Excavators - Snow safety

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Those who go off the marked slopes for ski touring or freeride must have full avalanche safety equipment. The shovel plays just as important a role here as the DVA or probe. The construction, functionality and safety standards of the excavator are decisive criteria when purchasing.

Having the right avalanche excavator and using the right digging technique saves valuable time that can save lives in the event of an avalanche. But what makes a good avalanche shovel? What structure and features should it have? Find out now to find out!

With BLACK DIAMOND, MAMMUT, PiEPS, ORTHOVOX or the safety equipment CAMP , Alpinstore offers you a wide selection of avalanche shovels!

Important criteria for the purchase of my future shovel

  • The bucket

The shovel bucket perhaps plastic or else metal. Plastic is obviously less solid and is less resistant to very cold temperatures. It won't be able to attack very hard snow. For use in high mountains, where the weather conditions are very harsh, the metal bucket, which is more "sharp" in the snow, is preferable. They are often made of aluminium or carbon. The metal shovel could clear more quickly an avalanche victim which you would assist.

Opt for a large bucket volume: It should be big enough to carry a lot of snow in a short time, but it shouldn't be too big either, otherwise the shovels will become too heavy.

High edges are better! Thanks to the edges that go up well on the sides of the bucket, the snow stays well in the shovel when digging, without being able to flow out through the sides. High side edges ensure more efficient shovelling.

Tipping over to pickaxe function: a good avalanche shovel should be able to tip over to pickaxe function in a single movement. Thus, with the right strategy, the snow can be cleared more efficiently in the second row to save precious time to save a life.

  • The handle and grip

Telescopic handle: it offers a larger lever arm for faster and more efficient digging. In addition, excavators with a telescopic handle take up less space and are therefore easier to carry in the backpack.

Oval section handle: it is much stiffer than a round section handle. In addition, the clip for adjusting the length of the telescopic handle becomes much easier and more intuitive to use.

Emergency sled function: The 4 holes in the shovel allow it to be used to build an emergency sled to evacuate an injured person in case of emergency.

How to choose the size of your avalanche shovel?

The length of the handle is an important characteristic: it is recommended that the length of the handle be adapted to the user's size, as the leverage effect he will operate with his arm and the shovel handle will be maximum. He will be able to be more efficient and carry more snow with each shovel and thus dose his effort: it should not be forgotten that this can be a race against time, whether it is an exercise organised in a mountain rescue club, or a real situation where lives may be at stake. The efficiency of the shovel, which depends very much on the length of the handle, is therefore an essential criterion.

The disadvantage of a very long handle is of course the transport of the shovel since the owner must carry it with him. A long shovel cannot fit in a backpack and will therefore inevitably be a rather bulky accessory. A good compromise between efficiency and ease of transport can be the telescopic handle that is proposed for some models. It has the advantage of being stored more easily in "closed" mode but is very efficient once the handle is extended. Note that for very hard snow, some models of excavators are designed to be used as a pickaxe.

Whether it is for the purchase of an avalancheprobe or of a shovelIf you have any questions, please be very careful about the characteristics of the equipment you buy: it is about your safety and the safety of those who accompany you.

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