When doing winter training, equipment weight is especially important, as each person is typically pulling their excess equipment behind them in a sled, walking on snowshoes, and trying to keep a reasonable pace going. The heavier the load, the harder it becomes with each passing mile. Up until this year, DTG exclusively used either trifold or Vietnam War (1967) vintage entrenching tools (because the pick option is very nice in rocky ground). We still keep them in our gear, but want something lighter for deep winter training when one is going to be digging a lot making snow trenches for shelters.
We think we’ve found a winner with this product. Here’s the specs:
- Removable, trapezoidal shaft for easy packing and storage
- Hybrid D/T handle
- Aerospace aluminum blade is strong and lightweight
- Trapezoidal shaft locks together in a flash
- Three length settings for optimized us
- Weight: 1 pound, 7 ounces
- Blade Volume: 0.3 gallons
Because of the detent pin construction of the shaft, it can easily be broken down and either lashed to your pack or into your sled, depending on how you’re moving. Black Diamond claims that it’s ‘ultra’ strong for digging through snow, and the blade’s made of aircraft aluminum. The shaft can be extended to 26 inches in length, which makes it comfortable to hold and gives your back a break, and the t-handle’s contours feel comfortable in the hand.
Dates tested: 7 – 9 Feb 14.
Conditions: Temps from below zero to about 15f. Snow depth about 3.5 feet, mostly powder, area undeveloped/uninhabited.
The construction of the shovel is exactly as the product description stipulates. Before going out with it, I did have some doubts as the fit of the shaft is a tiny bit loose, and wondered how the detent pins would hold up in the cold. My concerns turned out to be unfounded. Packing to go, I broke the shovel down and stowed it easily in an equipment bag. The participants all had a chance to handle and use it, and everyone seemed to be amazed as to how light and strong it was. The only comment I heard that was less than complimentary was that the shovel head could have been a bit larger, but on the same token, we were dealing with mostly powder. With wet snow, it would have been just the right size. The shaft could be another 6 inches longer to make it perfect size, but it wasn’t a real issue when using it.
When we got into our campoing area, the Assistant Instructor began to dig a 2 person snow trench and commented on the lightness and strength. He was digging pretty fast. When I took over, I was very pleased at how quickly I could displace the snow and get down to the ground. Everyone in our group used the shovel at one time or another to either dig the initial snow trench or improve their position later.
Bottom line: Can’t go wrong with it. It’s worth the price you’ll pay. Any of the Black Diamond shovels will do you good in winter conditions.