Best Avalanche Shovels Reviewed & Rated for Quality
When you’re readying your pack, you only want to bring the essentials and you don’t want to weigh your pack down. The products we feature on this list are made from lightweight, yet durable metals that can be broken down to fit nicely into your bag.
And these avalanche shovels don’t just come in handy during true-to-life avalanches. You can use the various features on our products to assist in digging out snowmobiles, cutting away small brush, and even in general camping situations.
So if you’re an adventurer who hits the snow frequently, take a look at this Ten Best List and select the potentially life-saving shovel that’s right for you.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When making this 10 Best List we highly considered the materials that each product is made out of. Why? Because if you’re going to be using these products in cases of emergency, you’ll want to be sure that they can actually perform under pressure.
All of the products on our list are made out of aluminum. Aluminum is a unique metal in that it is incredibly lightweight and also has the potential to be very durable (depending on how it is treated).
Obviously, if you’re planning on packing this product in your backpack and taking it on the trail with you, it’s important that it be as lightweight as possible.
While all of the products on our list are made from aluminum, how the aluminum has been treated varies. The more times the aluminum has been heat treated, the stronger it is and the more resilient it is. That means it is more likely to hold its shape and not bend under pressure.
When looking at features, we considered the bonus components that each product offers apart from the shaft and the blade.
Starting at the top, we took a look at each handle. Some of our products have a T handle and some have a D handle.
T handles are shaped like a T and are easier to pack in your pack because of their shape configuration. If you have a smaller pack, you’ll want to go with a T handle. D handles are a bit bulkier, but this makes them easier to use, especially if you have on thick winter gloves. There is 1 product on our list that is a hybrid of both of these handles, and one that has no handle at all.
One product on our list features a built-in compass on the handle. It also features a saw that is stowed inside of the shaft and can be removed to handle debris. Plus, there are a few products that have rubberized grips for making handling easier.
We love products that have double locking button features. These work with the telescoping function to lock the shaft, handle, and blade in place. With double locking features, you can rest assured that the shovel won’t collapse under you when you’re trying to use it.
Finally, we really love the 90-degree blade adjustment feature. Around 3 of our products have a blade that can be adjusted to assume a 90-degree angle to the shaft. This is great for hacking and removing debris and snow quickly.
Size was an important consideration as well. We, as we mentioned before, value products that are lightweight. We also value products that have adjustable heights. This allows for better control and maneuverability.
Plus, we were looking for the sturdiest products in the most compact packages so that you aren’t burdened by the size and tempted to leave this potentially life-saving tool behind.
Ease of Use
When thinking about ease of use, we considered how quickly a shovel can be put together, how easily it can be maneuvered, and how easily it is can be stored in your pack or car. Just as it is important to have a safety helmet when you're on your snowmobile, it is equally important to have an emergency shovel that works.
Most of the products on our list can be assembled in less than 30 seconds. That means they’re ready to spring into action when you are.
Many of our featured products are ergonomically designed so that they are easy to maneuver. Products with D handles and rubberized grips score highly here.
And products that can telescope down and be broken down into multiple easy-to-pack pieces score highly in this category as well.
We organized our list so that you can get the best bang for your buck. That’s why our most premium shovel is Number 10, not Number 1. We looked for the most essential features and construction that you can depend on at the lowest cost to order our list.
Ten Best Avalanche Shovels
1. Demon Escape Ally
The Demon Escape Ally Shovel ranks number one on our list for so many reasons. It is durable, it is lightweight, and it is loaded with features to make it pretty much the best avalanche shovel for whatever the wild throws at you. At just 2 pounds, and being fully collapsible, this is a perfect option for those who don’t have a ton of spare room in their packs.
Compass In Handle
The emergency tool is absolutely loaded with features.
To start, the T handle-which features a rubber grip-doubles as an ice-pick. If you’re looking for avalanche shovels and probes, look no further. The metal tip is super strong, but not sharp enough to accidentally cause you any injury. This pick is great for clearing away ice on snowmobiles and skis.
On the opposite end of the handle, you’ll find a built-in compass that is super helpful when all of your other gear is out of commission and you are having trouble orienting yourself.
Plus! When you remove the handle from the shaft (also locked in with a double locking mechanism), you will reveal a wood saw. This guy will come in handy if you need to cut through brush or saw through logs for safe passing.
Made from Lightweight Aluminum
The Demon Escape Ally is made from aluminum-both the blade and the shaft. This works to deliver you a product that is, at the same time, lightweight and super strong.
The shaft of the shovel can be adjusted with its telescoping function and extends from 31 inches long to 41 inches long. The shaft clicks into place on both sides of the shovel for ultimate locking power so you don’t have to worry about the shaft slipping while you’re working.
The shovel head is both deep and wide. It measures 10 inches long and about 2 inches deep. It detaches totally from the shaft and is secured to the shaft with a double locking mechanism as well.
Cost and Value
This tool rings up around the middle of our price range and we love its value because it comes fully apart, it is lightweight and durable, and because it is loaded with bonus features to help you in an emergency situation.
2. Ortovox Kodiak
The Ortovox Kodiak is another of the super-premium options on our list. It is loaded with tons of innovative features that make it both a reliable, life-saving device and an extremely handy tool in the most severe of winter weather conditions.
Rubberized Grips at Handle and Towards Base
The Ortovox Kodiak features a D handle that makes shoveling with thick winter gloves on far easier than having to work with a T handle. This handle features a rubberized grip so neither your hands nor your gloves will slip when operating it.
Plus, there is an additional rubberized gripping section towards the base of the product to provide a secure grip for your non-dominant hand while shoveling. This helps to ensure that you can get the job done more quickly which means a lot in an emergency situation.
90 Degrees Easy Clearing Function
This tool boasts some blade features that make this product a game-changer. The blade is made from super durable aluminum that has been anodized and hardened. The blade features sharpened notches on the bottom so it won’t slip and so it can cut through tougher winter messes. Plus, it can hold a whopping 3.1 liters which puts it above most of the other products on our list.
But perhaps the coolest function is the 90-degree easy clearing function. This allows you to adjust the shovel to a 90-degree angle from the shaft so you can use this product to perform a sort of hacking motion or lever motion to clear away more debris faster.
The fully telescoping shaft has an oblong shape which allows for more rigidity so you can rest assured that this product won’t snap under pressure. You can break this puppy down to fit securely in most sized packs.
Cost and Value
This shovel rings up at the top of our price range and we love its value because it boasts some pretty unique features that are game-changers in the emergency hustle. If you have the money to shell out on this guy, you really can’t go wrong here.
3. Black Diamond Evac
The Black Diamond Evac Shovel is another stand-out on our list. It is fully collapsible and made from lightweight and sturdy aluminum. With a couple of different size options, you’ll be sure to be able to find the fit for your pack.
Can Remove Handle for Easy Packing
The Black Diamond Evac Shovel is made from aluminum so you know you’re getting a product that will perform in harsh conditions and that won’t weigh you down in the process. In fact, the shovel itself only weighs 1 pound and 13 ounces. It’s one of the lightest on our list.
This option is also totally collapsible for easy packing. You can simply remove the D handle and the blade to pack this item safely in your bag. The Evac has a telescoping feature and the shaft measures 26 inches long fully extended. All locking features are single locking. When fully assembled, this buy is 3 feet, 1 inch long.
2 Different Size Options
The Black Diamond Evac Shovel comes in 2 different sizes so you can find just the right fit for your pack. Choose between blades that have .7 gallon capacity and .9 gallon capacity. Including depending on how much space you have available in your pack, you’ll want to consider what you’ll be mostly using your shovel for. For smaller work with machines, a smaller blade it ideal.
Cost and Value
The Black Diamond Evac Shovel rings up at the top of our price range and we love its value because it is adjustable and comes in multiple size options. Plus, the aluminum is sturdy and will work no matter what situation comes at you.
4. Backcountry Access B-1
The Backcountry Access B-1 is another incredible lightweight option that you can rely on. Whether you’re planning on storing this purchase in your car or you are taking it on the go with you in your pack, it won’t crowd your space.
This item is made from incredibly lightweight aluminum. It weighs just 1.3 pounds. The T handle is made from plastic and has an ergonomic design which makes it easy to wield. The oval shape of the shaft works to make the product easier to handle as well.
Breaks Down into 3 Pieces
This emergency shovel is the perfect companion for taking along with you on your next big adventure. The product breaks down into 3 pieces that are no higher than 16 inches per piece. When the product is assembled, it measures 22 inches long when it is fully collapsed. When the product is assembled and fully extended, it measures 28 and 3 quarter inches long.
The blade on this product is on the smaller end of the spectrum, but still totally gets the job done. It measures 9.8 inches by 10 inches. It is not as deep as some other options so it is easy to store in your pack.
Cost and Value
The Backcountry Access B-1 rings up in the middle of our price range and we love its value because it’s incredibly lightweight and breaks down so it’s super easy to stow in smaller packs with limited space.
5. AceCamp Snow
This option from AceCamp is an incredible budget-friendly choice for those who need emergency gear but don’t have tons to shell out on it. This product is made using similar materials and has similar features to more expensive items and will still help you dig out that stuck vehicle in a pinch.
This option from AceCamp is made from quality aluminum that is treated to be rust-resistant against harsh winter elements. It is designed to resist becoming misshapen when coming into contact with hard ice. And despite its durability, it only weighs 1.16 pounds making it one of the lightest options on our list.
Collapses and Extends in a Flash
This pick from AceCamp will not break totally apart like other items on our list, but it still collapses down enough to make it easy to store in your pack. When it is fully extended, it measures 25.8 inches tall (so a little shorter than most of the other options on our list). When this product is fully collapsed, it measures just 17.2 inches long. You can whip this product out and put it to use in a matter of seconds. The blade measures 9.1 inches wide.
Cost and Value
This option from AceCamp rings up at the very bottom of our price range and we love its value because it offers up many of the same features of other more expensive products at about half the cost.
6. UST U-Dig-It Extreme
The UST U-Dig-It Extreme is another incredibly budget-friendly option that will help you to stay safe when winter hits hard without breaking your snow-going bank. It’s sturdy enough to get the job done whether you’re in the wild or in your truck.
Handle Curved for Ergonomic Design
The UST U-Dig-It Extreme features an ergonomically designed T handle that is curved to make tackling heavy jobs a little easier on your hands and forearms. In fact, the design is patent-pending. The handle itself is made from molded plastic. It is permanently attached to the shaft and cannot be removed from it.
Long Shaft and Deep Blade
The UST U-Dig-It Extreme is a great little portable option.
The shaft collapses totally into the blade of the product. When fully collapsed, the product measures just 16.25 inches long. When this product is fully extended, it measures 29.5 inches long (making it slightly longer than other options on our list). What’s great about this product is that you can collapse the shaft with the telescoping method and you can also fully remove the shaft if you wish.
The blade of the UST Extreme 8.25 inches wide, making it a little smaller than other blades on our list. However, the blade is still deep at 2.5 inches so it’s plenty big enough to tackle those tough jobs on the fly.
Cost and Value
The UST U-Dig-It Extreme rings up at the very bottom of our price range and we love its value because you won’t have to shell out tons of money to ensure that you’re safe on the trail or on the road.
The Telepack is an amazingly strong and powerful option that is both easy to store and affordable. It breaks down for you pack nicely and can even be converted into an emergency sled if the situation calls for it.
Emergency Sled Holes
The Telepack is outfitted with a super strong blade. It is a little smaller and not as deep as other options on our list, but it is reliable. Plus, it features to “deadman holes” that you can use for rigging an impromptu snow fluke or sled in case of certain emergencies.
Practically as Strong as Steel
The Telepack is comprised of aluminum that has been heat treated in such a way that makes it practically as strong as steel. But you get all the strength of steel without all of the weight here.
The Telepack weighs 1 pound, 11 ounces. This does make it one of the heavier options on our list, but it is still lightweight enough to toss in your pack without weighing you down.
The shaft telescopes totally. At its maximum extension, it measures 35 and a half inches long. All of the button locking mechanisms are double locking which makes them super secure and ensures that the shaft won’t slip closed when you’re using it. Its T handle makes it easier to store in your bag.
Cost and Value
The Telepack rings up in the middle of our price range and we like its value because it is made from premium aluminum at a non-premium price.
8. SubZero Heavy Duty Emergency
The SubZero Heavy Duty Emergency is a nice middle of the road option for emergency situations. With a couple of different configuration options, you’ll be able to get the job done with this guy.
Adjust Blade for Extra Function
The SubZero Heavy Duty Emergency can perform a couple of different functions all in one. First, you can use the SubZero as a typical shovel with the blade at a straight angle to the shaft. But then, you can adjust the blade of the shovel and secure it to the shaft at a 90-degree angle for hacking away at debris and quick removal of snow.
The SubZero Heavy Duty Emergency is made using heavy-duty aluminum and is built to last and survive emergency situations. And even though it’s comprised of durable materials, it only weighs 1.15 pounds so it won’t weigh you down along the way.
The shaft of the SubZero is a bit longer than some of the other items on our list, measuring in at 30 inches long when the shaft is fully extended. The handle is designed asymmetrically to give you the best leverage possible and to maximize your efforts.
This product is fully collapsible into itself and can also be taken apart in 2 pieces for even easier storage in your car or in your pack.
Cost and Value
The SubZero Heavy Duty Emergency rings up on the lower end of our price range and we love its value because it offers up some unique features that more premium models do at about half of the price.
9. Black Diamond Transfer
The Black Diamond Transfer is one that has also had a lot of research and development go into it. With an innovative shaft and handle, this lightweight option will give you all the power and leverage that you need no matter what the situation.
Hybrid T and D Handle
The Black Diamond Transfer has a few unique features that showcase just how well thought out this product is.
The innovative handle is actually a hybrid of the T handle and D handle. T handles are ideal for more compact storage, while D handles are easier to maneuver with heavy, thick gloves on. This handle makes the best of both worlds. It can completely detach for easy packing in small spaces and it has a thicker grip so it’s easier to hold onto when wearing gloves.
Trapezoid Shaft for More Power
The Black Diamond Transfer is also made from heavy-duty aluminum, but it only weighs 1 and a half pounds, soaking wet.
The shaft of this option has a unique shape that you won’t see on other products on the market. While many products out there have an oval-shaped shaft to aid in strength and leverage, this shaft has a trapezoidal shape to double down on those properties even more. The shaft is fully collapsable with its telescoping design, and it can also be totally removed for easier packing.
The blade of the Black Diamond Transfer can hold .3 gallons. This isn’t the largest on our list, but it will definitely get the job done in terms of being able to free up the wheels and blades of vehicles in emergencies. Plus, you can convert this blade into an emergency sled as well.
Cost and Value
The Black Diamond Transfer rings up in the middle of our price range and we like its value because you can tell that a lot of research and development went into this product to make it a great performing option.
10. Backcountry Access D-2 Dozer
The Backcountry Access D-2 Dozer is the most premium item on our list and it shows. It is similar to its brother featured at Number 3 above but goes a little bit further to make this the go-to for the most extreme winter weather conditions out there.
Comes with a Foldable Saw
The Backcountry Access D-2 Dozer comes with a nice bonus item that is bound to come in handy should a disaster strike. The foldable saw has a high-strength handle made from polymer plastic and the blade is made from stainless steel with hyper-sharp teeth that can cut through debris like it’s nothing.
While the saw comes included with your purchase, it does not fold into or tuck away into the body of the shovel, so you will have to carry it separately.
Outfitted with an Indestructible Blade
The Backcountry Access D-2 Dozer is made from the most quality materials.
The shaft is made from high-power aluminum and can fully collapse on itself. The shaft pops into place securely with double locking button mechanisms so you can rest assured that the shaft and blade won’t slip while in use. You can either collapse the shaft with its telescoping mechanism or you can remove the shaft all together for easier packing.
The blade of the D-2 Dozer is made from aluminum that has been heat-treated 6 times. This makes it a stronger blade than any other product’s on our list. Because aluminum is lightweight, it can sometimes be misshapen. You won’t see that happening here with this product. It is advertised as being bomb-proof.
Plus, you can use the shovel typically with the blade at a 180-degree angle to the shaft, or you can adjust the blade to a 90-degree angle for clearing debris quickly.
Cost and Value
The Backcountry Access D-2 Dozer rings up at the very top of our price range and we like its value because it is practically bomb proof and is built to last for the long haul so it’s worth the money not to have to continually replace the product. Plus, you can rest easy knowing it will tough through whatever the winter wild throws your way.
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