No announcement yet.

has anyone optimized shovel choice lately?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • has anyone optimized shovel choice lately?

    Has anyone nerded out on shovels recently? I'd love to lose some weight in the pack, while still keeping functionality/safety with extendable handle, strong and reasonably sized blade, flat blade back for pits. Would love to piggyback on your research if you are willing to share.

    For example, this Arva Plume looks to be ~1/2 the weight of many others, although maybe a little bit smaller blade than some of the others? Any other brands using carbon shafts to get light and functional shovels?

  • #2
    I've got a few Avy shovels. Kind of a collection. I have one of the Arva Ultra shovels, looks like the Plume you picture. I figure it is so light, I will actually carry it, maybe even skiing Western resorts, and resort/off piste in Europe.
    Having nearly been caught overnight, in the dark on a day tour, here in Vermont, a shovel would have been useful, if we had to dig a snow cave, for an injured skier. We skied out with headlamps. So now I will carry this Ultra. It weighs 316 grams. Click image for larger version  Name:	Arva Ultra shovel 2.jpg Views:	2 Size:	1.26 MB ID:	105065
    Not sure how well it would hold up, chopping frozen blocks of ice. My go to shovel in past, when touring has been the G3 Spade shovel, though the blade is small. Click image for larger version  Name:	Avy shovels 2.jpg Views:	2 Size:	1.67 MB ID:	105064K2 shovel on left, can be used as a hoe too, but quite bulky. G3 Spade red one in center, and below
    G3 Spade here, with handle extended. Click image for larger version  Name:	Arva and G3 shovels.jpg Views:	2 Size:	875.0 KB ID:	105066
    Last edited by chamonix; Yesterday, 11:20 AM.


    • #3
      I just checked the blade size of my Arva Ultra. Blade size is 20.5 X 20.5 cm; same 1.5 mm thick. So smaller blade than your Plume link. Carbon fiber shaft is the same 47 cm long. 28 mm shaft .
      Arva Ultra shaft does not extend.
      link here,
      Last edited by chamonix; Yesterday, 07:52 PM.


      • #4
        I wouldn't say I've done exhaustive research, but using a shovel quite a bit I have one that I think is perfect. Showing out of stock it might be sold out or discontinued.

        Black Diamond Deploy 3.

        We all had different shovels in the house and some old some new. What I realized I wanted was one that was small enough to take out and put back in my pack quickly and frequently. My wife came home from a hut with one of the 'provided' shovels by mistake one year and it was this model (we returned it but not before giving it a good test). We were practicing digging icy snow banks and one of the other shovels broke. I decided to go all in on the Deploy 3.

        Here is a list of pros. No cons (although you might think the 565g weight is a con, you want it to survive chopping avy ice!)
        1. Curved handle works for both hoe style and regular digging without having to change the handle orientation.
        2. The handle slides from stowed into lock mode just by pulling it, there is no fumbling or trying to line things up due to the groove and lock pin.
        3. The shovel and handle together fit in the shovel slot in a pack as one - i.e don't have to be two separate pieces.
        4. Small is better than you think:
        a) fits in pack better
        b) lighter
        c) most of all, when you are tired and digging as fast you can you can do more work by biting off more smaller more manageable pieces faster than if you were moving a large volume of snow which will tire you out. (feel free to test this theory on a snow bank near you).
        5. With a family of skiers we have a lot of different sized packs. This shovel fits all of them.
        6. The leading half of the blade is flat for digging your nice square pits.


        • #5
          when you are tired and digging as fast you can you can do more work by biting off more smaller more manageable pieces faster than if you were moving a large volume of snow
          I agree, why I prefer a smaller blade, like the G3 Spade. Kneeling to dig, seems to work better too? Any opinion on this?


          • #6
            I have that monster G3 shovel like Cham has pictured (red gigantor sized). I always thought it was too big, and much heavier than I needed, but I never bothered to buy a better one.... but you've given me a boost in that direction too now..
            the fall line is your friend.... resistance is futile


            • #7
              There is a natural tendency, especially among males, to fill a larger blade with as much snow as possible. Unfortunately, in a real burial situation, this is a recipe for premature fatigue. When you are moving snow as fast as you can because a partner is buried in an avalanche, a smaller blade prevents you from doing that and you can sustain the effort longer, moving more snow per minute than with a larger blade. I participated in a guide training course last year and we did some pretty realistic practice scenarios digging in snowbanks on the edge of a parking lot. Holy **** when you are on the clock and digging like there is a real person in there, it is exhausting. Very small blades do not move enough snow fast enough. Medium sized shovel blades win. Manuel Genswein did a presentation at the 2018 ISSW in Innsbruck on the new standards, which significantly upgrade the performance of shovels. You can read Lou's comments about it here.

              One element of the shovel standard is that the top of the blade should be flat enough to allow you to stomp on it to chop into hard debris. There must be a tread of at least 6 cm perpendicular to the handle that is less than 10 degrees from horizontal to provide a more secure platform or tread for stepping on the shovel too cut into very hard debris. I have no particular preference for any brand, I would just caution anyone buying a shovel to stick to new shovels bearing the UIAA tag indicating compliance with the most recent standard. Some older shovels with sloping and curved treads may not met other parts of the standard as well, which are more rigorously defined than in the previous standard of 2013.


              • #8
                This is a great thread. Thanks folks.

                The only thing I can add is this: Rescue/emergency is only part of the equation. Hopefully you are digging pits, analyzing the snowpack, and making informed safe decisions. Digging an adequate pit with a small shovel can really cut into your ski time. I usually carry a large-ish shovel, mainly to help remove excuses for why I might feel like digging a pit isn't worth it.


                • #9
                  Here is quite a selection of "euro" shovels.


                  • #10
                    I have an old BD shovel - it is grey and black - I just checked and it is still optimized


                    • #11
                      cesare is right. Mid-sized metal bladed shovels win. Big blades wear you out. Plastic-bladed shovels break. Telescoping handles rule. Hoes are more efficient when moving snow downhill or to the side but a coordinated team of diggers without hoe-capable shovels can out perform an unpracticed team with them.

                      ain't no turn like tele!