Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What To Look For When Choosing A Snow Shovel

What To Look For When Choosing A Snow Shovel


Living in a world where all we see is a thick blanket of white snow hide the ground for majority of the year; a snow shovel is a necessity. Snow shovels are the easiest and most affordable solution to making sure walkways, driveways, sidewalks, and parking spaces are safe and the most maneuverable. Snow, left untouched and driven over repeatedly will become hard and packed, as well as add height to the ground. This can cause a safety issue, especially if you are parking a tall vehicle inside a garage where the door only open to a certain height. The top of the vehicle could hit the edge of the garage door if the snow lifts it high enough.

Hardened and packed snow is also harder to remove because it has to be cut and cracked into pieces. This is why snow removal immediately after a snowfall is the most ideal. 

Today, we will discuss characteristics of shovels and what their benefits are. People don't realize there are many parts to a shovel that add to the shovel's performance such as: the blade shape, blade material, the handle shape, the handle material, and how the combinations can make your life easier.

The type of shovel you use will determine your snow shoveling experience. There are two options: it can be easy, painless, and efficient, or it can be difficult, cause back and muscle injuries, and take you a lengthy amount of time.

Problems

Common body issues that can happen or become worse because of a poor shovel are: back pain, back injury, and muscle strain. Other issues are: shovel is heavy, the grip is poor, handle is the wrong size, the shovel is awkward to use, and the material is brittle.

Solutions

The best way to fix this is the put time into choosing a shovel. Don't just pick the cheapest or first one you see. You are going to be using this shovel as long as there is snow on the ground, so it's best to choose one that will make your life easier. Here are our tips:
  • Know your height. If you choose a shovel that is too short for you, you are going to hurt and strain your back lifting the full shovel repetitively. If the shovel is too tall, it's going to be difficult to maneuver and get leverage using a handle too long. Different types of handles help with leverage. Below we list the different types of handles.
  • Know your strength. Choose a shovel in proportion to your strength. If you are not able to lift very heavy, don't choose a shovel with a large blade that can grab so much snow that you can not easily lift and toss. Struggling to lift a shovel that's too big and heavy will be counterproductive. In the store, pretend to shovel and look at the material the shovel is made of. Someone who is weaker may prefer a plastic shovel, while someone with a lot of strength will be able to benefit from a metal shovel.
  • Know your grip. Are you able to hold the shovel comfortably with a huge winter glove on? Or are you fingers squished? Using a shovel with the appropriate size grip for your gloved hand will help you when you are shoveling, rather than cause your hand to hurt, cramp, or blister from too small of a grip. 
  • Know your price. Like many products, but not all, price can determine a quality shovel. Choose a high quality shovel over a poor and brittle one. Find one that is reliable for years to come.

Parts of Snow Shovels

In addition to the above tips, there are more specific details that come to choosing the right shovel. We have listed the these below. Enjoy!

Blade Shape

Flat Blade Shovels by Garant
  • Flat. The flat blade shape is best for harder snow. The flat blade is great for cutting through packed snow. Most easily used by shoving into snow, picking up, and tossing.
  • Round/Scoop. These are very easy to use for pushing snow down an entire driveway. Hold at a slight angle to push snow easily to one side. Can also be used to scoop and toss, but used easier for pushing loose snow. 
Round Blade - Garant NPP21KD Snow Pusher, 21" Poly Blade Shovel on Sale NOW (click here)

Blade Material

  • Plastic. Plastic snow shovel blades are convenient because they're lightweight, easy to carry, and can be used for a quick snow cleanup. They come in large and small sizes, and because of the plastic, even the large blades are lightweight. Snow doesn't really stick to plastic, so you can just pick up and toss with less shaking snow off the shovel blade. One downside is that plastic is not as durable as metal. If it gets too cold, depending on the plastic, it can break easily. Using a plastic blade on a rough ground, where there are screws, rocks, gravel, or other bumps, could chip or bend the plastic. You are also not able to chip through ice with the edge of a plastic shovel.
  • Metal. A metal shovel is great for heavy duty durability. They are able to carry heavier loads and can be used to chip ice on the ground. They can handle a rough and bumpy ground without being damaged. The only downside is that they are heavy and  can cause back strain. If you want a shovel with a metal blade, choose one that suits your strength. The larger the metal blade, the heavier the shovel.
  • Combined. This is a blade you've likely seen many times. It is a plastic blade with a strip of metal on the end (often called a Wear Strip). These shovels are great if you want the ice-breaking ability of the metal blade but the lightweight of the plastic blade. For durability, this blade is in-between plastic and metal, with metal being the most heavy duty. Some high-quality shovels allow you to replace this metal strip after it is worn or damaged.
Combined Blade (feature a metal strip) - Garant APP21KDR Snow Pusher

Handle Type

  • Straight. This is the most common type of handle you will find. It's a straight handle that attaches to the shovel and the height varies.
  • Ergonomic/Bent. This shovel features a handle with a bend strategically placed to eliminate having to bend over while shoving. This decreases back strain but makes it more difficult to lift up heavy loads. The ergonomic shape helps for people with back issues, so the trade off is worth it.
  • Dual. This handle is straight but has a branch in the middle where a second handle and grip is located. This allows the person shoveling to be able to use two hands for lifting a scoop a snow. This handle increases leverage making it easier for the person shoveling.
  • Foldable. This handle does not add any abilities to the shovel. It's only purpose is to make the shovel compact and easily stored for emergencies or in bags. The handle folds in half towards the blade to make it half the size.
  • Push Bar. This handle is only found on sleigh shovels. Sleigh shovels stand on their own and are very easy to use. Simply put, the shovel is a large scoop with a flat bottom that sits on the ground. The person pushes on the wide push bar and gathers snow while walking standing straight. Great for people with back issues. This type of shovel, however, is not ideal for lifting, it is just used for pushing snow.
Sleigh Shovel - Garan APS22 Sleigh Shovel, 22" Poly Blade on Sale NOW (click here)

Handle Material  

  • Wood. Wooden handles are highly common and that is for good reason. They are strong, light, and last many years. They are also easily replaceable when they become worn out. Wood handles do require some minor maintenance. Make sure the grip and the shovel blade are on tight by checking the screws (wood grows and shrinks with temperature). Wood handles are not water-proof.
  • Plastic. Plastic handles are great because they are light weight. They are best stored in-doors, as temperature and environmental factors can contribute to brittleness. They can last many years when stored properly.
  • Metal. Metal handles are excellent for lifting heavy loads of snow. While they are metal, they don't get too heavy. Depending on the type of metal, some can bend under lots of pressure. An issue with a metal handle is rust appearing when they are not dried in-between uses. These handles are affordable which is another benefit.
  • Fibreglass. These are the best and most durable types of handles. They are slightly heavier but they last the longest out of all the handle materials. They do not rust, bend, or change with weather. Fibreglass is also very difficult to break.
Thank you for checking out our guide to snow shovels. We have a ton of Garant winter shovels and other tools on sale right now for our Mega Winter Blowout. There are also winter gloves, extension cords, Hot Rocks, and more. Check out last weeks post: The Ultimate Guide to Fastener Materials & Coatings. Have a great day!

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