10 Best Shovels Reviewed & Rated
If you have a garden, then you have a shovel or several shovels. These are essential digging tools, and there is no gardening without them. For every conceivable digging job, there is a shovel specially designed for that task. Flat-bladed shovels are for digging irrigation trenches, round-edged shovels for breaking up stony soils, and the scoop-bladed units for pulling dirt out of post holes.
Our Top 3 Picks
- Bully Tools
So yes, there is a shovel for every digging task imaginable. However, there are instances where you are in the market for an all-purpose tool. One that can break up soils and is still good at digging irrigation ditches. It shouldn’t be a daunting task to select one, but it isn’t simple either given the many designs on the market.
If you need any recommendations, we deem the shovels below as the best.
10 Best Shovels
1. Fiskars Long Handle Round Point Steel
Handle – At 57.5 inches, the length of the Fiskars is quite generous. It eliminates the need to kneel or bend and as a result the back pains that come with the two activities. Also, the handle is made of 18 gauge steel shaft that will outlast any wooden handles or fiberglass. Finally, the tear-drop shape of the shaft profile increases the comfort and control of the tool.
Head – First, the head of the 9668 shovel is 14 gauge steel and will outlast aluminum and plastic shovels. However, it’s the design that makes this tool top our list. The sharpened blade can penetrate even the toughest soils with ease. It also features a generous foot-platform that helps maximize the force when driving the knife-edge into the ground.
Length: 57.5 inches
Welded steel construction
Weight: 6.3 pounds
Extra-large foot platform
Who is it for?
If you are on a budget and you want top value for your money, get the 9668. Also, if you suffer from back pains, the Fiskars 9668 is the best you can get.
The 57.5-inch length of the 9668 has to be its strong point as it reduces the need to kneel or bend
No other brand provides this quality at this price point
It is backed by a lifetime warranty
The length of the tool reduces its portability
2. Bully Tools 82515
Also, you will appreciate that this has been made in the USA where the company can exercise more control over the quality. Finally, the welded I-beam handle prevents bending along the Ferrule. Our best features though were the step and the superior blade.
Step – The foot platform of the Bully Tools 82515 is a step ahead of the rest no-pun intended. First, it’s massive, crisp-edged and dead flat giving you a sound initial grip whenever you want to push the head into the soil. Also, the step extends with the width of the blade providing a substantial surface area.
Superior blade –The Bully Tools 82515 features a 14 gauge blade much like other shovels worth their mettle. What makes the 82515 stand out is that it’s creased on both sides of the socket attachment increasing its stiffness. As a result, it can withstand rocks and roots.
Length: 59.2 inches
Weight: 4.9 pounds
14 gauge steel blade
Limited lifetime warranty
Who is it for?
If you are in the market for a digging option, or you suffer from back pains, and you would love a tool you can use without having to bend or kneel, get the Bully Tools 82515.
The welded I-Beam construction with no seam prevents separation from the blade
The substantial step makes it a breeze to apply force with your feet
Prevents back pains thanks to the massive length
Great for tough soils thanks to the superior blade
The length of this limits its portability, plus the fiberglass handle can flex under too much weight
Though it is an advantage, the welded I-beam construction makes it that you will have to replace the entire tool should the handle snap
3. Radius Garden Root Slayer
Unique head design – First, unlike traditional options that have a pointed head, the Garden Root Slayer has a concave tip. The notching centers the force on the roots instead of sliding over them when it hits. Also, the serrated teeth are sharp, and they are all facing the same direction for efficient cutting.
Ergonomic handle – The patented round grip that provides four times the gripping surface that a standard D-ring delivers. Also, the polypropylene is padded with a non-latex thermoplastic elastomer giving it the qualities of rubber and plastic.
Another reason you should consider this unit is the robust shaft and the broad steps. You can apply your entire weight without the unit flexing.
Length: 45 inches
Who is it for?
The Radius Garden Root Slayer is best if you have to battle intertwining roots.
The wide steps allow you to comfortably rest on the unit and use your weight on the downward dig
Efficient for cutting roots thanks to the concave blade that centers the force on the roots
Quality build with the round grip and steel shaft
Tall people will have to stoop, and that might cause back pains
4. Spear Head Spade
It’s also lightweight, and you can use for long hours with minimal fatigue.
Unique blade design – Though it is known as a spade tool, it doesn’t resemble either. It is more like a shovel with the characteristics of a knife and a garden axe. The sharp tip makes it a breeze to ease your way into thick root mats, while the outward curve increases the strength of the unit. The exaggerated foot platform, give you enough surface to rest on and use your weight on a downward dig.
Handle – The reinforced fiberglass handle is sturdy and light, low maintenance, weather resistant and non-conductive.
Finally, there are various lengths available, and you are assured of one that meets your needs.
Specially reinforced fiberglass handle which is 60% stronger.
Weight: 3.59 pounds
Built in the USA
Who is it for?
This tool is for any individual who is looking for a precision tool or one that can cut through any root mat efficiently.
The unit is powder-coated which increases its rust resistance, and for ease of washing
Has enough leverage thanks to the size and weight
Best for fine gardening tasks such as lifting well-established shrubs for transplanting
A tad expensive
10. True Temper Forged Round
Lightweight – The reason why heavy-duty shovels aren’t a popular option other than the price despite having unique quality is they are bulky and not ideal for everyday tasks. At 1 pound, the True Temper round point is the lightest and allows you to work for extended hours with little to no fatigue.
Handle – This item features the traditional wooden handle which could be a reason for the lightweight nature of this item. The handle is 45-inches long which increases the leverage and gets rid of the need to stoop over and consequently eliminates back pains. Also, it is padded to absorb shock.
Weight: 1 pound
Length: 57 inches
Padded wooden handle
Who is it for?
We recommend it for people who cannot work with bulky tools.
The handle absorbs shock better than most materials as it is wooden and padded
The unit is lightweight, and thus you can work for extended hours without fatigue
The generous steps enable you to use your weight to exert more pressure
As is the case with all wooden tools, the handle is this tool’s Achilles heel; it rots, splinters and develops weak points which can injure your arms or render the unit useless
6. Fiskars Extendable Ergo D-handle
Also, this shovel is designed for easy storage as you can hang it in the garage or shed. The item is powder-coated to protect the unit from rusting and for easy cleaning. However, our best features were the blade and extendable handle.
Blade – The sharp blade can break any soil clods, and can cut through thick soils easily. Also, it features a foot platform to maximize pressure when digging.
Extendable handle – The Ergo D-handle can extend or shorten between 41 and 49 inches enabling users to get the appropriate height. It supports a healthy posture and gets rid of soreness as you don’t have to stoop. You can adjust the length by turning the orange lock and turning it back to lock it in position. The D-rind too allows for excellent grip, while the teardrop shape increases comfort and control.
By and large, this is a shovel for family use as it can serve several people appropriately.
Length: 41 to 49 inches
Weight: 4.05 lbs
Full lifetime warranty
Welded steel construction
Who is it for?
Get this Fiskars if you want the convenience of a shorter handle without having to sacrifice the leverage that comes with a longer handle.
The most noticeable advantage of this tool is the extendable handle that supports good posture without sacrificing the benefits of a short handle
The well-designed head is sharp and has a generous foot pad
7. Bully Tools 92515
Robust – It's is designed to handle such tasks. First, the blade is thicker (12 gauge steel), which adds strength but also has other features as the “I-beam” on the arch of the blade socket transition which increases stiffness. The creases on the side of the unit raise the robustness as well. Also, the connection between the blade and the socket is welded which increases the strength.
Handle – The handle of the 92515 has to be its most fascinating aspect. It is fiberglass on the outside with a wood core which gives the best of both worlds. First, it is super strong and will not flex owing to the wooden core, and is rot resistant thanks to the fiberglass. However, what’s most remarkable is the shock absorption. Fiberglass tends to shudder on impact, but there is little of that here thanks to the wood.
By and large, you can rely on this item for the toughest of digging jobs.
12 gauge steel blade
Weight: 59.2 inches
Length: 5.35 lbs
Who is it for?
We only recommend this for commercial jobs.
Made in the USA, and where Bully Tools have more quality control
The chisel edge blade can cut through any roots and the toughest soil
The I-beam prevents bending along the ferrule
Has a large foot platform with incredible initial grip
It might be difficult for lefties owing to the rivet head
8. Corona AS90300
The blade is 12 gauge steel and thus stronger to handle the rough jobs. It is also heat treated to increase the durability.
Nevertheless, what stood out for us was the attention to small details and the lift.
Small details – The Corona AS90300 commands a premium price and the little features on this unit should be standard at such a hefty sum. However, competitors lack these additions giving the Corona an edge. First, there is the bolted rubber footstep which increases the surface area for a better grip when applying force, and there is the padded steel handle for comfort.
Lift – Has a 4-inch lift against the standard 6-inch lift. Thus, the handle is almost vertical, and you will not have to lean over as much when digging straight down as you do when excavating a fence post. You reduce the chances of the handle pinching your hands.
Weight: 8 pounds
12-gauge steel head
Who is it for?
We only recommend the AS90300 for individuals with tough tasks such as uprooting a couple hundred shrubs, or tree trunks.
At 60 inches, it eliminates the need to stoop over consequently the back pains associated with such tasks
The all-steel construction increases the longevity and durability of the shovel
The steel pad and rubber foot step better the ergonomics of this item
Like all ultra-heavy duty tools, it weighs too much for everyday use and is quite a price
9. Seymour S710
We also appreciated the two steps which despite having a small surface area, help you increase the force when prying into the ground. Our best features though were the serrated teeth and cushioned handle.
Cushioned handle – Fiberglass handles tend to whip and shudder upon impact, and you end up with sore hands if you use it for extended periods of time. The cushioned handle helps to absorb the shock while providing better grip, and increasing the comfort of the unit.
Serrated teeth – Obstacles such as roots and soil clods make digging a daunting task. Often, you need other tools such as hatchets to break them up. The Seymour S710 eliminates the need for additional equipment as it cuts through roots and sods with unrivaled ease.
Finally, at 5 pounds it is one of the lighter heavy duty shovels.
Materials: Steelhead, steel ferrule, and a fiberglass handle
Weight: 5 pounds
Who is it for?
We recommend the S710 for people residing in dry or semi-arid areas. Also, if you want to clear shrubs or dig a space with roots, this is for you.
At 48-inches, the S710 reduces the need to bend or kneel and subsequently the back pains associated with repeated bending
The serrated teeth can cut through any sod and roots reducing the force you require
It doesn’t perform that well in rocky areas and is a bit pricey
5. Bond LH015
With the pin-tip head and rounded edges, you can dig deeper into the ground and transfer the dug up material. The blade is heat treated which increases the shovels longevity.
D-Ring Handle – First, the length of the Bond LH015 is 27.6 inches which is half the standard length. However, this increases the control over the shovel. The D-ring at the end makes lifting materials a breeze. The non-slip grip also allows you to work comfortably even when wet.
Portability – If you are planning outdoor activities, you will love the length. At 27.6 inches, you can place it in the trunk of your vehicle and use it for outdoor activities.
Another feature that allows this unit to rank so high is that it is powder coated to protect against rust.
Length: 27.6 inches
Weight: 1.8 pounds
Who is it for?
The Bond LH015 is for moving and lifting. We advocate this if you need to move soil or any material.
The non-slip grip reduces slippage even when wet
At 1.8 pounds this shovel is lightweight, and you can use it for an extended period without fatigue
It’s durable thanks to the heat-treated material
May strain you back as you will have to bend, and the black handle absorbs heat requiring one to use gloves
How to Buy a Quality Shovel
There are some key points you should consider when purchasing a shovel to ensure that you are getting value for your money.
There are three kinds of blade materials that you can use to narrow your search for an ideal shovel. Inferior material might be cheap, but it will not last long. Eventually, it will end up being expensive as you will have to buy several of these affordable units. A blade made of highly superior material will serve you longer, but the shovel will be costly.
Steel – No other material can rival steel, and we implore you to get a steel shovel for the durability it offers. Though it can withstand wear and tear, it happens to be bulkier than other materials. You will need a bit of muscle when using it and causes a lot of fatigue.
Plastic – Plastic shovels happen to be lightweight, but they are the least durable. You can use them for light gardening tasks such as seeding flower pots but nothing that involves heavy lifting. They cannot be used for any serious gardening; they break in changing weather conditions, and can’t endure any heavy lifting.
Alumium – For a durable and lightweight shovel, we recommend you purchase one that’s alumnum. These are high quality and robust shovels that can withstand any abuse and are light enough allowing you to work for extended hours with little fatigue.
The size of the shovel’s blade is an essential feature and will determine what you can use the tool for and the ease with which you can use it. Longer blades will dig deeper into the ground and can even be used by backcountry skiers. However, they need more muscle and can be fatiguing to use. Smaller blades, on the other hand, are easier to handle but are less efficient than larger blades.
There are instances where you will be using the shovel for extended periods of time; therefore, you should consider purchasing a unit that will not cause much fatigue. We wouldn’t recommend heavy units but only decide after deliberating on the kind of work that needs to be done.
Since the handle is the part you will be holding, we think it is necessary to consider the design. Often it boils down to the standard length shovel or the D-ring. We implore you to consider the intended use of the shovel before you make a final decision.
Standard options are longer and can effortlessly reach deeper into the ground. If you are digging a deep hole, say for planting a tree, we would recommend you get this. However, the D-ring shovel is shorter and simpler. It might lack the leverage that longer standard shovels provide, but it is comfortable if you intend to use it for extended periods.
The handle is as important as the blade, and you should consider it when making a purchase. There are various materials used to make handles from steel to hardwood, and each has its pros and cons.
Hardwood is the old standard and was preferred as was trouble-free to produce and uncomplicated to replace. However, it has some issues in that it splinters and can damage your hands; it weakens with age and breaks more easily rendering the unit useless. It’s also weightier than other materials.
Fiberglass handles have gained traction and are the prevalent material now. They have some advantages over wood in that they are lightweight, don’t splinter and don’t develop weak points nor do they age. With proper maintenance, a fiberglass shovel will serve you for ages. The only shortcoming is that they aren’t easy to replace. You will be forced to purchase a new tool should the handle snap.
Alumnum and steel handles are also available, but we recommend them for scoop shovels. Alumnum handles are for scooping lightweight materials and can bend under stress while steel can handle heavier material but will wear you out faster.
Also, although shovels and spades are used interchangeably, the two are different. Shovels are designed for digging, and have a sharp tip and curved blade, while a spade is for moving soil.
What is lift?
Lift is the angle at which the head of a shovel is mounted on to the handle. Standard shovels have a 6-inch lift, but it can vary on the tools’ intended purpose. A lower lift makes digging more comfortable, while a higher lift is better for scooping soil and other loose materials.
What features should you look at in a blade?
Most shovels use the “No two design,” and though it varies between manufacturers, there are some standard features. The length of the blade should be 10 to 12 inches and the width between 8 and 10 inches. It should curve to a point, so it’s easy to cut into the soil and is mounted at an angle (lift) to the handle.
How should I maintain my shovels?
Always clean them after use, and wipe them dry using a piece of cloth. You can wash them with steel wool and light oil to remove any rust from the blade. Finally, sharpen the edges and store your unit away from the reach of children.
How do you sharpen a shovel blade?
You can use either a handheld grinder, an abrasive stone, or a file. However, remember that this is a blade, and you should use gloves while sharpening. The angle that is on the spade should be a guide but if it is too dull, find the original angle. Finally, don’t forget to file the inner edge too.
A shovel should not only be functional, but the design should be appealing. The Fiskars 9668 was our top pick, but you can try out the Bully Tools 82515 which is equally as good. If you don’t find a unit that meets your requirements, follow our guide on how to pick a shovel, so you get top value for your money. Finally, we welcome any questions or comments you have by leaving a comment below.