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You Might Want to Snag One of These Best Shovels for the Next Snowstorm

·11 min read
Photo credit: Lakota Gambill
Photo credit: Lakota Gambill


"Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through the links below."

To free your sidewalks and driveway of snow and ice after a winter storm, you’re going to want a good shovel. The right tool can clear snow faster, putting less strain on your back and arms. Over the three two years, we’ve rigorously tested more than a dozen models to find out which is worth your hard-earned buck.

Read quick info below on the best snow shovels from our testing. Then keep scrolling to find buying advice, safety tips, and in-depth reviews of these and other top-performing models.

Find the Right Shovel

Shovels come in three primary types, each designed for slightly different ways of moving snow. There are shovels built to lift, ones to push, and those made to do both. Each kind is useful to have, but if you’re looking for an all-around workhorse, choose the versatility of a combination shovel.

Many shovels have a heavy-duty polypropylene blade that won’t damage sensitive surfaces like wooden decks. Just beware, this plastic material is less effective at scraping hard-packed snow or breaking up ice, which is why some poly blades feature metal wear strips. Those are useful but still not a true replacement for a steel or aluminum blade. These metals are heavier than plastic and, in the case of steel, prone to rusting. But the trade-off can be worth it if you’re calf deep in heavy, ice-crusted snow.

You should also consider blade width and handle features. Larger blades can move more snow. This is useful for push shovels but less so if you plan to mostly lift snow. One square foot of snow can weigh between 3 and 21 pounds, depending on whether the snow is dry and light or wet and heavy. Martin Tirado, CEO of the Snow & Ice Management Association (SIMA), recommends selecting a blade that is 24 inches or less in width for traditional and combination shovels. If you want a push shovel, the blade can be even wider, he says. An ergonomically designed handle that’s bent at an angle, has a smooth curve, or outfitted with a smaller second handle to help you lift the shovel can also help reduce strain on your body by requiring less exertion of your lower back muscles.

Safety and Best Practices

Shoveling snow is a labor-intensive task that leads to an average of 11,500 injuries and medical emergencies and even some deaths every year, according to Nationwide Children’s Hospital researchers. “Shoveling is, in a lot of cases, like doing a heavy workout,” Tirado says. In addition to using the proper equipment, wear weather-appropriate, high-visibility clothing and high-traction snow boots. Warm up before you start clearing, and be mindful of your shoveling technique. SIMA also recommends clearing snow every few inches during storms, to keep the loads manageable, instead of waiting for it to stop falling.

Once you’ve shoveled, cover walkways with de-icing products. Sodium chloride, or rock salt, is the most popular choice, but it’s only effective at melting ice when the temperature is above 15 degrees. Magnesium chloride works in colder temperatures but, like sodium chloride, is corrosive and can damage greenery and paved surfaces after repeated use. Instead, try Entry, a chloride-free spray that lowers the freezing point of water in temperatures as low as -63 degrees.

How We Tested

We’ve assessed more than a dozen models throughout the past three years to determine the best snow shovels for a variety of conditions and uses. We evaluated each based on its blade size, design, and material; ergonomic features; weight; overall length (measured from end to end); cost; and performance. Some models we haven’t tested; for these, we relied on our thorough understanding of and experience working with snow shovels.

To test them, we first shoveled wet sawdust. It’s a common substitute for snow (outdoor power equipment manufacturer DR Power tests its snowblowers using sawdust) given its similar weight and consistency. We hosed down the sawdust, mixing it thoroughly as we did, until one cubic foot weighed 21 pounds—the same as heavy snow. Then, we covered an area measuring 8 feet by 6 feet by 5.5 inches and cleared it using each of the shovels. By the end of our testing, we had moved more than 6,000 pounds of the stuff and had a deep understanding of how each shovel performed under load.

We then repeated our test, using the same parameters, at a local ski resort with dense and heavy man-made snow. That showed how well the shovels dealt with the variable textures of snow and how much (or how little) of it would stick to the blades. Shoveling more than five tons of snow and sawdust between the two tests revealed each model’s strengths and weaknesses and made clear which were the best options. Read about those eight shovels, and how they’ve performed in our testers’ yards in actual snow storms, below.

―EDITORS’ CHOICE―

True Temper 18-Inch Ergonomic Mountain Mover

Width: 18 in. | Blade Material: Polypropylene | Weight: 3 lb 12.8 oz | Overall Length: 54 in.

This True Temper was the closest we came to finding one shovel that can handle whatever old man winter drops at your doorstep. The combination blade features a nylon wear strip to increase durability, though it won’t help break up ice and was only decent at scraping snow from our brick testing area. Thanks to the ergonomic curved steel handle, we didn’t have to lean over as much when lifting snow, reducing the strain of handling heavy loads. As for pushing, the shovel was on par with other models, but its scooped design funnels more snow forward instead of letting it fall to the sides. Overall, it’s a superb choice that left one of our testers thoroughly impressed: “We actually have an older model of this shovel without the ergonomic shaft, and the difference is night and day. The sloped shaft makes lifting heavier snow much easier and also helps when trying to dig and get a surface scrape. We went out and bought an identical shovel and threw out our old one because we loved it that much.”

―BEST PUSH SHOVEL―

Garant Yukon 18-Inch Ergonomic Snow Pusher

Width: 18 in. | Blade Material: Polypropylene | Weight: 3 lb | Overall Length: 53.5 in.

With a snow pusher, you spend less time shoveling. We like Garant’s Yukon series and originally tested the 24-inch blade model (currently unavailable). The nice long handle is set at an angle so the grip hit at waist height. Because push shovels aren’t designed to move deep amounts of snow, we reset our test area so it was just a few inches deep. The Garant was the easiest and most comfortable to use. Similar to combination shovels, the poly blade has edges on the sides, which might tempt you to lift snow with this behemoth, too. Resist the urge. Especially under the weight of a load, we found it difficult and awkward to turn the long curved handle and flip over the blade in order to dump what we collected. Still, the Garant is a dependable choice for pushing a few inches of snow off your driveway and sidewalks.

—BEST FOR SCRAPING—

Yeoman & Company BustR

Width: 18 in. | Blade Material: Polypropylene | Weight: 4 lb 10.7 oz | Overall Length: 55 in.



Outfitted with a large galvanized steel plate on the back of its poly blade, the BustR is an incredibly efficient shovel that will save you time. One pass through the 5.5-inch deep sawdust was all it took for us to see clean pavement with barely any dust left behind. The shovel proved just as capable for clearing about two feet of real snow from one test editor’s front walk. Alternating between using the plate to scrape and chop, she successfully broke up the bottom layer of compact slush to reveal the concrete below. It was an impressive performance, especially for a plastic shovel. We liked the cushy foam grip located halfway up the steel handle, but we often ended up placing our front hand closer to the blade given how long this shovel is. That length and added weight from the steel made it less comfortable to lift loads, but given the shovel’s superior scraping capabilities, the BustR is still an excellent clearing tool.

―BEST METAL SHOVEL―

True Temper 18-Inch Aluminum

Width: 18 in. | Blade Material: Aluminum | Weight: 3 lb 3.2 oz | Overall Length: 51.8 in.

The True Temper 18-Inch Aluminum snow shovel is similar to our Editors’ Choice pick, but it comes with the durability and strength of a metal blade. The aluminum material sliced through snow and sawdust well and, with the help of the steel wear strip, scraped up snowpack better than most other shovels in the test. “The reinforced edge made it effective for breaking up and clearing icy patches on the driveway and patio, but its flat, sideless shovel doesn’t allow for high-volume scoops of deep snow,” one tester said. We found that especially true in drier powder, though we did appreciate that the low-friction surface prevented snow buildup. We also liked the sturdy steel handle. It was unyielding under heavier loads yet doesn’t add too much weight.

―BEST CAR SHOVEL―

Lifeline Aluminum Sport Utility Shovel

Width: 9.5 in. | Blade Material: Polypropylene | Weight: 1 lb 5.3 oz | Overall Length: 25.8 in. and 32.3 in.

With its collapsible design in which it breaks down into three compact sections, this shovel is easy to stash in your car or anywhere else where you want to keep it handy. But it’s small enough that we didn't have any trouble leaving it assembled. The telescoping handle easily adjusts between two heights, and we liked the longer 32.25-inch setting. With the small blade, it took us a while to move our snow, but it’s an ideal size for emergencies on the road. The Sport Utility comes in several colors, but don’t count on the paint to stick around. We noticed it scuffs easily.

―BEST ERGONOMIC SHOVEL―

Snow Joe Shovelution

Width: 18 in. | Blade Material: Polypropylene | Weight: 3 lb | Overall Length: 50.4 in.

Reduce the chance of throwing out your back with this ergonomic shovel, which has a second spring-assisted handle attached just above the blade. After a painless tool-free assembly, it was initially awkward to hold the add-on, but we were able to adjust and could feel the difference it provided. Gripping the second handle engaged our testers’ shoulders and arm muscles, so the strain was more evenly distributed across their torsos and shared by both arms. That made clearing our test area felt like less work with the Shovelution than its competitors. However, it’s worth noting our testers still had to lean in slightly with each scoop, given the shovel’s relatively short length. The lightweight build is a boon for lifting and throwing loads, but not pushing them. What’s more, the aluminum wear strip didn’t do a great job at scraping the ground clean. If you’re looking for a hardier product, choose the SJ-SHLV02 version, made with a tougher polycarbonate blade and a TPU wear strip.

―BEST FOR TOUGH JOBS―

DMOS Stealth

Width: 18 in. | Blade Material: Aluminum | Weight: 3 lb 4.8 oz | Overall Length: 57 in.

This is a hard-core shovel intended for serious jobs in extreme conditions. Its aluminum blade and toothed edge are optimized to break up tough surfaces like densely-packed frozen snow. The packable design and extendable handle—up to 57 inches in total length—allow you to stash it anywhere and take it with you wherever you go. It can also pull double-duty while off-roading in dirt, mud, and sand. If you’re willing to make the investment, it’s a shovel that shouldn’t quit until the job is done.

―BEST FOR CLEARING LARGE AREAS―

J&M Enterprises SnowPlow 36-Inch Snow Pusher

Width: 36 in. | Blade Material: Polyethylene | Weight: 5 lb 9.6 oz | Overall Length: 56.5 in.

Given its massive size, we expected the SnowPlow to cruise through our tests. Like all pushers, it’s best used in dry, light powder. We had trouble moving the denser snow and sawdust but, in the right conditions, this is a tool that can clear driveways and other large spaces with ease and efficiency. One tester reported it basically clears his sidewalk in one swoop. The size of the snow pusher blade is one thing, but the shovel’s extra-strong construction is another. The SnowPlow sports a fiberglass handle, a reinforced handle-to-blade connector system, and a blade made with ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene. This non-abrasive material helps protect decks, pavers, and other surfaces. You can even use it to clear snow off your roof. It was better than the Garant at scraping, but it required us to hold the handle lower than we would have liked. Although it’s the heaviest shovel in our test, it didn’t feel burdensome because it’s not meant to be lifted. Some assembly—with a screwdriver and a wrench—is required.

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