Great construction, amazing functionality, and easy access to the probe. BCA made a great shovel in the Arsenal. Although it’s fixed in size, the ability to move good amounts of snow coupled with the super strong blade and shaft makes this something you can trust if you have to move a lot of snow fast. It also fared well building snow walls and camps on Denali, and after about 50 or so days of use it still looks almost new. I can’t really say that about anything I own and use in the mountains so durability with this piece of gear is a major plus.
The way BCA incorporated the probe is a solid feature of the Arsenal. It deploys from the top of the shaft so it’s easy to get to and put to use if you keep the shaft accessible on your pack. When the probe is in use your shovel can also still be used as probe deployment does not negate shovel function at all.
On the negative side it’s not the lightest shovel and you’re stuck with one length. My take is the length works for snow camping duties and potential dig outs so I think BCA made a good call in length for making a fixed shaft shovel system. There are definitely lighter systems out there, but the durability and functionality with the Arsenal is tough to beat.
If you’re ok with the length and the somewhat bulky construction you’ve found your shovel-probe system. I say that only because some people are particular and like to switch length and opt for light everything no matter what. This system is super durable and made for ease in use. You can move a lot of snow quickly, and have your probe and shovel both in use with ease. A quality product with a near perfect blade size and especially when winter camping, there’s no room for small lightweight plastic shovels.
The average price for this shovel/probe combination is $99.95. The shovel is about 29.5 inches long and weighs 30 oz. The probe when extended is 240 cm. The blade is 10×10.75 inches and made of aluminum.