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Best Snow Shovels

By: Carl Laron on December 09, 2016

For light snow; small properties, a snow shovel gets the job done

While snow blowers are great for dealing with heavier snowfalls, especially for those with larger properties, they remain overkill in many situations. If you live where snows tend to be light and/or infrequent, or if you live on a property with just a short walk or driveway to clear, a snow shovel can be more useful, and certainly more cost efficient. However, walk into any large hardware store during the winter months and you can be overwhelmed by the number of different snow shovel designs you have to choose from.

We found a free article from ConsumerReports.org that is helpful in sorting through the various designs and claims to zero in on the things you should look for in a top snow shovel. The editors there say to consider the handle, the grip and the shovel scoop. Ergonomic handles are best, but beware of those with a pronounced dog-leg as they can make shoveling harder, not easier. Plastic or fiberglass offers the best balance between weight and comfort. The grip should be D-shaped, and be the right size for your hand. Padding is a plus, as is a second handle on the shaft. The scoop needs to be sturdy. Wide scoops are good for light snow, but narrower is better for heavy snow (think lifting weight). High sides keep the snow on the shovel when you lift.

There aren't a lot of testing-based reviews that look at specific snow shovels, but the folks at TheSweethome.com do a round-up that includes testing by a panel of four who took turns shoveling driveways, walkways, steps, patios and more, along with follow ups that address new products and information on long term durability. The shovels are tested on their own, and with aftermarket accessory grips installed on the shaft for those shovels that lack a built-in one. A clear favorite emerges -- the 18-inch True Temper Ergonomic Mountain Mover (Est. $30) with the added Trentco ProHandle (Est. $20). That handle pick is new for 2016, and replaces the site's previous favorite, the Stout Backsaver (Est. $10) grip attachment, which cracked in the second year of testing. The Trentco is similar to the Stout, but a little pricier, still, Doug Mahoney says, "The build quality of the ProHandle is much better, and we believe it's worth the added cost."

The Mountain Mover has a plastic scoop, which makes for lighter lifting than shovels with a metal scoop. Durability is enhanced by a nylon wear strip. "As for long-term durability, I can personally vouch for the True Temper. It's the shovel that I've used for the past seven New England winters and it is only now showing some signs of wear" Mahoney says. A November 2016 update notes that, while some additional shovels will be tested as soon as he gets snow, in the meantime, "we still have full confidence in our current recommendations."

We found the largest accumulation of user reviews at HomeDepot.com (reviews are also available at Amazon.com, but the bulk are for different True Temper snow shovels). We do see a few complaints regarding durability; some say that the handle can come loose, and if that happens there's no practical way to re-attach it. Still, overall satisfaction is high as indicated by its 4.4-star rating following more than 150 reviews; it is recommended by 89 percent of owners.

While the True Temper finishes in first place, Mahoney and this testers are big fans of adding a handle to the shovel -- or any shovel, for that matter, and Mahoney notes one tester's comments that it can turn even a terrible shovel into a "decent tool." He adds: "After testing was completed, everyone in the focus group asked where they could purchase one."

For light snowfalls, a pusher snow shovel like the Suncast SC3250 18-Inch Snow Shovel/Pusher Combo (Est. $30) can do the trick. It's tested by TheSweethome.com, but only winds up being "liked but not loved." The issue is the bent handle, which allows shovelers to keep their back straighter (minimizing back strain), but also was judged to be less convenient as the design of the shaft limited hand placement. However, users at Amazon.com disagree. While some were dissatisfied with the ergonomics or heft, most found the design to be easy to use, and easier on their backs. It earns a 4.4 star rating after more than 300 reviews.

Large snow pushers are a different type of snow shovel, with a much wider scoop and, usually, a wider handle as well, meant to enable a two-handed operation. These are intended to act as people-powered snow plows. You scoop up snow, then push it to somewhere else to offload it -- dumping it out, not lifting, as the weight of the snow makes lifting a very bad idea. Among the choices, we found good user feedback for the Suncast SF1850 22-Inch Big Scoop Snow Shovel. It earns a 4.3-star rating at Amazon.com, based on more than 300 reviews. One ergonomic note -- several taller users complain that the handle is too short for them. Most applaud durability and effectiveness.

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