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Updated February 2022
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Buying guide for Best snow shovels

There are plenty of fun things to enjoy about winter – ice skating, hot chocolate, snowball fights, skiing – but getting rid of the snow that piles up on your property isn’t one of them. The only thing that can make the experience worse is not having a proper snow shovel to dig out your home. While a snow shovel may seem like a pretty basic tool, not all snow shovels are created equally.

To make your snow removal process as painless as possible, you need to choose a quality shovel that can get the job done. Before you buy, you must decide what type, size, and other features to look for so you can shovel your snow safely and effectively.

When you’re lifting snow with a shovel, bend your knees and keep your back as straight as possible to avoid injury.

Questions to ask before choosing a snow shovel

Armed with the answers to the following questions, you’ll be able to easily find the right snow shovel for your needs.

What is your property size?

A snow shovel works best if you have a small yard or driveway to clear. With a smaller property, a snow blower might not ever be needed.

However, if your property is large or features a long driveway, a shovel may not be the most efficient tool. If that’s the case, you may want to consider investing in a snow blower as well.

Even if you use a snowblower to remove the bulk of your snow, you’ll likely still need a shovel for smaller areas of your yard.

How much snowfall do you anticipate?

The amount of snow that you typically receive each winter can also help determine whether a snow shovel would be effective for snow removal on your property.

In general, shovels work best for light or small amounts of snow. If you experience only three or four snowstorms a year, a shovel is an ideal option.

However, if you live in an area that receives heavy snow all winter, a shovel likely won’t be effective as your main snow removal tool. Instead, pair it with a snow blower or plow to remove the snow quickly and efficiently.

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Expert Tip
If you notice any pain in your chest, neck, shoulders, arms, back, or jaw while shoveling, stop immediately. These are often the warning signs of a heart attack, so you should call for assistance right away.

Features to consider

Manual vs. electric shovel

Most snow shovels are manual tools that you use to scoop and move snow. They are the most inexpensive snow removal tool you can find, and they are effective when used properly.

If you receive a little more snow than average or you just want to work faster, however, you may prefer an electric snow shovel. Electric shovels have a motorized paddle mechanism that pushes the snow forward like a broom.

Electric shovels weigh less than snow blowers and are easier to use, but they are usually designed to handle just a few inches of snow accumulation.

Scoop material

Snow shovel scoops are usually made of plastic or metal.

  • Plastic shovels are lighter and less expensive than metal shovels.

  • Metal shovels are more durable and can handle larger amounts of snow.

Scoop shape

If you want to work quickly, look for a shovel with a deeply curved scoop. You’ll be able to move more snow at once and work more efficiently that way.

A shallow scoop can be effective if you’re simply pushing snow. If you’re trying to lift or throw snow, however, a shallow scoop isn’t the best design for the job.

If you’re concerned about spilling snow, opt for a scoop with high sides to help contain the white stuff as you move it.

Shovel size

Snow shovels are available in a variety of sizes. The best size often depends on the type of snow you’re working with.

  • For light snow, a shovel with a scoop that’s approximately 24 inches wide works well.

  • For heavy, wet snow, a shovel with a narrower scoop that’s between 18 and 22 inches wide is usually the best option.

If you live in a snowy climate, you may wish to keep at least one shovel of each size on hand. That way, you’re covered no matter what type of precipitation you experience.

Handle and grip

For the most comfortable user experience, choose a snow shovel with the right handle and grip.

  • Plastic or fiberglass handles are the best bet because they’re lightweight and don’t get too cold.

  • Shorter handles are better for throwing snow. Longer handles work best for pushing snow.

  • Avoid a shovel with a bent handle. This design can make it difficult to push and toss snow.

When it comes to the grip, make sure that it fits your hand well. A D-shaped snow shovel handle is usually the most comfortable to hold, but you may want to choose a padded grip for extra comfort.

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To avoid getting too hot or too cold, it’s best to wear layers that provide both insulation and ventilation when you’re shoveling snow.


Q. Is one snow shovel enough for effective snow removal?

A. If possible, it’s best to have more than one snow shovel on hand. For example, you might have one shovel that’s better for pushing snow and another that’s better for lifting and throwing snow. Along those same lines, it may be helpful to have a shovel designed specifically for light to medium snowfall as well as a shovel designed specifically for heavy snowfall.

Q. What features should you look for in a snow shovel to avoid back strain?

A. The grip is one of the most important feature considerations if you’re concerned about back strain. Choose a model with a D-shaped grip; the curve allows you to stand upright as you shovel to avoid straining your back.

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