Jan 08 2014

Review: Ortovox Pro Alu 2.7 shovel


Ortovox' Pro Alu 2.7 shovel converts to hoe mode.

Ortovox’ Pro Alu 2.7 shovel converts to hoe mode.

Let’s face facts. If you’re involved in an avalanche rescue you want the fastest most accurate avy beacon, the smartest, self-guided probe, and an ultra-light backhoe for excavating your friend(s). Smart probes and easy to use beacons do exist, but the closest thing you’ll get to a backhoe is a human powered shovel that can flip the blade 90 degrees to transform into a hoe for moving lots of snow quickly.

Ortovox was one of the first avalanche rescue companies to venture down the snow-hoe path with their Grizzly, followed by the Kodiak. The Alu Pro 2.7 is the follow up shovel to the Kodiak. Like the Kodiak you switch orientations by changing how the shaft attaches to the blade. In straight mode the blade attaches to the end of the shaft with an offset T-handle. To switch to hoe mode, unclip the shaft, invert it and attach it via the T-handle which becomes a right angle connection, turning the shovel into a hoe.

T-grip becomes a stabilizing handle for the lead hand when hoeing.

T-grip becomes a stabilizing handle for the lead hand when hoeing.

With the Pro Alu, like BCA’s Dozer, you don’t get a D or T grip to hold on to the end of the shaft when you’re hoeing the snow. Instead, you hold the top of the T-handle with the leading hand, and the back of the shaft to pull the snow in a front to back sweeping motion.

The handle expands to yield a full 34” length for utility digging without being permanently bent over. It isn’t quite as comfortable as a full length shovel, but no one I know carries one of those in the backcountry. When collapsed the shaft reduces to a trim 18” in length, short enough to fit in most 30 liter ski packs, even a few of the 20 liter size.

The blade itself is mid-sized to move a good chunk of snow with each scoop and has minor serrations on the leading edge for biting into hard snow. It will fit in the outer panel of most ski packs.

If you’re looking for a shovel that you’re planning to actually use, not just carry as insurance, the Pro Alu 2.7 will help you make short work of your digging projects, whether that’s building a snow cave, digging a pit or, gulp, rescuing a buried buddy.

Pro Alu 2.7
MSRP: $ 69
Weight: 1 lb., 12 oz. (802 g)
Extended length: 34″ (86 cm)
Collapsed length: 18″ (46 cm)

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