Jackson Fiberglass Titanium Xtra Powerstep Shovel Review
The Titanium Xtra Powerstep shovel from Jackson Professional Tools offers a comfortable, easy-to-use tool with a fiberglass handle to make digging out tough terrain an almost enjoyable experience. The titanium-coated steel socket is stiff, and offers a level of confidence we don’t normally experience with your typical wood-handled shovel. In addition, the Powerstep plates give you ample room to position yourself to drive the blade deeper and faster into the ground. Some people think a shovel is a shovel. Well, both will dig dirt, but if you are doing a day’s worth of digging, comfort and convenience start to matter… a lot.
At this year’s STAFDA show in Atlanta, we saw the label “Titanium” across a retail box of shovels and simply had to take a closer look at these products. Pure Titanium is about half as stiff as steel, so Jackson opted for a titanium steel alloy which inhibits corrosion and gives the surface of the shovel a tough, long-lasting finish. Plus, let’s just admit it, it’s sheer marketing genius.
Jackson Fiberglass Titanium Xtra Powerstep Shovel Features
We liked a lot about this shovel. First off, the handle was extremely comfortable to use. This is largely due to a soft rubberized grip at the top, and a yellow overmold that covered the fiberglass handle where you typically grip the handle with your left hand (assuming you’re right-handed like I am). Between the two, it was easy to maintain a firm grip without any slippage or issues. This came in handy when mixing concrete (I know, I know – get a mixer!) as the shovel was easily manipulated and went where we wanted it to go. The back of the shovel showed the stiff aluminum core which made up the center of the fiberglass handle. The tree layers: aluminum, fiberglass, and overmold, really did a lot to make the handle stiff and trustworthy when leaning hard on it to pry up dirt and ground material. At the top of the socket Jackson placed a ring – apparently to better secure the handle into its slot. In all honesty it just gave the handle transition a nice finished look. This shovel shares the same diamond plate texture found on the sockets of other J-250 Series of shovels and spades from Jackson Tools.
Metal + fiberglass weighs more (in this case) than wood, so the Jackson Titanium Powerstep Fiberglass Handle Shovel weighed in a full 10 ounces more than our comparable J-250 series model (which also lacks the Powerstep feature). The Fiberglass handled model measured 4 lbs and 12 ounces while our base (control) shovel was just 3 lbs 9 ounces. Though the Jackson weighed over a pound more, it made up for the fact in comfort. It’s going to be a toss-up for those who are hauling a lot of dirt manually as to whether comfort will win out over weight. For shorter term jobs at least, this shovel is a clear winner.
Like the other J-250 Series shovels we’ve used, this Fiberglass Handled Powerstep shovel lacked a honed blade, making it rather blunt to use for cutting through root structures. A few choice minutes with an angle grinder will clear that up, however off-the-shelf you may find its root-cutting abilities a bit wanting. The Powerstep did, however, offer quite a bit more leverage when digging down with extra force to get through particularly stubborn areas. It wasn’t uncommon for us to lean heavily on the handle after jamming down on the Powerstep a moment before in order to get the deepest plunge we could get. It was during serious digging like this that the extra pound actually helped us dig a faster hole. It was only during the lifting stages that the added weight could be considered a minor nuisance.
Jackson builds a great shovel that is comfortable to use and built to take a beating. They’ve improved upon the standard wooden-handle approach and added the Powerstep to increase the digging force and potential of this shovel. And they’ve done it for a ridiculously low price. Being able to get a quality tool like this for under $30 is a veritable steal. Because of this, we gave the Jackson Titanium Xtra Fiberglass PowerStep Shovel a 9/10 in terms of value, and an 8/10 for its above average performance. Highly recommended.