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The great appeal of backcountry skiing is the ability to get away from the crowds of ski resorts and truly appreciate nature. But the isolation of the backcountry is also its most significant drawback. If something happens to you or someone in your party, it can be difficult or impossible to get in touch with emergency services. That’s why it’s important to stock up on survival essentials. Avalanche shovels are one such essential.
Since all of your gear is going on your back, survival gear has to do double (or triple) duty — it needs to be versatile, lightweight, and durable. The more functions it can perform, the better. And if you’re carrying a lot of gear, the seemingly small difference in ounces starts to add up quickly. After all, you’re probably only bringing one of each survival tool, which means it needs to not break when you need it most. The best avalanche shovels check all of these boxes.
An avalanche shovel can mean a lot of different things — they are not subject to any sort of standardization. But generally, avalanche shovels are lightweight and have collapsible handles. The handles can telescope, fold, or twist off. As the name implies, avalanche shovels can be used to help extract someone who has been covered in snow. Avalanche shovels should be coupled with other survival gear like probes, beacons, and an airbag. Some shovels are modeled after military entrenching tools, and these are designed to suit a variety of settings such as mud, sand and dirt.
Of course, an avalanche shovel can double as a regular snow shovel for clearing snow. You can also keep these in your car when the snowy season hits to help clear snow if you get stuck. And on a lighter note, these shovels will give you a leg up if you’re building a snowman. With that in mind, these are the avalanche shovels to get.
1. Rhino USA Survival Shovel
Rhino’s survival shovel is designed to suit different survival situations. You can use these shovels for off-roading, camping, digging dirt, or clearing snow. It has a pointed blade shape and serrated edges, making it well suited as a multi-tool. The blade can be folded to use as a pickaxe. There’s also a carrying bag.
Pros: Affordable tool that suits multiple situations. Serrated edge for cutting. Folds down to a highly compact shape. Extendable handle
Cons: Takes up more space than some other options.
2. FiveJoy Military Folding Shovel Multitool
This shovel is modeled after tactical tools. But beyond just digging or cutting, FiveJoy packs a lot into its compact tool. The secret is that multiple tools are built into the handle. There’s a whistle, a magnesium rod for starting fires, multiple cutting surfaces, and even a bottle opener. The blade of the shovel has a serrated edge and can be folded for various types of digging.
Pros: Multiple tools built into one, making it ideal for emergency settings. There’s a whistle, various cutting edges, and a magnesium rod.
Cons: More expensive than some other options.
3. SOG Folding Shovel Survival Shovel
This survival shovel from SOG is a great tool to keep for emergency situations. It has a folding design that makes it highly compact and easy to pack, and the sawtooth edge adds extra functionality to the tool. At just 24 ounces, it’ll add a minimal amount of weight to your bag.
Pros: Lightweight design. Folding frame makes it easy to pack. Comes with carrying pouch.
Cons: Its small size means it may take more work to use.