Is A Good Deal Worth Someone’s Life?

Posted: Wednesday, January 30th, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Is A Good Deal Worth Someone’s Life? Image

Certain Costco stores around the country are selling Lifeline metal shovels, these are aluminum break-down shovels that look an awful lot like avalanche shovels…but they’re not. Some avalanche instructors have had students bring these shovel to a field course and have the blades break off. They are sold in two-packs for approximately $30. Would you trust your life (or companion’s life) to a $15 shovel?

In choosing a metal shovel be aware that aluminum comes in various flavors all of which, like most structural metals, have considerable amounts of ductility and fracture toughness. Some aluminum, such as the 6000 series alloys require heat-treating and sometimes artificial aging to acquire their optimum mechanical properties, when done right this process results in a very high-quality material. Other alloys such as the 7000 series respond well to “work hardening,” a process that restructures the material at the molecular level either before production or during forging, stamping or bending. Work hardening can increase the strength of the aluminum alloy by some 20%, and with little effect on the material’s ductility and fracture toughness.

Leave the $15 shovel in the car for emergencies but come by the Trail Head for a shovel you can trust.