Oct 9, 2012 at 9:58 am #1294828
Random Costco find of the week, two pack aluminum "utility" shovels. 3 piece, ~1.3lb each according to packaging, $19.99.
Anyone know how this compares to BPL standards for a winter shovel?
worthy deal?Oct 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm #1919594
John S.BPL Member
Good find. I'd want to know what kind of aluminum it's made of and compare to the snow shovel makers.Oct 9, 2012 at 4:06 pm #1919603
I'll probably buy a pair anyway, as far as i can tell $10 a shovel for these is a really good price just to keep in the car.Oct 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm #1919604
drowning in spamMember
Available on their website too.Oct 9, 2012 at 4:08 pm #1919605
As an avalanche course instructor, with an emphasis on the evaluation of rescue gear, I can tell you that model is by no means the lightest shovel on the market.
But the weight and size (both blade area & shaft length) are very typical of what is considered reasonable for mid-winter use. (The very lightest with metal blades weigh just barely over 16 or 17 ounces, but their shafts are very short.)
I'm skeptical of strength & durability from a no-name knockoff, although some posters at a backcountry skiing forum seem to like them.
For non-rescue work though, seems like a great deal.Oct 9, 2012 at 4:15 pm #1919610
so it sounds like about the same weight as the lighter but with a shorter handle models. only a few ounces different. what determines its "rescue" rating?
does that make it any more or less appropriate for winter backpacking use?Oct 9, 2012 at 4:24 pm #1919612
Realized that I didn’t explain that well…
So by BPL standards, some extremely light shovels are made for ski mountaineering races, either with plastic blades or carbon fiber blades. They meet the letter of the international race rules, but I don’t think anyone ever considers using them for anything else.
Stepping up from that, for about 16 or 17 ounces, you can get a shovel with a sufficiently large metal blade, although the shaft is pretty short. (I even have one for sale if you’re interested – same price as Costco, although plus shipping.)
The Costco shovel claims to be about 1 lb 5 oz. That’s a pretty typical weight for a shovel with a sufficiently long shaft for avalanche rescue.
Is it as strong as a typical avy rescue shovel? Well, who knows how strong avy shovels really are! One etailer ran a pretty good test, but many years ago, on models that are long since discontinued. A very well-respected European expert ran a test more recently, but he subjected the shovels to highly disputed shoveling techniques (more suited to landscape work and corpse recovery), so many of us don’t think it provided any useful info.
So, for the car, winter camping, sure, that’s a great deal. For avy rescue, or any other application where reliability is important, the no-name makes me nervous.Oct 9, 2012 at 4:31 pm #1919617
then the rescue industry just goes by the word of the manufacturer that their shovel is "strong enough"/"reliable enough"?
that alone seems rather sketchy to me. I hear what you're saying about a no-name, but that would give me equal pause about what other shovel manufacturers say, especially if they are charging a lot more money (on that I have no idea).
Anyway, thanks for further explaining! I guess I'm too much of an engineer…
I'll buy a box and report on my findings. if we get some good snow in Boston I'll dig an snow shelter in my backyard with it and let you know how it goes! =DOct 9, 2012 at 4:35 pm #1919619
I have nothing to add to your post except to confirm everything!
Oh, and if you want to learn more about avy safety, I am teaching a course an hour-and-a-half or so from Boston on Nov 18 — the main purpose is to prepare students for the winter field sessions for skiers, but the single day is also designed as a standalone course.
(Moderator note: this is a National Ski Patrol course taught by volunteer instructors, so I do not think this is a commercial solicitation.)Oct 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm #1919621
haha! that doesn't inspire confidence! =P
I actually am interested, I want to get more into the deep winter stuff in general. Sadly, I'll be out of town that date for a wedding =(Oct 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm #1919622
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
I think what has been suggested is that there is a huge spectrum of usage that shovels can get. If you are out doing avalanche rescue and human life is depending on it, you will be leaning on that shovel with all that you are worth. Hopefully, the shaft won't bend or snap. A solid metal grain scoop is a pretty good choice there if you are only trying to move snow. I've seen light duty shovels that are fine for an easy snow camping trip, or if the snow is light and granular. Just don't try to dig into hard crust with them.
I thought that Lifeline was a good knockoff name, after Lifelink.
–B.G.–Oct 9, 2012 at 9:47 pm #1919724
Mary DBPL Member
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
This looks like the same shovel that Fred Meyer (west coast chain) has been selling the last few years. I got one two years ago.
It is a bit wimpy for an avalanche shovel but it's great for keeping in the car, or if the only thing you need it for is to build a snow shelter (i.e. you're doing your snowshoeing on relatively flat ground).
The rate Costco is going, it may replace REI!Oct 9, 2012 at 10:17 pm #1919731
Rod LawlorBPL Member
Do you have a link to the more recent study?
Thanks, RodOct 10, 2012 at 7:32 am #1919798
Link to shovel study:
Link to my reposting of one manufacturer's rebuttal:
Also, as stated previously, although the author of that study is very well-respected for his other work, that one particular study really left many of us baffled. I mean, not only would I never teach any kind of shoveling technique like that in my avalanche safety courses, but if a student started doing anything like that during rescue practice, I would tell the student to stop doing that ASAP and never do it again!
And just to clarify the special demands of avy rescue for a shovel:
1. As should be obvious, someone's life depends on it, so failure has much higher consequences than with other applications.
2. For a victim with a buried airway, survival rapidly drops off after the first 10-15 minutes or so. Put #1 & #2 together, and a not-quite-calm rescuer is probably going to resort to some suboptimal shoveling technique (e.g., prying) which puts more stress on the shovel.
3. Avalanche debris sets up harder than regular snow on the ground. Kind of like when the street snow plow makes a big berm at the bottom of your driveway.Jul 1, 2013 at 7:28 am #2001284
Rick MBPL Member
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