Most of the Backyard Boss team happen to live in snowy areas, and last winter, we set off on a quest to find the best snow shovel for clearing driveways, sidewalks, patios, and walkways. We evaluated them based on weight, durability, how quickly they helped us get the job done, and how sore we felt afterward. We also reviewed the manufacturers’ warranties and called their support lines to ensure we could talk to actual humans.
What we discovered is that different snowfalls demand different tools. In my garage hang our top two picks: the ergonomic Suncast SC3250 shovel/pusher combo for pushable snow and the double-handled SnowJoe Shovelution for deeper and heavier snow that needs to be lifted and tossed. We also picked our favorite best traditional snow shovel for those who don’t need or want a revolution in shoveling.
Backyard Boss Top Three Snow Shovels for Winter 2020 – 2021
SNOW JOE SJ-SHLV01 SHOVELUTION SNOW SHOVEL Check The Price! SUNCAST SC3250 18-INCH SNOW SHOVEL/PUSHER COMBO Check The Price! HBC 17-INCH POLY SNOW SHOVEL & PUSHER Check The Price!
Why You Should Trust Us
We are backyard experts and have written dozens of reviews and write-ups about snow blowers, plows, sweepers, driveway salting, and even proper shovel use. To prep for this article, our research team called several snow removal services to inquire about the shovels they use. While their answers varied, most echoed a similar sentiment: your best option is a shovel that’s comfortable, doesn’t put unnecessary strain on your back, and doesn’t cramp your hands.
Though it’s hard to claim expertise in shoveling snow, I do have a really long driveway. Unlike our neighbors, we don’t hire a plowing service, and I almost always choose to shovel rather than use a snow blower because I enjoy the exercise. So, I eat my own cooking: These shovels are hanging in my garage and get used almost weekly throughout the winter.
Best Shovel for Heavy Snow
Snow Joe's spring-loaded, ergonomic shovel grip captures the expended energy from the act of throwing the snow to quickly return and reset the shovel, ready for the next load.
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Snow Joe is my go-to shovel for deep, heavy snow. Scoop, lift, toss. Scoop, lift, toss. The 18-inch wide blade is attached to a unique, strain reducing handle: a second spring-loaded grip that creates a fulcrum to build leverage and, theoretically, reduces back strain (up to 30%, or so they say). It looks awkward at first, but you quickly get into a rhythm. Scoop, lift, toss. Scoop, lift, toss.
At two pounds, it’s super light. It has a two-year no-questions-asked warranty, and when I called Snow Joe, a friendly human picked up the phone in less than a minute. I use it because it makes tough snow jobs easier and actually does reduce post-shovel back pain. And honestly, at around $20, it’s very reasonably priced for the most modern shovel tech around.
WHO SHOULD BUY IT: People who live in areas with heavy snowfall and anyone who needs to reduce the bend-and-lift strain on their body while shoveling.
Best Strong & Ergonomic Snow Shovel
WHY WE LIKE IT: I use the Suncast SC3250 18-Inch Snow Shovel/Pusher Combo regularly alongside the Snow Joe. This is the shovel I use for lighter snow, clearing doggy paths, and maintaining the sidewalks. That’s because it’s a heavy shovel, and piling heavy, wet snow on top of that can be a bit… much. The shape does reduce back pain, although it’s hard to say exactly how much. It’s easier on the arms, though, and that’s worth investing in.
The wear strip scrapes down to the concrete without damaging the coated plastic blade, and the shape of the handle makes lifting and tossing more efficient. But again, I use this mostly for pushing the walkway path or clearing a dusting quickly with minimal physical effort. The shaft is powder-coated, so there’s a low risk of rust or breakage, even with regular use, and the 18-inch width is a good mid-range, ideal for quick jobs. Wider shovels hold more snow and are heavier to lift and toss as a result. An 18-inch blade is great for reaching smaller areas, as well, without clipping the grass or lifting mulch from the edges of flowerbeds.
WHO SHOULD BUY IT: Those who want a versatile design that makes pushing or shoveling lighter snow easier on the back.
Best Simple & Straight Snow Shovel
WHY WE LIKE IT: Sometimes a shovel is just a shovel, and this HBC Poly Snow Shovel & Pusher is exactly that. The straight shaft is familiar, the D-grip handle is comfortable to grip, and at 17 inches wide, the blade is a versatile size that makes cleanup of walkways and clearing paths for the dog quick and simple.
The drawbacks to a straight-shaft shovel are as you’d expect: it can be hard on your back and arms if you’re shoveling heavy snow. This particular shovel is lightweight, which is good for frequent use, but you should expect a shorter life than with a bulkier tool. Still, the price is reasonable, and there are no scoop-and-toss mechanics to learn like with the Snow Joe.
WHO SHOULD BUY IT: People who live in areas with light or infrequent snowfall or who need a simple, straightforward tool for smaller snow-clearing jobs.
Alternative Ergonomic Choice for Bad Back
WHY WE LIKE IT: It’s a shovel. The ergonomic bend in the shaft isn’t as pronounced as the Suncast, but it accomplished the job of reducing back strain when lifting. It’s also a good weight at 3 pounds. It feels solid, but also not too heavy. It’s also made in the USA!
I wouldn’t expect this to be your shovel for life, but you should get 3 – 5 good winters out of it before the rivets come loose or the poly splits.
WHO SHOULD BUY IT: Those who want an alternative ergonomic option or one that’s cheaper than the Suncast.
Best Snow Shovel With Wheels (Great for Seniors!)
WHY WE LIKE IT: This is a great option for seniors or people who want quick cleaning of light snow. Truly, yes, it’s more efficient for up to an inch or two of snow depth. You get 30″ of width on each pass, and there’s zero lifting required. Snowcaster also has an alternative 70SNC model that has a 36″ width and is bi-directional. We don’t think it’s worth the extra money, but you might. They are both 2 – 5x more expensive than our other selections.
WHO SHOULD BUY IT: Anyone who has trouble lifting snow or regularly needs to quickly clear light now. If my granddad were still with us, I’d buy him this one.
Best Ultra-Wide Snow Pusher For Fast Clearing
WHY WE LIKE IT: Snowplow has several different models of pusher with varying widths, but the 48-inch is the ultimate behemoth for those who want the job done as quickly as possible. Obviously, that much snow gets heavy, so this is the brawniest of options available, and you’ll need some extra muscle. Some have reported durability and warping issues, but we found it to be solid and well-constructed. It was just overkill for what I needed.
WHO SHOULD BUY IT: Strong shovelers who want quick clearing of big areas.
What to Look for in a Snow Shovel
Snow shovels are explicitly designed for moving large amounts of snow through scooping, lifting, throwing, or sometimes pushing. Specialty handles and wider, tapered, or curved blades are more recent innovations. Blades are made from lightweight aluminum, durable steel, or surprisingly robust and long-lasting plastics. Occasionally these blades are further reinforced by molded ridges to provide extra support for heavier snow loads.
Here’s what was important for the Backyard Boss team in our evaluation:
- Is the shovel effective at pushing snow?
- Is the shovel easy to lift and toss, even with heavy snow, when necessary?
- How do my back, arms, and hands feel when I’m done?
We looked at all types, including:
Ergonomic Shaft Shovels
These S-shaped shafts help keep you from putting too much strain on your back when bending, lifting and tossing snow. They are designed to keep your back as straight as possible and occasionally include a second handle along the shaft to lift. These are also great to keep in your vehicle as they can be made shorter to fit in almost any trunk space.
Telescoping Handle Shovels
These handles are fully adjustable and can help ease the strain shoveling can cause by allowing you to find the perfect length for height and personal preferences.
Manual Push Shovels
These wide, flat-headed shovels are made to push snow out of the way for fast clearing of lighter snow from large areas.
Shovels vs. Other Snow Moving Equipment
There are many products available to move snow, including electric snow shovels and blowers. We 100% recommend investing in a good snow blower if you live in an area with large and regular snowfall. You won’t regret it.
That said, shoveling is excellent exercise for those who are physically fit enough to do so. Manual snow shovels can get into smaller spaces and are a quick grab-and-go solution that doesn’t require maintenance or startup procedures. If you’re looking for a more compact solution or one you can keep in a trunk, we also have an article about the best folding shovels.
So you scrolled down here, looking for a simple answer. You want a durable snow shovel that doesn’t kill your back. Sometimes you need to push snow, sometimes you scoop and toss. Here are the winners that I use all winter long, hanging out in my garage, waiting for the first snow of the season.
Snow Joe SJ-SHLV01 Shovelution
For heavy snow that can't be pushed, it's lightweight and will save your back.
For heavy snow: Snow Joe SJ-SHLV01 Shovelution Strain-Reducing Snow Shovel
Strong and ergonomic: Suncast SC3250 18-Inch Snow Shovel/Pusher Combo
Simple and straight: HBC 17-Inch Poly Snow Shovel & Pusher
If you have any questions or comments about our choices, we’d love to hear about them below. And, as always, please share!