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

Fiskars
  • Fiskars
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Quality
  • Price: See Here
Bully Tools
  • Bully Tools
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Versatile
  • Price: See Here
Radius
  • Radius
  • 4.3 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Efficient
  • Price: See Here

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

1. Fiskars Long Handle Round Point Steel
The 9668 is ideal for digging into tough soils thanks to the blade, the length, and the material used in construction. The welded steel construction increases the durability as it will not splinter, age, or develop weak points like wood. Also, the steel will not flex like fiberglass, and you can be assured of years of service which is backed by the lifetime warranty. The unit is also powder coated to protect it from rust and make it easier to clean. However, our best features of the 9668 were the handle and head.

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.
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Product Features

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.
Pros

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

Cons

The length of the tool reduces its portability

2. Bully Tools 82515

2. Bully Tools 82515
A close contender for the top position, the Bully Tools 8215 is a breed apart thanks to its superior design, feel and the affordability. It is squarely in line with its closest competitors regarding price, but it’s far superior in quality and functionality. Almost every detail is done right from the form to the material. The long 59.2 inches fiberglass handle eliminates the need to bend or kneel and consequently the back pains that come with stooping.

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.
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Product Features

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.
Pros

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

Cons

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

3. Radius Garden Root Slayer
The Garden Root Slayer was designed by Bruce Baker after he spent a day battling intertwined roots. He realized that most conventional shovels slide off a root instead of severing it, and after months of searching for an appropriate shovel, he set out to design his own. His idea was simple; the shovel should be sturdy, should have a sharp cutting edge, and should attack the roots and not slide off of it. And thus the Radius Garden Root Slayer was born. What we love most about this unit are the unique head design and the ergonomic handle.

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.
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Product Features

Materials: steel
Weight:5 pounds
Lifetime guarantee
Length: 45 inches

Who is it for?

The Radius Garden Root Slayer is best if you have to battle intertwining roots.
Pros

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

Cons

Tall people will have to stoop, and that might cause back pains

4. Spear Head Spade

4. Spear Head Spade
The Spear Head Spade is a hybrid spade and shovel. The unique head and handle are the tools best features, but the attention to details is what gets this unit on the list. For longevity and durability, the Spear Head spade is manufactured from high carbon manganese steel which happens to be 25% harder, and 33% thicker than other materials.

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.
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Product Features

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.
Pros

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

Cons

A tad expensive

10. True Temper Forged Round

10. True Temper Forged Round
Finally, we have the Ames True Temper round point handle. This is a true American shovel which we recommend for gardeners who can’t handle heavy equipment and will appreciate the length. Our best features are the handle and how lightweight it feels. Also, the steps on the blade allow you to use your weight on a downward dig, while the pointed tip enables a gardener to pry into any surface. Finally, the steel blade can endure abuse.

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.
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Product Features

Weight: 1 pound
Length: 57 inches
Padded wooden handle

Who is it for?

We recommend it for people who cannot work with bulky tools.
Pros

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

Cons

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

6. Fiskars Extendable Ergo D-handle
Control and durability to make edging, slicing and digging in tough soils a walk in the park is what this Fiskars tool offers. What piqued our interest at first was the full lifetime warranty and Fiskars are renowned for delivering on their agreements. You can be assured of a replacement or repair should you damage the unit. As for the materials used in construction, this Fiskars is welded steel which is more durable than wood, and will not flex like fiberglass.

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.
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Product Features

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.
Pros

The most noticeable advantage of this tool is the extendable handle that supports good posture without sacrificing the benefits of a short handle

Excellent grip

The well-designed head is sharp and has a generous foot pad

Cons

Pricey

7. Bully Tools 92515

7. Bully Tools 92515
The 92515 is a heavy duty option, and we would only recommend it for tough tasks. It was a close contender for the best shovel and closely resembles the 82515, but it is slightly heavier owing to the thicker blade. Often, this compromise isn’t worth it. It weighs 5.35 lbs and is one of the lightest heavy duty options. Our best features were the robustness and the handle.

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.
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ItProduct Features

Commercial grade
12 gauge steel blade
Weight: 59.2 inches
Length: 5.35 lbs

Who is it for?

We only recommend this for commercial jobs.
Pros

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

Cons

It might be difficult for lefties owing to the rivet head

8. Corona AS90300

8. Corona AS90300
This is one of the toughest options in the market and will handle the toughest digging jobs from uprooting shrubs or trenching several hundred yards of rocky soil. However, it’s highly unlikely that users will need such a tool. First, the handle of the AS90300 is 20% beefier than standard handles with a 1.5-inches diameter. Also, it weighs around 8 pounds which is significantly higher than other units, but this is understandable as the entire tool is steel.

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.
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Product Features

Weight: 8 pounds
Length: 60-inches
12-gauge steel head
All-steel

Who is it for?

We only recommend the AS90300 for individuals with tough tasks such as uprooting a couple hundred shrubs, or tree trunks.
Pros

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

Cons

Like all ultra-heavy duty tools, it weighs too much for everyday use and is quite a price

9. Seymour S710

9. Seymour S710
If you are in the market for a unit that works well both on soft soils and clay soils, we recommend the Seymour S710. It has a somewhat unique design with serrated teeth which is unlike any other option. As for the materials used, the S710 features a steelhead and a fiberglass handle. The steel construction increases the durability of the tool, and thus it can handle abuse. The steel ferrule too increases the strength of the shovel and reduces the likelihood of it wearing out.

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.
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Product Features

Materials: Steelhead, steel ferrule, and a fiberglass handle
Weight: 5 pounds
Length: 48-inches

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.
Pros

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

Cons

It doesn’t perform that well in rocky areas and is a bit pricey

5. Bond LH015

5. Bond LH015
Bond is a credible source of shovels, and the LH015 is a testament to their dedication towards excellence. The attention to detail on this shovel ensures that it is one of the best tools in the market. If you are looking for a tool that can handle basic gardening tasks, this is the one for you. Other than the handle and the portability which are its strong points, you will also appreciate the quality.

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.
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Product Features

Length: 27.6 inches
Weight: 1.8 pounds
5-year guarantee

Who is it for?

The Bond LH015 is for moving and lifting. We advocate this if you need to move soil or any material.
Pros

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

Affordable

Cons

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.

Blade Material

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.

Blade Size

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.

Weight

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.

Handle Design

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.

Handle Material

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.

FAQs

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.

Conclusion

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.