The verdict is in on metal avalanche shovels. When time and tenacity matter, high-tensile aluminum can be implicitly trusted over plastic. Over the last decade the collective body of evidence from avalanche pros have concluded the only dependable shovel is a metal shovel. Here’s why we use metal in all our avy shovels.
When a slide releases, the kinetic energy of the moving snow generates heat from friction, and consequently sets up like concrete as soon as it comes to s stop. Avalanche debris is roughly 40% density water, or 400 pounds per cubic meter. So, if your friend is buried two meters deep, you’ve moving up to 800 pounds of snow to free them. Why not have the strength and dependability on your side?
Metal shovels cut and chop through debris easier because of their physical properties; they might bend a little with prolonged use, but chances are they’re not going to break. The same cannot be said for polycarbonate (Lexan) blades. While they’re substantially strong in their own right, they still can break long before a metal blade. And, they have a flex that deflects off dense snow and ice, making the process more difficult and time-consuming for would-be rescuers.
Avalanches aside, strong metal shovels are favored for snow science too. For the last few years, the G3 go-to tool is the AviTech. It has a handle that extends to 34 inches and weighs about 27 ounces (770g). The AviTech can also be configured into a shorter handled “ultralight” option that weighs 5 ounces less. The blade’s straight, flat surfaces are efficient for constructing smooth pit walls, helping keep your profiles consistent and uniform. The blade is also an ideal size configuration for tap tests.
G3 has also created the highly acclaimed SpadeTech. Designed for more alpine and glacier use, the rounded leading edge of the blade is good for penetrating consolidated snow and harder surfaces; and the T-handle allows the user the freedom of one-handed manipulation. The in-line blade/handle works on the paddle shoveling method, which is superior in high angle terrain, digging platforms and adjusting skin tracks. The female-specific SpadeTech Elle is the same shovel, in a compact design that fits easily into a women’s proportionally smaller pack. The slightly more compact handle length allows women to move snow with technique rather than brute strength.
G3 very much aspires to be genuine. Matching strength and dependability with user-friendly efficiency and light-weight performance, G3’s aluminum shovels continue evolving as a trusted tool in avalanche science, mountain rescue and backcountry travel.