If there’s one thing we know, it’s snow. We’ve spent more hours removing snow than you can imagine, so we know what makes up a good product when it comes to snow shovels. Shovels come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, literally. They come short, tall; they come in plastic, metal, poly; they come with goofy handles, goofy shafts, and every color under the sun. Let’s examine a few shovels and the common uses for a shovel to see what is the right tool for the job.
There are two common areas that a person would be shoveling; a sidewalk, and a driveway. A driveway is a wide open space that requires a lot of pushing and a walkway is a narrower space that involves piling or throwing. The most versatile shovel for this task is a simple plastic “pusher” style shovel, at least 25” in width. Width is an important factor because it allows you to take more snow with each pass. This is a catch 22. On small snowfalls the more snow you can take on each pass, the better because it’s not very heavy. However, on larger snowfalls you want a smaller shovel so that it reduces the amount of snow you are moving and thus reduces the work required to move it.
Plastic shovels are among the lightest but many “plastic” ones are actually made from a poly material. Poly is a blend of plastics that is mind blowingly strong. In fact some well build poly shovels can scrape ice repeatedly and have less wear than steel. Further, these materials are far lighter than steel. Technology is truly amazing. For this reason we recommend you use a plastic or poly shovel and not a steel shovel. Some people want to scrape right onto the pavement so they will look for a plastic shovel that also has a steel cutting edge to get that extra scrape. This could be advantageous but we prefer a pure poly cutting edge because if the packed snow can’t be removed with poly, it may need a full out scraper to remove it. The other downside is steel cutting edges really dig in and can cause your shovel to grab unexpectedly which can cause injury.
The fastest way to shovel your driveway with a pusher style shovel is to start with a one shovel width path right down the middle of the drive. Once you get to the end, pick a side and start pushing the snow one shovel width at a time from a standing position. Do not walk right to the edge, only push as far as you can reach. The farther you reach the farther you can push, you should be able to push a good 8-10 feet long on light snow with good technique. After the push, do a sort of waddle to the next shovel width. Repeat this all the way up the center line you shoveled. When you finish, start coming back down the other side of the center line. Depending on how wide the drive is will depend how many times you have to repeat this technique. Once you have cleared out to the edge of the driveway clean up the loose snow you pushed there to finish the job. This technique is incredibly effective and we have personally shoveled 77 driveways, with 2 inches of snow, and 2 workers in just over 7 hours. Trust us, it works.
You may not be so lucky to have a 2 inch snowfall every time and may have to remove a foot of snow. If you don’t have a snow blower, this will suck. The best kind of shovel for this job is what we refer to as a bailing shovel. It’s almost square in shape, like the ones you put in your vehicle emergency kit. They make them slightly bigger for home use. The best way to use these is like a human snow blower. One shovel full with these is nice and light so the key to not hurting yourself is to throw one shovel full at a time. Find your starting point and only take enough snow to fill the shovel then throw it off of the driveway. Keep doing this over and over so that you only work your endurance, not your exertion of strength.
If you follow these tips you should be able to have an efficient tool for the job at hand. Always consult with a doctor if you aren’t sure if you are physically capable to shovel snow as it is quite physical work.