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[Review] Mammut Alugator Pro Light Shovel

“I’m closing in, get out your shovel and probe while I’m doing a fine search,” I yell, moving my beacon up and down an imaginary x-axis and y-axis in the snow. “Probe here!” I bark, digging my mitten lightly into the snow where the beacon had read the lowest numbers, while my other hand is being handed a probe. I probe, striking on the first time, but Kalem is still trying to deploy his shovel, the spring-pin buttons that connect the spade to the handle sticking so that they wouldn’t lock into place. He fumbles with it for a minute, pushing the spring-pin button in and out, trying to get it to lock, until it finally slides into place. By this point, I’ve also pulled my shovel out of the pack on my back and together, we paddle through the snow like kayakers until we pull the beacon we’ve buried to practice companion rescue out of the snow.

The small malfunction with the shovel might not seem like much, but in an avalanche situation, seconds matter. 93% of avalanche victims can be recovered alive if they are dug out in the first 15 minutes. While I won’t name the model of our malfunctioning shovel, it’s still sitting, relatively shiny and new, in the gear garage of the van. We bought it because it boasted advanced features and was lightweight. The curve of the handle is sexy, if you can describe the shovel that way. However, each time we take it out to practice companion rescue or dig a snow pit, it takes more time to put the shovel together and start digging than it should, leaving us less than impressed.

We don’t like to mess around with safety equipment, so we set out to find a different shovel. This time our goal was simplicity in deployment in order to maximize the speed in which we can start digging. We skipped over fancy features that other shovels boast, like a hoe mode, that you don’t need in a rescue scenario, and went right to the Mammut Alugator Light Shovel.

While the shovel is straight-forward, it’s pretty high-tech. It weighs less than a can of soda. The shaft is simple and straight, with a straight blade back in order to cut straight snow profiles and is made of anodized, hardened aluminum. An unexpected bonus was that it's ever so slightly smaller space-saving blade profile really did make a large difference in the amount of room it takes up in our packs (more room for snacks and extra puffers). Most importantly, the assembly mechanism was designed for a quick and precise deployment due to an automatic zipper locking feature, which is grooves in the metal that allow the shovel spade and handle to come together seamlessly. Even with my cold hands, it was easy to put together! Lastly, I love that the shovel, regardless of the color you choose to buy it in, has neon orange accents, so its difficult to get lost in the snow.

The shovel earned its permanent place in Kalem’s pack this week as we took it out on a couple of ski tours. We put it through the ringer by digging a snow pit to grab a snow profile on each of the slopes we skied. I was pleasantly surprised about how relaxing the experience digging was. The best shovel is the shovel you don’t notice, doing its job without struggle.

You can learn more and purchase the Mammut Alugator Pro Light Shovel here:

*We received this gear in exchange for a review. However, it is important to know that all thoughts are our own.

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