There are many snow tools available in winter to clear the ice and snow out of your property, such as snow blowers, roof rakes, ice scrapers, and snow shovels. A snow shovel is a traditional snow removal tool with a flat or curved, rectangular blade. They are best for moving large quantities of snow quickly from sidewalks or smaller areas.
Although a snow shovel looks simple, not all snow shovels can be used in the same way. You must choose a durable snow shovel of the right size and type so that you can shovel snow safely and effectively. This will make snow removal as easy as possible.
Best Snow Shovels
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What to Consider When Buying Snow Shovels?
How much snowfall will you receive in the winter? How much snow do you have to remove? The most suitable snow shovel is actually based on the answers to the above questions.
Most snow shovel blades are made of hard plastic, steel, and aluminum. Before choosing the right material, make sure to consider the climate and snow type in your area.
Plastic snow shovel blades are lightweight and affordable. They can withstand coldness and high humidity without being rust. Thanks to their lightweight, plastic snow shovels are useful for clearing light snow and large shoveling job, without causing damage to your sidewalk or wooden decks. But they are not effective in breaking up ice and scraping through the snow. There are usually metal/hard plastic wear strips on the blades to help shovel snow. Plastic blades will break/crack if they are left outdoors for a long time.
Metal snow shovels are stronger and can handle more snow at a time. Steel blades are the best options to remove heavy snow, chipping hardpack, and can easily break up wet icy snow. They are likely to be a bit heavy, which are not friendly to the elderly and people with backaches. Steel snow shovels are not resistant to rust. They need proper maintenance after each use.
Aluminum snow shovels are very lightweight and can scoop light snow easily with their sharp edges. However, they cannot move heavy amounts of wet snow.
Snow shovels have two main designs: scoop and plow. Both of them have their own strengths.
A plow-type snow shovel would be better if you have to clear large areas of snow from a flat surface. The plow can pull the snow as a pile. It’s not able to lift heavy and wet snow.
The scoop-type snow shovel is the most common shovel type. It is versatile and can handle any type of snow, such as snow on stairs, uneven pavement, or some tight areas. It is likely to lift heavy and wet snow. The steel model can even break and remove ice.
There are many snow shovel blade sizes available. You will need to decide the proper blade size for your shovel based on how much snowfall you have and your actual requirements.
The blade sizes range from 10 to 30 inches, usually referring to the width.
A snow shovel that has a larger blade, approximately 24 inches in width, works well for pushing light snow away from you. Also, it is useful for clearing high-traffic areas such as driveways or sidewalks. It can carry more snow and be heavier than the narrower models.
A small blade shovel, usually between 16 and 22 inches in width, can be used to remove heavy, wet snow.
If you are living in snowy areas, you may want to have at least one shovel for each size. This will ensure that you are covered regardless of the type of snowfall.
There are many materials that snow shovel handles can be made from.
- Wooden handles are light but strong enough. Wooden handles can last many years but you may need to tighten them occasionally because wood expands and contracts with the weather. The poor-quality wooden handle can also warp, splinter, and rot. Make sure you check that before each use. You can use some linseed oil to protect the wood handle from water damage and prolong its life span.
- Metal handles are strong, durable, and can easily handle heavy snow. Some metal handles are light and rust-proof when made from metals like aluminum. However, steel handles can rust if they aren’t kept dry between uses. Metal handles are more vulnerable to becoming cold. You can wear gloves to hold the metal handle.
- Plastic is lightweight and easy to maneuver, but it’s best to keep your plastic shovel indoors if you don’t use it. Sunlight and water can cause the plastic to brittle or change its shape.
- Fiberglass is extremely durable, and strong. They are unlikely to crack because they don’t get rust.
A snow shovel with the correct handle and grip will provide the best user experience.
- Double handles: Some snow shovels have two handles, that offer the user proper leverage and lifting force.
- Telescoping handle: Some snow shovels come with a fully adjustable handle, which allows you to adjust the handle length according to your height. This reduces the strain of shoveling large areas.
- Fold-over handle: The fold-over snow shovels are great for storing in the vehicle just in case you get stuck in a snowstorm and have to clear the snow and mud around the tires.
- Ergonomic bent handle: The snow shovel with a bent handle is ergonomically designed for reducing the need to bend. However, the bent handle makes it hard to push, toss snow and lift heavy loads.
- Wheeled handle: There are two-wheel version and single-wheel version handle designs. With a wheel-connected handle that attaches to your wheel(s), you can easily clear and dump snow when the blade gets piled up and full. This saves your back and takes less time than traditional shovels.
There are also some more ergonomic handle designs at the handle grip. Some snow shovels have D-grip or T-grip handles, which provide a firmer and more comfortable grip than a straight handlebar.
In addition, the diameter of the handle should be able to fit comfortably into your hands, regardless of big or small hands. Some handle rods and grip have foam-padded cushions. This allows you to comfortably do your shoveling work without getting blisters and hand fatigue.
It is important to match the shovel length with your height. Handle length is essential for relieving strain from your back. For tall people, it’s better to choose a long handle snow shovel, while a short handle model is best for short people. Otherwise, the short handle may cause backaches for tall people because it requires a lot of bending to accomplish the task.
For throwing snow, shorter handles work better. For pushing snow, longer handles are better.
Wear Edge Material
This edge contacts the ground to help you break through the ice. Plastic ones are preferred by most experts. These shovels are lighter and have a slightly round edge that allows for the shovel to slide over uneven surfaces without jamming. They are durable and can be used on stone walkways or decks, without causing damage to the surface.
The metal wear edge is stronger than plastic, but they are sharper and can be jammed by uneven pave ways. The shovel user’s shoulders and arms will feel sore. And it usually comes with a harsh noise when pushing the snow on the hard walkways.
How Many Snow Shovels Do I Need?
One or two. If you live in an area only with a few light-to-medium snowfalls every year, a durable snow shovel with a wide blade is efficient enough to remove the snow.
If your property will experience long cold winter with frequent heavy snowfalls, it’s better to have at least two. One wide-blade shovel for pushing snow to a pile, and another one with a narrower blade and lightweight durable handle can be used for lifting or throwing snow. If you want to remove heavy snow quickly and efficiently, as well as ice, you can pair your shovel with a snowblower/electric snow shovel
How to Use Snow Shovel Safely?
- Remove the snow before a thick accumulation. A thick layer of icy snow will increase the difficulty to clear with a snow shovel.
- Wear proper clothes, a loose scarf, a hat, and gloves.
- Wear a pair of warm high rain boots. High boots can reduce the chance of snow entering.
- Start from little. You can increase the snow in your lifted shovel when you know how much you can lift and throw each time.
- Avoid injury by bending your knees instead of your back when lifting snow with a shovel.
Make sure to take breaks often while you move the snow. After warming up, grab a cup of hot water and rest before returning to the snow-clearing task.
- Don’t remove any clothes when you get overheating until you’re at home and take a break.
- If you have any kind of illness, it is best to stay inside and hire a professional to remove snow from your path.
- Prepare an emergency shovel in the car. An aluminum snow shovel with an adjustable and foldable handle will be the best option.