Black Diamond Evac 7

Review: Black Diamond Evac 7 Shovel

Black Diamond, like many companies that make avalanche rescue equipment, has an avalanche shovel that can be set-up either as a hoe or shovel.  However, the elegant design of the BD Evac 7 make the conversion between the two modes simple and intuitive on a shovel that is still light and extremely effective at moving a lot of snow quickly.

Black Diamond Evac 7
On a recent work trip I had to dig several holes to ground in a 4m snowpack, what better chance to really test out the Evac 7

Before looking at this particular shovel lets quickly discuss hoe shovels in general for anyone not familiar with them.  So why use a hoe shovel at all?  Well these things move a crazy amount of snow fast!  They’re great for winter camping, digging out snow mobiles, excavating profiles and even digging out avalanche victims, especially when employing the conveyor shoveling method.  For activities like ice climbing or ski mountaineering I would still gravitate towards a lighter, low profile shovel like the G3 Spadetech but for everything else a light shovel with a long handle and hoe option is the way to go.

Black Diamond Evac 7
The BD Evac 7 shovel alongside some other avalanche shovels for comparison. The Evac is the blue and black shovel in the middle.

BD Evac 7 Specs:

  • Weight: 794g
  • Blade: 25cm x 28.5cm
  • Length: 94cm (extended) & 66.5cm (collapsed)
  • D-Shaped handle
  • Dual mode: Hoe & Shovel

So what do these spec’s say?  Well the Evac 7 is one of the lighter hoe shovels on the market and middle of the road when compared to avalanche shovels in general which typically range from about 650g to 950g.  However, the hoe option combined with the long shaft and D-shaped handle make this a snow moving machine!  The long shaft also saves the back when doing a lot of shoveling by reducing how much a person has to bend over.

Black Diamond Evac 7
The Evac 7 set-up in the hoe arrangement with the shaft collapsed

The weak point with light avalanche shovels is often the connection between the shaft and the blade, this area experiences large forces when digging and more specifically when prying on the snow.  When teaching avalanche courses I always tell students to cut blocks rather than pry to avoid breaking their shovel.  The shaft of the Evac 7 is made of a rectangular section of aluminum tubing which makes it strong in the direction of force, reducing the chances of breaking the shaft.  The blade / shaft attachment has also been well designed with a reinforcing insert in the shovel blade for the end of the shaft.  This combination of strong shaft and connect point makes this a very durable shovel.  I wouldn’t recommend trying it at home, but while testing the shovel I tried prying at a lot of very dense snow and was impressed with how well the Evac 7 stood up to this abuse.

Black Diamond Evac 7
The sturdy shovel shaft to shovel blade attachment point. Interestingly the chrome spring loaded pin that holds the shovel together is only on the one side, the other side is smooth. More common is to have these pins on both sides

It can’t be all sunshine and roses so what are some of the down sides to the shovel?  Well, the blade on the Evac 7 is pretty big and doesn’t fit in all my ski packs, a slightly narrower blade for this smaller of the two Evac shovels would have been great.  The slightly hooked handle is also fairly long when collapsed and, because of the hook, doesn’t fit well in all packs.

Black Diamond Evac 7
Extended shaft and shovel blade. The flat leading cutting edge on the blade makes great snow profile walls and blocks for snow shelters

Lastly, the blade is black which can be a bit of pain in the ass at times.  The black shovel blade gets warm in the sun causing snow to stick to it when used.  Not a big deal really and you know I like a product when I’m reduced to complaining about the color.  Oddly the black anodizing has been coming off the shovel which has been getting lighter in color with use.

Pros:      Elegant design, durable, reasonably light and a nice long handle

Cons:     The blade of the Evac 7 is pretty big and may not fit in all ski packs, the same with the slightly hooked handle.

Overall: A snow moving machine!  This is a great tool for professional use and anyone undertaking winter back-country adventures where functionality is more important than trimming a few extra grams.

Black Diamond supplied us with a sample shovel to use and abuse but of course this did not influence our review in any way.