I have seen some wacky shovels in my day. It seems like every few years, someone tries to reinvent one of human’s oldest, simplest and most reliable tools. And not without good reason! Despite it’s simple and elegant design, the basic shovel is a major cause of lower back injuries. In fact, according to The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, 17,000 Americans end up at the hospital from snow shoveling alone! It’s no wonder new shovel configurations keep coming out. Unfortunately, a lot of ergonomic shovels end up being cheaply made, and simply don’t hold up. The new, ergonomic shovels from Bosse seem to be much more of a premium tool than the weirdly shaped, aluminum and plastic ergonomic shovel designs of the past. Home Fixated recently received one of their round point shovels for review, and I got the chance to put it through it’s paces. Is my back still intact?
For the most part, the Bosse shovel is a nicely made, good quality shovel with a high-quality steel head with thick shoulders and a sharp point, and a sturdy fiberglass handle. The difference is the adjustable aluminum grip that they have inserted in the middle. The end result gives you the length of a long handled shovel, but with a D-grip on the end like a trenching shovel. The rotating center grip gives you 360º of adjustment and a wide variety of ways to grip it. It has an easy-to-use pushbutton lock that keeps it where you like it.
I must say, it felt weird in my hands after 40+ years of digging with my front hand facing up, but I got used to it quickly. Lifting the dirt is easier on the back with the overhand grip. It provides leverage from the back hand, while reducing stress on the front wrist and shoulder. Pretty neat! Surprisingly too, it weighs about the same as a normal long-handled shovel.
As someone who has always favored long-handled shovels for digging, this was not a huge change for me. The big advantage came when I started scooping pea gravel into a wheelbarrow. Scooping is where this shovel really shines. Lifting material is much easier, as your front fist acts more as a fulcrum, and there is little or no twisting of the wrist. I really can see how their scoop shovel and snow shovel might be really good… I may have to try and check one of those out this winter!
I do have a few concerns about the Bosse ergonomic shovel. I wonder how this shovel would take the kind of abuse it would get on a jobsite, say, for a concrete contractor. Will that plastic swivel grip hold up? After all, the workplace is where an ergonomic shovel makes the most sense. Next is the “limited warranty.” It states: “NOT FOR PRYING. Prying with more than 100 lbs. of force will place excessive stress on the 360 Grip’s aluminum housing, causing it to break. This type of breakage is not covered under the shovel’s Lifetime Limited Warranty.” Again, a possible deal-breaker for pros.
Finally, it’s not cheap. At 80 bucks, it is more than twice the price of an above average, good quality shovel. I’m afraid this is really going to limit their appeal. For those who already suffer from back pain, it could be a godsend, but for a professional contractor whose workers toss shovels into the back of a pickup with concrete drying on them, this probably isn’t going to fly.
My bottom line here is this- if you are a homeowner or solo tradesman who takes good care of their gear and is willing to pay a premium for ergonomics, the Bosse products may be a good choice.