Who’s your buddy in the backcountry? Whoever they are, when the fit hits the shan they’ll only be as good as the shovel they are carrying. With the new Black Diamond Evac, they might move up a notch or two on your buddy list.
The BladeThe Evac is built with backcountry skiing in mind. It comes in two sizes, a 7-liter and 9-liter, anodized, heat-treated aluminum blade. Yes, liters refers to volume and blades are more or less flat, but the volume refers to the amount of snow they can move with each scoop. Call ‘em a medium and large sized blades, with some shape on the leading edge for biting into icy snow. Holes are cut out in the four corners of the blade, either for making a sling to carry on your back, or as attachment points for building a rescue sled with skis.
Getting the ShaftWhat distinguishes the Evac from most other shovels is the shaft and associated attachment system. As one would hope, the shaft has a rectangular cross-section for greater strength than a circular one, and telescopes way out — almost a meter for the Evac9. When you need to stash it short, it collapses to about ⅔ the length. If you really need it, both can shrink an additional inch by collapsing the D-handle as well.
Inside the shaft, under the D-handle, the push-pin can be reversed to reveal that it can be used to hold any saws-all blade for sawing the edges of snowpits, or cutting limbs that might be in the snow that you’re digging down in to, or simply to cut up some wood for an emergency fire.
Straight or HoeThe connection between the shaft and blade is set at a 45° angle in the blade, with a similar bend at the end of the shaft. When connected in the classic, straight shovel configuration the blade makes a quick, corrective bend that makes shaving the walls of a snowpit easy by keeping the shaft and your hand away from the wall. Where that 45° bend comes in super handy is when you flip the shaft around so that the 45° bend in the blades mating hole plus the bend at the end of the shaft yield a 90° bend transforming the shovel into a snow hoe. When you need to move a lot of snow fast, like when you need to evacuate a buried avalanche victim, nothing beats a diesel powered back hoe. The next best thing is the human powered snow hoe. Where the Evac promises an improvement in the classic snow hoe design is by rounding the connection from a 90° angle at the connection, to one that combines two 45° bends for greater strength under stress.
If you’re looking to upgrade your current snow shovel, BD’s Evac should be near the top of the list of snow hoe contenders.
Weight: 1 lb., 13 oz. (794 g)
Length: 37″/94cm (extended), 26¼”/66.5cm (collapsed)
Weight: 1 lb., 15 oz. (879 g)
Length: 38″/98.5cm (extended), 28″/71cm (collapsed)