Best Shovel

To determine the best shovel, we looked at a range of factors such as shovel style, weight, and ease of use. Shovels come in a range of shapes that are catered to specific tasks. Likewise, the weight will also impact how easily you can complete a task, as a heavy shovel will lead to premature fatigue whereas a lightweight shovel will help you make quick work of any project. And finally, ease of use is also important as a shovel that’s difficult to maneuver isn’t one you’re likely to use often.

After considering all of the above, we selected the Lifeline Aluminum Sport Utility Shovel as our Top Pick. This collapsible shovel features an adjustable length handle that extends from 26 to 32 inches to help improve maneuverability. Additionally, we liked that it can be disassembled into three separate parts for easy storage in your car as part of your emergency roadside kit. Keep reading for more on our top picks.

Top 6 Best Shovel Reviews

 #1  Lifeline Aluminum Sport Utility Shovel – Top Pick

WHY WE LIKE IT: A collapsible shovel with an adjustable-length handle that can be quickly assembled makes this is a smart multipurpose tool to keep in your car’s emergency kit for any unexpected situation that might arise. It’s also the best shovel for sand.

Pros
  • Ideal for emergency kit
  • Collapsible shovel
  • Travel-friendly
Cons
  • Weak points at handle/blade joint

Most people might think that a shovel is something you keep in your garage or tool shed. But the reality is that shovels can be effective tools if you find yourself stuck in a mud rut or a snowbank. The Lifeline Aluminum Sport Utility Shovel is the perfect solution for these real problems that might arise when you’re on the road. This collapsible shovel features three easy to assemble pieces that also include an extendable handle.

Once assembled, you can adjust the handle from 26 to 32 inches to give you the optimal leverage. We also like that this shovel only weighs 1.6 pounds, meaning that if you do need to carry it with you, it won’t weigh you down. The collapsible feature makes it easy to keep in your trunk or the back of your car without taking up too much space. And the aluminum construction guarantees that it will last for the long haul.

 #2  Snow Joe SJ-SHLV01 Shovelution Strain-Reducing 18-in Snow Shovel – Honorable Mention

WHY WE LIKE IT: An easy to use snow shovel, and the best square shovel that makes completing a routine winter chore easier than ever thanks to a spring assisting handle, ergonomic design, and a steel blade.

Pros
  • Best for snow
  • Spring assisting handle
  • Steel blade
Cons
  • Operating learning curve

Shoveling snow seems like a straightforward process but it can be very hard on your back. So, anything that can help to lighten the load is a lifesaver. The Snow Joe Shovelution Strain-Reducing 18-in Snow Shovel is designed to do exactly that — protect your back. What sets this snow shovel apart from traditional options is that it includes a spring-assist handle that helps you to increase your lifting leverage so that you can easily move snow loads, whether it’s wet or dry snow.

We also like that this model — as is common with snow shovels — features a steel blade which makes it easy to achieve simple tasks like scraping surfaces or even just break up snow so you can easily shovel it out of the way. The handle measures a total of 41.3 inches which helps to save your back since you won’t have to bend as much. The polypropylene blade is shatter-resistant and measures 18 inches wide. And the D-grip handles on both the main handle and the spring-assist handle give you a comfortable and solid grip. Which is the case of many of the best corded drills.

 #3  Bond LH015 Mini D Handle Shovel – Best Budget

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WHY WE LIKE IT: A miniature shovel with a D-grip handle that’s perfect for a range of projects around the house with a small footprint that won’t take up too much space in your garage or tool shed.

Pros
  • Best miniature shovel
  • Powder-coated rust-resistant paint
  • 26.5 x 5.9in
Cons
  • Small size

Not everyone needs a full-sized shovel. And if this is you, you’ll appreciate the Bond LH015 Mini D Handle Shovel which measures a petite 26.5 inches long with a 5.9-inch wide blade. While this wouldn’t be suitable for prolonged use for tasks such as digging holes, this is ideal for gardeners who are working on their knees or for short landscaping projects.

You’ll also like that the comfortable D-grip handle features a non-slip grip. The steel construction is rust-resistant thanks to a powder-coated paint. And the smaller size makes this easy to use for extended use because it is so lightweight. Also, if you’re in the market for new tools, make sure to checkout our guide to the best power scrubbers.

 #4  Suncast SC2700KDD Snow Shovel – Best for Light Snow

WHY WE LIKE IT: An affordable snow shovel that’s perfect for the homeowner who wants to be prepared but lives in a region that doesn’t receive consistent snowfall.

Pros
  • Durable & sharp steel blade
  • D-grip handle
  • Powder-coated for rust resistance
Cons
  • May be heavy

Shoveling snow is pretty low on everyone’s list of fun activities, but it has to be done. However, if you live in a region where you don’t get a lot of cumulative snow, then it doesn’t make sense to buy the most intensive snow shovel you can find. This is why we selected the Suncast Snow Shovel as our choice that’s Best for Light Snow. This straightforward snow shovel is wallet-friendly but also features core design elements that you need when it comes to snow removal.

You’ll like that this model features a D-grip handle that makes it easy to scrape and break up hard snow. And the angled rip pattern in the blade makes it easy to push snow out of the way as well. And as with our other snow shovel, there’s a steel blade and wear strip to ensure the longevity of your shovel.

 #5  Gerber Gorge Folding Shovel – Best for Camping

WHY WE LIKE IT: A no-assembly-required folding shovel design that’s travel-friendly and is perfect for when you’re on the trail and ready to make camp for the night.

Pros
  • Foldable design
  • Includes carrying bag
  • Ergonomic handle with rubberized grip
Cons
  • Design issues with hinge

Any outdoor enthusiast knows that they need tools to make setting up their campsite easier. But having to lug heavy tools — especially if you’re hiking to your campsite — can be problematic. The Gerber Gorge Folding Shovel makes it possible to bring a multipurpose tool and not overload your backpack. Weighing in at only 28 ounces, this shovel folds down from 16.25 inches to 9.25 inches. And best of all the shovel can also double as a hammer to help you secure your tent stakes.

We like that this shovel comes with a nylon drawstring bag to keep it clean between uses. And the ergonomic handle features a glass-filled nylon construction and a rubberized grip to make using it easier and comfortable. Plus, set up and break down are easy with a quick push-button slide mechanism. This product will make a great gift, as will the best drill bits.

 #6  IUNIO Military Portable Folding Shovel – Best Portable

WHY WE LIKE IT: A multipurpose tool that is the best shovel for roots and serves as an emergency preparedness kit must-have with essentials like a safety hammer, saw, and whistle to also cover routine household tasks like gardening and landscaping.

Pros
  • Best shovel for roots
  • Includes carrying case
  • 30.7 x 4.33 inches
Cons
  • Small size

For some people, they want a tool to prove it can cover more than one purpose before they bring it home. If this sounds like you, then the IUNIO Military Portable Folding Shovel is a good option for you. This multipurpose shovel comes with a range of value-added tools that can help you in the event of an emergency. You’ll be impressed by the added emergency whistle, pickaxe, safety hammer, bottle opener, saw and lock that are all included within the easy-to-assemble shovel.

And as a shovel, you’ll like that when fully assembled, it measures 30.7 inches long with a blade that is 4.33 inches wide. It disassembles into four parts, making it perfect to keep in your car as part of your emergency kit. But the shovel blade can be adjusted to sit at a 45, 90, or 180-degree angle to create a hook, hoe or shovel tool. You’ll also like that the shovel blade and handle are designed from high-carbon steel while the handle grip features rubber construction for improved ease of use.

How We Decided

It’s easy to assume that shovels are a “one size fits all” affair, but they’re not. To help narrow down the field, we looked at a range of factors, including shovel style, weight, and ease of use. Keep in mind, we didn’t review shovels designed for specific tasks such as gardening or digging holes.

You’ll note that many of the shovels in our guide are designed for emergency kits. In particular, this includes our Top Pick, #6, and our Best Value (#7) recommendations. All of these models feature shovels that are either easy to assemble or simply unfold into a working shovel design. These will be ideal for people who want to have a portable shovel that they take in their car or who don’t have a lot of space in their homes to store a traditional full-length shovel.

We also included two snow shovels — #3 and #5. Snow shovels are very different from “traditional” shovels designed for gardening, landscaping, or just digging. So, you’ll note that these shovels feature significantly wider blades, D-grip handles, and a polypropylene blade construction with a steel blade tip for improved functionality.

Next, we considered weight. Except for our snow shovels, the other shovels in our roundup were lightweight as they’re designed to be quickly assembled or disassembled and kept in an emergency kit or taken with you while camping or hiking. Along the same lines, most of the shovels in our guide are fairly easy to use. Snow shovels can be harder to use only because you need to also factor in the weight of the snow being moved. Dry snow is significantly easier to move than wet, heavy snow.

Shovel Buying Guide

 

The Most Important Features to Consider

  1. Blade Style
    It might be surprising to some, but there’s more than one style of shovel. While all shovels are designed for digging or moving materials, they can feature unique blades that are specialized depending on the task at hand. For example, there are digging shovels, trenching shovels, scoop shovels, scrapers, and even spades. Blades can be designed flat or with sharp ends — which would make them ideal for digging holes.
  2. Blade Material
    While steel blades are the most common option you’ll encounter, there are other options depending on the type of shovel you’re considering. Scoop shovels can also come in plastic and polyurethane. Plus trowels and soil scoops can also be made from a wide range of materials including aluminum, plastic, and steel.
  3. Durability
    Likewise, you don’t want to find yourself replacing your shovel every few months. Look for materials that are made for extended and repeated use. Look for blades that won’t bend at the tip if you exert too much force — especially when digging. And look for shovels that are well constructed, especially at joints such as where the handle connects to the blade.
  4. Handle
    Shovel handles usually come in two designs, a standard-length or one with a D-ring handle at the end. D-ring handles tend to be shorter which can reduce the amount of leverage you have. If you’re planning on using a shovel for digging or prying rocks or roots, then a standard-length shovel handle is preferable. However, for gardening, a D-ring handled shovel might be better because it offers a comfortable grip. Also, consider the materials. While wood is a classic choice, many brands now create fiberglass handles because they’re more weather resistant and lasts longer than wood. However, if a fiberglass handle snaps, you’ll need to replace the entire shovel, unlike with a wooden handle.
  5. Weight
    Even if you plan on using your shovel to dig holes, you don’t want this tool to add too much weight to the materials you’re moving. Especially if you plan on using shovels for extended periods per project, look for lightweight options that are still sturdy enough to effectively complete a project, but won’t encourage premature fatigue.

FAQs

  • What is the difference between a shovel and a spade?
    These days they may seem interchangeable but the two terms — spade and shovel — are not. Traditionally, a shovel is designed for digging and features a sharply-tipped curved blade that’s more angular to help cut into the soil. In contrast, a spade is meant to move soil that has already been dug up.
  • I’m buying a shovel for gardening, what kind of shovel should I get?
    Typically, gardeners will get the most benefit from trowels and soil scoops. These types of shovels are usually made from plastic or metal. Trowels, in particular, can be very helpful since they often have depth measurements to assist in planting.
  • How do I care for my shovel?
    While most shovels are powder-coated or treated to help minimize the risk of rust, it can happen if you don’t keep your blade clean. In particular, after each use be sure to wipe off any remaining dirt since dirt can trap moisture which can cause rust to form. In the winter, use a solvent like WD-40 or mineral oil to wipe down the blade and protect it from rust.

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Dorian Smith-Garcia

Dorian Smith-Garcia is a bridal and beauty expert/influencer and the creative director behind The Anti Bridezilla. She is a diverse writer across beauty, fashion, travel, consumer goods, and tech. She also writes for Inverse, Glowsly, and The Drive along with a variety of other publications. When Dorian's not writing she's collecting stamps in her passport, learning new languages, or spending time with her husband and daughter.

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