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    The Best Snow Shovels

    One is a must-have and three are best suited for specific tasks

    orange and black shovel pushing snow Photo: Getty Images

    Even if you own a snow blower, a good snow shovel is a winter essential if you live in an area that gets even an occasional dusting.

    That’s because there are some places you just can’t get to with a snow blower, and other spots where a snow blower is overkill, like a narrow walkway or a wooden deck. But there’s another practical reason to keep a shovel handy.

    More on Winter Weather

    "Even the best snow blowers can leave a thin coating of snow in their wake," says Dave Trezza, who oversees snow-blower testing for Consumer Reports.

    Trezza notes that models with the best rating in our surface cleaning test, viewable for CR members in our comprehensive snow-blower ratings, leave the faintest trail. Those that rate poorly in the test can leave an inch or more behind, and if they do, that snow can thaw and refreeze, potentially leaving you with a layer of ice across a driveway or walkway.

    Here, the one shovel nearly everyone needs—plus three supporting stars that are great for specific tasks.

    The All-Purpose Workhorse
    Best for a variety of conditions, these lightweight metal or plastic shovels can toss the fluffy stuff or push through heavy accumulation. If you own one shovel, this should be it.
    Straight, Ribbed Handle
    Lightweight, with ribs that provide the strength not to flex under the weight of snow.
    D-Shaped Grip
    Provides control and leverage.
    Steel Wear Strip
    Cuts through compacted snow and scrapes the pavement without damaging it.
    Wide Blade
    Clears a broad path, cutting down on the number of passes you’ll have to make.

    3 Shovels for Specific Conditions

    illustrations of different types of snow shovels (the corn scoop, the back-saver, and the pusher)

    Illustrations: Chris Philpot Chris Philpot

    The Corn Scoop

    Narrower than an all-purpose shovel, this typically has a wood or fiberglass handle and a metal scoop, which is more rigid than plastic. The result is an effective tool for a pile of wet snow, but the short handle doesn’t lend itself to plowing.

    The Back-Saver
    The ergonomic handle of this all-rounder is bent at roughly 25 degrees, putting the scoop flush with the ground without putting your back out of whack. The trade-off is that you can’t settle into your own angle for shoveling, which means your arms may tire faster. Look for a metal lip for most surfaces, but go with an all-plastic version for use on a wood deck, which metal can nick.

    The Pusher
    This design lets you cover a lot of ground after a light dusting. The broad face clears an extra-wide path, and wheels make it easy to roll around while you clear a large driveway or walk.

    Looking for more power? If you want to plow through more frequent flurries, consider trading up to a power snow shovel, which splits the difference between a regular shovel and a single-stage snow blower to easily clear up to six inches of snow.

    Shop for snow shovels: Amazon, Home Depot, Lowes, and Walmart

    Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the November 2018 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

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    Paul Hope

    As a classically trained chef and an enthusiastic DIYer, I've always valued having the best tool for a job—whether the task at hand is dicing onions for mirepoix or hanging drywall. When I'm not writing about home products, I can be found putting them to the test, often with help from my two young children, in the 1860s townhouse I'm restoring in my free time.