A plastic Snow Claw, while very light and versatile, is not the appropriate tool for all winter applications. Backcountry skiers on avalanche prone terrain above 33 degrees slope angle need a shovel that can penetrate consolidated snow and avalanche debris for safety reasons. A properly designed snow shovel with a handle can provide the leverage to penetrate and dislodge hardened snow.
The 22 ounce (claimed) G3 Spadetech shovel combines a telescoping handle with a relatively small, aluminum, low angled blade with a rounded leading edge designed to penetrate consolidated snow and ice. The main advantage of a spade shovel like this is in how you dig. You don’t have to scoop like you would shoveling a sidewalk, but rather you can jab it aggressively down into hardened snow and pull back using leverage from the handle. That’s also the big advantage of the handle-free Snow Claw design which can move large amounts of snow very quickly…if the snow is not too hardened. The Spadetech looks to be designed to jab, lever, and pull, repeatedly moving small chunks of hard snow over and over to rapidly move material. Note that the small blade of the design is key to making this work, as a larger blade would require too much strength with each stroke.
While perhaps not as suitable for professional guide and rescue use as the Spadetech, the Ortovox Polar snow shovel offers backcountry skiers a remarkably compact package in an unfortunately heavy 22 ounce (claimed) Lexan bladed shovel with a telescoping aluminum handle. The shovel can be quickly deployed just by pulling the handle – there are no separate pieces to assemble. While there are certainly lighter snow shovels available, the Polar’s compact stow size may allow a skier to bring a smaller pack and achieve an overall weight reduction over a bulkier shovel/larger pack system.