By Denise Court
Innovations Du Jeor in Salt Lake City, Utah has invented an emergency backpack shovel that weighs only 4.5 oz. This lightweight shovel, named the SnowMole, is ideal for the serious backpacker wanting to trim down those extra pounds but still have an emergency shovel.
Simply put the SnowMole is a thin heavy-duty plastic sheet with handles. The plastic is pliable enough to bend into a cupping form. This creates a rigid "blade" capable of cutting through the snow.
When using this tool on a recent winter outing, we found it to be lightweight and useful. We were able to dig out a small shelter in a short amount of time, without an enormous amount of effort. The snow was soft so it made the shoveling easy. One tester found it to be a quick tool to clear off a table at a campsite that was buried in snow. My children especially enjoyed using the SnowMole. As a sled, it provided just enough flat surface under them to let them "fly" off a powder-covered slope.
One of the testers found the SnowMole had a difficult time getting through a layer of ice that had formed under a previous snow. Another drawback is your hands are in the snow with the shovel this means you either bend over or kneel down in the snow neither option is ideal for long tasks, so it is really a survival tool. I prefer a shovel for rescuing someone from an avalanche but the SnowMole beats using your hands or skis. We also found that the rubber hand protectors came off easily (Innovations Du Jeor has stated that they will be permanently attached in a future version).
Summary: The SnowMole is a handy, lightweight, emergency shovel that can make moving large amounts of powder quite easy. It takes more effort for packed snow and is almost impossible to get through an ice layer. Because of the weight, and price I would definitely take it on a backcountry trip if I didn't have the resources for a standard shovel. The compact design allows the SnowMole to fit flat inside a pack. Rolled up it stores easily under a snowmobile seat. The SnowMole is also fun as a Frisbee and will work as a sled.
The suggested retail price is $9.95.
Denise Court is a Contributing Editor at GearReview.com
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