Shovel: Mammut Raptor Shovel
The Mammut Raptor is an all-in-one telescopic rescue snow shovel. This shovel is part of Mammut’s range of mountain safety equipment together with probes, avalanche transceivers and packs. The Raptor is aimed at the recreational back-country skier, boarder, snow shoer and alpinist.
The only shovels I have previously used are two-piece ones where the blade detaches from the handle. I find that two-piece shovels are easier to carry with the handle strapped to the side of the pack and the blade stored in the front pouch pocket of the pack. Despite the fact that the shaft does fit neatly into the blade the all-in-one nature of the Raptor means that it is a bit cumbersome to carry, taking up more space than it probably should (24cm x 45.5cm x 9cm when packed).
The packing issues aside the advantage of the one-piece telescopic design is that it is amazingly quick to put into use saving vital seconds in an emergency rescue situation when an avalanche has buried a casualty under the snow. The telescopic handle simply pulls out and locks into position – meaning you are ready to dig in a matter of seconds. The speed with which the Raptor can be assembled is akin to the speed in which its dinosaur name-sake attacks its prey! I timed myself assembling my two-piece shovel and I was considerably slower – up to 30 seconds to remove from my sack and assemble – which in a rescue situation could be the difference between a casualty’s life and death.
The Raptor’s blade is made of a ‘Lexan’ polycarbonate so it may not have the strength or longevity of a metal blade but at only 680grams the saving in weight seems to be worth the potential loss in strength. My only concern is that the polycarbonate could crack if you land on it after a particularly big fall especially as cold temperatures can weaken plastics. According to Mammut the blade is actually ‘shatterproof and torque-resistant’ reinforced by ‘stabilization ridges’. Mammut also produce the Raptor Edge which has a metal tipped blade for extra strength. The Raptor blade also has attachment holes so that it can be employed as a snow anchor. Given this design feature, I am however, convinced that the Mammut design team will have thoroughly researched and tested the blade’s strength and so far my Raptor remains undamaged.
In use (digging back-country kickers rather than an actual avalanche rescue) I found that the Raptor cuts through the snow easily and feels rigid with no bend in the aluminium shaft or polycarbonate blade. The T-grip handle is comfortable, grippy and moulds into the hand well while digging. The ‘world first’ secondary D-grip in the blade allowed me to dig two-handed which I found helped to increase the power and speed I could put in – which is what Mammut claim the patent pending innovation is designed for. When fully extended the length of the shovel (93cm) meant that I had to bend down much less than with other shovels I have used putting less pressure on my back, meaning I could comfortably dig for longer periods of time.
In summary, if speed-to-dig in a rescue situation is the prime factor you consider when purchasing a rescue shovel then the Raptor should definitely be considered as your tool-of-choice. However, for pack-ability a shovel design such as the Mammut Alugator range would be my preference.
What Mammut say:
• Ergonomic T-grip at the end of the shaft
• Attachment holes for snow anchor
• The D-grip is raised almost 10 cm above the blade‘s surface to facilitate shoveling and protect the hand
• The D-grip in the blade gives additional gripping positions (patents pending)
• The lateral geometry of the blade improves control during insertion, and the wedge shape helps to cut into the snow
• Stabilization ridges reinforce the extremely robust Lexan blade (shatterproof, torque-resistant)
• One-Piece-Concept, a special locking mechanism allows you to prepare the product for use with a simple movement of the hand
• Oblong aluminium profile shaft with bevelled corners ensures positive handling and ultra-fast deployment
Reviewed by Dan Webber on behalf of planetFear