How to Choose the Right Winter Shovel for Your Needs

Consider your height and the tool's weight, note our experts.

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stately cream colored home with dark green shutters snow
Photo: Yellow Dog Productions/Getty Images

Snow can be a beautiful sight during the winter season, especially as it falls from the sky and creates a flurried scene. Once it sticks and piles up on your property, however, it quickly turns into a nuisance—removing it all is often a difficult task. But don't fret: A smartly designed shovel will save you from needing to ice your back after clearing your front path and driveway.

As for how to choose the right one? First things first—height matters. Consider this rule of thumb from Ken Johnson, an online merchant at The Home Depot: Your shovel, with its blade directly on the ground, should reach approximately to your elbow. Santhosh Thomas, DO, MBA, staff physician with the Center for Spine Health at Cleveland Clinic, recommends using a shovel with a curved shaft if you plan to clear a hefty amount of snow with it. This type of shovel provides ergonomic benefits, as well as sturdiness. (Dr. Thomas also reminded us to wear multiple layers of clothing, a hat, and gloves to remain safe and warm while shoveling.) Johnson prefers ergonomically designed, two-handlebar models like the Snow Joe 18-inch Shovelution ($24.99,, which reduce the need to bend, lessening muscle strain.

Also, consider the piece's weight. You want a tool you can lift without difficulty when it's filled with snow. Blade size contributes to heft, as does material, says Wayne Michalak, board chairman at the Snow and Ice Management Association—so pick up and handle a few to determine what feels best.

"For most people, a shovel will really be the best tool," Daniel Miller, founder of Shovler Inc, says of clearing the white stuff. The size of your property and your personal health can influence what you ultimately use to tackle the snow. "If you have a larger property or suffer from back pain, you may want to invest in a snow blower," he adds. Or, you can buy a snow plow that attaches to the front of your car to remove particularly tough spots.

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