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Gear Review

5 5

Killer Customs

These shovels are absolutely awesome.

I have a Backcountry Pro Compact with a D-handle, not to be confused with the Compact-Pro. Yes, Backcountry sells four different Brooks Range shovels that look almost exactly the same, but the kicker is, Brooks Range will customize your shovel to your needs. Shark-tooth or straight edge? Long-neck or compact? D-handle or T-handle? Full size or compact blade? They have a full range of colors and do the crazy Chaos anodization if you want to be extra rad, bra.

My Brooks Range shovel has the best blade strength to weight ratio of any shovel I've owned. The shaft can be used with a pair of skis and poles to make a rescue sled. The handle can be locked at 90º if you're digging laterally. It's completely customizable. They'll even monogram it for you. And all of the options (except a $3 charge for monogramming) are available for the same price!

Seriously. Look past the hype of the big brands. Brooks Range makes these awesome shovels in the USA to keep your butt safe in the backcountry. Get one for yourself. Then, get one for your skiing buddies. After all, if you get buried, you'll want them to have the best shovel available in their hands when they're digging you out.

Responded on

Hey Dave!

Thanks for the helpful review! I've been wanting to upgrade my shovel and I think this one might be it. I've got a couple of quick questions for you. Is the backside of the blade flat (good for digging snow pits) or does the handle make a ridge down the middle? Also, what made you decide to go with this combination of features - compact, pro, backcountry? I was thinking about going with the longneck, mini-pro, sharkstooth since I am a petite lady and I coud use all the leverage I can get if I ever (god forbid) have to dig a buddy out from under an avalanche. I'm currently using a BD Deploy which I don't really like, it's difficult to get leverage with the handle and the blade is so large (bigger than even the pro) that with wet, heavy snow I tire within several minutes of intense digging. Wondered if you have any feedback or advice you can share.


Responded on

And, 8 months later, I see your response. Sorry! Backcountry has a new system in place to notify people of responses.

To answer your questions (if you're still in the hunt for a shovel) -

The handle does not make a ridge. I've created some very nice pits with this shovel. There's a slight convex shape to the back of the blade, but it's not significant.

I went with my combo of features for a few reasons: one, the longneck blade doesn't fit in most backpacks, so I chose the compact; two, I wanted to be able to move as much snow as possible with each scoop, so I got the full-sized blade; three, I didn't need the jagged edge of the Sharktooth design. I selected these options after emailing with Matt Brooks, the owner. He actually responds to customer inquiries! Very cool.

If you can carry the shovel with the choices you've selected, I think a longneck and compact blade are a good idea for you. You'll get more leverage and less volume per scoop, so less weight. The Sharktooth option is a personal choice, I think.