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The 6 Best Backcountry Avalanche Shovels of 2021-2022

We all know when to call a spade a spade, right? But what about when the spade in question is actually an avalanche shovel? Well, that makes things a little more complicated. Even though most avalanche shovels spend most of their time safely in your pack, your choice in snow safety gear really matters. You don’t want to be let down or feel like you cheaped out when a touring partner’s life is on the line. That’s why we’ve put together this collection of what we feel are the best avalanche shovels on the market. These are tried and tested designs that are all small and light enough to not be obtrusive in your pack but will allow you to move a lot of snow in a hurry if an emergency does occur.

The best backcountry shovels are the sort of purchase that can last you a decade, so shop wisely and find yourself a shovel that will have your back for years.


BCA Dozer 1T

Best 2021-2022 backcountry avalanche shovels
 
 

BCA makes a whole bunch of avalanche shovels, but the Dozer 1T is consistently the top-selling avalanche shovel in North America, which should tell you something about its popularity and versatility. Most of that comes down to the fact that it has every feature it needs, and none that it doesn't. The telescoping handle is easy to adjust, even with gloves, hoe mode makes it easy to move a lot of snow fast, and the mid-sized blade strikes a nice balance of being able to dig quickly without taking up too much room in your pack.

If you’re buying your first avalanche shovel, this is our top choice. And, if you’ve had a bunch of different shovels but just want something simple and reliable that gets the job done, the Dozer 1T won’t let you down either. It’s one of the best backcountry avalanche shovels, at a great price.

Blade SizeOther Features Original Price 
9"x10.5”Hoe Mode$54.95

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Black Diamond Transfer LT

Best 2021-2022 backcountry avalanche shovels
 
 

There are plenty of backcountry days every season where the chances you’ll actually need an avy shovel are close to zero, but it’s worth carrying one anyway. That’s where the Black Diamond Transfer LT comes in. It’s the lightest UIAA certified shovel on the market. That means it’s about as light as you can get without sacrificing usability in a real emergency. This makes it one of the best avy shovels for long spring tours, skimo racing, and any day where you know you should carry a shovel, but weight and efficiency are at a premium.

For beginner skiers, and folks who only do short tours, the Transfer LT will be overkill, but if you’re trying to save grams through your whole kit, the Transfer LT is a great place to cut some weight.

SizeOther Features Original Price 
550cm x 550cm405 g weight$89.95

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BCA Dozer 3D

Best 2021-2022 backcountry avalanche shovels
 
 

The BCA Dozer 3D is for snowsports enthusiasts who want to step things up a notch. It’s huge by backcountry shovel standards, which means it can move a lot of snow very quickly. That’s key if you’re building features in the backcountry, or just want a shovel that can help you dig your car out of a snowdrift fast. It’s too big to fit in some avalanche packs, so check your pack dimensions, at this size it is also one of the best snowmobile shovels.

If you want to move a lot of snow fast, and want a collapsible, packable shovel to do it with, you won’t go wrong with the Dozer 3D.

SizeOther Features Original Price 
11"x13.3”D handle$69.95

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Mammut Alugator Pro Light

Best 2021-2022 backcountry avalanche shovels
 
 

Mammut’s Alugator Pro Light strikes a nice balance between do-it-all shovels like the BCA Dozer and specialized ultralight options like the BD Transfer LT. It’s right in the middle weight-wise and has a great feature set. It can adapt to hoe mode to help you move lots of loose snow fast, and it has a D handle to keep your hand comfortable for big rescues. Finally, it also has holes so it can be used as a snow anchor for impromptu crevasse rescue or rappels. The handle collapses down small, so it should fit in just about any pack, and the oval shaft is light and stiff.

For more experienced skiers looking for a full-featured shovel that doesn’t come with as much of a weight penalty, the Alugator Pro Light is hard to beat.

SizeOther Features Original Price 
27.5cm x 24cmHoe Mode$99.95

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Arva Ultra

Best 2021-2022 backcountry avalanche shovels
 
 

The Arva Ultra takes the same lightweight philosophy of the BD Transfer IT even further. It’s over 100 g lighter, with a carbon handle construction, and aluminum blade. That means it doesn’t meet UIAA certs but does meet ISMF and PDG standards. What does that actually mean out in the mountains? Well, this is not the shovel to bring if you dig a lot of snow pits, or are at all likely to have to use it in earnest. Sure, it will move snow, but not as fast as the other options on this list, and that’s a big deal when your partner’s life is on the line.

So what is the Ultra good for? Multiday trips in safer terrain are a great use case, as well as skimo racing. This is not your everyday shovel, instead, it’s a piece of specialty gear that gives you some good insurance at the lowest weight possible.

SizeOther Features Original Price 
21x21 cm300g weight$84.95

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Ortovox Pro Light

Best 2021-2022 backcountry avalanche shovels
 
 

Ortovox has been developing backcountry-focused equipment for over 40 years and their attention to innovation is evident when looking at the details on the Pro Light Shovel. This lightweight Ortovox avalanche shovel underwent careful consideration when being designed so that all of the notches in the shovel blade helped to shave off weight while not sacrificing rigidity or durability. The shaft telescopes allowing for rapid closure that can be quickly adjusted.

In addition to its snow-moving capabilities, the shovel can also be utilized to build a rescue sled or work as a snow anchor. When heading out on your next tour, make sure to include this pack-friendly shovel in your setup

Blade SizeOther Features Original Price 
27 x 21 x 4.5 cmRescue Sled Function$70

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