Winter’s on its way, and that means frosty flakes will soon be falling here in the northeast.
It’s time to stock up on durable snow shovels, and we’ve reviewed nine top-rated models to make your search an easy one. First off is our top pick, followed by a great low budget option that we call our bargain pick.
And don’t stop reading there.
We’ll wrap up with a look at the parts of a shovel, care and maintenance, and shoveling safety tips.
Here we go!
Top Pick Up Front: 24-Inch SnowPlow Snow Pusher
The 24-inch SnowPlow Snow Pusher features a self-sharpening polyethylene blade, patented Tuffbrace handle/brace connector, and replaceable parts.
Thesnowplow.com manufactures this product in Clarion, Iowa, using sustainable practices.
THE SNOWPLOW 50524 Snow Pusher, 24″, available on Amazon
This sturdy model is a favorite of professionals, because its Ultra High Molecular Weight (UHMW) poly blade withstands impact, and resists friction and abrasion. This is because the resin it is made of is used in dust form, as opposed to the typical pebbles or shavings generally found in plastics.
The blade is unique in that it has curved corners, instead of traditional sharp-angled ones. This makes it wear well, as it doesn’t catch in cracks that might damage a straight-edged model. And, while this means a narrow swath of snow may be left behind, it is considered by the manufacturer to be a small price to pay for durability.
This product is shipped with a blunt-edged blade. DO NOT sharpen it. Instead, let it self-sharpen with use. After use, it must be stored in a cool shed or garage, to avoid temperature changes that could warp the blade.
Poly blades sometimes warp with use. In this case, bring the shovel indoors and allow it to warm up. Then you may bend the blade until it returns to the desired shape. The manufacturer states that you may have to overbend it at first to get it to stay where you want it. This is fine, and won’t break the shovel.
This is a durable product. Commercial contractors may expect to get two to four years, and homeowners, 10 or more years of use from a SnowPlow Snow Pusher product.
The manufacturer says it may be used for chopping as well as snow clearing. And, with interchangeable parts, a user may replace a worn-out blade with one of the same, or a different size.
The SnowPlow Snow Pusher is covered by a limited/situational warranty, and the manufacturer asserts that “replacement parts are available but are rarely sold or needed.”
Assembly required. Made in the USA.
- 54 x 24 x 4 inches
- 7 pounds
- 1/4-inch thick UHMW polyethylene blade
- Fiberglass handle with twice the wall thickness of the industry standard, and a reinforced core
- Handle with D-grip
- Non-abrasive wear strip
- Safety radius corners
- Tuffbrace handle connector
- All parts are replaceable
- Blades are interchangeable
- Bolted construction
- Easy locknut assembly
- Nearly indestructible blade
- Poly blade may warp
Replacement parts for The Snowplow Snow Pusher are available from the manufacturer, and bolt together with ease.
Bargain Pick: Suncast SN1000 18-Inch
This very popular Suncast 18-Inch is a traditional style product with a navy blue angled, rib patterned, 18 x 13-inch poly-coated plastic blade. It has a durable and wide ribbed Steel Core® D-grip handle attached to a black poly-coated handle. From top to bottom, it measures 48 inches.
Suncast categorizes this product as being suitable for “a little” snow. Made in the USA.
Suncast 18-Inch Snow Shovel in Navy, available on Amazon
Verified purchasers on Amazon.com are pleased with this model, noting that while it is extremely light, it does a good job. Also noted is that it doesn’t scratch surfaces.
Suitable for seniors and children, it has become a favorite for light-duty removal.
- 48 x 18 x 1 1/8 inches
- 2.5 pounds
- Poly blade
- Straight Steel Core® handle with D-grip
- Light duty
- Won’t rust
- Poly blade prone to cracking under heavy weight
- Shallow scoop
- Lacks a steel wear strip
- Short, straight handle
- Not for heavy, wet precipitation or ice
On the negative side, some find the handle too short, the scoop too shallow, and the plastic flimsy.
Some cracked blades and snapped handles have been reported, as well as the receipt of defective products with misshapen scoops. Inspect your product carefully upon receipt.
It’s that time again. Soon, weather forecasts will include words like “squall” and “blizzard.” Maybe even “polar vortex.”
The Eskimos (and snowboarders) have many words for winter’s white precipitation that beautifully capture its textural nuances. Where I’m from, it’s either powder or wet, with the latter often referred to as the “heart attack” kind.
According to the National Safety Council, being out in cold weather is likely to increase one’s heart rate and blood pressure. Shoveling adds insult to injury by further straining the heart, particularly in someone not used to regular physical exertion.
Lower temperatures usually mean lighter flakes, whereas temps that hover around freezing often result in heavy, wet stuff. You’ll know with the first shovelful what kind you’ve got.
Here’s some advice to help you stay safe when Mother Nature sends her worst:
Snow Shoveling Safety
- Use caution when walking on slippery pavements.
- Wear boots with good traction.
- Shovel periodically during a storm, rather than waiting until the last flake has fallen.
- Use a heavy plow-type shovel to push your way through.
- Lift as little as possible.
- Keep a small emergency shovel in your car, great for ensuring you don’t lift more than a reasonable amount with each pass.
- Reduce back strain by bending your knees each time you lift the shovel off the ground.
- Take frequent breaks in the house. Warm up with a hot beverage and rest before returning to the job.
- Wear a loose-fitting scarf over your nose and mouth to warm breathing passages as you work.
- If you begin to overheat, don’t just remove a layer of clothing. Return to the house, remove outerwear, and cool down. Drink water and rest before dressing and returning outdoors.
- If you have any form of illness, stay indoors and hire a professional.
Ready to get out there? Let’s look at some of the ins and outs of specific materials and designs, and explore reviews of the remainder of our favorite selections, before wrapping up with a few quick notes on tool maintenance.
Anatomy of a Shovel
A typical shovel consists of a shaft and a blade. The shaft is often referred to as the handle.
The shaft may be long or short, and may end in a grip.
D-shaped grips are usually made of plastic, with polyethylene (aka “poly”) being the most common kind, or metal. Plastic is warmer to hold. Some grips are more generously proportioned than others, with comfortable room for a gloved hand.
Shafts are characteristically made of metals like steel or aluminum, hard woods, or plastic. Hollow handles may have fiberglass cores for added strength.
At the end of the shaft is a shovel, often referred to as a shovel head, scoop, or blade. It may be made of steel, aluminum, or plastic. This is the business end of the tool. It has an extension called a socket, into which the shaft fits. The two are attached with screws or rivets.
Snow shovel widths typically range in size from about 14 to 36 inches, with smaller sizes for compact emergency models and children’s items, and larger ones for sleigh and push varieties. Shallow styles are intended for lifting, and plow-shaped products are for pushing through Mother Nature’s worst.
For light precipitation, you may need a shallow, lightweight lifting tool, whereas for a moderate to heavy storm, you may need a metal plow-type tool, as well as an ice chopping accessory tool to get the job done.
Some blades are reinforced with wear strips on their bottom edge. These are metal strips that are riveted on for additional strength. While they may be very efficient on smooth pavement, they can be difficult to push over jagged ground.
I have an antique shovel that my great-grandparents used to clear walkways on the farm. It’s heavy, with a thick wooden handle and an 18-inch steel blade. I use it to push the heaviest white stuff across my driveway to the fence line. It makes a clean pass and is useful for loosening thin ice.
I also keep a shallow scoop aluminum model on hand. Its edge is bent because someone tried to pry ice up with it, but it’s great for lifting and tossing light, fluffy stuff over the fence.
Today’s manually-operated equipment varies from the traditional, to the ergonomic, to the downright unusual. Most pieces are intended for light precipitation, or for removal in increments throughout a storm. Few are intended for heavy, wet precipitation, and those that are tend to be quite weighty.
There are also wheeled models to push like plows, as well as double-handled sleighs for scooping and relocating mounds of unwanted flakes.
In addition to shovels, items like brooms, brushes, choppers, and scrapers come in handy when clearing cars, porch furniture, awnings, roofs, and the like.
Look for telescoping poles to extend your reach. Keep some in the house and car for the next winter blast.
Additional Models to Consider
In addition to our top and bargain picks, I recommend that you look at the following five products. When it comes to dealing with the winter white, each has merits worth considering.
20-Inch Snow Joe Snow Shovel
The 20-inch Snow Joe Snow Shovel boasts a “virtually indestructible” translucent blue blade constructed of shatter-resistant polycarbonate, with a non-abrasive wear strip, for use on all surfaces.
You can clearly see where you’re working, and won’t lift more than you should, with this narrow 20-inch model. You may also use it to push snow out of the way.
Snow Joe 20″ Snow Shovel, available on Amazon
A unique feature is the four-piece construction, which may be broken down for convenient storage. It makes a great car emergency tool for this reason, and because its handle is more than twice the length of other auto shovels.
In addition, there is an oversized D-grip handle that easily accommodates a thick glove, and a reinforced poly blade strip for added strength and durability.
Snow Joe has offices in Carlstadt, New Jersey. The company strives to offer products that reduce emissions in the environment. When I emailed customer service with a question, I received a reply within minutes.
This product has a 2-year warranty. Assembly required. Made in China.
- 58 x 20 x 20 inches
- 5 pounds
- 4-piece assembly
- Nonstick, shatter-resistant polycarbonate blade
- Oversized D-grip handle
- Reinforced poly wear strip
- Full length handle
- Light color may make a misplaced piece hard to find in snow
- Poly blades may warp
AAA Aluminum Sport Utility Shovel
Made of high quality aluminum, the sport utility emergency-use shovel from AAA is great for digging out a snowbound vehicle. Sturdy and portable, it has garnered high marks from an overwhelming majority of satisfied customers..
This durable model is great to carry in your car, truck, recreational vehicle, or backpack. Simply disassemble it into three compact pieces and travel on.
Designed to dig you out of a frozen spot, this product makes a great addition to your emergency road kit. It’s also useful for digging in soil and sand.
AAA 4004 Red Aluminum Sport Utility Shovel, available on Amazon
The plastic handle is comfortable to use, and the bright color makes it hard to lose. This item comes in red, blue, and gold.
The manufacturer offers a 1-year warranty.
Assembly required. Made in China.
- 27 x 8.7 x 3.6 inches, closed
- 1.3 pounds
- 3-piece aluminum construction
- Telescoping handle expands to 32 inches
- Lightweight and portable
- Aluminum blade
- Expandable handle
- Doesn’t flex or bend with intended use
- Too small for general use
- Short handle
Buyers love this product for digging around tires to free vehicles. The blade’s metal edge is sharp enough to loosen ice, and it makes good vertical cuts.
On the negative side, even fully extended, use requires bending for most people. This may cause back strain, with extensive use.
Heavy-duty jobs may result in damage to the products. Look for a more sturdy model for heavy snow removal.
Suncast 18-Inch Snow Shovel/Pusher Combo
This model boasts Suncast’s trademark ribbed Steel Core® handle in an ergonomic bent handle, designed to reduce back strain during use.
It has an 18-inch green resin blade reinforced with a galvanized steel wear strip, and measures 52 1/2 inches in length. Made in the USA.
Suncast 18-Inch Snow Shovel/Pusher Combo with Ergonomic Shaped Handle and Wear Strip in Green, available on Amazon
This model gives you the best of both worlds. Its narrow blade lets you clear manageable sized swaths, and its slightly scooped shape permits lifting without strain.
This model is not covered by Suncast’s warranties. It has a point-of-purchase warranty only. Made in the USA.
Most customers who have purchased this product are very satisfied with it. Buyers ranging in height from 5’6’’ to 6’2” report being able to use it without back strain.
Among dissatisfied customers, however, the major complaints are that this product is somewhat awkward, heavy, and sometimes painful to use, with some citing difficulty hoisting it high enough to dump its contents.
In addition, several customers report that flakes stick to the blade, and the wear strip catches on irregular pavement.
- 18 x 52.5 x 3.5 inches
- 4.2 pounds
- Poly blade with galvanized steel wear strip
- Ergonomic poly-coated Steel Core® handle
- Ergonomic concept
- Solid construction
- Poly blade prone to cracking under heavy weight
- Steel wear strip may catch
- Steel handle may transfer cold to hand
True Temper SnoBoss 26-Inch Ergonomic Poly Combo
This unique reversible-blade tool from True Temper is ergonomic and integrated without extraneous nuts and bolts to impede optimal performance. A shovel and pusher in one, it boasts a 26-inch high poly blade with a steel wear strip that can switch functions with ease.
Maintain firm control with two ergonomically-designed aluminum handles that offer multiple grip locations for proper posture, particularly when lifting. A foot step provides additional leverage.
True Temper SnoBoss 26-Inch Ergonomic Poly Combo Snow Shovel, available on Amazon
The Ames True Temper company offers a 90-day warranty on this product.
Made in the USA. Some components may be imported.
Most buyers are very pleased with their purchase. They say that using this model as a plow has prevented back problems experienced with other types of equipment.
Customers who report dissatisfaction cite issues with the riveted steel wear strip. Some say it catches on irregular pavement when used as a forward plow. One buyer filed down the steel wear strip and several have replaced the rivets with shallower fasteners to alleviate these problems.
Also noted is a “jiggle” due to gapping on the blade-to-shovel attachment, which has led to the bolt dropping off and requiring replacement.
- 56.28 x 25.75 x 8.5 inches
- 5.6 pounds
- Integrated handle and blade
- Ergonomic concept
- Versatile use
- Steel wear strip may catch on irregular pavement, causing it to become damaged
- Blade-to-handle bolt weakness reported
Snow Wolf™ Fixed Frame Non-Folding Commercial Wheeled Snow Shovel
This unusual device looks like a cross between a bicycle and a shovel. It works as a manual plow with mechanical advantage. Constructed of steel and polypropylene, it measures 40 x 26 x 60 inches and weighs 24 pounds.
The design is based on the concept that additional leverage multiplies effort. The user plows and fills the shovel. She or he then presses the handle downward to bounce the wheel and release, tossing snow away with relative ease.
Snow Wolf Fixed Frame Non-Folding Commercial Wheeled Snow Shovel, available on Amazon
The handle has two height adjustments, but neither is recommended for use by people under 5’2”.
Per the manufacturer, the Snow Wolf™ clears all types of snow three times faster than a shovel, with half the effort. It has the efficiency of a blower minus the expense, fuel odor, and noise often associated with one.
Called “The World’s Safest Snow Shovel,” an independent study by the University of Massachusetts documented that use of this model places less strain on the lower back and the heart than other winter tools.
The wheel comes fully assembled, and it is detachable for storage. An Allen wrench and wingnuts are included.
The manufacturer of this product is Nootools, LLC, a structured solutions LLC company; the product was formerly known as the “Wovel.”
A 2-year warranty on the wheel is included, and a 1-year warranty on the shovel blade. An instructional DVD is also provided with purchase.
Some assembly is required. Made in the USA.
Most buyers are highly satisfied with this product. While its appearance is quirky, it does the job well.
As with most blades constructed of plastic, it may crack under heavy weight. It is suggested that several passes be made when precipitation is heavy and/or deep.
In addition, it may be difficult to toss successfully over drifts or mounds several feet high.
Customer service is rated well. I contacted a representative by email and had a response within the hour.
Please note that the assembly manual recommends putting the product together indoors at a temp of 72°F, or it may be difficult to attach the tire. Plan ahead for snow season, and assemble this model in the warmer weather or indoors before you need it, prior to outdoor storage.
Several buyers had difficulty with assembly, and some felt that using the product was more difficult than using standard tools.
Several users also noted difficulty with clearing sidewalks as the device is not designed for emptying to the side, but rather in front. Others noted that the blade edge catches on irregular surfaces. Using this product in combination with a regular handheld shovel may be your best bet.
- 40 x 26 x 60 inches
- 24 pounds
- Black powder-coated tubular steel handle and body
- Co-polymer polypropylene wheel and blade
- Steel axle and hardware
- Molded non-pneumatic tire
- Handle adjusts to two heights
- Wheel removes for storage
- May reduce risk of back and heart strain
- Sturdy steel parts
- Replacement parts available from manufacturer
- Expensive – approximately 10x the cost of a basic removal tool
- Quirky appearance
- Poly blades are prone to cracking under heavy weight
- Forward empty only
- Blade edge may catch on irregular surfaces
Two optional accessory packages are available at additional cost. They are the Snow Wolf™ 2351070 Gravel Wheels Accessory, available on Amazon, and the Snow Wolf™ 2351091 Chipper Plate Accessory.
These accessories are covered by a 90-day warranty.
Parts may be available directly from Snow Wolf™, including handlebars, snap-on wear strips, replacement shovel blades, replacement whole wheels, replacement wheel halves, hardware kits and miscellaneous hardware, hitch pins, and wire locks.
Maintain Your Equipment
It’s important to care for your tools if you want them to last.
Never leave a shovel blade down in a mound of white. Wet metal is prone to rust and deterioration. After use, dry shovel blades completely with a towel.
RamPro 4 Black Wall Mount Screw-in Tool Holder Utility U-Hooks, available via Amazon
Shovels may be stored hanging by their D-grips. For straight wooden handles, drill a hole and fasten a loop of sturdy twine through it, or better yet, install a few U-hooks to prevent potential damage to the handle.
With use, the edges of shovels may become bent. Straighten with pliers if possible, for optimal performance.
Tighten screws. Replace bent or broken handles and blades if available. Discard items that can’t be restored to good working order, and be mindful of the terms of any warranties.
Shovels should not be used as sleds for safety reasons, as well as unintended wear and tear on equipment. Plastic blades are prone to cracking, especially with improper use.
Geared Up and Ready
Be prepared when the winter winds begin to blow.
Invest in a couple of quality shovels and pace yourself as you use them to clear your property. In our next review, we’ll talk about adding technology to the equation with a review of power snow blowers.
Stay safe, and remember, eventually the white stuff melts and spring comes again!
We love to hear from our readers. Feel free to share your own tips in the comments below.
Product photos via SnowPlow, Suncast, Snow Joe, AAA, True Temper, Snow Wolf. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.
About Nan Schiller
Nan Schiller is a writer with deep roots in the soil of southeastern Pennsylvania. Her background includes landscape and floral design, a BS in business from Villanova University, and a Certificate of Merit in floral design from Longwood Gardens. An advocate of organic gardening with native plants, she’s always got dirt under her nails and freckles on her nose. With wit and hopefully some wisdom, she shares what she’s learned and is always ready to dig into a new project!