Spring skiing is still going strong, big mountain adventures are just starting, and all that means being prepared for snow camping and avalanche country. Ortovox knows backcountry safety as good as anyone out there. Perhaps best known for their avalanche transceivers, they also make some great shovels, backpacks and other accessories.
We recently fell in lust with their Kodiak shovel. The Kodiak shovel converts from the standard straight configuration to a 90 degree L shape that is much more efficient for all the chopping and raking that's required to hack out a tent platform or quickly move rock-hard avy debris. The stout egg-cross-sectioned shank has a non-slip grip toward the blade, and it telescopes out to a back-saving 2'10.5". The D handle is ergonomically correct, providing a much lower-effort grip than a T handle.
There are aggressive scalloped teeth up front, and the conversion from straight to L configuration is a no-brainer. The rectangular (optimal for cutting and lifting blocks for tent walls) blade is a nice size, small enought to stow in or on a pack but big enough to move the medium. There are no carabiner holes in the blade, but thinking back we can't remember ever using those on any shovel anyway.
Overall it's a great design, made almost entirely of tempered aluminum that takes the required abuse. You definitely can't argue with the weight, at a mere 1lb 12oz on our scale. The only concern we had were the plastic components, which are the D handle and the yellow collar around the secondary hole on the blade. Neither showed any signs of compromise during our use on Denali, so we're giving it our highest recommendation. Get your hoe on!