Clearing out driveways piled high with snow is arduous enough – make that a gravel pathway and the chore somehow becomes even more nightmarish. That is, if you don’t have the right tool for the job. When it comes to gravel pathways, weakly powered units aren’t going to cut it, nor are one-stage snowblowers. The latter come with augurs that touch the ground, which is a huge no-no, since the contact means your snowblower will scoop up not only snow, but also bits of gravel, and chuck it all out – potentially breaking a few windows or seriously hurting unsuspecting bystanders. Now, while the electric versus gas debate relies on a bunch of variables, from brand to machine width to the size and slope of your driveway and how much snow you’re dealing with, it’s absolutely imperative to go for a two-stage snowblower when it comes to gravel drives. Since the augur of a two-stage model doesn’t touch the ground, outfitted with adjustable skid plates or shoes to set the height of your scraper, your machine can be adapted to the height of the snow you’re going to be working to clear out, without touching down on and scooping out the gravel of your driveway. So which is the best snowblower for gravel driveways? Let’s take a look at our top picks.
Now, while the electric versus gas debate relies on a bunch of variables, from brand to machine width to the size and slope of your driveway and how much snow you’re dealing with, it’s absolutely imperative to go for a two-stage snowblower when it comes to gravel drives. Since the augur of a two-stage model doesn’t touch the ground, outfitted with adjustable skid plates or shoes to set the height of your scraper, your machine can be adapted to the height of the snow you’re going to be working to clear out, without touching down on and scooping out the gravel of your driveway. So which is the best snowblower for gravel driveways? Let’s take a look at our top picks.
Craftsman Gas Snow Thrower
Though smaller and lighter than many of its more heavy-duty two-stage snowblower cousins, this snow thrower is no lightweight. Powered by a 208cc LCT Storm Force OHV gas engine, it’s the perfect machine to power through thick, heavy piles of snow, requiring minimal effort from you. Four available forward speeds and two reverse speeds, along with the 13-inch heavy-duty snow tires designed specifically for rolling effortlessly through icy terrain, make this an incredibly effective machine, the powerful engine essentially propelling the unit along and doing most of the heavy-lifting for you. The versatile speeds are a blessing when you need a little extra push to go up steep slopes or inclines, while the reverse feature also makes it much easier to retrace your steps over a patch that needs some extra clearing, without having to wrestle with your machine to get it turned around.
The unit has a clearing height of 16 inches, the rugged and sharp augur not touching the ground and therefore not risking chucking out bits of gravel through the 180° adjustable expulsion chute. With a clearing swath of 22 inches, this unit is perfectly ideal for plowing down wide, gravel driveways, be it for thick snowfall or thinner powdery dustings of it, adjustable skid shoes allowing you to set the desired height for the scoop, so it doesn’t risk digging into the gravel as it scrapes through snow. An electric start-up system does away with the need to crank the engine into operation by repeatedly yanking a pull-cord, which makes for smooth and easy start-ups with little effort.
KEN’S BUDGET PICK
Husqvarna ST224 Two Stage Electric Start Snow Blower
Ideal for the homeowner with a large gravel driveway, this snowblower is not only a heavy-duty machine to tackle anything from light flurries of snow to thick blankets of it, but is a tad kinder to the pocket than some of the picks on this list. The price doesn’t compromise on quality, though – this is one of the most popular snowblowers around, and not just for gravel driveways. The unit features a powerful 208cc Husqvarna LCT 4-Cycle gas engine, triggered by an electric start – this means the unit, with its rugged 15-inch, heavy-tread snow tires, is essentially self-propelling, with a height adjustable handle and power steering to make it even more user-friendly and intuitive to use. A friction-disc transmission system allows you to adjust the speed when you need to, adjustable skid shoes letting you set up the height at which you want your snowblower to cut through the ice, without the augur or scraper touching the ground or your gravel driveway. The unit features a clearing height of 23 inches, and a wide swath of 24 inches per pass, making this an ideal pick for wide driveways in areas subject to heavy and dense snowfall. An adjustable chute lets you control the direction in which the plowed up snow is expelled.
Other features making this a brilliant user-friendly unit include the LED headlamps incorporated into the machine, so you can use it safely in variable lighting conditions, as well as the heated handle grips, a blessing when you’re out in the cold trying to clear out your drive.
Ariens Compact Track 24 in. 2-Stage Snow Blower
Powered by a 223cc Ariens AX engine and electric/recoil start-up, this versatile snowblower is a veritable tank when it comes to cutting through thick, hard layers of snow with complete ease. Rather than snow tires, this unit opts for a directional snow tread track about 5.5 inches wide, giving you much better grip and stability going up- and downhill. With 6 available forward speeds and 2 reverse speeds, you can modify this essentially self-propelled unit’s performance depending on your needs, the 205° chute allowing you to control how and where churned up snow is going to be expelled. The one hand interlock feature lets you opt to run the machine single-handedly, with optional hand-warming handles available. The unit also features a halogen headlamp to let you work past daylight hours, the wide cutting swath of the unit at 24 inches and clearing height of about 20 inches letting you plow through plenty of close-packed snow easily in a single pass, so clearing out wide driveways doesn’t have to be as time consuming as you’d imagine.
Poulan PRO PR271 Two Stage Snowthrower
Armed with an impressive clearing width of 27 inches and a clearing height of 23 inches, you can tackle the heaviest of snow piles choking up your driveway with this heavyweight of a two-stage snowblower. Backed by the firepower of a 254cc Poulan Pro OHV gas engine (with electric start-up), the snowblower offers 6 forward speeds and 1 reverse speed through its friction-disc transmission system. Power steering enabled, operating and controlling this machine is an intuitive business despite its rugged functionality, console mounted and remote rotating chute allowing you to control where you chuck out churned up snow cleared from your driveway. Rugged skid plates let you ensure the scraper doesn’t end up taking a chunk out of your driveway and firing unintentional projectiles at anyone or anything around you.