Whether on foot or on skis, a snow shovel is an essential tool for winter hill goers. This could be for digging out an avalanche burial victim, moving snow to make an emergency or planned snow shelter, using as a tool to aid snow profiling or simply for helping to dig your vehicle out of the snowed in car park.
For any shovel use, but particularly for the life or death jobs, the tool you choose needs to be many things – quick to deploy, efficient to use, strong enough to do the job effectively and compact and light enough that you won’t leave it at home instead of packing it.
Mammut have been producing shovels for many years and undoubtedly know what works and what doesn’t. Having said that, as a brand that never sits still they are always looking to improve their product line and make innovative additions.
Recently, they updated the Alugator Pro and we were pleased to be asked to test one. Here is my review……
As mentioned above, to be effective a snow shovel needs to be several things and, although there is a lot of model choice on the market, some unquestionably don’t offer the required performance. To help consumers make informed choices, the UIAA have recently introduced a standard (UIAA 156 Avalanche Shovel Standard) for snow shovels.
A summary of the requirements of this are that shovels need to have a blade size of at least 500cm2, offer reliable use in compacted snow and ergonomic handling with a shovel length of at least 75cms. It is great that this standard has been created, So, where does the Alugator Pro match up to this standard?
Well, given a blade length of 28.5cm and a blade width of 23.5cm, the Alugator Pro gives a blade size easily big enough to meet the standard. Then, the shovel length, although it collapses to about 68cm, actually extends to 91cm and so again easily meets the standard on that too.
The other key UIAA criteria is that the shovel is robust enough to cut through hard packed snow. The Pro features a hardened and anodised shovel blade paired with a beefy oval shaft that is easily up to even the toughest cutting and chopping jobs. So, yes, the Alugator Pro comfortably meets the UIAA standard, but there are other key features that also need to be detailed.
Firstly, an efficient shovel needs an efficient handle. The Pro has an ergonomic D shaped grip designed to comfortably fit the hand while also being easy to hold and grip even with chunky gloves on. This pairs with an integrated grip zone on the handle that both insulated the hand and allows a solid holding position.
The shovel blade has also been carefully considered. A flat back profile allows for straight snow profiles and the blade edge is sharpened and features ridges for strength and steps to allow you to stand on the shovel edge to allow efficient digging in hard packed snow.
The handle locks into the blade simply by sliding it until it clicks securely into place. It is a system designed to be quick and efficient and it works perfectly. So, that covers the key features of the Alugator Pro except for one other key feature. By inserting the handle into the blade at 90 degrees you can also create a hoe style tool….but more on that later.
The new version of the Alugator Pro is only recently introduced onto the market and so my opportunities to test it in a variety of snow conditions has, so far at least, been rather limited, but I wanted to share information as soon as possible and so I am writing this with the confidence that I have enough experience with it to offer a valid opinion.
So, how does the Alugator Pro perform in practice? Firstly, the styling of the Alugator Pro is spot on. I know function will always trump form with a tool like a snow shovel, but there’s still no reason not to have one that looks cool. In this case, the sleek black blade and shaft contrasts smartly with orange detailing on the handle and the locking system. It looks great.
It also looks beefy. This is a tool designed to be a reliable workhorse for moving snow quickly and efficiently. The oval shaft, substantial handle and large and solid blade leave you in little doubt this was made both to work hard and to last.
Connecting the handle to the blade takes only a second and it slots together with a reassuring clunk – you know straight away when it is ready for action. This is the case both when using it as a shovel and when using it as a hoe.
The combination of the D shaped grip and the grip zone on the handle shaft ensures it is extremely comfortable to grip and can be easily used with gloves or chunky mittens on. To further aid grip Mammut have added a grippy rubber material to the handle and this helps create a very solid and grippy package.
I have tested the efficiency of the Alugator Pro in varied snow conditions and it has worked a charm on anything I have thrown at it. The sharp and yet strong shovel blade hasn’t skipped a beat even in well consolidated neve. I have also tried pushing the shovel blade into firm snow and levering it backwards – there was minimal flex and it felt solid in every test. The great addition of steps on each top edge of the shovel blade greatly aids getting the blade into tough snow quickly and easily.
Shovel blade size is a crucial consideration in the efficiency of any snow shovel and the Alugator Pro, with its generous blade size, excels. It will shift snow with ease and this is essential for an avalanche safety tool.
And so, along with blade size, there is another feature of this shovel that is a game changer. The ability to switch the blade from a shovel to a hoe is such a useful feature that I can’t overstate how much of a difference it makes in so many situations. If you are clearing snow from the inside of a snow shelter or working in a team to dig out an avalanche victim, so much snow can be shifted by being able to drag it towards you.
It is a truly superb feature and I speak with considerable experience as the last snow shovel (which I used all through last winter for a lot of shelter building and other tasks) featured this. Believe me, for a workhorse shovel this is a really great thing to have.
Among other things, the flat profile of the blade will definitely help with snow profiling and, given all the features and practical design of the Alugator Pro, Mammut have done a great job of making it packable as well as keeping the weight down to a pack friendly 850 grams. Finally, they have added holes on the blade to allow use as a snow anchor.
This shovel is a really great tool for winter goers. It sets up in an instant, will clear snow rapidly and will undoubtedly serve you for many seasons of winter adventures. All the features are carefully thought out, it is built with Mammut’s legendary commitment to quality and that hoe feature is a real bonus. It is named the Pro and my view is that it will well suit those who demand a lot from their shovels and put them to hard use – people like fast and light ski mountaineers may want to look elsewhere. But, if it suits your requirements, please do check out the Alugator Pro. The Pro costs £89 and full details are available on the Mammut website here.
Posted by Paul