FAQs - Avalanche Shovels

BCA Avalanche Shovels - All Models

How do you use an avalanche shovel?

BCA recommends that everyone take an avalanche rescue course to learn how to properly use an avalanche shovel. You can also watch our Avalanche Shoveling 101 video to learn more.

How is an avalanche shovel different than a regular shovel?

An avalanche shovel is more compact than a regular snow shovel. BCA Dozer shovels can be detached from the shaft to be easy to pack and carry into the backcountry. Research has shown that shoveling is the most time-consuming aspect of an avalanche rescue. With this in mind, we’ve designed our line of BCA avalanche shovels to dig in the most efficient way possible, saving you valuable time and energy.

What makes BCA avalanche shovels so strong?

We have designed our shovels to be the lightest and strongest shovels on the market. Our BCA Dozer shovels are made of 6061 aluminum alloy which is the same material commonly used in the construction of airplanes and bike frames (the 1T-UL is made of even stronger 7075 aluminum). The ovo-concave shafts design helps disperse the stress forces placed on the shaft when lifting or moving heavy material. Our shovel shafts are strongest along the major axis that takes on the majority of the load. The ferrule of the shovel blade is welded to the back of the blade for continued strength along this load-bearing axis. The blade is constructed for torsional stability through reliefs that enhance the rigidity. This construction allows our shovels to have an industry-leading strength-to-weight ratio.

How do you assemble and handle the shovel?

You push spring pins to extend shaft and/or remove for storage in backpack. The shaft can be rotated to accommodate right or left-handed shoveling. T-Grip shovels should be held with the thumb on the short side and other fingers should grab the long side. For D-Grip handles, the BCA logo should face up for the best ergonomics. And for 2H shovels, the shovel can be put in hoe mode by removing the shaft and attaching the short side of the grip to the blade.

How should the shovels be stored and maintained?

Store unpacked and open to the ambient air in a cool, dry, dark place away from direct heat sources, sunlight, sharp edges, corrosive substances, or any other reasonably foreseeable causes of damage. Never expose the product to temperatures above 80° C (176° F) so as to not diminish or alter the performance of the product. If the product comes in contact with any chemical reagents, fuels, solvents, or any other active or corrosive substance, immediately retire it. When cleaning the metallic parts, rinse with clean water and then air dry. And when cleaning the plastic parts, rinse in clean water (maximum temp 30°C or 86°F) and mild soap, and air dry away from heat.

Dozer Avalanche Shovels

BCA's new Dozer shovels feature ovo-concave shafts and low-profile, "stompable" blades. The front third of the shovel blade offers a smooth surface for clean snowpit walls during snow stability tests. With BCA's flat "stomp edge" on the blade, you can penetrate just about anything by adding body weight. Auto-engaging spring pins at the blade/shaft connection make for faster, hands-free assembly/deployment. BCA shovels lie flat in your pack with no protruding ferrule or "neck," leaving more room for other backcountry gear. All BCA extendable shovels are designed to meet the UIAA standard for avalanche rescue shovels.

A-2 EXT With Saw Avalanche Shovels

Which BCA packs are compatible with the A-2 EXT With Saw Arsenal Shovel?

The A-2 EXT avalanche shovel is compatible with all BCA Float avalanche airbags and Stash packs.

Does the included saw cut through wood?

Yes, the saw on A-2 EXT avalanche shovel is designed to cut wood. The crosscut saw teeth allow for a wider cut, which decreases the friction on the saw, making the cut easier when deeper in the wood. While the A-2 saw cuts snow as well as wood, it is not designed for isolating columns for snow stability tests. The saw blade is 29cm long and compression tests require a 30x30cm column, which means you’ll need a blade length of at least 35cm to prevent scarring the column with your hands when isolating the column. For snow stability testing, we highly recommend the BCA Snow Saw.

Dozer 1-T/1T-UL Avalanche Shovels

Which BCA packs are compatible with the B-1 EXT shovel?

The Dozer 1T and 1T-UL avalanche shovels are compatible with all current BCA Float avalanche airbags and Stash packs.

What is the advantage of an extendable shovel over a fixed-length shovel?

Having an extendable shaft can create more leverage and is more comfortable when shoveling for long periods of time.

Dozer 2T/2H Avalanche Shovels

Which BCA packs are compatible with the Dozer 2T and 2H shovels?

The Dozer 2T and 2H avalanche shovels are compatible with all current BCA Float avalanche airbags and Stash packs.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a larger blade?

The argument is that the person shoveling can move more snow with each shovel load but can also fatigue quicker. With a smaller blade, each shovel moves less snow, but the person shoveling may be able to shovel for longer. A larger blade is nice for bigger jobs such as digging snow pits, shelters, and jumps. The 2T and 2H shovels weigh more than the 1T and 1T-UL shovels.

What is the advantage of the Dozer 2H (hoe-mode) shovel in comparison to a traditional shovel?

The Dozer 2H avalanche shovel can be used in both a traditional and hoe mode. In some cases, the hoe mode allows the person shoveling to move more snow with less effort. With the Dozer 2H in hoe mode, the shoveler can sweep or drag the snow away in one motion, which conserves energy and moves snow more effectively and efficiently. However, this is only more efficient in soft snow conditions such as preparing a snowpit, excavating a snowmobile, or moving avalanche debris that has already been chopped into blocks. In an avalanche situation, the Dozer 2H in hoe mode is best used by secondary shovelers to remove chunks of debris from the back of the excavation area. Shovelers in the front should use their shovel in traditional mode, for better chopping efficiency.

Dozer 3D Avalanche Shovels

Which BCA packs are compatible with the Dozer 3D shovel?

The Dozer 3D will fit in all current BCA Float and Stash packs, with the exception of the Float 12. However, it does not fit inside the designated sleeves but only in the main compartments, not in the dedicated internal shovel pockets - or in the external shovel carry system on the Float Turbos and Stash Throttle, of the Float 22 and the Float 32. The Dozer 3D is not compatible with the MtnPro Tunnel Bag.

What is the advantage of having such a large shovel like the Dozer 3D?

The Dozer 3D is a "working" shovel designed for moving large amounts of snow for building jumps, snow shelters, or digging out your snowmobile. Intended for industrial use and is therefore not usually carried by recreationalists.

Shaxe Tech & Shaxe Speed Avalanche Shovels

How do I assemble the axes on the Shaxe Tech and Shaxe Speed shovels?

There are instructions on the inside of the kit that comes with the shovels for assembling the axes.

How do I make an emergency sled with the Shaxe Tech avalanche shovels?

Download our Emergency Sled Instructions. There are also instructions on the outside of the kit that comes with the shovels for assembling a sled.

With the Shaxe Tech, put the bolt with the washer through the hole in the spike. The washer is there to prevent the bolt from pulling through the hole. There should be four bolts wingnuts in the kit that came with your Shaxe Tech, including one with a washer on it.

Regarding the friction tape, that's actually just a rubber cover that slides up and down the shaft to cover the U-clip that keeps the head on the axe. It's more of a luxury than a necessity. You need to remove the U-clip to put a bolt through that hole. However, it can be tricky to put back in, so be aware.