The fastest beacon search ever doesn’t do you any good if you can’t dig out your friend. A bomber shovel with an aluminum blade should be considered essential for backcountry travel. Size, shape, and handle type are personal preference, so check out the options and get the shovel that works best for you.
A plastic blade is nice for building snow forts, but it isn’t strong enough to dig through concrete-hard avalanche debris. Aluminum is the only choice for safety in avalanche terrain. Some blades offer a serrated edge or pointed shape for extra digging power.
A fixed-length shovel is lightweight and makes for easy storage in a backpack, but a shovel with an adjustable-length shaft gives you the potential for more leverage so you can move lots of snow quickly.