How Tos & Tutorials

How to Pick an Off-road Shovel

Share the dirt with other offroaders

In this article, we tell you why an off-road shovel is a valuable tool on the trail and how you could get one.

In fact, it can even help save your life because sometimes it can function as an axe or a knife, when danger lurks nearby.

But before you get into combat mode, let’s first discuss what an off-road shovel is in simpler terms.

WHAT IS AN OFF-ROAD SHOVEL?

snow shovel

An off-road shovel is akin to a giant spoon that lets you easily remove ground dirt out of your path. However, it can help you get out of a bind in situations wherein your vehicle is deep in mud, sand, or any unusual terrain. It can even double as a snow shovel.

WHY DO YOU NEED AN OFF-ROAD SHOVEL?

importance of a shovel

An off-road shovel is a valuable item that can be used with other 4×4 recovery tools to efficiently pull a vehicle.

For instance, when your 4×4 is buried like 3-4ft in mud,  digging for about 5-10 minutes can even out portions of the surface to reduce the strain on your winch and off-road jack by the time pulling out process begins.  Normally, if a 4×4 is deeply stuck, the winches and or off-road jacks are forced to bear too much weight and pressure from the vehicle, causing them to eventually get damaged.

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH AN OFF-ROAD SHOVEL?

digging a hole

 

If you think the only purpose of an off-road shovel is getting you unstuck, then think again because an off-road shovel’s use include but aren’t limited to:

  • Eliminating obstructions in your path.
  • Making a hole for emergency breaks when comfort rooms are nowhere to be found.

HOW IS AN OFF-ROAD SHOVEL DIFFERENT FROM A REGULAR SHOVEL?

regular shovel vs off road shovel

An off-road recovery shovel appears to be like a traditional shovel. But the truth is, there are slight differences between the two. One of them evident by simply looking at the handles. A regular shovel’s handle is only something that’s straight, from the neck to the tip, which implies the user can hold it in any preferred way possible.

On the contrary, an off-road shovel’s handle can consist of tips shaped like letters “T” or “D” that allot a special place for the user’s hands in ergonomic (easy-to-grip) designs to prevent slipping problems, if the neck or stem of the shovel itself gets wet and dirty. Other distinctions are stated above. Moreover, an off-road shovel can either be folding or non-folding which can easily help users save storage space according to their liking.

WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF OFF-ROAD SHOVEL?

types of off road shovel

There’s no such thing as a universal off-road shovel. This is because off-road shovels greatly vary to suit the different needs of people who use them. So look closely and keep in mind specifically why you need one.

  • Survival shovels – as what was mentioned in the beginning, are off-road shovels that can be used for self-defense. They often include: a jagged knife, axe, wire cutter, etc., if a lethal animal is approaching or if your seat belt is jammed.
  • 4WD recovery shovels – are off-road shovels that can be used during 4×4 recoveries. They’re normally used with off-road jacks and winches to make pulling vehicles faster and safer. The shape of their blade can be either square or a bit oval.
  • Camping shovels – are those which can be used to set up a campsite, whether it’s building a spot for your tent or extinguishing flames from a fire pit when there’s no water supply.
  • Edging shovels – are off-road shovels that can be used to create water trenches around your tent so water leaks or deposits underneath are prevented.
  • Root shovels – are used to cut or remove large amount of plants and trees via their main (root) foundation or base. The edges of their blades are usually serrated.

HOW LONG SHOULD YOUR SHOVEL BE?

length of a shovel

The length of an off-road shovel depends on the type and for what purpose it was designed. Just a reminder, avoid getting one that’s either too long that you’ll have trouble carrying it or one that’s too short you’ll be forced to hurt your back. Below is a table which consists of the 5 primary types of off-road shovel and their corresponding estimated lengths.

Off-road Shovel Sizes

Off-road Shovel Type Estimated Minimum Length Estimated Maximum Length
Survival shovels 10” 70”
4WD recovery shovels 20” 50”
Camping shovels 10” 40”
Edging shovels 10” 40”
Root shovels 20” 40”

HOW MUCH IS AN OFF-ROAD SHOVEL?

off-road shovel 2
Photo Credit: Angie of Chiba-ken, Japan via Flickr

An off-road recovery shovel is more expensive than a regular shovel due to the fact it’s a specialized type of shovel that’s multipurpose and can be very vital during emergency cases. Because of this, off-road shovels usually cost around $100-$200.

On the other hand, since regular shovels are mainly for residential activities, their cost is normally between $30-$80 only.

CONCLUSION

Having more than one 4×4 recovery tool is necessary to ensure that you eventually get out of any tight spot quickly without compromising your friends’ safety as well as your own. This is of course possible if you have the right off-road shovel for the job. Tell us what other qualities you’re looking for in an off-road shovel by leaving a comment below.    

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