Ortovox Kodiak Shovel Review

I have used a lot of different back-country shovels over the last 10 years of avalanche courses and last year I had the opportunity to review a Brooks-Range Sharktooth Pro Shovel. This year Ortovox sent me a Kodiak Shovel to demo and I’ve been extremely pleased with it, so much so that I have tried convincing fellow Mountain Rescue Service members to pick one up.

Ortovox Kodiak Shovel Review

Ortovox Kodiak Shovel

There are a lot of positives to this shovel and only one negative, so let’s get that negative out of the way first.

Weight: At 1lb, 12oz (790g) this shovel is a bit on the heavy side for someone who only visits the back-country occasionally and doesn’t do a lot of pit work. However it still breaks down and easily stores in the avalanche gear front pocket of my EMS Wintergreen Backpack.

And now for the positives that make this shovel a digging machine;

Blade: This large blade, (11.8 x 9 x 2.4″), has almost 2 square feet of volume. It easily moves more snow per stroke than any other shovel I have used. The sharp serrated blade cuts through hard debris (and parking lot snow banks) like no other edge I have used. It also is flat on the bottom axis allowing for smooth pit walls to aid in quality snow-pack observations. Finally the top of the blade has some non-slip step grooves to facilitate using your ski boots on the blade to cut through cement if need be.

Shaft: This telescoping shaft extends from 20″ to 28″ but still fits easily in my avalanche gear pocket when collapsed. The oval shape of the shaft is really comfortable to dig with compared to traditional round shafts and the rubberized portion adds control when wearing iced up or slippery gloves. The shaft quickly inserts and self locks into the blade due to a well designed self-feeding slot that guides the locking button into place with little effort.

Handle: While D-shaped handles add a little weight to a shovel they add a ton of control, especially if wearing mittens. T shaped and J shaped handles are very hard to operate with mittens on, and since our avalanche terrain is often brutally cold and half of my students often have mittens on this style of handle should preferred, especially if you deal with cold hands alot.

Added functionality: This is the first shovel I have used that has a 90 degree clearing function, essentially making it an entrenching tool (memories of USMC Boot Camp coming back). While using this mode did not feel effective at first I quickly realized this is a great mode for secondary shovelers moving snow further back from the main shovelers in a companion rescue scenario. I think it would also be quite handy for digging a quick snow cave while on a mountaineering trip.

Ortovox Kodiak Shovel Review


I put a quick video review of the shovel up on my YouTube Channel:

Final thoughts: This is an aggressive powerhouse of a shovel perfect for avalanche professionals, search & rescue teams, and hard-core mountaineers. While slightly heavier than other models it makes up for it in utility & durability. Final grade: A

About David Lottmann

David grew up skiing in the Whites and started climbing at a summer camp just north of Mt. Washington when he was 16. Those first couple of years solidified climbing as a lifetime passion. From 1996-2000 he served in the USMC, and spent the better part of those years traveling the globe (18 countries). After returning to civilian life he moved to North Conway to focus on climbing and was hired in 2004 as a Rock and Ice Instructor. Since then Dave has taken numerous AMGA courses, most recently attaining a Single Pitch Instructor. He has completed a Level 3 AIARE avalanche course, is a Level 2 Course Leader, holds a valid Wilderness First Responder and is a member of Mountain Rescue Service. When David isn't out guiding he enjoys mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, backcountry skiing, trying to cook something new once a week and sampling new micro-brews. He lives in Conway, NH with his wife Michelle, son Alex, and daughter Madalena.
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3 Responses to Ortovox Kodiak Shovel Review

  1. Pingback: Avalanche Season Recap 2013/2014 | David Lottmann's Guiding Blog

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  3. Pingback: Eastern Snow Avalanche Workshop, Instructor Refresher Course, and the first signs of winter | Northeast Alpine Start

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