Anyone who goes off-piste for ski touring or freeriding must have a complete avalanche safety kit. The shovel is just as important as the avalanche transceiver or probe. The construction, functionality and safety standards of the shovel are decisive criteria when making a purchase.
Having the right avalanche shovel and using the right digging technique can save valuable time and 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!
The bucket of the shovel can be made of plastic or metal. Plastic is obviously less solid and less resistant to very cold temperatures. It will not necessarily be able to attack very hard snow. For a high mountain use, where the climatic conditions are very rough, it is necessary to privilege the metal bucket, more "sharp" in the snow. They are often made of aluminium or carbon. The metal shovel could free an avalanche victim more quickly an avalanche victim to which you would give assistance.
Choose a large bucket: It should be big enough to carry a lot of snow in a short time, but it should not be too big either, otherwise the shovels become too heavy.
High edges are better! The edges of the bucket are high enough to ensure that the snow stays in the bucket when digging, without running off the sides. High side edges ensure more efficient shoveling
Switching to pick function: A good avalanche shovel should be able to switch to pick function in one movement. This way, with the right strategy, snow can be cleared more efficiently in the second row, saving valuable time and saving a life.
Telescopic handle: it offers a greater leverage arm which allows a faster and more efficientshoveling . In addition, telescopic handle shovels take up less space and are therefore easier to carry in the backpack
Oval section handle: it is much more rigid 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.
Rescue sled function: The 4 holes in the shovel allow it to be used to build a rescue sled to evacuate an injured person in case of emergency
The length of the handle is an important feature: it is recommended that the length of the handle be adapted to the user's size, as the leverage that he will operate with his arm and the handle of the shovel will be maximum. He will be able to be more efficient and carry more snow with each shovelful and thus measure his effort: it should not be forgotten that this can be a race against the clock, whether it is an exercise organized in a mountain rescue club, or a real situation where lives may be at stake. Shoveling efficiency, which is very much dependent 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 has to carry it with him. A long shovel cannot fit in a backpack and will therefore necessarily be a rather bulky accessory. A good compromise between efficiency and ease of transport can be the telescopic handle which is proposed for certain models. It has the advantage of being easier to store in "closed" mode but of being very efficient once the shaft is deployed. Note that for very hard snow, some shovel models are designed to be used as a pickaxe.