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Gear Review: BCA B1 EXT and Black Diamond Deploy 7 Shovels

Backcountry Access B1 EXT Shovel

Backcountry Shovels
Backcountry Access B1 EXT shovel
$50, 1 lb. 5 oz.
backcountryaccess.com

BCA’s light and compact B1 EXT has a great strength-to-weight ratio. Its small but solid aluminum blade chopped easily into consolidated snow and icy crust in test pits I dug while backcountry skiing in Idaho’s Boise Mountains. The two-section, straight shaft and blade assemble as quickly as most traditional shovels of similar design, and the shaft compresses short enough (16 inches/40.5 cm) to fit into a pack’s snow-gear pocket without separating its two sections. Extended, the shovel’s length (22.25 inches/56.5 cm) allows for digging without being uncomfortably hunched over. But that compact blade doesn’t move snow as quickly as a larger shovel; it’s designed for users who prioritize low weight over snow-moving performance.

 

Black Diamond Deploy 7 Shovel

Black Diamond Deploy 7 shovel
$70, 1 lb. 9 oz.
blackdiamondequipment.com

The name says it all—this shovel is designed to be ready for use instantly and easily, a big advantage in an emergency. Its curved, trapezoidal shaft slides behind the blade for storage, meaning no assembly required: Depress buttons once, extend the shaft, and you’re digging in a second or two—much faster than with most shovels, which require extending the shaft and reattaching it to the blade. The Deploy 7’s 0.7-gallon (2.65 L), lightweight aluminum blade moved snow fast when I dug pits while backcountry skiing in Idaho’s Boise Mountains; the blade also penetrated readily in a variety of snow conditions. Compact when collapsed, the shovel stores easily in a pack. The short handle means you’re bending over more when digging, but also makes the shovel ideal for tight situations, like a small pit or a snow cave. Its hardy, big blade and compact, quick-deploying design make it an excellent all-around backcountry shovel.

—Michael Lanza

About The Author

Michael Lanza

A former field editor and primary gear reviewer for Backpacker Magazine, Michael Lanza created The Big Outside to share stories and images from his many backpacking, hiking, and other outdoor adventures, as well as expert tips and gear reviews to help readers plan and pull off their own great adventures.

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Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside and former Northwest Editor at Backpacker magazine. Click my photo to learn more about me and my blog. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside now to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. And click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

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