Review: Ortovox Kodiak Shovel

A badass backcountry digger

Ortovox knows backcountry safety. Perhaps most famous for their avalanche transceivers, they also make some great shovels, backpacks and other accessories. We recently fell in lust with their Kodiak shovel.

Why? The shape. The Kodiak shovel converts from the standard straight configuration to a 90-degree L shape that is much more efficient for all the chopping and raking that's required to hack out a tent platform or quickly move rock-hard avalanche debris.

The stout egg-cross-sectioned shank has a non-slip grip toward the blade, and it telescopes out to a back-saving 2' 10.5". The D-handle is ergonomically correct, providing a much easier grip than a T-handle. There are aggressive scalloped teeth up front, and the conversion from straight to L configuration is a no-brainer. The rectangular (optimal for cutting and lifting blocks for tent walls) blade is a nice size, small enought to stow in or on a pack but big enough to move the snow. There are no carabiner holes in the blade, but thinking back we can't remember ever using those on any shovel, anyway.

Overall, it's a great design, made almost entirely of tempered aluminum that takes the required abuse. You definitely can't argue with the weight, at a mere 1 pound 12 ounces on our scale. The only concern we had were the plastic components, which are the D-handle and the yellow collar around the secondary hole on the blade. Neither showed any signs of compromise during our testing, so we're giving it our highest recommendation. Get your hoe on!

Hits: Perfect size, packs small, converts to hoe configuration, D-handle, lightweight
Misses: No carabiner holes in blade for use as an anchor
Price: $89

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