovel might be your best bet. It’s constructed from aluminium that provides lightweight durability in backcountry conditions.

    This shovel features a collapsible shaft for easy storage, along with a slip-proof ABS handle for maximum grip. It also has a wide and flat blade that is ideal for shifting large amounts of snow.

    Although this shovel lacks the features of more expensive options, it’s more than capable of keeping most skiers safe when heading off-piste. It is made using high-quality materials and an intelligent design, making it one of the best avalanche shovels available.

    Pros

    • Durable aluminium build
    • Collapsible handle
    • Super-lightweight construction
    • Slip-proof ABS handle
    • Shaft length is fully adjustable
    • Budget friendly price

    Cons

    • Handle can get stuck in extreme temperatures
    • Not the most sturdy option available

    Summing Up

    Skiing powder is one of the best experiences you can have on skis. However, the risk of avalanche can make it a dangerous pursuit.

    The best avalanche shovels can add an element of safety to your backcountry adventures. They have the ability to save lives in a time of crisis, making them a vital piece of equipment.

    Every shovel on this list is designed to be practical and durable in an emergency. Take the time to assess each option and decide which one works best for you.