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Reviews > Snow Gear > Axes and Shovels > Voile TelePro Shovel > Owner Review by joe schaffer

Voile Telepro Avalanche Snow Shovel

Owner Review by Joe Schaffer

March 1, 2018
NAME: Joe Schaffer
EMAIL: never2muchstuff(at)yahoo(dot)com
AGE: 70
HOME:  Bay Area, California USA

     I enjoy California's central Sierras, camping every month with a goal to match my age in nights out each year. For comfort I lug tent, mattress, chair and such. Typical summer trips run 5-8 days; 40 lb (18 kg), about half food and water related; about 5 miles (8 km) per hiking day in the bright and sunny granite in and around Yosemite. I winter base camp most often at 6,000 to 7,000 ft (1,800 to 2,000 m); 2 to 3 nights; 50 lb (23 kg); a mile or so (1.6 km) on snowshoes.

Product: shovel on packTelepro Avalanche Shovelshovel parts

Manufacturer:  Voile Manufacturing
        2018 specs:
        Weight: 1 lb.14 oz (0.85 kg)
        Part Number:  405 
        UPC: 759948911434
        Length:  31.5 in (80 cm)
        Extended:  39.5 in (100 cm)
        Handle only:  20 in (51 cm)
        Scoop only (LxW):  15x10 in (38x25 cm)
        Scoop Material:  6061-T6 Tempered

MSRP: $48 US

My Specs:
    Weight:  1 lb 13 5/8 oz (0.84 kg)
    Extended Length:  38 3/8 in (97 cm)
    Retracted Length:  31 1/4 in (79 cm)
    Blade:  about 9 3/4 in (24.8 cm) tip tapering to 8 7/8 in (22.5 cm) before necking down; x 1 in (2.5 cm) min depth.

Purchased: 2007

   This is a large snow shovel with a plastic D grip, aluminum telescoping stem in two sections, and a relatively flat aluminum scoop with two deadman holes in the mid-section and one on each up-tip of the blade. The scoop detaches from the stem using two push-pins. The D handle is permanently affixed to the stem extension, which will detach as a single piece by depressing a single pin. This section telescopes inside the primary section, locking in place either extended or retracted with a push-pin. The shovel can be used with the stem fully or not extended; though both sections are required to use the tool either way. The blade is completely covered in paint, as is the stem. Though mine is over a decade old, Voile continues to clone it--a testament to design ingenuity, one would think.

holeField Conditions:
    I've used it in crust, heavy snow and powder for leveling a tent pad and for scooping snow to melt. Temperatures have been from well above to well below freezing. I haven't kept count of use, but my guess would be about 40 days in 10 trips.

This was one of my earliest snow camping gear purchases. I can't recall exactly why I chose it, but here are several reasons why I like it above all others I've since tried or seen.

    First and foremost, I hate T handles. The stems are always too fat to fit between my wee fingers, denying a comfortable grasp of the tool. The D handle is perfect for a moment's work or extended labors. Voile offers the same tool with a T handle.

    There are certainly shovels with smaller blades and lighter blade material. My conclusion is that for the weight difference I'd rather have the larger blade. I'm really glad to have it when I get to shoveling in and it's late and I'm tired and the wind is blowing and I'm not hot and I'm wet from the work of getting there. The tent pad shown in the picture is probably the most work I've ever had to do, starting just before daybreak after a 4 1/2 hour night hike to get about mid-way between Fifty-Fifty and Helen Lake on Mt. Shasta. This was late-Spring snow, layered in crusts quite difficult to penetrate--the downside of a large, flat blade. (On my late-Spring adventures now I often carry a steel shovel with a smaller and much-pronounced point.) My partner of the trip had a smaller, plastic blade that frustrated his efforts to the extent he gave up and pitched on a remaining incline I thought entirely excessive for adequate resting posture. We were cold, and he thought it more important to get his tent pitched fast than level.

    The flat scoop does a much better job of leveling a tent pad and making snow blocks to build wind barriers or to build up the downhill part of the slope.

    I've also used the shovel as a vestibule guy line picket. It won't come out no matter how hard the wind blows, effectively providing a deadman anchor on at least one point of the tent. I have had some extraction issues after leaving the shovel buried overnight as a picket. The shovel also works great to pry up frozen-stuck snow pegs.

    The thick coat of paint accounts for why the shovel almost never gets snow sticking to it. However, I use the shovel for scooping snow to melt and I sometimes find flecks of paint in my pot. I've never dug anything except snow, but hard snow has managed to break pieces of paint loose from the blade tip.

    Never will I claim the mental prowess of a rocket surgeon, but I am deftly proficient in not reading directions. (I usually can't follow them; and never can remember.) I don't know how many times I used the shovel before I discovered the inner, extending section of the stem. Obviously it is much easier to shovel for long periods when standing up than bending over, and lengthening the stem seven inches (17.8 cm) makes stoop labor much easier. The larger photos show the stem in short mode for packing and for digging steep uphill.

    The shovel employs four push-pins when fully extended; and the tube stem is round, fitting into round receivers in the stem joint and scoop neck. When I've really bitten off a chunk of snow, the scoop can rotate slightly either way. This bit of to-and-fro twist creates a feeling of uncertain balance in the load, though so far I've had very few spills off the deep blade. My must-last-forever mentality fusses over the pin holes elongating from many iterations of this twitching back and forth, though to date they show no indication of enlargement. As I most often tote the shovel as shown on the pack, I'd be happy to see a modification to eliminate scoop detachment, leaving need for only one pin (pair?) for stem extension. The pins do make the shovel length easy to change, even with cold fingers encumbered by large gloves.

    I've little experience with avalanche, having hiked across a total of one. It was rock-hard. So notwithstanding the model moniker, I wouldn't think this shovel a top choice for trying to crack into avalanche snow. It is certainly the best I've ever seen for moving high volumes of soft snow; getting a tent pad flat; and extracting and piling snow blocks for wind walls.

Quick shots:
    a) heavy
    b) big
    c) fast
    d) versatile

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Reviews > Snow Gear > Axes and Shovels > Voile TelePro Shovel > Owner Review by joe schaffer

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