Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

OWNER REVIEW - BCA Companion Shovel - Richard Lyon

Expand Messages
  • richardglyon
    One more before Christmas. HTML version is in Tests/OR folder at http://tinyurl.com/9eehzo Merry Christmas to all, Richard BACKCOUNTRY ACCESS COMPANION SHOVEL
    Message 1 of 4 , Dec 24, 2008
    • 0 Attachment
      One more before Christmas. HTML version is in Tests/OR folder at
      http://tinyurl.com/9eehzo
      Merry Christmas to all, Richard

      BACKCOUNTRY ACCESS COMPANION SHOVEL
      OWNER REVIEW by Richard Lyon
      December 24, 2008

      PERSONAL DETAILS AND BACKPACKING BACKGROUND
      Male, 62 years old
      Height: 6' 4" (1.91 m)
      Weight: 200 lb (91 kg)
      Email address: rlyon AT gibsondunn DOT com
      Home: Dallas, Texas USA
      I've been backpacking for 45 years on and off, and regularly in the
      Rockies since 1986. I do a weeklong trip every summer, and often
      take three-day trips. I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at
      altitudes 5000 to 13000 ft (1500 - 4000 m). I prefer base camp
      backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp, but I do my
      share of forced marches too. Though always looking for ways to
      reduce weight, I'm not yet a lightweight hiker and I usually choose a
      bit of extra weight over foregoing camp conveniences I've come to
      expect.
      Especially pertinent to this review - I'm an avid skier who does most
      of my backcountry winter traveling on skis, either as touring or in
      search of powder stashes for some downhill telemark turns.
      PRODUCT DESCRIPTION AND DETAILS
      The Companion is the intermediate among shovels offered by
      Backcountry Access (commonly known as BCA), somewhat larger than its
      Tour model (which I have separately reviewed). Like most backcountry
      snow shovels the handle and blade are separate pieces for more
      efficient pack storage. BCA calls the Companion "Our original
      integrated shovel & probe system," and it was a system when I
      purchased mine – included was an avalanche probe that fit neatly
      inside the handle, in the same manner as the Tour. Now the probe is
      optional, and so my review is limited to the shovel.
      Manufacturer: Backcountry Access, Inc.,
      Website: www.backcountryaccess.com
      Year of manufacture: 2007
      Year of purchase: 2007
      MSRP: Not specified. BCA's website does not include means for
      purchasing any shovel directly from the manufacturer, though it does
      give links to online retailers in the United States and Canada, and a
      search tool for finding dealers in other countries.
      Materials: 6061-series aluminum.
      Color: The blade is red with yellow graphics.
      Options: I have a fixed-length handle; the Companion is also
      available with an extendable handle. As noted, BCA sells an
      avalanche probe that will stow inside the handle.
      Features: "Education Graphics, Super flat back for clean snowpit
      columns, Optimal proportions for shovel shear and compression tests,
      Super-strong oval shaft with D-grip." That's what the Companion's
      page on BCA's website says, but the last item is no longer true. The
      2008 model has a T-grip, as pictured on the website and confirmed by
      BCA Customer Service.
      Dimensions:
      Listed Measured
      Length 30 in/71 cm* 30 in/71 cm
      Handle length Not specified 18.0 in/46 cm
      Weight 22 oz/624 g 22.0 oz/624 g (without probe)
      Shovel blade dimensions Not specified 14.1 x 12.8 in/35.8 x 32.5 cm
      *The metric dimensions in the "Listed" column come from the website,
      in the "Measured" column from my conversions.
      Warranty: Not specified, although one can register BCA products for
      warranty using the company's website.
      FIELD USE
      I carry a shovel on every winter backpacking trip or day hike when I
      may encounter snow, and often when skiing inbounds at a resort. That
      meant about fifteen days last winter, in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming,
      Montana, and British Columbia, from blizzard to bright blue skies and
      from -5 to 70 F (-22 to 21 C), and from feathery Rocky Mountain
      powder to spring slush to heavy breakable crust. A shovel is first
      of all a safety piece but also a useful camp tool in the snow. I
      used the Companion to search for the transceiver in avalanche drills;
      to dig an avalanche pit or a depression just outside the door of my
      tent for putting on and taking off my boots; to flatten snow for a
      tent site; and (blade only) as a stand for my stove or seat for me.
      I store the two pieces of the Companion separately in my pack, even
      though I can (just barely) fit the assembled shovel into the main
      compartment of my 7400 cubic inch/120 liter expedition pack. When
      wearing that pack, the blade is the last thing added to the main pack
      bag, so it's at the top and easily accessible; the handle I lash into
      a side pocket with a compression strap run through the D-handle. My
      day packs all have a kangaroo pocket on the front, which is where I
      stow the blade. The handle goes into a side pocket or, on one pack,
      into a fabric tube (custom- ordered just for this purpose) inside the
      kango. When it comes time to dig I can easily assemble the two
      pieces by depressing the two buttons on the handle and then sliding
      the handle into the throat of the blade until the buttons snap into
      corresponding holes on the throat.
      As can be seen in the photograph the blade has four holes so that it
      can be used in an emergency as a deadman anchor. The Education
      Graphics are printed on the face of the blade. I think this is a
      great idea, making use of space normally consisting just of
      advertising, a decorative graphic, or color coating. The graphics
      illustrate numbered steps for search protocols for individual and
      group searches, pinpoint search, probing, and digging for a body.
      They are something of a security blanket for an occasional
      backcountry skier like me, as I don't have to worry about forgetting
      proper technique in the panic of an emergency. After one winter the
      pictures are as readable as when I bought the Companion, unaffected
      by snow or rubbing against items in my pack.
      OBSERVATIONS
      As a digging implement the Companion works as it should. The two
      pieces, when assembled, do not slide about or come apart, and I can
      lean on the top of the blade without fear of bending the hard-nosed
      aluminum. I bought the Companion after losing the blade of my Tour
      system and stepped up for the larger size in order to get more bite
      for each stroke. That, it turns out, was a wise choice. I haven't
      been keeping score but I believe that I've taken less time to dig the
      usual vestibule and avalanche pits. The D-grip has helped, too; I
      often wear mittens or lobster gloves (three extensions above the
      palm, for thumb, index finger, and three outside fingers) and I get a
      much firmer grip than when I have to curl fingers around a T-grip. I
      haven't noticed any difference in the efficiency of my snow pits from
      the "super flat back."
      The anodized aluminum blade drives through hard-packed snow, surface
      ice, and icy crust ice quite well. I've had an occasional problem
      with thick ice, including that which can build around a snow anchor
      in a spot that's exposed to sunlight during the day and then freezes
      solid at night, but I've always managed. The shovel blade shows a
      few scratches and scrapes from use but remains undented, even at the
      bottom edge.
      The bright red and yellow blade is easy to locate in the snow after
      I've set the shovel aside for some reason.
      Overall the Companion has been a fine all-purpose backcountry shovel,
      something I'm glad I have even when it never comes out of my pack.
      LIKES
      Lightweight.
      Probe-compatible. Using the Companion's handle for my probe means no
      extra space taken up in my pack, and I always know where my probe is
      stored.
      Stout and durable.
      ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
      I much prefer a D-grip and wish BCA had retained it for this shovel.
      Not a problem for me, though, until I have to replace my current
      Companion with a newer model.
    • Jamie D.
      PLEASE READ THIS EMAIL IN FULL. IT IS MOST IMPORTANT! Thanks for your Owner s Review. It has been added to the Owner Review Queue and will be picked up by an
      Message 2 of 4 , Dec 26, 2008
      • 0 Attachment
        PLEASE READ THIS EMAIL IN FULL. IT IS MOST IMPORTANT!

        Thanks for your Owner's Review. It has been added to the Owner
        Review Queue and will be picked up by an Edit Moderator soon. If you
        are new to BackpackGearTest.org, welcome to the community! The
        Editors will work with you, within their own time constraints, to
        get your first two Owner Reviews approved and upload in a timely
        manner. Do not worry if nothing happens with it for several days.
        All our Editors are volunteers and your report will be subject to an
        official edit within fourteen days. If you have not had a response
        from an Edit Moderator via the Yahoo Groups list within this
        timeframe, please let me know directly at jdeben(at)hotmail.com

        To assist in this process, if this is your first Owner Review we ask
        that you post only ONE Owner Review for edit at a time. Our
        experience is that it is more efficient for both the Editors and
        yourself, if you post your first review, have it edited, approved
        and uploaded before you post your second and subsequent reviews.

        Once your first two Owner Reviews have been approved and you have
        submitted your Tester Agreement you will be eligible to start
        applying for Tests. If you'd like more assistance or guidance with
        the process you can request a mentor by sending an email to Jenn K.,
        the mentor coordinator, at mentor (at) backpackgeartest.org.

        You may receive edits or comments from other members of the group.
        These edits and comments, while not official, should be considered
        carefully, and if you find them substantial, revise and re-post your
        review. Incorporating member edits and re-submitting to the list
        will usually result in a better review, as well as making things
        easier for the official Editor. Please put REVISED in the subject
        line of your re-submitted review if you take this route or make any
        changes to your review BEFORE the review has been taken by an Edit
        Moderator.

        Additionally, it is important for you to monitor the Yahoo Groups
        list to keep track of the progress of your Owner Review. Once an
        Editor has taken your OR and made the necessary edits they will post
        their comments to the list with EDIT in the subject line. Once you
        have incorporated these edits into your review please use REPOST in
        the subject line. When your OR has been approved by the Editor they
        will use APPROVED in the subject line.

        If you'd like to keep track of the progress of your OR while it's in
        the edit queue, the entire Owner Review Queue is posted to this
        yahoo group list on either Thursdays or Fridays.

        If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask via
        the list or contact me directly.

        Regards
        Jamie DeBenedetto
        Edit Administration Manager
      • André Corterier
        ... Hi, Richard, nice OR. You know the drill. ... wrote: ... is ... Comment: Good call. ... tests, ... The ... by ... Comment: Good catch.
        Message 3 of 4 , Jan 9, 2009
        • 0 Attachment
          > EDIT: OWNER REVIEW - BCA Companion Shovel - Richard Lyon

          Hi, Richard, nice OR. You know the drill.

          --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "richardglyon" <rlyon@...>
          wrote:
          <snip>
          > BCA calls the Companion "Our original
          > integrated shovel & probe system," and it was a system when I
          > purchased mine – included was an avalanche probe that fit neatly
          > inside the handle, in the same manner as the Tour. Now the probe
          is
          > optional, and so my review is limited to the shovel.

          Comment: Good call.

          <snip>
          > Features: "Education Graphics, Super flat back for clean snowpit
          > columns, Optimal proportions for shovel shear and compression
          tests,
          > Super-strong oval shaft with D-grip." That's what the Companion's
          > page on BCA's website says, but the last item is no longer true.
          The
          > 2008 model has a T-grip, as pictured on the website and confirmed
          by
          > BCA Customer Service.

          Comment: Good catch.

          <snip>
          > I carry a shovel on every winter backpacking trip or day hike when
          I
          > may encounter snow, and often when skiing inbounds at a resort.
          That
          > meant about fifteen days last winter, in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming,
          > Montana, and British Columbia,

          Comment: I'm envious. You get around.

          <snip>
          > OBSERVATIONS
          > As a digging implement the Companion works as it should. The two
          > pieces, when assembled, do not slide about or come apart, and I can
          > lean on the top of the blade without fear of bending the hard-nosed
          > aluminum.

          Comment/Edit: Not sure if this is what you meant to say. Is this
          stuff hard anodized or are you using a colloquial expression to
          indicate it's tough? I'd also suggest (though leave this up to you)
          to put in another sentence or so explaining how you've found out that
          you can do this without fear, rather than just saying that you "can"
          do so.

          <snip>
          I've had an occasional problem
          > with thick ice, including that which can build around a snow anchor
          > in a spot that's exposed to sunlight during the day and then
          freezes
          > solid at night, but I've always managed.

          Comment: a propos - ever used the shovel blade as a snow anchor?

          <snip>

          All right, that's it. Congratulations on another brownie point.
          Please look at the above and upload to the folder I've made for you
          here: http://tinyurl.com/868xqx at your earliest convenience. Please
          also remember to delete the test folder version.

          Regards,

          André
        • richardglyon
          Andre, Thanks for the edits. I ll upload and delete the OR Tests folder copy. Answers/responses to your comments below. Regards, Richard ... when ... #####
          Message 4 of 4 , Jan 9, 2009
          • 0 Attachment
            Andre, Thanks for the edits. I'll upload and delete the OR Tests
            folder copy. Answers/responses to your comments below. Regards,
            Richard
            --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, André Corterier
            <andre.corterier@...> wrote:
            >
            > > EDIT: OWNER REVIEW - BCA Companion Shovel - Richard Lyon
            >
            > > > I carry a shovel on every winter backpacking trip or day hike
            when
            > I
            > > may encounter snow, and often when skiing inbounds at a resort.
            > That
            > > meant about fifteen days last winter, in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming,
            > > Montana, and British Columbia,
            >
            > Comment: I'm envious. You get around.
            ##### Last winter there was exceptional snow in the Rockies and I
            tried to take full advantage.
            >
            > <snip>
            > > OBSERVATIONS
            > > As a digging implement the Companion works as it should. The two
            > > pieces, when assembled, do not slide about or come apart, and I
            can
            > > lean on the top of the blade without fear of bending the hard-
            nosed
            > > aluminum.
            >
            > Comment/Edit: Not sure if this is what you meant to say. Is this
            > stuff hard anodized or are you using a colloquial expression to
            > indicate it's tough? I'd also suggest (though leave this up to you)
            > to put in another sentence or so explaining how you've found out
            that
            > you can do this without fear, rather than just saying that
            you "can"
            > do so.
            ##### Good catch. I rearranged the paragraph so that the usage I
            described follows immediately after the sentence you quote, and I
            changed "hard-nosed" (indeed an American colloquial expression
            to "hard-anodized."
            >
            >
            > Comment: a propos - ever used the shovel blade as a snow anchor?
            ##### Nope. Too big for a tent (and I have some great snow pegs from
            Hilleberg) and I've not had to anchor anything heavier.
            >
          Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.