In my snow removal history, I've used a total of 2 different methods. The first and current method, involves using a normal cheap snow shovel which isn't very effective, strains your back, but makes hot chocolate the best drink ever. The other method being that of a snow blower, which is great at doing most the work for you, however, it is expensive, loud, maintenance expenses, may not blow snow as far as you want or to where you want it to go, and is very vulnerable to wind conditions.

I am not looking to spend anymore than $80. I have been searching online for different shovels/methods so that I can figure out how to finally defeat the snow this winter. I've found some new types of shovels/methods that I was unaware of, but I'm still not sure. Most seem not to be that great or have stupid design flaws. I'm looking to receive advice from any self-proclaimed snow conquerors on what are the best, cheap tools/methods for snow shoveling.

A couple things I've came across that caught my interest :

One of the most interesting newer techniques I've found online was the Snow Wolf. I've watched some YouTube videos on it, and I think this thing would work great. It's just too expensive for me at around $150 plus any accessories.
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Another interesting technique I found is this homemade bike plow. I think it would probably cost too much to create a decent bike plow and it supposedly doesn't work well or at all with heavier snow.

enter image description here

  • 4
    Not convinced the bike plow would work with anything heavier than powder...
    – keshlam
    Nov 9, 2014 at 14:10
  • 1
    I'm not convinced either of those solutions (nor the sled solution below) would work with heavy snow. With heavy snow, you really do have to move it up and off the sidewalk, rather than just push it around. In some cases, a SMALLER shovel can actually make that more tolerable, as it prevents you from lifting too much wet snow at once--which is where the back injuries usually come from.
    – DA01
    Nov 17, 2014 at 3:15
  • 1
    The sleds will sled a load of snow over the snow. You lift to dig, push down to travel. Even in deep snow, the sled will pack a path for itself.
    – Ecnerwal
    Nov 17, 2014 at 3:48

8 Answers 8


I recommend the Chad 5000 (my neighbor's teenage son)

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He's self propelled, runs on Mountain Dew, and costs next to nothing.

  • Just have to vote this up, power to the neighbors... Being nice to each other!
    – Solar Mike
    Mar 11, 2019 at 7:45

You may want to look into a sled type snow shovel. One of these would be far more effective at moving snow around than either of the contraptions that you pictured in your question.

These sled type shovels also work well in deeper snow.

enter image description here

enter image description here

BTW (despite the fact that shopping type questions / answers are generally discouraged here) you can get the Garant 26 Inch Sleigh Snow Shovel from Amazon for about 60 bucks.

(Pictures from this YouTube Video)

  • 1
    With a polypropylene blade, that'll wear pretty fast against sidewalk. It might, depending on plastcizer, also turn brittle at -20°F (-29°C). Nov 8, 2014 at 14:35
  • 2
    Metal edging on plastic blades can offset that wear, to some degree (and make them better at breaking ice, though something with more mass and/or a more focused strike is more effective at that job).
    – keshlam
    Nov 9, 2014 at 14:09
  • 1
    I call that a scoop and can report that it moves a lot of snow. Also since you cannot lift it, it is actually easier on your back than a smaller shovel that you might use to throw snow Nov 11, 2014 at 19:26
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    @KateGregory - I can agree. I've not used the slick commercial type product as shown here but years ago I used a home brew type of snow sled. That device was a good 36" wide and had specially shaped 1x8 board sides on it and and a relatively heavy galvanized sheet metal bottom and back. The handle was made from 1.5" conduit pipe. Even though the unit was fairly heavy it worked well and was awesome at moving large amounts of snow. Have a 1.5 foot deep snow drift to move. The home brew thing was up to the job...and it was not necessary to carry any of it.
    – Michael Karas
    Nov 11, 2014 at 22:53
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    AKA Yooper scoop as in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where they get a lot of snow most of the time. We used a wooden version with metal runners and edge for many years, and it held up pretty well (did need to wax the inside of the scoop to help with getting snow out.) Most snow-shovel/scoop makers know about plastic choice for cold weather, but if you find it in a surplus store, all bets are off. The scoop was actually more effective than the blower for us, as we'd fill it, lay down into transport mode and remove to the piling area, and dump-rather than giant walls of blown snow.
    – Ecnerwal
    Nov 12, 2014 at 2:02

I will offer my advice on how to, and my preferred shape of snow shovel.

First, there is no magic bullet snow shovel. I find all the gimmicky ones to be useless after +3".

  • It should be made of plastic so that snow will stick less.

  • The shaft is to be straight with a perpendicular handle.

  • The blade should only be slightly curved; you are not a snowplow truck.

  • They should be cheap enough that buying 4 and then breaking 3 throughout the winter is fine.

On to technique: (if you own an estate you should probably also own a snow-blower...)

My property in Chicago is a triple wide (25' each) lot and has a 4' sidewalk in front of it. I generally don't get my blower out until it's +1'. Instead, I:

  1. Run the shovel plowing the complete length along the curb.

    • Basically you create a landing strip where you can stand and then use a scythe-like plow action on whats left, as described:
  2. Then begin plowing small sections, (perpendicular to the curb) laterally to the grass.

    • Working backwards seems easier to me than attacking it head on (stepping backwards is easier while balancing on the shovel; it's better than straightening your back to take one step forward). Viewed from the street, a left hander will continue from the left side; a righty, the right side.

    • Much less snow must actually be lifted; only the small pile left on the sidewalk that didn't make it all the way onto the grass. The level of accumulation will dictate how much each swipe should bite into the the drift; only do as much as you can easily push to the edge, e.g, half the width of the shovel.

  3. Only on the third pass do you lift any snow; whatever's left on the walk that didn't make up onto the grass.

    • Trade off between having your back bent with having your knees bent; lowering yourself to the work (horse stance). In this way I can use my thigh as a fulcrum, levering the shovel on it. Scoop, lever, lean-over, dump. -This gets old too, keep changing it up; you know, ergonomics and stuff.


  • Do not skimp; clear the entire walkway each time you shovel. It is not uncommon for me to continue plowing a few feet into the lawn to insure that I have a place to go with next week's... or tomorrow's.

  • Do not let the snow fall get ahead of you. If you know it's going to snow one foot, get out there and deal with the first 6 inches. No matter what kind of hand shovel you have, one foot of snow does not push. There is no non-motorized easy way to remove more than a foot of snow.


I found two really cool, powerful DIY methods, which could be under $80 if you already have some of the necessary parts, like a vehicle and hitch/or chains.

This first one is primarily made of wood studs, bolts, and attaches onto a drop hitch of your vehicle. You drive in reverse for the plowing. This one leaves a little like 1/2 inch or so of snow on the ground, but could likely be customized even more for a cleaner shave.

wood snow plow attached to back end of vehicle

This second one appears to just be about a 2ft x 5ft piece of wood board that is strapped onto the back door hinges and back seat hinges of a mini-van with some metal chains. To hook onto the back seat hinges you'll need to take out the back seat row. It's really surprising how well this seems to work for being just a board hanging to the ground with the van driving in reverse to plow the snow.

piece of wood board hanging by metal chains from rear of minivan

  • 1
    Two more total contraptions.
    – Michael Karas
    Nov 10, 2014 at 15:16

While I'd choose the Yooper Scoop for serious snow moving and upvoted @Michael Karas's answer, when I need an "actual shovel" for snow (places the scoop won't work, like stairs, or one to carry in the truck), I rarely reach for a "snow shovel" at all. I use a D-handle grain shovel, and wax the business end of it. Should set you back about $25, and I'm just getting to the point where I might need to think about replacing mine 25-30 years after I bought it (that was an aluminum one, the plastic ones were not made or not very common then, nor were shovels made overseas common.) I think the ergonomics are better - it's a hair smaller than many snow shovels, and results in a more manageable bite where there's serious snow to move. It's also much more stable side-to-side, so you don't get a shovelful half-way out and dump it.

Grain scoop image from Ace Hardware

With advancing age the aluminum is finally starting to crack...the replacement might well be a good plastic one, if I see one I consider good.

  • 2
    Wax on the shovel is genius. I will be trying this... all to soon.
    – Mazura
    Nov 12, 2014 at 4:03
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    Ideally, bring the shovel in and wax it with paste wax while it's warm - after polishing it to remove excess, return the shovel to the cold before use for best results. Non-ideally, Pledge (et al) can be handy...give any shovel a little time to cool down before you first stick it in the snow to reduce stcking if it has been warm.
    – Ecnerwal
    Nov 12, 2014 at 4:18
  • @Ecnerwal - where do I buy this wax? Can you give me an example product name to help me find the sort of wax you're talking about? Mar 11, 2019 at 7:33
  • Floor wax, furniture wax, ski wax, paraffin wax, rub a candle on it. Some are easier to apply than others (solid waxes some heat will help, but you don't want to overheat the shovel or scoop particularly if it's plastic.)
    – Ecnerwal
    Mar 11, 2019 at 13:23

Shovels wear me out. I use a broom, going out a few times during the snow and broom a path really wide. As the snow falls more I sweep again to mound it up a little higher and a little closer to the sidewalk. Knowing the expected snowfall, usually I can have a decent walkway still, and I am not wore out at the end of it. Yes it takes more time, but it is snowing and I am not doing anything anyway. I have used coarse bristle push brooms with a sweeping motion, regular small brooms, doing the same thing, each pass goes pretty quickly using this method. You might guess this is only good for sidewalks, and areas smaller in size. For larger areas, use the neighbors kid.


I have a manual snow plow that I came across at a garage sale. It's lost a chunk of one wheel, so it sort of limps, but it still works. It's noisy because it scrapes the sidewalk and driveway. It's especially useful for heavy, slushy snow. I googled manual snow plow and didn't see one exactly like mine, but here's one that's pretty close, and more modern:

manual snow plow

Mine has more of an angle.

I find it helpful that the angle means I don't have to twist. The plow concept means I don't have to lift -- just lean into it and shove when the snow is heavy or thick or compacted.


For light snow, you can't beat a snow squeegee. I have one that was purpose made for snow, but you could use any large industrial-duty floor squeegee. It works really well for 2 inches of wet snow or about 4 inches of powdery snow.

For heavier snow, I use a basic polycarbonate snow shovel. You can tie a rope to the handle to make it a bit more ergonomic. One end of the rope attaches to each end of the handle. Leave some slack in the rope so you can use it to lift the shovel without bending over. See https://youtu.be/9QpzHiqL2eA.

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